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How to personalize your bathroom with high-tech

White and grey are the constants in kitchens and bathrooms — but some other trends are also showing up in these important home spaces.

“Homeowners like flexibility and personalization,” says Elle H-Millard, industry relations manager for the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). “They’re looking for things that can be used to customize their home but that don’t date the home, either.”

Free-standing tubs are part of a trend that’s making a comeback in large master bedroom ensuites.
Free-standing tubs are part of a trend that’s making a comeback in large master bedroom ensuites.  (Dreamstime)

Changes in bathroom and kitchen designs also are driven by innovations in technology and the desire for low-maintenance living, says Dan DiClerico, smart-home strategist and home expert for HomeAdvisor, a website and app that provides home improvement resources.

A few innovations to watch for in bathrooms:

  • Smart toilets: New models have built-in bidets, cleaning functions and night lights for safety.

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“Smart toilets have features to minimize maintenance with self-cleaning features, including one that mists the bowl before and after each use to cut cleaning time in half,” DiClerico said. “Wall-hung toilets also make it easier to clean under and around the toilet.”

As well, LED night lights, automated sensors to open and close the lid, and a cleanser that iodizes the bowl are new features. You can even buy toilets with seat warmers, plus some with adjustable heights, said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist with online platform Houzz.

  • Barn doors: Part of the rustic and industrial-chic design style for a few years, they’ve become a highly functional element of bathroom designs, H-Millard said.

“Barn doors are efficient and provide easy access to the room and, since they don’t swing out or in, they use less space and don’t trap anyone behind the door,” H-Millard said.

  • Free-standing bathtubs: Large bathtubs are making a comeback. This time, they are free-standing tubs, often in sculptural shapes. The National Kitchen and Bath Association’s 2018 Kitchen and Bath Design Trends study found that 87 per cent of designers said that free-standing tubs are trendy.
  • Mixed materials: Even though most homeowners stick to a grey-and-white colour scheme in the master bathroom, there’s plenty of space for creativity.

“There are so many tile options, including porcelain, natural stone and ceramic tile, so we’re seeing a lot of people mix and match the size of the stones or tiles,” Sitchinava said. “Some people are using large slabs of stone or tile for the flooring and walls, and using a variety of tiles in the shower. Even if they are using all white tiles, they can add interest with different textures.”

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  • Voice-controlled technology: In addition to the high-tech toilets, “smart mirrors” and other tech features are increasingly used in bathrooms, Sitchinava said, including mood lighting and music in the shower.

“You can talk to yourself, or really to Google Home or Alexa, to do things like adjust the lighting when you’re shaving or putting on makeup,” H-Millard said.

TORONTO STAR