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Top bathroom decorating trends

Dreaming of staying at a five-star resort? Don't bother – simply create your own paradise at home with high-tech gadgets, botanical hues and natural materials. Today’s bathrooms are all about luxury and high-end design. Follow these four trends to bring your dream bathroom to life.

Blue and white bathroom

Natural Influences

Nature has always been a source of beauty and inspiration and never more so than in today’s clime. Natural, botanical schemes are trending throughout the home right now, including bathrooms.

“Think crisp whites, creams, forest greens and natural, organic materials,” says Resene colour consultant Rebecca Long. “Earthy greens such as Resene Paddock and Resene Rivergum would look very sophisticated in an earthy bathroom. For a daring look, try a navy such as Resene Coast.”

Bathroom designer Sue Glatt of Smart Designs has seen a revival of soft greys as well as greens. “Though bright white is always clean and fresh,” she says. “I love denser whites and warm greys in the bathroom (I've just used Resene White Pointer in my own family bathroom) and soft naturals like Resene Half Secrets, Resene Miso and Resene Triple Merino.”

Timber-look tiling is on trend, too, and is being carried through from the bathroom to the living area.


“Light, natural-coloured timbers and Scandinavian styling are very big,” says Sue, “and the classic marble look is still strong. Or try brick-lay tiling to add pattern with contrasting grey grouting. I'm also loving the return of plants to the bathroom to add life and natural energy.”

Awash with blue
Left: Resene Silver Chalice. Right: Resene Powder Blue and Resene Half Bianca. View more about this project: Awash with blues.

High-tech minimalism

The move towards minimalism and simplicity is becoming more popular and brings with it sophisticated concrete finishes. Walk-in showers will be introduced in combination with the bedroom area, as well as built-in niches within the shower wall for storage.

Smart bathrooms with built-in televisions and speakers for long relaxation hours have become the latest trend. The new, mirrored flat TV technology can be installed anywhere – on the wall, on the ceiling, behind artwork, or embedded in a bathroom mirror. You need a waterproof version, of course, where the electronic compartments are completely sealed off from any moisture. Programmable showers allow you to set and easily select temperature and spray settings for different members of the household. Or you can convert your shower into a steam room with simple digital control to enjoy a sauna experience. While smart technology is entering the bathroom, bathrooms in general are outwardly simple and quite minimal in their styling, says Sue. “Which means functional storage is really important because clutter is banished.”

Glass and transparency

Transparency and lightness have entered the home scene and will continue to do so for the coming year. Designers have come up with clever ideas on how to situate glass in the bathroom, bringing as much natural light as possible while achieving the needed privacy. One of the hottest trends is to transform the bathing area into an enclosed space with floor-to-ceiling frosted glass partitions and a glass enclosure for your toilet space. Or automatic roller blinds to screen the shower area can be installed for the nude-shy.

Much like your kitchen may have a back-painted glass splashback, painted glass splashbacks, with soft blues and greens, are appearing in bathrooms too. This pairs well with the chalky pale mineral blue and green tiles that are a popular pick for their soothing properties.

The rustic beauty of a stone vessel sink provides a modern, natural, minimalist look, but the hottest trend is for glass sinks. Opt for a glass vessel sink in shimmering shades of copper or bronze, designed for above-counter installation, and pair it with a bronze waterfall faucet set.

Stone and glass bathroom
Resene White Pointer. View more about this project: Lessons from a renovation.

Paint and pattern

“Strong trends in bathroom finishes are greys and stony naturals, white with textural/pattern interest, geometrics (like hexagons), earthy pastels and multiple shades of soft grey, as well as greens,” says Sue. “Walls are blocked rather than split, and there are some gorgeous new Edwardian-style highly patterned tiles.”

But if you simply want to update old tiles, go the easy route and paint over them.

“Paint is such an affordable way to update your space,” says Rebecca, “but the key with painting tiles is the preparation. This will ensure that your fresh paint job adheres to your tiles. Many tiles have a glossy surface so it is essential that the correct adhesion primer [Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer] is used.”

As bathrooms are at risk of steam damage and mould, your paint needs to be up to the challenge too.

“While a well ventilated bathroom would have a lower risk of damage, it's still important to use the correct paint,” says Rebecca. “I recommend Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom, which is a waterborne enamel for a hard wearing and washable finish. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom also has a mould inhibitor, which reduces the risk of mould growth. In some cases, though, I would recommend Resene Room Velvet, which is an oil based enamel.”

Resene Room Velvet is designed for walls and ceilings, architraves and skirting boards especially in wet areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundries, but Rebecca recommends discussing your bathroom needs with a Resene ColorShop professional before purchasing your paint.”

And if you’re looking for a certain paint finish to match your bathroom’s existing materials?

“The first step is to decide what sort of look you want to create. If you would like a smooth, low sheen finish to work with your matt marble flooring you would want to look into using Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom. If you would like a glossy, reflective room to work with your glossy tiles you may want to look into Resene Lustacryl Kitchen & Bathroom, which has a semi-gloss finish. There is no reason why you can't mix and match though. I would recommend bringing in a variety of textures and sheens to add interest to your space. This can be created through fixed fixtures as well as accessories, such as towels and soap canisters.”

Sue recommends keeping your bathroom palette simple and using accessories to add bright colour accents.

“I like to anchor the floor with a darker tile to create depth and let the fixtures pop,” she says. “We are seeing a lot of black and metallic finishes in tapware and fixtures at the moment. Black accents make everything pop.”

View more Resene colour articles


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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.