A fresh take on beautiful bathrooms

2022 trends for this year and beyond 

There has been a noted surge in home improvement projects in the last couple of years, much of it attributed to increased time at home to envision projects and assess what’s missing to transform living spaces into dream homes. 

Bathrooms, specifically, have seen an uptick in attention.

The demand for products and labor is high, and the supply has gotten smaller.

“We can’t just give a general, ‘Oh it takes six weeks to get a product’ anymore,” Kelly Behnke, Senior Sales Design Consultant at Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Store in Appleton, says. “We have to look at every single product and we have to know alternatives… we do have a lot of products, but depending, you might have to do some compromising.”

Delayed timeframes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes experts are seeing in bathroom remodeling. There’s also been a shift in what people are asking for: luxurious, spa-like scenes are on the rise as opposed to solely functional spaces.

“We’ve had a little bit of a switch in our mental thought process about things that are more important to us,” Behnke says. “Creating a more comfortable, safe living space is on people’s minds… especially having nicer amenities that they’ve thought about for a while but are now thinking, ‘Let’s do it!’”

Bathroom updates range from extensive to cosmetic, and options reflect that wide scope. But first, Kristi Kuchta, Vice President of Re-Bath of Northeast Wisconsin, urges not to rush and recommends research for peace of mind. 

“Ask for referrals. Don’t feel pressure to sign with a company before you’ve truly done your due diligence,” she says. “As more people invest in home remodeling, warranties are top of mind. Giving homeowners the peace of mind that their investment comes with a lifetime warranty is reassuring.”

Once the ball gets rolling, there’s a lot to take in.

“It’s easy for people to get overwhelmed,” Kyle Breaker, Project Developer at Tureks Plumbing Services in Appleton, agrees. “But there’s a snowball effect and things fall into place. Once you have your countertop selected or your tile shower selected, it’s always, ‘What’s touching what?’”

“I always tell customers to find one thing they like,” Teri Weber, Project Developer at Tureks Plumbing Services in Appleton, adds. “We’ll base everything else off of that. It starts with one decision.”

Start with the items with the least amount of options, like acrylics for tubs or showers. Flooring and paint should be one of the final choices because of the sheer number of possibilities.

Shower trends:

While bathtubs used to reign supreme, it’s one of the first things renovators are seeing updated today.

“We’ve seen more tub to shower conversions in homes, removing bulky drop-in tubs and creating and customizing larger showers for homeowners…” Kuchta says.

“I’ve seen some new homes where there’s maybe one standard bathtub somewhere but in a master bath it’s just a big shower,” Behnke agrees. “Some people aren’t bathers, they’re not looking for the big soaking tub. They take that space and they make a larger, really nice shower.”

Personal shower systems vary from basic to high-tech, and run the gamut of pure functionality to “smart.”

“It’s a grab bar that mounts vertically… it has a handheld that moves up and down so you can take a shower sitting down if you need to for mobility reasons,” Weber says. “If we’re doing a smaller shower where a seat isn’t feasible, then we’re doing a lot of the handhelds that magnetically catch out of the main showerhead.”

“Grab bars have come a long way in the last couple of years,” Breaker insists. “They’re making them look aesthetically pleasing so if you’re 21 years old and you walk in the bathroom, you’re thinking ‘Oh that’s a beautiful shower’ but yet for your 85-year-old grandmother it’s full-function.”

On the flip side, technology enthusiasts have a lot to be excited about. Digital showers have impressive components like multiple shower heads, body sprays and hand showers within one unit, and can be equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 

“Technology is certainly coming more into play,” Behnke says. “You can actually control digital showers and things from your phone. You can put speakers in your shower. Control steam. It can all run through these digital systems.”

Behnke explains there have also been noticeable advances in the conservation of water without lacking comfort.

“Moen has something called Flow. You put it on your water supply and it monitors your water supply so it can detect leaks,” she says. “Kohler introduces air in a product called Katalyst to make it feel like a fuller spray. Delta has a little disk in their shower head that makes it feel like a fuller spray. That’s some of the technology that’s coming into play. Lower flow, less water usage without sacrificing the benefit of the product.”

Trends in flooring:

Luxury vinyl tile, vinyl based pieces that go in individually and are grouted and look like tile, are seeing an increase in prominence for aesthetic purposes and practicality.

“Vinyl plank is very popular because once it’s installed it’s waterproof,” Breaker explains. “If someone wants that wood floor look they can now do that without having to worry about any damage. It’s actually more scratch resistant than even hardwood.”

As far as heated floors go, Breaker is sure to give realistic expectations.

“Usually when we’re doing it, we’re doing it as a retrofit,” he says. “It’s being done electrically with a programmable thermostat. A lot of people think with a heated floor if you shut the door it’s going to be warmer than the rest of the house… you might be able to go up a couple of degrees.”

Trending toilets:

Taller, comfort height toilets (the height of a typical kitchen chair) are the norm nowadays, and range from “smart” toilets with bidets to standard models with or without full skirts.

“Over in Europe, they have (bidets) everywhere. Part of it is the germ factor,” Behnke says. “In terms of toilets, fully skirted versions versus the ones where you see the trapway are much easier to clean and have a more streamlined look.”

“(Toilets) are mostly white now,” Weber says. “Very rarely there’s a biscuit. My grandma had green, my mom had blue. Now it’s almost always white.”

Vanities and sinks:

Taller, wall-hung vanities with clean, simplified lines are coming more into play, pushing the mid-century modern trend.

“Wall hung vanities with a leg configuration underneath makes it more of a piece of furniture, not just a cabinet that’s stuck there,” Behnke says. “Simplified door styles, elevated legs, there are a lot of options. Painted cabinetry is very strong too.” 

Experts say motion-sensored faucets and other fixtures in black are here to stay, while vessel sinks have gone to the wayside. Undermount sinks have remained popular, due in part to ease of cleaning.

“Homeowners are choosing products that are easier to clean and maintain… (and) more single handle faucets versus the traditional center set sink faucets,” Kuchta says. 

The 1990s had matching wood colors and polished brass, whereas 2022 is all about matte black, champagne bronze and a mix-and-match philosophy.

“Wood types don’t have to match!” Weber exclaims. “You can have multiple different woods in multiple different colors in your home and it looks wonderful. It’s different than in the ‘90s. Not everything needs to match anymore.”  

“Green is making a comeback!” Kuchta adds. “Homeowners are pairing green with warm and cool greys.”

Whether high-definition laminate, quartz or cultured marble, countertops are beginning to stray from busy, speckled patterns to subtle veins throughout.

More than ever, experts say homeowners are seeking one-of-a-kind accents and bold, unique flavors in their home and bathroom designs. 

“There are definitely trends out there and there will always be trends, but I think as years go by, people are more individualistic… there’s a uniqueness,” Breakers says. “It’s really cool to see, it’s really fresh and keeps you on your toes. It’s not cookie cutter.” 


Old school style versus new school trends

Polished brass | Matte black and Champagne bronze

Vessel sinks | Undermount sinks

Bath/shower combos | Large showers with glass doors

Matching | Mixed metals and woods

Understated and uniform | Unique and bold

Cool grey tones | Grey with warm, beige undertones

Busy, speckled countertops | Subtle veined countertops

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