Bathroom decor: key trends with Sofia Charalambous

City round mirror in white bathroom decor

I asked one of my Christchurch Creative clients, the co-founder of Bathroom Origins, Sofia Charalambous – mentor, columnist and judge for kbbreview awards – for her take on bathroom decor trends in 2021. From transitional design to bathscaping, Sofia reveals how a variety of design trends can jazz up your home or project. She also discusses the intrinsic link between catwalk fashion and interior design. It’s no wonder Sofia can identify with this link as she was born into a family of fashionistas and developed a flair for design at an early age. In fact, her family manufactured clothing for a selection of high street stores from Top Shop to River Island. She even worked in evening-wear at Selfridges, following her University education, so she’s got a wealth of knowledge in this field, from high street fashion to high end design.

Sofia Charalmabous of Bathroom Origins
Sofia Charalambous of Bathroom Origins

Which key bathroom décor ideas can we expect this year?

Transitional:

Love Your Bathroom cloakroom concept showcasing transitional design through bathroom decor
This gorgeous cloakroom concept from Love Your Bathroom is a perfect example of transitional design. Bathroom Origins’ striking Docklands mirror, 80cmDia, £265, takes centre stage in a beautiful brushed brass finish

Mixing it up is the new trend making waves in bathroom design. Known as ‘transitional’, it typically refers to meshing modern with traditional. But it can also mean mixing different genres, such as edgy industrial with country rustic. In fact, I think using transitional design is a great way to create a unique bathroom that truly reflects your individual style.

Dockside mirror open storage bathroom decor
Bathroom Origins’ Dockside mirror, 30 by 60cm, £230, featuring open shelving showcased here in black provides the perfect finishing touches to this bathroom. Image courtesy of Lauren Sutton, head of design hub at Virtual Worlds

Open storage

I predict open storage is set to be key for bathroom decor in 2021 and beyond. The minimalism mantra is over – at least for bathroom storage ideas. You no longer need to hide everything away, removing all traces of personality and pizzazz. This relates back to the past when luxury bathrooms were synonymous with the bare and unembellished. So there has been no place (literally or figuratively) for beautiful display items. However, times are changing, and the opportunity to display stylish possessions in the bathroom is an exciting concept for the home. Time then to embrace and experiment with the wide variety of open bathroom storage options available.

Tecno brushed nickel from Bathroom Origins
Just look at Bathroom Origins’ Tecno brushed nickel collection – I think the subtle finish adds a more elegant, luxurious touch to a bathroom

Metallic finishes

Brushed nickel and matt white are two metallic finishes to watch in 2021. I can safely say, with its timeless appeal, brushed nickel ‘transcends trends’ in bathroom decor. The beauty of brushed nickel, with its warm yellow hue blurs the edges between gold and silver. In fact, this makes it incredibly versatile. So, forget clinical. Matt white fittings will add a crisp freshness to the bathroom if this appeals to you. Simply pair them with natural materials, such as wood and restful greens, to create a warm, welcoming feel in a bathing space.

Matt white accessories for bathroom decor
Matt white fittings will instantly add a crisp finish to a bathing retreat. These Outline products from Bathroom Origins will provide the perfect contrast with warmer elements such as wood in a modern bathroom

What advice would you give to an interior designer on translating bathroom décor ideas to work in a commercial or residential project?

The first thing to consider, is the bathing rituals of the household. Find out how they use the bathroom now and how they would ideally like it to be. Then consider the look they want to achieve, which will all be subject to space and budget available.

Whether designing for a one-bathroom home, a six-bedroom boutique hotel hideaway or a 300-room hotel, it’s all about creating meaningful experiences. Bathroom decor may need to work for a quick ‘wash n go’. And, at the other end of the spectrum, you may need to consider products to enhance time spent soaking in a warm luxurious bubble bath overlooking gorgeous views.

Bathroom decor should reflect the unique personality of the householder or hotel. In terms of projects for the latter, think how guests will use the bathroom above and beyond the essential wash. Is there adequate lighting around the mirror, are there enough hooks close at hand, has a shelf or basket been installed by the bath or shower for toiletries? It’s those little details you might not consider, that can make all the difference to the overall experience.

Let’s talk about wellbeing… How important will this concept become this year?

With growing evidence on how our environment affects our wellbeing, having the right personal spaces in our homes is becoming increasingly important, even more so after the year we’ve just had.

Neuro-aesthetics: the study of how design impacts us on an emotional level, and how our interaction with objects can give us pleasure has been a scientifically recognised phenomenon since the late 1990s. The consequences of this pandemic have heightened and accelerated the discussion around wellness. So, this is becoming a key trend in residential and hotel bathroom design.

One thing I’ve learned from more than 25 years in this industry, is that the bathroom is so much more than just a place to wash: it’s so many things to so many people. It’s a place to relax, retreat and escape from the ‘rat-race’. It’s quite possibly the only room in the house where you can be totally private and uninterrupted… and now, more than ever, having a sanctuary, a retreat and escape, which gives you even a few minutes of real ‘you time’, is a precious thing.

The impact of bathroom decor on our mental health should never be underestimated. A considered, holistic approach to designing a space can make all the difference to a scheme and ultimately our wellbeing.

How does biophilic design feature within this key bathroom trend?

City round mirror in white bathroom decor
Bathroom Origins’ City round mirrors in white, 60cm diameter, £190 each, provide a beautiful backdrop in this biophilic-inspired bathroom

It’s a well-known fact that incorporating elements from nature into the built environment reduces stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and self-reported well-being. And how better to bring this idea to life than with bathroom decor?

‘Bringing the outside in’ doesn’t just mean adding plants, though they are a great choice! It’s all about increasing direct and indirect connectivity to the natural environment; so why not incorporate natural materials, light, colour and artwork depicting natural scenes and designs?

Why should mirrors form an integral part of a bathroom project?

Ravenna Light from Virtual Worlds
Ravenna light mirror, 140cm by 70cm, £690, from Bathroom Origins, adds the perfect focal point in this bathing retreat. With a faceted frame, this LED mirror with integrated lighting looks stunning and it’s practical too. Image courtesy of Lauren Sutton, head of design hub at Virtual Worlds

Mirrors are more than just a place to check your look. They’re a great design feature in their own right, and some would say ‘a work of art’. This stylish form of bathroom decor reflects light and space, making your bathing haven feel bigger and brighter. And they don’t have to be placed over the basin. Make a style statement with an extra-wide mirror on the wall above a free-standing bath, if space allows.

Where do you get your inspiration from to design and create your bathroom mirrors, lighting, storage and accessories?

Versace fashion luxury store in avenue Montaigne in Paris, France
Versace in Paris, France

I get my inspiration from my passion for art and fashion. Even everyday items fascinate me, such as intricate designs on chopsticks, the way the sun filters through bamboo; anything and everything can spark my imagination. In fact, some of the best product ideas for bathroom decor come to me while showering – I would say that! For me, a product has to be fit for purpose and look beautiful, too. 

Do you find there’s a strong link between catwalk fashion and interior design?

Definitely!  Catwalk fashion and interior design are both an individual expression of personal style. What’s hot on the catwalks, usually filters into home interiors. Fashion brands including Armani, Versace, Fendi and Missoni have a long tradition in home furnishings. Armani have their own exclusive collection of bathroom furniture and fittings, whilst Versace are big in tiles.

I hear bathscaping is having a moment in the bathroom. How can you successfully recreate this in a project?

The Breeze bath from Waters Baths of Ashbourne’s Elements Collection, £2,395, demonstrates bathscaping perfectly and this tub actually comes with a lifetime guarantee

Move over tablescaping, the art of dressing up your coffee or dining table, as bathscaping is the new hit on Instagram. What is bathscaping? It’s about styling your bath area to create a haven of relaxation. The best thing about it, is that it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to recreate. Drape your fluffy towel over the bath or on a small stool. Add a bath tray with your luxury toiletries, a wooden body brush, the latest blockbuster novel and even a glass of your favourite bubbly. Plants are essential to complete the look – no self-respecting bathroom would be seen without one (real or, in my case, a faux silk orchid). Lastly, set the scene with gently flickering scented candles, switch off the ceiling lights, turn on your ambient lighting. And relax…

Looking for ideas on how to update your bathroom this year? Why not consider a freestanding tub for the ultimate luxury? Read my blog to find my pick of the best here.

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