Is the clinical, white bathroom set to be a dim and distant memory as bathroom décor welcomes an explosion of colour? And will this mean a return to Avocado?
At the global bathroom exhibition ISH there was a riot of colour, splashed not only across furniture but brassware, baths and even ceramics.
Spanning pastels and candy colours, through to earthy tones and bold and dark industrial finishes, it was an antithesis to clinical, white environments that have dominated modern bathroom aesthetics.
Industry experts agree the UK consumer is ready for the return of colour, as director of Waters Baths of Ashbourne Lee Frost explains why: “Just as the psychedelic 1970s were a reaction against the modernists of the 1960s, we are now witnessing bold prints and vivid colours take hold of the interiors industry, after a long period of minimalism.
“There is also something incredibly comforting about maximalist interiors, particularly in today’s world where achieving everything seems so uncertain and fast-paced – colourful interiors are warming and homely.”
Advantages of colour
This move away from white means is beneficial to designers on a number of levels. It not only allows them to create individual spaces for clients, but allows customers to have a greater input into the design process.
And the use of colour in the showroom, can reflect this design ethos, while providing stand-out appeal on the high street.
Marketing manager of VitrA Margaret Talbot continues: “Many UK consumers thoroughly enjoy the process of shopping for personal bathroom pieces.
“They love the look and feel of modern colours and textures and see themselves as architects of their own space.
“Any stand out colour displayed in bathroom showrooms is intriguing to end users and attracts potential buyers into bricks and mortar businesses.”
Head of marketing at Bette Sven Resinghoff agrees: “The return of colour gives everyone the opportunity to become more creative and add personality to the bathroom. Retailers have the opportunity to create more interesting displays to make their showroom stand out.”
But how should bathroom designers be using colour to attract discerning fashion-led clientele and volume sales in the mass market?
Industry experts suggest a splash of colour across furniture and brassware will allow consumers to play with colour without having to commit to a fashionable interior that may date.
Sales and marketing director of Frontline Bathrooms Michael Sammon says: “We believe coloured bathrooms will be largely contained to furniture and brassware that are simple to replace and change.”
And senior category manager for Grohe UK Paul Bailey agrees “coloured brassware is an up-and-coming addition for the bathroom that looks set to become a popular way of adding colour and personalisation into bathroom design.
“You can use coloured brassware as much or as little as you wish, from just small pops of colour in flush plates or accessories or by co-ordinating the entire bathroom to include showers and taps too.”
However, for consumers who may be more confident with colour, basins and freestanding baths can provide a real splash.
Sven Resinghoff of Bette says: “In ensuites, the use of a coloured basin can provide the pop of colour to help elevate the room into something special, while in the main bathroom one of the strongest uses of colour will be freestanding baths.”
And marketing manager at BC Designs Sally Cutchie agrees: “There are ways of adding colour which don’t have to be as permanent as adding a pink bathroom suite.
“Choosing your pieces carefully can make sure colour is added but with the ability to adapt to trends. One example is our painted boat bath, which we’ve seen a 70% increase in orders across the last couple of years.
“It fits the brief for colour personalisation and, what is great is, once a homeowner had had enough of the colour it can be repainted.”
With such an array of colours on offer to the bathroom designer, what palettes should they consider for on-trend interiors, meeting the needs of discerning, fashion-led clientele?
While Avocado won’t be making a comeback, industry experts believe colours inspired by nature –greens and blues – will be high on the agenda.
Sven Resinghoff comments: “Many different palettes will become popular over the coming years, but we think some of the most popular will be those that add a relaxing warmth to the bathroom, such as darker shades and also those that have been inspired by nature, such as greens and blues; calming colours that will help to satisfy our need for tranquillity in the bathroom.”
And commercial director at Merlyn Barry Hoyne agrees tranquil natural colours will be a big hit in the bathroom: “While bold colours are really making a statement, we feel the more earthy tones will prove more popular; spa-like serenity, natural woods, sage greens, beiges and greys.”
Water-inspired blue tones are already making headway in interior design says product manager of Showerwall Steph Harris: “Blue is the colour to watch this year in all shades from pale to cerulean to inky blue.
“It’s currently the go-to shade in wallcoverings, fabrics and soft furnishings and we have seen deep blues on painted kitchen furniture over the last year. This influence is now crossing over more in the bathroom.”
Running concurrently with the trend for nature inspired colours is the industrial theme, which has inspired a raft of alternative finishes to chrome brassware, such as brass and nickel.
Managing director of Roman David Osborne says moving away from chrome makes business sense, commenting: “Over the last 10 years it has been about achieving bright silver finishes on shower enclosures.
“Now that’s achieved, even the cheapest Chinese products are coming in with acceptable bright silver finishes. Commercially there is no premium for bright silver anymore.”
Already offering shower enclosures and brassware in matt black and brushed nickel, Roman is set to launch polished nickel and brushed brass finishes this year.
And, of course, industrial themes support the use of grey which can complement on-trend blues and greens.
Sally Cutchie of BC Designs adds: “Greys, just like we’ve seen throughout interiors, will be a huge colour choice. Colour will also be combined with textures.
“We’re set to launch a concrete-inspired bath, which will be both colourful and have real impact. It also works well with Teal, which will be a huge colour in 2019 and into 2020.”
While, undoubtedly, there will be an on-trend palette, the beauty of colour is that’s subjective.
Sales director of Vogue UK Steve Birch concludes: “It should relate to your customer and how they want the product and space to look and feel.
“Every customer is different and so the best way to gain traction in the marketplace is to ensure open dialogue, with your customers as they will ultimately steer you towards what is standard, bespoke and even exclusive in terms of colour.”