A closer look at bathroom design trends for 2020

Here’s what several top designers in the D.C. region and two national experts had to say about the latest bathroom design trends.


The Siglo Japanese soaking tub from Signature Hardware is smaller and deeper than a standard bathtub and has a bench seat. (Courtesy of Signature Hardware)

Tubs, once banished from the master bathroom, have made a comeback. But not every bathroom has room for a large, free-standing basin. Enter Japanese soaking tubs, also known as ofuro tubs. They are smaller and deeper than a standard bathtub and have a bench seat.

“Gone are the days of big bulky tubs that collect dust,” Alexandria Hubbard of Case Design/Remodeling said. “When people do take baths, they want the ultimate spa experience. People love the small, unique look of the Japanese soaking tub. They take up less space in the bathroom, come in multiple different finish options, and even will help save on you water bills as they consume less water.”


Walk-in showers with no threshold have been popular for a while. Now, the use of large-format tiles and linear drains is growing. Large-format tiles start at 16-inches but can run up to 10 feet. They are square or rectangular and made from ceramic, porcelain and stone. By minimizing grout lines, these generously sized tiles create a seamless look and give the illusion of a bigger space.

“Large-format tile is popular as it gives a consistent look to the wall and is easy to clean with less grout lines,” Anthony Wilder Design Build’s Shannon Kadwell said. “With the look of tile becoming more like real stone and without the maintenance, it is a great option for that busy lifestyle.”

Shower drains have gone from utilitarian to urbane. Rather than a center drain, showers now have floors that slope toward a long, narrow line along the floor or tucked into the wall.

“Linear drains in showers are a way to hide the necessary drain in the floor,” Kadwell said. “A linear drain is an easy way to make a shower look more elegant. For a very upscale look, you can also incorporate a wall drain when the floor slopes to one end and the water disappears beyond at a small line at the base of the wall were a drain is installed.”


Sarah Kahn Turner of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath installed floating vanities in this bathroom. (Keith Miller/Keiana Photography)

Floating vanities, which don’t touch the ground but hang off a wall, are a contemporary option for a clean, sleek look, Hubbard said. But they don’t have as much storage space.

“Two reasons this style of vanity has become popular is that in a small bathroom just having that extra floor space, gives the feeling of a more open room layout, not having chunky cabinetry go all the way to the floor,” said Mitchell Parker, editor at Houzz. “It’s also easier to clean underneath it. You don’t have the legs of the vanity to work around.”


Bidets have been common in Europe, where installation is mandatory in some countries, but have struggled to catch on in the United States. Toilets with built-in bidets are gaining favor, especially among older Americans who want to age in place.

“Bidets have always been popular in other places around the world, but the bidet is just starting to trend in North America,” Hubbard said. “Bidets are very popular for the health benefits they provide, and help with hemorrhoids, constipation, pregnancy and postpartum hygiene, and overall general cleanliness. By having a built-in bidet, you can have this feature without needing two separate fixtures.”


Another European export is decorative cement tiles. These hand-painted designs are “a wonderful way to add personality to a space,” Kadwell said. “Handcrafted tiles are being used to add texture and interest to a space. [They are] a bit of nostalgia without too much fuss. With so many designs and colors you really are only limited by your imagination.”

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The wet room, which comes from Japan, does away with an enclosed shower. Everything is open and can be exposed to moisture. The walls and floors are waterproof. The vanity and toilet are usually hung on the walls. The floors are sloped toward a drain and usually heated to encourage quick evaporation. The benefits are no glass shower screens to clean and an openness that makes the bathroom appear larger, which is great for small bathrooms and works well in contemporary designs.

“It’s simply a bathroom in which every surface is really intended to get wet,” Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor, said. “The vanity countertop is right there. The toilet is right there. It tends to be a very compact, very well organized, space-efficient design.”

The drawbacks are this type of bathroom can be humid, adequate ventilation is needed to avoid mold, and towels and toilet paper can get wet.


Voice control is “really migrating all over the home,” DiClerico said. “It came into the home via Alexa and Google Home, but now digital assistants, we’ll call them, are being incorporated into objects, items all over the home.”

Now when you brush your teeth or put on makeup, you can check sports scores, read your horoscope or catch up on the latest headlines.

“Smart mirrors will get some pushback from some people who view the bathroom as a sanctuary, but these things, they’re incredible,” DiClerico said. “You can call up your email, you can make phone calls, you can check the weather while you are getting ready in the morning.”

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