Got the master bath blues? Tile, cabinets and chrome will blast it into the next century

The master bathroom is a sacred space; the one room in the house where you won’t trip over a toy or find a half-eaten sandwich. Give it priority on your home remodeling hit list, and you’ll begin every day with a smile.

Where to Start? Texture and Chrome

First order of business: Incorporate some texture, says Jamie Gold, principal of Jamie Gold Kitchen and Bath Design in San Diego. In the shower, try porcelain tile printed to look like wood (the French call it fois bois) or play with grass-cloth wallpaper everywhere else. And for goodness’ sake, make the switch to wall-mounted cabinets. It’s the fastest way to embrace another trend sweeping the nation: making things easy to clean, says Caroline Swift, a showroom sales consultant with Ferguson Enterprises in Colorado Springs, Colo. What about color? The “it” look is white cabinets with chrome fixtures, and it works with a variety of styles—from retro to traditional to contemporary. And while your iPad probably doesn’t need its own cabinet, plenty of people are carving out designated niches to protect their devices from status-update-threatening splashes.

Just Add Water

Folks aren’t just inviting their tablets into the bathroom; they’re also welcoming in innovative fixtures that add convenience and a bit of wow. Touch2O® Technology turns mortal faucets into superhero spouts that turn on and off with the tap of a wrist or forearm. In the shower, H2Okinetic® showerheads envelop visitors in a warm cocoon of more water than a standard shower—all while using less water.

Style Squared

Move over, oval. Sinks (stone and copper are hot) and free-standing tubs are joining the shower movement and going square. How those squares are installed is important, too: Under-mount sinks within wall-mounted countertops offer “this nice, clean, uninterrupted piece of countertop that can be wiped down in a minute,” Swift says. (Sensing a theme?)

Thinking Ahead

One of the more surprising master bath trends: younger clients thinking ahead 20 or 30 years, Gold says. Delta’s universal design shower systems fit the bill with zero-threshold showers, benches, designer-style grab bars and handheld showerheads. “The goal is to have your space feel like a resort spa and not a rehab hospital suite,” Gold says.

Recycling Rules

For those sensitive to sustainability, choices are expanding beyond bamboo floors. Swift, for instance, likes to repurpose antique pieces of furniture to work as vanities before pairing them with contemporary sinks—square, of course.