Asian-style interiors evoke serenity, and in today’s hectic world, it’s easy to see how having an ambiance of calm has become one of the leading choices in residential bathroom design. Contemporary styles with an Asian flair – especially in bathrooms – accomplish this by blending colors found in nature with clean, contemporary lines that create a sense of harmony and balance. Lighting manufacturers have noticed this trend as well and, over the past several years, have introduced many lighting fixture designs that complement this aesthetic.
The best results in upgrading a homeowner’s bath comes from hiring a professional designer, as creating an Asian-inspired bathroom takes an understanding of several styles and their distinct characteristics in order to achieve the result that the client wants. According to a study of 7,000 member companies of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), 81 percent of recently completed projects are upgrades to existing bathrooms.
“Contractors are getting busy as remodeling continues to gradually trend back up in 2014,” says Kevin Anundson, MCR, CKBR, NARI national President, and Vice President of the remodeling firm Renovations Group Inc. in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.
Sol Quintana Wagoner, the senior interior designer for Jackson Design and Remodeling in San Diego, says there are many ways bathrooms can be remodeled to blend an Asian feel into a bathroom remodel.
Jackson Design won a 2014 National CotY (Contractor of the Year) Award from NARI in the Residential Bath Under $30,000 category, where the homeowners wanted to make a memorable, dramatic statement with Asian undertones in their contemporary-style home. The project featured a wall of tile in deep hues of ebony, gold, and dark brown to create an earthy backdrop illuminated by lighting covered in gold leaf. The lighting is installed on a cable system with weights that allows the user to adjust the height, providing a functional solution with an Asian heritage. A curved mirror framed in a rustic wood hangs above an arced onyx sink that tops a free-standing vanity with Shoji-style doors. Natural daylight is brought into the space through a fixed window with obscure glass as well as a simple black entry pocket door fitted with Shoji-style panels.
“We find that clients requesting Asian-inspired designs for their remodel often have acquired an affinity for Asian aesthetics during their travels or while building their collections of art and objects,” notes Quintana Wagoner. “They want to live with a visual expression of that affinity in their daily lives, surrounded by beautiful design in their homes.”
While planning an Asian-style interior, balance is often the key defining aspect. In addition to finding the right harmony of colors, it’s also important to incorporate different textures and elements. Adding glass partitions, natural stone decorations, wooden floors, bamboo blinds, and a few organic textures – as well as the use of both natural light and lighting fixtures – is critical.
Light and water are the prominent design elements in the Japanese-style master bath suite created by Foxcraft Design Group in Falls Church, Virginia. The project – which won a National CotY from NARI in the Residential Bath Over $60,000 category – has a large open curbless shower that lets natural light flood in from the window and skylight. Using a combination of half and full walls, the shower provides privacy plus controls at the entrance that allow for the adjustment of water temperature before one enters the shower. The grey and brown colors used on the home’s Japanese-style exterior are echoed in the bath through textured wet floor shower tiles, while the cross-cut pattern on the porcelain tiles is reminiscent of tree bark and accentuated by the wood cabinetry. Shoji screens allow natural light to filter through and provide the ability to open and close the access to the dressing room area and commode for privacy.
Bathroom renovations that open up the space to bring in light and employ nature-inspired design elements such as river pebble shower floors is a trend that the team at DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in Colorado Springs, Colo., is also seeing. “People want a warm, spa-like abode that is welcoming,” says owner Mark Witte, who handles approximately 50 projects a year, of which 75 percent are bathroom remodels. He has noticed that homeowners are opting for stream showers with multiple showerheads, tiles on the walls, music, and built-in televisions.
A bathroom remodel is considered by many industry experts to be one of the better returns on investments a homeowner can make. While costs can vary – depending on whether the footprint of the original bathroom is maintained or plumbing lines and electrical wires need to be moved – experts estimate that homeowners reap about 65-percent payback from a bathroom remodel.
“What we’re seeing in our market is a range of bathroom remodeling projects with master suites ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 that involve a complete tear-out of everything, rearranging of fixtures, new double vanities, tub, shower, and commode,” Witte says. “Hall bathrooms and powder rooms are usually about $15,000, when the footprint of the existing space is used. What drives the cost is how much you move [things] around, the size of the bathroom, upscale fixtures, and plumbing. Many of the professional remodelers surveyed by NARI reveal that today’s customers want to spurge on comfort items like heated floor tiles and towel racks. In addition, upscale and unexpected lighting fixtures – such as cable lighting, chandeliers, a row of pendants over the sink, or overhead lighting in the shower – are also high in demand.