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What’s your bathroom style


Published: 08/12/2012

by Mark Noonan

When you approach a renovation consultant to design your bathroom, it is useful to have a style in mind as a jumping off
point. Bathroom style (and design in general) can be broken down into a few unique categories: traditional, modern, contemporary and transitional.


Of course, these categories are not discrete, and you can design to fit anywhere in between to suit your personal
taste. But by aligning yourself within one of these categories in the initial stages of design, you have an excellent jumping-off point to start your planning.


Yet the question remains – how do you distinguish between the categories? What is your best fit?



Traditional design is generally formal in style, with the added touch of classic architectural detail. Typically in a
traditional bathroom, you would see heavy use of natural stone alongside embellished cabinetry and vintage-looking fixtures. Traditional design is classical, elegant, and luxurious.


In the traditional bathroom in photo 1, you see the use of natural stone, both in the flooring and on the countertops.


The traditional theme is continued with the use of vintage fixtures and the architectural detailing in the wooden crown
moulding. By adding in the ornate vase and comfortable touch of upholstered furniture, you see how the accessories of this room mirror the traditional theme.



The modern bathroom is sleek, streamlined, and clutter-free. Long and low lines are common. You will see liberal use of
smooth and reflective materials, such as glass, ceramics and chrome. Cabinetry is free of the details seen in the traditional bathroom design, and eco-friendly choices such as bamboo are often seen in the cabinetry. The colour palette is
focused on white, with touches of glass and chrome, and sometimes there is a pop of colour, such as orange, turquoise or red.


In the masculine modern bath in photo 2, you see how cabinetry can create the feel for the design. The long lines of the
floating cabinetry give this space a clutter-free feel. The minimal use of colour in this modern space is compensated for by the incredible detailing in the metal wall tiles. Details such as the chrome hardware on the cabinetry and the unframed mirror give this space a clean look.



Contemporary design is often confused with modern design, but the two styles are entirely unique. Modern design is static
(referring to a design developed in the mid-20th century), whereas contemporary design is dynamic, referring to what is ‘in’ today.  There are fewer rules in contemporary design than in modern design, as it more follows design freedom and current trends. Here, the inventive use of colours, mixing of patterns and combining of materials is a great way to achieve a contemporary look.


The simple style in photo 3 shows a contemporary design. Differing from a modern design, where you would see a
white countertop to match the white sink, you see a mix of a dark granite countertop with a white under-mount sink. The rounded mirror on the rectangular tiled wall offers a contrast of shape that adds interest. The soft colour of the tiles and the dark colour of the granite are successful in mixing both colour and material.



Transitional design can be considered a fusion of contemporary and traditional furniture, finishes, materials and
fabrics. By incorporating the current trends in contemporary designs, and the always-elegant looks of traditional design, transitional design creates a classical and timeless look.


The transitional palette relies on a lack of colour, thus creating a clean and serene atmosphere. The only colour
contrast in this design is between the dark brown accents and the neutral balances of taupe, tan and vanilla. A minimalist approach is taken, using accessories that are carefully selected to act as a counterpoint to the furniture. The furniture combines curves with straight lines to balance masculine and feminine attributes.


The scale of your pieces, such as the vanity or cabinetry, is ample but not intimidating, and lacking the ornamentation you may see in a traditional design. The focus here is on simplicity and sophistication.


Clean, straight lines are echoed throughout the space in photo 4, from the tiled floor, to the wainscotting, to the design
on the cabinetry. The free-standing tub combines a classical look with the claw feet and the contemporary feature of a nickel faucet. There is minimal departure from the neutral tones here, save for the select few blue accessories that dot the room.  


Mark Noonan is the president of Plumbing Mart.

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