Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bathroom Workbook: 8 Elements of Contemporary Style

by Mitchell Parker

Does a sharp, clean and uncluttered bathroom sound good to you? 

If so, a contemporary design could be the key

Knowing your style isn’t always cut and dry. For example, your home’s current style might not be the one you would have given it if you’d had the choice. Perhaps you purchased things that were practical and fit your budget, instead of as part of a larger design scheme.

So when you’re remodeling a space for the first time and tasked with settling on a vision that reflects your personal taste, it’s not uncommon to wonder, “Just what is my style?”

Is your style contemporary, modern, transitional, rustic, industrial? Once something feels and looks right to you, then you can start going through more photos of spaces in that style to help guide you — and your designer — to the bathroom of your dreams.

Here are eight elements of contemporary style. See if it’s right for you.

1. Clean lines. Unbroken horizontal lines feature prominently in contemporary bathrooms. Curvy, undulating planes have little relevance here. Cabinet hardware is kept basic as well. Think rectilinear. 

2. Authentic materials. “Materials should have authenticity to them,” says architect Lisa Little, who designed this bathroom. “If the material is wood, it should be expressed as wood. If it’s concrete, it’s concrete. So you’re not hiding or altering the materiality; instead you’re celebrating it.” 

You won’t find moldings or face frames on cabinets or any other sort of ornamental accents. There are just the essentials here; everything is stripped down to rudimentary forms and materials. Vanities and cabinet doors are single planes and have smooth surfaces. Edges are sharp and clean rather than distressed or beveled. Tile is crisp, and grout is “absolutely flush,” says architect Sally Anne Smith. “Restrain everything.”

“When tile starts to get patterning on the wall or an individual tile becomes ornate or complex, then it’s starting to get away from a cleaner, simpler design,” Little adds

That goes for countertops, too. “People usually stick to the quartz line so there’s not a lot of movement,” says John Klacka, design director at Lars Remodeling and Design.

3. Lack of clutter. Contemporary spaces have a borderline minimalist aesthetic. That’s why Asian themes work well for them, says designer Michelle Moore, who designed this Asian contemporary bathroom. Both styles follow a stripped-down approach. In contemporary bathrooms, lotions, brushes, appliances etc. all have their own space completely tucked out of the way. “Contemporary style doesn’t really lend itself to someone who has stuff all over the place,” Smith says. “It’s for people who like to put everything away so it looks nice and clean all the time.” 

4. Contrast. Instead of ornate details and decor, designers add interest and drama in contemporary spaces with contrast. In this example, smooth concrete mixes with textural bamboo cabinets. There’s also some color contrast going on with white and black. Contemporary spaces tend to stick to colors and hues that are on opposite ends of the spectrum. “It’s more pleasing if you have the wow factor,” Moore says.

5. Simple lighting. Again, basic shapes take precedent over anything showy or ornate. 

6. Open space. Even if it’s the illusion of open space, this is a key element. Floating vanities, expansive floors and an overall feeling of lightness and airiness are hallmarks of the style. 

7. Colors. While some say contemporary leans toward cooler colors, Little disagrees. “Color is so personal you should not feel as a homeowner that you can’t put any whatever color you prefer,” she says. Instead, it’s more about how the color you choose interacts with the material choices.

Klacka likes going lighter to maintain a fresh, clean feeling. “Diamond white with hints of green, blue or gray is very light and crisp,” he says.

8. Chrome. Polished chrome is found frequently in contemporary fixtures, because it’s sleek. And Little says a lot of the faucet and fixture designs that work so well come out of Europe, where chrome is favored because it is long lasting, is easy to clean and stays true to the material. “If [chrome is] the best thing, then you make it out of that and expose the material. You don’t hide it behind an ornate copper element,” Little says

If you need assistance in designing your Contemporary Bathroom, stop by Cabinet-S-Top's showroom located at 1977  Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256  ~  330.239.3630  ~

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