Commonplace in bathrooms throughout the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, the avocado suite, alongside its sepia brown and pink counterparts, has become synonymous with bad design, and research into interior trends unanimously cites it as one of the most hated.
Time, however, is a great healer, and while consumers may have sought solace in white, white and more white in the following years, colour is making its mark on the bathroom once again. And, yes, even browns, pinks and greens are back in fashion!
“Colour is re-emerging in the bathroom and can make a real statement without overwhelming the space,” says Roca’s marketing manager, Claire Gay. “It allows homeowners to experiment more with their bathroom design, to create spaces that reflect their individual personalities and characters.”
Colour was a big focus for Roca in 2019 as the Spanish bathroom manufacturer introduced new coloured finishes to selected brassware ranges as well as its Beyond sanitaryware collection.
German manufacturer Villeroy & Boch has also seen demand for colour in the bathroom increase in recent years with Azin Samim, its senior product manager furniture, citing “homeliness” and the emergence of the bathroom as a living and ‘“feel-good space” as some of the reasons.
“Another is the current desire for individualisation that affects the interior design sector in general,” she continues. “And a wonderful way of expressing personal taste is with the use of colour.”
As well as adding individuality, colour also has health benefits, too, points out Margaret Talbot, VitrA’s marketing manager.
“The psychological associations of colour are increasingly recognised and deployed by both professional designers and consumers – blues for calm, red for energy, golds for success,” she says.
According to Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs, the latest bathroom colour palette has taken its lead from kitchens.“The bathroom industry might not like to admit it, but we tend to follow trends that first emerge within the kitchen sector, so the colour we’re seeing now has been heavily influenced by kitchen design from recent years; think matt black, stainless steel and warmer tones,” he says, adding that grey and navy blue will remain “hugely popular”.
Frontline Bathrooms’ sales and marketing director Michael Sammon believes the trend for colourful bathrooms stems from social media with homeowners looking to recreate the looks they see online.
However, he says that they approach colour with caution. “Consumers are now more concerned with future-proofing their homes and so we predict that coloured bathrooms will be largely contained to furniture and brassware that are simple to replace and change.”
Along with black, white and grey, Sammon names “earthy greens, duck egg blues and pale pinks” as topping the consumer wishlist.
Victoria + Albert Baths says black, grey, green and blue are trending in the bathroom while Villeroy & Boch’s Samim says that “Pastels and muted colours that are associated with nature are very popular”. She names browns and greens, colours that stimulate the senses, as current favourites.
Like Sammon, she also believes that although consumers are embracing colour in the bathroom, they are wary. “Most people don’t have the courage to choose a strong colour. They are afraid to do something wrong or be stuck with a colour they don’t like in the future.”
“Discreet personalisation is set to be a key trend for 2020, complemented by the popularity of Matt Black, Brushed Brass and Chrome finishes as well as timeless, pastel-shaded sanitaryware and furniture” – Mark Waddy, director, MTW Research
“Subtle pastel tones are a popular choice, especially in smaller format, glazed tiles. For larger format product, customers are experimenting with bolder, darker shades” – Jane Addis, new products and design manager, Original Style
“In terms of sanitaryware, customers are still resistant to choose designs that aren’t predominantly white. There is interest in single colourful items to create focal points though, as well as feature walls created with coloured porcelain” – Joss Thomas, founder and designer, Indigenous
“The cheap plastic-formed avocado baths of the 1970s are being replaced by solid stone baths with colours ranging from cool shades to warm tones that are every bit as individual as the consumer” – Anthony Smith, MD, Waters Baths of Ashbourne
“Texture and colour go hand in hand and effect each other, and different materials or finishes change the way we perceive a certain colour. A colourful wash basin or vanity unit, for example, will look way more dominant on a shiny/glossy surface than a matt one” – Azin Samim, senior product manager furniture, Villeroy & Boch
Earthy, nature-inspired colours, such as Tranquil Dawn, Dulux’s colour for 2020, go hand-in-hand with the current focus on wellness and relaxation, says Anthony Smith, MD of Waters Baths of Ashbourne. “Tranquil Dawn’s pale green tones denote a definite trend towards creating calm, comfort and a reconnection to nature as the antidote to the stress of the urban grind and uncertainty of today’s world.”
MTW Research’s new 2020 Bathroom Market Trends report highlights how low levels of consumer confidence is making homeowners less keen to opt for bolder colours. “This is set to grow the trend of discreet personalisation in 2020 with consumers adding personal touches while not straying too far from mainstream design aesthetics,” says director Mark Waddy.
VitrA’s Talbot agrees and says that the return of colour to the bathroom hasn’t sounded the death knell for white. “With its hygiene connotations, white will remain prevalent with consumers, but increasingly it will be a base pallet for adding colour,”she says. “Whether furniture, ceramicware, brassware or accessories, colour will be seen more and more in stylish bathrooms of the future.”