Bathrooms were once a functional space in the home, but they have evolved into an area of escape in ever-increasingly open-plan home designs.

These days, the wellness aspects of bathrooms are being accentuated to create a restorative atmosphere.

And it can be as cheap as bringing soft, natural textures and spa-inspired styling into the room, or as high-tech as touch-screen mirrors with integrated speakers so you can add music to your bathroom time.

Trends towards making the space somewhere you linger longer include all the comforts of a spa, such as rain shower heads and towel warmers, candlelight and scents. The overall design to promote the escapist feel, however, doesn't have to be as clinical as a spa retreat.


"At the moment there are really two trends for bathrooms - minimalism or maximalism," says interior designer Yvette Jay. "The 'less is more' approach is favoured by minimalist bathroom designs, which are very understated with very harmonious finishes and large-scale tiles."

A traditional heritage villa bathroom refurbishment she worked on used this style, contrasting honed marble and warm oak timber with simple ceramic tiles.

"It was a generous-sized bathroom, so we had room for a freestanding bath, which became the feature," says Jay. "A really long, wall-hung vanity and a really beautiful piece of marble were used with very simple tiles to make them stand out."

Lights on the mirror using a separate circuit were added for a sculptural lighting element, as well as a softer tone to the room when soaking in the bath, adding to the minimalist and harmonious feel to the bathroom.

On the other side is maximalism, favouring a 'more is more' approach, as a backlash to the cool Scandinavian-inspired minimalism that has reigned interior designs for so long. It's about being bold and excessive in your design, layering your prints and clashing your colours for dramatic effect, encouraging escapism.

"Maximalism is about details, with more of a mix of materials, so you might have large marble tiles, but also very glamorous mosaic tiles in the same space," says Jay, who is also noticing more freestanding baths, and spaces with a spa feel and wellness aspects, alongside these two larger trends.

There's also an incorporation of landscaping as part of the space - whether it's a small, private courtyard off the shower, or an outlook over a garden, there's an emphasis on bringing the restorative nature of the outdoors, in.

"When creating a bathroom, it's also important to make the shower as large as you can," she says. "If you have a generous-sized shower, the feel will be luxurious. You can also create a sense of space in a small bathroom by having your vanity and toilet wall-hung."


No matter what the trend you're following, she says finishes should be timeless in a bathroom and she also shuns high-tech for more of a low-key bathroom. Instead of filling it with smart technology, she prefers to encourage retreat and tranquillity.

"Keep tiles and paint colours in a bathroom in keeping with finishes throughout the rest of the house, so there's a cohesive feel overall to the interiors," Jay says. "If you want to bring colour into a bathroom, work instead with a vase of flowers, candles or towels."

Thin design profiles are also big news this season with thin feature tiles, thin benchtops, thin shelving and thin towel rails making an appearance in new bathroom designs.

She says tiling trends this season are less about following one style and more about individual choice with special finishes on mosaics, such as metallic, glass or marble stones, used sparingly for impact - such as around the vanity area - rather than on larger areas.

Lighting in a bathroom is also a consideration and should be able to be bright enough for makeup application, yet soft enough for soaking in the bath or first thing in the morning. Natural light is often hard to get into a bathroom space, but solutions such as open-air elements over showers and skylights can help.

"Keep lighting in your bathroom on a couple of circuits, so that you can have very soft and minimal light when needed," says Jay. "I'm not keen on long lines of LED, but rather spotlights work best for a more candle-lit feel."

The bathroom is usually the place in your home where you start and end your day, so creating a sanctuary in this room can set you up for the day ahead, as well as help wind you down before bed.

As singer Alicia Keys said: "If I want to be alone, some place I can write, I can read, I can pray, I can cry, I can do whatever I want - I go to the bathroom."

So, whatever interior design you decide on, make sure it's somewhere you set up as a sanctuary in the home.