Closet friends

04 Apr, 17

Bathroom furniture continues to take its lead from kitchen storage

Out of all products to be found in the bathroom, furniture continues to be unrivalled in terms of sales growth. According to AMA Research, the UK bathroom furniture market was estimated to be worth around £95million at Manufacturers’ Selling Price in 2015 and by 2019 it is forecast the market will grow by 15% to £109million. Sales and marketing director of JJO John Pollitt comments: “Examples of the growth in popularity are the number of new entrants to the market, such as Deuco and Greyhouse. National house builders now include furniture in their showhouse bathrooms and ensuites in an attempt to appeal to the more discerning buyer. The basin, seems to have been knocked off its pedestal!” The increased focus on furniture is also evident from manufacturers increasing their portfolio of storage. Trade sales and marketing manager for Lecico Kate Hirst points out: “We relaunched and vastly expanded our range of bathroom furniture to complement our ceramics in Autumn 2015”. All of which offers an indication of a real opportunity for designers and merchants working across refurbishment and newbuild projects. According to AMA Research nearly half of all bathroom furniture sales [46% in 2014] are made through these channels alone.

Vanities and towers

For the latest looks in furniture, modular cabinetry – whether freestanding or wall-hung – is a must-have, with vanities remaining the best selling units. Kate Hirst of Lecico points to the popularity of vanities, when she suggests: “Our compact vanity units equate to over 30% of our overall furniture sales.” Whereas Steve Newbury, head of group marketing for Pura Bathrooms, which manufacturers the Deuco range is even more enthusiastic about the popularity of vanities, when he says: “Vanity units are still really popular; they are the aspirational choice for a stunning bathroom refurbishment project, and we find that almost 50% of bathroom designs include one.” And as we reported in 2014, tall units also continue to grow in popularity. Marketing manager of VitrA Margaret Talbot explains: “Tall units are still extremely popular and work well when combined with matching vanity units. The tall, slim and clean look helps create a visually contemporary bathroom while at at the same time, using space intelligently as it utilises otherwise unused high areas of the bathroom wall. Importantly, tall units can fit into most bathrooms thank to their narrow dimensions.” And that seems to be key for their sales. Quite simply, they fit the typically small British bathroom. Trade marketing manager for Twyford Nicola Hadcroft adds: “Sales of tall units are growing, particularly for compact bathrooms where space is at a premium…and often in addition to a vanity unit in a co-ordinating style and finish.”

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Handleless is key

Similarly to the kitchen, the latest bathroom furniture styles blend sympathetically into the home. So unsurprisingly, it is the influence of handleless designs that have had the greatest impact on fashion-led interiors. Head of marketing at Bette Sven Resinghoff explains: “Bathroom furniture trends are similar to those in kitchens with simple, minimalist, geometric styles and a clean look, without handles.” And John Pollitt of JJO agrees, pointing out: “The true handleless, linear kitchen design is now beginning to migrate into bathrooms, either with a brushed metallic channel let into the cabinet or by use of clever integration of drawer front and worksurface.” Now open shelving and assymetrical looks are also playing their part, such as the Carino ‘step’ system from Moods by PJH. However, it’s not simply the silhouette of bathroom storage that continues to be influenced by kitchen  furniture, but colours and textures are also taking their lead from this hard-working room.

Colour and texture

While white remains a firm favourite – often for fitted furniture – consumers are frequently more adventurous with decors for modular designs. “There seems to be a greater desire for strong colour within modular furniture, possibly due to the one or two pieces not dominating the bathroom to the same extent as fitted furniture”, explains John Pollitt.

Just like the kitchen there has been a move away from gloss towards matt finishes for on-tired bathrooms, in a grey palette or more earthy tone neutrals. Tony McNeally from Trend Bathrooms comments: “We have started to see a move away from gloss finishes to Matt, this will continue as we see a rise in ‘soft touch’ matt finishes. Light grey gloss has been our most popular new finish, introduced earlier this year.” And he adds: “Earthy colours such as Pebble and Pumice will be big trends this year.” And his view is re-iterated by Steve Newbury of Pura Bathrooms who comments: “Recently things have begun to get a bit more adventurous, especially as you move from entry level to the mid and high-end. New subtle earthy colours like Matt Cashmere, Matt Stone Grey, Matt Lava, Gloss Cashmere, Gloss Mussel and Gloss Light Grey are fast becoming favourites among designers and their customers alike.”

And joining the muted, neutral colour palette there has also been an injection of woods into the bathroom, with timber effect finishes. Offering a more natural look for the bathroom, the Scandi-style helps soften the look of an otherwise clinical, clean lined room. Managing director of Duravit UK Martin Caroll comments: “Natural wood finishes are popular in light and dark shades; they add texture and softness to white sanitaryware.” And Nicola Hadcroft of Twyford explains how it has influenced her company’s portfolio, adding: “Consumers are becoming much more confident about introducing colours and textures into the bathroom. Twyford have responded to this with the introduction of finishes such as grey ash wood on its e100 range.”

Inside that counts

But it’s not simply the external appearance of bathroom storage that has taken design cues from the kitchen. The internal organisation systems, frequently seen in kitchen drawers, are increasingly making their move into the bathroom, alongside integral lighting. Head of marketing at PJH Kimberley Cooper continues: “Internal storage options, such as tidy drawer systems, high specification cabinet fittings and soft close doors are becoming the norm and this trend is only set to grow.” And for those seeking the ultimate in luxury designers can even opt for velvet-lined drawers from the likes of Ypsilon – available in the UK through Premier European Brands.

Personalisation and value

Moreover, with all the choice in materials for bathroom furniture specification, it helps designers personalise a project for their client. And industry experts suggest combination finishes will play a larger role in bathroom furniture design. John Pollitt points out:”As for the next two years, modular furniture will continue to grow, dominated by textured finishes in timber effect and flat solid colours which co-ordinate well with wood grain structures. Expect to see more use of two finishes within the same piece of furniture.” In fact, Steve Newbury points out: “We are definitely finding that bathroom designers are looking to combine colour and textures in their schemes. All of our Deuco Bathroom Furniture finishes are interchangeable so with more than 20 choice of matt, neutral or glass cabinet door finishes to choose from, the final design is only limited by the designer’s imagination.” All of which helps add value and encourages clients to trade up in the longer terms; so get savvy with storage.