Canadians love the spa. These days, we spend nearly $2-billion a year in these oases of comfort and serenity, with visits more than doubling over the last decade. And if the latest bathroom design trends are anything to go by, many of us are bringing the spa home.
From Pinterest and designers' blogs to bath showrooms and product catalogs, fashionable bathrooms are becoming indistinguishable from the soothing sanctuaries that now seem to populate every upscale streetscape.
At Taps Bath Centre, this sybaritic aesthetic has replaced the stark chrome minimalism of the early 2000s. "Edges are rounder, finishes are softer and more delicate, and shapes are less rigid," says Alan Bloch, the founder of the Toronto showroom.
Here, then, are five design trends that are bringing the warm, soothing look and feel of the spa into homes across the country.
Upscale spas often emulate traditional Turkish baths by adorning their walls with enormous slabs of marble, soapstone, travertine, onyx or slate. Now, new digital printing technology can help deliver the same stunning effect at a fraction of the cost. By meticulously mimicking natural stone, oversized porcelain tiles — such as the 63-by-126-inch Magnum Travertini line from Ciot — are virtually indistinguishable from much costlier, and heavier, materials.
"The larger the tile the more we can appreciate its details," says Jamie Alexander of Toronto's Peloso Alexander Interiors. "Plus, the installation process is less complex, and larger tiles are less likely to break."
Brushed and satin fixtures in gold and brass are proving especially popular, as they yield a pleasing contrast with the matte-black finishes that are also part of the warming, softening trend.
The Rubinet Faucet Company in Concord, Ont., for instance, produces a wide range of basin sets, tub fillers and shower fixtures that provide pleasing pop when Taps' sales consultants pair them with black vessels such as an acrylic Eidel tub from Quebec brand Alcove.
"One of the keys for us is to be able to offer a complete suite in these finishes," Mr. Bloch says. "Historically, you might have found some unique powder-room pieces, but it's really becoming a staple of the entire bathroom."
Today's freestanding bathtubs, such as those from Neptune, above, are embracing the clean lines of the spa esthetic with smooth surfaces and rounded contours that would do Henry Moore proud. (Credit: TAPS BATH CENTRE)
These water-filled works of art bear little resemblance to Grandma's heavy clawfoot tub. Flush with the floor, acrylic products like BainUltra's Charism line embrace the clean lines and minimalism of the spa aesthetic with silky-smooth surfaces and rounded contours that would do Henry Moore proud.
The empty space around these tubs also creates the illusion of a larger bathroom, and now that they're available in a wider range of sizes — from traditional six-footers to 4.5-foot-long slimline versions — freestanding tubs present practical options when space is genuinely limited. Then, when it comes to installation, "there's no need to build a bulky box around the tub and clad it with stone or tile," Mr. Bloch points out.
These channel-shaped, grating-covered shower drains are compelling on several counts. Because water can drain in one direction, they allow for showers with no curbs or even doors — again embracing the spa aesthetic — while providing a practical location for built-in benches on the opposite sides of enclosures. These seats, Mr. Alexander adds, "are perfect for clients who want to age-in-place without creating the look of a barrier-free shower."
Likewise, because smaller mosaic tiles are no longer needed to direct water into a central drain, the linear approach allows those gorgeous large-format ceramics to be used on the floor of the shower.
Integrated washlet seats
High-tech spa comforts are also making their way into residential bathrooms. Washlet electronic toilet seats from Toto Ltd. are a prime example, Mr. Bloch says, with bidet-like water-spray functions now accompanied by air deodorizers, water preservation systems and handheld remote controls. Toto's new Connect Plus program, he adds, "integrates its most popular toilets with the most popular washlet seats, so the hardware is a lot less obtrusive."
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's and Mail's editorial department was not involved in its creation.