Updating your bathroom with oh-so-2014 style

April Dykman | Improvement Center Columnist | January 22, 2014

Does your bathroom have the personality of a wet (wash) rag? Or maybe it has a little too much personality, circa 1970.

Remodeling the bathroom is one of those projects that we tend to put on the "someday" list of to-dos. But if you're ready to replace that boring beige tile or rip out your avocado-green laminate, these top bathroom trends for 2014 may just convince you that this is the year to do it.

1. When it comes to color, black is the new black. Picture a black sink bowl against a white wall. Or a black floor tile in an all-white bathroom. A shot of black in your bathroom can provide a striking contrast that's positively Pinterest-worthy. It's also a great way to add a masculine touch to a shared bathroom. Another bonus? Since it's still a neutral color, you can use it for permanent fixtures and finishes, then change up your bathroom's look with pops of color in towels or accessories.

2. Break down barriers and create a wet room. A traditional bathroom has a built-in, enclosed shower area, but in a wet room, the room itself is the enclosure. This means it has to be fully waterproofed, but it's worth considering, especially if you have a small bathroom.

Wet rooms are becoming more popular because barrier-free showers make the room feel open and bigger. For instance, you can forgo the shower curtain, which will instantly add visual space to the room. In addition, wet rooms are great for people with mobility issues, since you don't have to step up or over anything to use the shower.

3. Lighten the visual load with a floating vanity. A floating vanity is secured to the wall, and doesn't have the "legs" of a traditional bathroom vanity. Some models are sink-only, some are a sink and countertop, and some are a sink, countertop, and small cabinet below. These are a great alternative to a large, clunky sink cabinet, especially if you're remodeling a smaller bathroom. They take up zero floor space and have a more modern feel.

4. Spend less time cleaning with quartz countertops. Engineered stone, or quartz, is a composite material made by binding together crushed stone with a polymer resin. The result, according to Consumer Reports' testing, is a material that's almost identical to sealed granite. But there are a few differences that have made quartz more and more popular. For one thing, it's better at resisting chips and cracks than granite.

Also, since quartz is non-porous, it resists stains and is more resistant to mildew and mold than natural stone, making it a whole lot easier to clean. And because it's non-porous, you don't have to seal it.

5. Opt for eco-conscious and high-efficiency fixtures. Giant spa tubs that use 75 gallons of water are so 2013. Instead, homeowners are gravitating toward water-saving, high-efficiency showerheads and low-flow toilets. These might not sound like the most luxurious updates -- after all, no one wants to shower under a sad trickle of water or worry that the toilet won't, er, quite do it's job.

But manufacturers have listened to those complaints, and today there are options that are truly highly efficient. Today's water-saving showerheads have improved features like sprayhead design that compensate for less water flow, which gives them the spray power you need for a satisfying shower. On the porcelain throne front, low-flow toilets have been redesigned with wider flapper valves and trapways, as well as glazed trapways, which reduces friction and allows waste to be flushed away more easily.

Ready to start remodeling? Check out our Bathroom Remodeling Design resources for more ideas and a free remodeling cost estimate.

About the Author

April Dykman is a writer who specializes in real estate, personal finance, and entrepreneurship. Her work has been featured on MSNBC, Fox Business, Forbes MoneyBuilder, Inc. Magazine, and Yahoo! Finance.