When it comes to style, the bathroom is often one of the most overlooked rooms in the home. As long as it has the basics, most of us are happy. We might add a coat of paint here, change a leaking faucet there. In general, functional and clean are the only requirements most of us have for a bathroom.
However, more homeowners are committing to creating spa-like bath retreats, and spending more time thinking about how they will design and decorate what was previously a functional room. One of the most popular bathroom trends is European-inspired design, but what exactly does that entail?
Focus on Form and Function
In most American bathrooms, bathroom fixtures are, well, basic. Most of us do not give much thought to the style of necessities like toilets and tubs. European style adds a touch of style and panache to even the most utilitarian of items, making them as much a part of the bathroom’s décor as paint colors, flooring choices and accessories. When trying to incorporate European flair into your bathroom, consider the aesthetics of each piece, and how the lines and style complement each other. Even a slight shift of an angle or a deepening of a curve can make a significant difference in the appearance of an item in the room.
Clean, Minimalist Design
Another hallmark of European bathroom design is a lack of clutter — both in terms of design and in the items placed in the room. A European-style bathroom is not overloaded with knick-knacks and dust collectors. Instead, every piece has a purpose. Look for pieces with clean lines and minimal detailing, and maintain a neutral color palette inspired by nature.
That doesn’t mean the room has to feel austere or harsh, though. Because so many European bathrooms are on the smaller side, the emphasis on simplicity and minimalism is driven by practicality. There simply isn’t room for an abundance of “stuff” in the bath, and designers work hard to maximize the available space. The overall effect then is spaciousness and simplicity, creating a feeling of relaxation. You can bring this feeling into your bathroom by choosing items with clean designs and limiting excess clutter, and by carefully considering how you can best use the space.
Incorporate Natural Elements
One way European bathrooms maintain warmth while also achieving a modern, minimalist aesthetic is by incorporating natural elements. This is reflected in both colors — shades of white, cream, brown and gray are among the most common choices — and in building materials. For example, it’s not uncommon to find wood and stone accents in European baths; glass is another popular choice. Instead of the acrylic features found in so many American bathrooms, Europeans generally opt for glass. This contributes to the open and expansive feeling. Consider installing a teak vanity with a glass vessel sink, for instance, to capture the essence of European style.
While European bathrooms focus on simplicity, that doesn’t mean they sacrifice comfort and the day-to-day needs of the homeowner. Most European bathrooms incorporate features to enhance the bathing and grooming experience. For example, you’d be hard-pressed to find a European bathroom that lacks a bidet and one-piece toilets without mounting hardware are becoming more popular. And while whirlpool tubs have been popular in American bathrooms for the last decade, more homeowners are forgoing the units in favor of sleek, freestanding European-inspired soaking tubs that take up less space but still offer a relaxing bath and add beauty to the room.
The overall aesthetic of a European style bathroom is clean, uncluttered and relaxing. Thanks to the growing popularity of this style, it’s easier than before to find affordable and stylish elements. And just because the style is clean and uncluttered, it does not have to be devoid of personality. Add your own touches — luxurious towels, a plush rug and unusual sconces — to create a space both reflective of Europe, and your own personal taste and style.
About the Author: Ariel Connors covers home-design trends for a popular style blog. She dreams of someday being having a bathroom big enough to hold a bathtub and a shower.