Latest Bathroom Design Trends Focus on Form and Function

Forget the jetted tubs of the 1980s along with sliding glass shower doors, shower curtains and inefficient 5-gallon toilet tanks. Say hello to the newest, slickest kids on the block: dual-flush toilets, LED lighting and walk-in showers. These are just some of the latest bathroom trends that are emerging, as homeowners today are focusing more on affordability and universal design, reports a recent survey by the American Institute of Architecture (AIA).

“For bathrooms, minimizing utility costs is a principal concern for homeowners and products such as LED lighting, dual-flush and water-saving toilets are in increasing demand,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker.

Energy-Saving Features

The green movement in home design and home decor is far from a passing fad. Eco-friendly features have become more mainstream each year, with both the AIA and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reporting an increase of energy-efficient products, features and design. Those numbers have transferred to the bathroom, where the AIA reports that more homeowners are asking for LED lighting and water-saving or dual-flush toilets.

Invented in Australia, a dual-flush toilet changes the water volume depending on the type of waste being flushed. The toilet uses more water for solid waste, less for liquid waste and can save 67 percent water and lessen your water bill.

This bathroom in an Issaquah home for sale (above) lists a dual-flush toilet as one of its features.

Accessibility and Universal Design

The next biggest movement in home design is implementing features that improve accessibility. Twenty-five percent of America’s population of more than 300 million are Baby Boomers — people born during the post-World War II years of 1946 to 1964. Of all of the projection series, the future age structure of the population will be older than it is now. In the middle series, the median age of the population will steadily increase from 34.0 in 1994 to 35.5 in 2000, peak at 39.1 in 2035, then decrease slightly to 39.0 by 2050. This increasing median age is driven by the aging of the population born during the Baby Boom after World War II (1946 to 1964). About 30 percent of the population in 1994 were born during the Baby Boom. As this population ages, the median age will rise. People born during the Baby Boom will be between 36 and 54 years old at the turn of the century. In 2011, the first members of the Baby Boom will reach age 65, and the Baby Boom will have decreased to 25 percent of the total population (in the middle series). The last of the Baby-Boom population will reach age 65 in the year 2029. By that time, the Baby-Boom population is projected to be only about 16 percent of the total population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030 there will be 70 million Baby Boomers over the age of 75. The median age will increase from 35.5 in 2000 to a peak of 39.1 in 2035. As the Baby Boomers age, home design will need to adapt.

Twenty percent of home builders expect new construction to embrace aging in place with more universal access in new homes, reports the NAHB. Both the AIA and NAHB note that age-friendly features don’t have to be institutional. Simple changes like grab bars, floating vanities that allow for wheelchair access and wider doorways make a big impact on accessibility.

Open Showers

One of the biggest changes in design noted by the AIA comes in the way of showers. “Curbless” showers that are easily accessed by those with limited mobility are finding their way more and more into homes.

This Huntington Beach home (above) has a curbless shower, pictured above, which gives a person with limited mobility easier access.

Wet Bathrooms

Another trend in home showers are doorless showers or “wet bathrooms.” Rather than create a separate shower unit, more homes have showers without doors that blend seamlessly into the space.

This Phoenix home for sale (above) features a door-less shower, a feature that is increasingly requested by homeowners.

And while many of these features are green in nature, the survey also found that people still like comfort and convenience. Radiant heated floors scored high as well as linen/storage closets.