Bathrooms aren't just utilitarian anymore; they're becoming spalike retreats.

Bathrooms aren't just utilitarian anymore; they're becoming spalike retreats. Credit: iStockphoto/hikesterson

Bathrooms aren't just utilitarian spaces anymore; they're becoming personalized, spalike retreats. If you're ready to hit refresh on your bathroom, these eight ideas will inspire you to turn this everyday space into a calming sanctuary.

1. Accent walls

Homeowners and designers are increasingly using accent walls to amp up interest in the bathroom. These can be used to liven up a neutral palette or help draw focus to a showstopping feature, such as a soaking tub or custom vanity.

If you decide to add an accent wall, carefully choose which wall to showcase. Look to the features around or on the wall — if you're still not sure which wall is best, select the one most visible from the doorway.

2. Free-standing vanities

Free-standing vanities, with their furniture-like appeal, present a great opportunity to add a custom look. Plus, they offer the same design and storage options as built-ins, but at a less expensive price point.

Updating your vanity is one of the quickest ways to change the look of your bathroom without undertaking a remodel. To customize the vanity even further, swap out the hardware with pulls in a favorite metallic finish, then accessorize the countertop with a pretty tray or vase.

3. Black accents

Though hardware and faucet finishes are one way to try this trend, you can also go with deep-hued vanities, black accent walls and even plumbing fixtures.

Used sparingly, black accents can provide a pop of contrast in a traditional white bathroom. When applied liberally, black accents help foster a moody, glamorous vibe.

4. Natural tones, textures

Subtle, natural hues are on the rise for their calming effect. Whether you prefer a minimalist Scandinavian look, a rustic farmhouse vibe or a traditional feel, natural tones and textures work well with a variety of design styles. To help modernize the space, incorporate a small dose of black to ground the look.

5. Double vanities

Although double sinks can reduce the amount of usable counter space, many manufacturers are addressing that issue with creative storage solutions. Vanities outfitted with power outlets, full-extension drawers and custom holders for grooming tools can help minimize clutter and make the most of limited space. Side-by-side vanities are another stylish choice with numerous customization options.

6. Large showers

When space allows, homeowners are ditching the shower-bath combo and opting for a walk-in shower and equally luxurious tub. A larger shower area presents ample opportunity for introducing customization and spalike extras. Add an element of luxury with built-in storage niches or a teak bench lined with pampering products.

7. Round mirrors

Thanks to tile, flooring and woodwork, bathrooms tend to be dominated by hard lines. To break up all the sharp angles, homeowners and designers are increasingly choosing round mirrors over rectangular ones: The circular shape helps bring softness and visual contrast into the functional space.

Choose a round mirror that fits your space. If you're unsure about the size, consider selecting an oversize option so that the mirror can accommodate people of various heights.

8. Spa-inspired luxuries

Many manufacturers are introducing ways to bring home luxury experiences (at a variety of price points). Personalize your shower with a smart outlet controller that uses voice commands or an app to start the water and adjust it to your desired temperature. Or install a shower head that features massaging rollers or produces an overhead rainfall effect for a pampered feel.

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