The transitional bathroom is the most popular bathroom design style, according to the 2019 Bathroom Design Trends report by the National Kitchen + Bath Association. And according to trend spotter Elle H-Millard, Industry Relations Manager at the NKBA (and also a cast member on season 2 of HGTV’s Design Star), the transitional style is projected to remain the most popular style for the next three years.
But what is a transitional bathroom and how can you get the transitional look?
A mix of two styles
A transitional bathroom can have several meanings, according to Joan Kaufman, Licensed Interior Designer and President of Interior Planning & Design in Naperville, IL. “Most commonly, transitional refers to the style that is between traditional and contemporary,” she says. “The style would be more clean lines, yet not overly contemporary, with a warm, comfortable feeling that is not too cold or sleek.”
However, Kaufman says a transitional bathroom can also refer to a design that allows homeowners to age in place. “This means accommodations are made to the bathroom to increase safety and provide supports without being completely ADA.” For example, she says grab bars are added to the shower area and close to the bathtub. She adds that these bathrooms may include handheld spray showerheads “with the valve controls at a lower height. And the tub would have a lower profile to aid entry/exiting.”
In some designs, homeowners remove the tub and replace it with a shower that includes handheld sprays and a bench seat. “Mirrors and other fixtures will be mounted low enough to be viewed from a seated position and/or wheelchair,” Kaufman says. Another popular feature is under-toe kick lighting. “Having toe-kick lighting on a motion sensor is an added benefit,” Kaufman explains.
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However, this is not your grandparent’s bathroom. “A transitional bathroom is both attractive and safe and can make your life comfortable, regardless of your age or physical ability,” according to Chelsea Allard, VP of Design at Case Design/Remodeling in Charlotte, NC. For example, she says those grab bars are decorative and can coordinate with your faucet suite. “Not only can they prevent a dangerous fall, but they can also be used as towel bars,” Allard says.
Likewise, those bench seats and handheld showers can also serve a dual purpose. “Benches can act as a foot prop for shaving your legs as well as being a seat if you are unable to stand due to an injury,” Allard explains. And those handheld showers are convenient if you need to bathe while seated, but she says they also make it easier to clean the shower or wash your dog.
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Another reason transitional bathrooms are so popular is the sheer beauty of the design. Bathrooms today are transitioning from a place of basic necessities to a space of luxury, according to Interior Designer Dawn Totty of Dawn Totty Designs in Chattanooga, TN.
“With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, designers and homeowners are implementing luxurious features such as chandeliers, saunas, free-standing tubs, beautifully papered walls and heated floors,” Totty explains. “It’s a spa-like place that they can escape to, but without the inconvenience and expense.”
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Storage and workspace
H-Millard notes that the cabinets and vanity in transitional bathrooms are quite distinctive. “We’re talking free-standing, built-in or floating styles, with recessed panel facing and plenty of drawers,” she says. This bathroom style commonly uses wood grain, painted wood and mixed materials with decorative hardware.
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Countertops, sinks and faucets
“In transitional bathrooms, countertops and sinks tend to be quartz, quartzite, granite or marble,” H-Millard says. White porcelain and cast iron are popular for sinks, and undermount sinks are a common staple.
Transitional bathrooms incorporate the latest faucet design trends. “Faucets can be motion, touch-control or manual and are typically nickel, chrome, stainless or rose gold,” H-Millard says. Popular finishes for transitional bathrooms include polished, matte, brushed and satin.
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Popular flooring options in transitional bathrooms include ceramic, porcelain or stone tile, according to H-Millard. Other options include luxury vinyl, ceramic wood or marble.
“Using matte-finish tile flooring is a great way to decrease the likelihood of slipping, without sacrificing style,” Allard adds. Durable flooring is particularly important when designing the perfect kids’ bathroom.
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Since color choices are important, transitional bathrooms have a light and relaxed feel: whites, grays, beiges, bones, blues – and also silvers. “One good choice for a transitional bathroom is Fragile Blue, which is crisp and clean,” explains Sue Kim, Color Marketing Manager at Valspar. “It is a sophisticated white with a tint of blue, and its freshness creates a luxurious, spa-like environment, creating a room you never want to leave.”