These days, bathrooms aren't merely utilitarian; they're true reflections of their owners' tastes. Here are three modern examples, along with some of the latest bath products and accessories, to help define your own style within your own budget.
The bathroom shown here, in Laurie and Mike Hilton's Seattle home, is a study in contrasts. Inexpensive elements ― mirrored cabinets and a wood table that serves as a sink base ― combine with higher-end materials for a sophisticated result.
The table and the cabinets are from Ikea; the two cabinets are mounted next to each other to create a more substantial look. Tumbled stone tiles in varying sizes provide drama, their strongly textured surfaces highlighted by the richly colored walls.
DESIGN: David Foster Architects, Seattle (206/726-9558)
Tactile materials derived from nature and an absence of clutter are the hallmarks of a serene aesthetic. Muted, neutral colors and a nod to the Far East add to the mood. "The space around the tub makes it feel peaceful and luxurious," says architect Michael Harris, who designed the spa bath pictured above. The wood floors and granite tub set off a large bamboo screen and tansu imported from Asia.
A glass door that opens to a small patio and outdoor shower acts as an oversize window, framing the distant hills. To preserve the serenity, keep decorative objects to a minimum; well-chosen accessories in earth tones and organic materials work best for this look.
DESIGN: Michael Harris Architecture, San Francisco; 415/243-8272
A clean, inviting approach with elements of nostalgia never goes out of style. In the bathroom shown above, classic charm is supplied by vertical wood paneling ― reminiscent of that found in an old farmhouse shower ― and a black wood vanity with white ceramic knobs. With help from her woodworker brother-in-law, designer Stephanie Zeigler transformed a black antique chest with multiple drawers into a vanity, adding Shaker-style legs and a low storage shelf (painted and distressed to match the original finish). Zeigler chose rough-hewn wood for the walls so its texture would show up through the paint. For a timeless yet contemporary feel, incorporate antique furnishings or fixtures with polished accessories in soothing tones.
DESIGN: Stephanie B. Zeigler, Mill Valley, CA (415/389-8030)