by Blake Herzog
The basically all-white bathroom is almost a default setting, but design trends have breezed through trying to update this practical but chilly look.
Now we’re witnessing the rise of the natural wood vanity, poised to overtake the white-painted units that have dominated the market for decades. They’re accompanied by voluminous swatches of earth tones helping to ground our lavatories in nature’s energy and warmth.
Either or both will make yours a welcoming respite from the rush and drama of everyday life.
This might sound like a recipe for soggy, warped drawers and cabinets, but that really doesn’t have to be the case.
Solid birch, oak and maple can stand up well to the humid conditions of a bathroom as long as it’s well-ventilated and the vanity has a quality finish such as polyurethane, lacquer or varnish.
They’re also easier to repair and rehab if they are damaged, so you can keep them looking beautiful for years, if not decades.
High-density plywood doesn’t have the same appeal as solid wood but doesn’t expand as much due to moisture and is more affordable, so with a quality stain in the color you desire it can be a beautiful option.
Countertops also can be a well-sealed wood surface such as butcher block and any other solid wood, especially oak. If you want contrast, you have many other options from concrete to quartz.
For those who aren’t in the market for a new bathroom vanity there are plenty of other ways to add an earthy quality to bathrooms by selecting the right colors for small-ticket items like bathmats to big ones like a new floor.
Muted browns, beiges and greens can give your bathroom a natural, glowy undertone alone or be paired with grays or off-whites, charcoals, navies or bronze tones.
Well-varnished wood floors are a lovely option, and with a little extra TLC such as wiping up any droplets that do land on them, can shine with the same beauty as a wood vanity.
Bamboo and cork are a couple more sustainable materials that probably are better suited for bathroom use — both repel moisture and are mold and bacteria resistant. Bamboo is stronger and comes closer to the look of a hardwood floor, while cork is softer, warmer and reduces noise, though it tends to be less durable.
Many prefer tile floors, and they’re available in more materials, colors and patterns than ever. Travertine and limestone are two varieties that naturally bring brownish or sandy hues to your floor or shower wall with an understated beauty, while ceramic tiles can bring a riot of warm colors if you choose.
Wood-effect porcelain tile can offer the best of both worlds.
If you’re not up for a major bathroom renovation then painting or wallpapering the walls with taupe, sage, peach or a darker earth tone like espresso or sienna can infuse this room with coziness, as can towels and other linens.