Bathroom Styles and Trends From Across The Pond

When it comes to bathroom trends, like any kind of trend, it all depends on cultural context, and timing. After all, what’s in right now depends on how people value styles and function, as well as that hard-to-pin-down ex-factor that kicks in when you imagine a room, create it, and then enjoy it when it’s done.

For hundreds of years, there’s been a split between what works in Europe, specifically in the UK, and what works in North America. So, what of bathroom trends in the UK and how they compare to bathroom trends on our side of the pond? What are the differences, and what’s common?  What impressive set ups have they got that may find their way over here?

Bathroom remodeler from the UK Michael Smith is here to talk about what he’s seeing as operative trends in the UK to help shine some light on these questions.


With home décor style and design, there is a two-way relationship between Europe and the US.  The markets tend to heavily influence each other and a popular trend in one is sure to appear in the other within a year or two.

Here we’ll give you a glimpse at the contemporary and traditional bathroom trends that are currently shaping the UK market, hopefully giving you an idea of what’s going to make waves across the pond in the future.

21st century modern: straight lines and minimalism

When it comes to contemporary style in the UK, all the usual suspects are involved: straight clean lines, sharp angles and the minimalist look. However, many homeowners in the UK with modern properties are looking to open up their bathrooms even more to create a real sense of freedom.

The look: wet rooms, shower enclosures

Walk-in showers are becoming increasingly popular, with a move away from fitted shower enclosures and units installed within the bath. The availability of various sized and even bespoke shower trays allows those with smaller bathrooms to make use of every foot of space. Wet rooms take this concept a little further, with tiles on all wall and floor surfaces creating a completely watertight environment.

Where bathrooms are large enough, a great way to add to the design aesthetics of the room is to go for a walk in shower that has two entrances. Often a partition wall must be installed in order to incorporate such a shower area. One side of the wall serves to act as a boundary for the shower, with the other side ideal for mounting a sink or towel rail.

Materials, surfaces, colors in the bathroom

In terms of materials, glass tiles are on trend and help to maintain good lighting and that aura of spaciousness. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the spread of black in the bathroom – a color that has historically been ignored in this corner of the home. Homeowners are overcoming the oppressiveness of the color by opting for polished reflective tiles, maximising natural light and installing more light fittings.

Wallpaper is also making a comeback, with some opting to paper just one wall in the bathroom.  In order to overcome the likelihood of the wallpaper curling, design enthusiasts are applying a coating of varnish. Where the wall papered is right next to the bathtub, glass panels are used to prevent damage from splashes.

The Victorian Look

Of course, the sleek ultra-minimalist approach isn’t ideal for all properties and a period home is better suited to a more traditional look.That doesn’t however mean that you can’t still create a striking look within your bathroom.  The most prevalent trend for older properties in 2012 focuses on creating a Victorian theme within the bathroom.

Freestanding roll-top baths are the most obvious way of starting on that Victorian theme, with claw feet adding a touch of decorative elegance. Double-ended models with taps situated down one length and which are situated in the middle of the room will have the biggest impact.

For smaller bathrooms where the bathtub needs to be positioned in a corner to free up space, a The ornate designs should carry on through the bathroom and you can have lots of fun with your sink area. If you have the available budget then a marble basin with aluminium or chrome legs will complement your freestanding bath. At the other end of the price scale are porcelain sinks, mounts on ornamental pedestals, delivering the desired look without breaking the bank. Those looking to use existing basins can opt to purchase a period vanity unit and have the basin sunk into it.

Finishing Off

While the toilet tends to be the least exciting piece of furniture in the bathroom, a Victorian theme does allow for some variation. A model that incorporates a high level cistern is a great way to maintain the look throughout.  You will however require a bathroom with a high ceiling to fit such a toilet. If you like the look that high level cistern toilets provide, but don’t have the clearance, there are also mid-level cistern options available.

To really complete the Victorian design, period features are being left on show and sometimes re-instated, including exposed brickwork, bare floorboards and ceiling roses.Those looking to push the theme to the maximum are even installing authentic reclaimed fireplaces from the Victorian period.

Giving a little back

While it is always fascinating to know what vogues are coming out of the European market, it’s equally interesting to observe the diaspora of American design influence.  One area that the US is really leading the way is the integration of technology in the bathroom environment.  Great examples being bathroom cabinets that have a refrigerated area so that you can keep a chilled bottle of wine handy for those relaxing soaks, or that provide MP3 capabilities to complete that relaxing vibe.

Another American-led trend is in the eco side of bathroom design and we are now seeing the UK and Europe following the US’s lead.  Low flow faucets that mix air into the water to conserve water are becoming increasingly commonplace, as are hands-free motion activated models that prevent faucets being left running.  Motion activated shower units are also beginning becoming more popular.

It is certainly an exciting time in the bathroom design world on both sides of the Atlantic, with new materials, technology and visions continuing to push the boundaries.  Long may the sharing of ideas between America, the UK and Europe continue!


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