How to create a bathroom you love—that also loves you back.

With our homes as sanctuaries more than ever, it can still be a tough decision to leap into a bathroom remodel.

“If there’s one thing we always reassure clients, it’s that it’s okay to make the change,” says Ben Karmann of Infusion Kitchen and Bath by ETNA Supply in Traverse City. He notes there are legitimate reasons some homeowners hesitate—uncertainty about how long they might stay in the home, budget or availability of contractors.

“There are people who might not want to do something too taste specific or worry about resale, or just want to dip a toe into updating, and that’s okay too,” Karmann says. “There are ways to do it where you’re either keeping it very neutral or doing a surface update, like a mirror or fixtures—and we can walk clients through that easily so they can DIY those things.”

And although bathroom remodels give some of the biggest bang for the buck in resale value, it’s also important to create a space you love.

“The trick,” Karmann says, “is helping people view changing their spaces as a life upgrade, not just an interior upgrade.”

The new bathroom products, design trends and tech this year are all about creating a space that soothes, and Infusion helps guide clients to make the most of every feature and fixture.

Kohler® Derring® Carillon® Round Wading Pool®

A New Neutral

Soothing means avoiding some of the extreme color trends or loud wallpaper and focusing on neutrals, which tend to be easy on the eyes and appeal to owners AND potential buyers. “We make sure that our clients are on-trend, not getting too crazy—I tell my clients, honestly, ‘I won’t let you do anything awful—keep it neutral and natural, it’s always going to sell well.’”

“Big pops of color—oranges, pinks, bright greens—are more extreme trends,” he adds. Instead, think inspired neutral. But neutral doesn’t mean “beige,” and Karmann warns that gray is “pretty played out.”

“To get a sense of neutral, just look outside,” Karmann suggests. “Those are your natural colors, and that includes the trees.” So, colors like forest green or stormy lake blue are, in fact, great potential neutrals in a palette. Karmann suggests a deep navy vanity with a white marble top can read as a classic neutral look. Stainless and chrome are low-level accent tones that will go with any color palette.

Also neutralizing are natural naked-looking wood grains, which play beautifully off of shades of soft white or ivory. “You can pair some updated gold-tone fixtures with these and they pair very well together,” Karmann says.

To keep neutral from reading as “blah,” be sure to incorporate texture. Karmann loves the Kohler® line of vessel sinks that include paisley or herringbone textured patterns. He also recommends touches like the Brizo® Kintsu™ series of fixtures, which includes teak wood in the handles for sink and shower faucets.

Kohler® Verdera® Voice Lighted Mirror

Kohler® Veil®

Smart Tech and Personalized Touches

Creating a space that’s a visual sanctuary is one part of the equation, but new tech products are blowing up the way we think about such a personal space as the bathroom, making it a room that can actually cater to your comfort and even take care of you.

One huge trend is backlit smart mirrors, like the Kohler Verdera®, a Kohler Konnect™ product. You can start the day by asking what the weather’s like, adjusting the brightness of the mirror so you can get a closer shave, playing music or getting updates on your morning commute. A particularly important feature is these mirrors offer full-spectrum light, which helps alleviate the effects of seasonal affective disorder in Michigan’s long gray winters.

You can get your shower in on the game, too. Programmable showers let you start the water running before your feet hit the floor, dialed in to your favorite temperature—and adjustable for each person using the shower, too. The same goes for heated bathroom floors, which you can control from a smartphone and set to warm up before you wake up.

Smart tech has even reached the throne—cleansing seats for the Kohler smart toilets like the Veil® and Numi® synch to your phone and have a built-in bidet seat (no more worrying about toilet paper shortages) that can cleanse and air dry, as well as offering a heated seat that is self-cleaning. If you don’t want to replace an entire toilet, you can purchase the seats individually and do a DIY install.

Delta® EMMELINE™ faucet with Lumicoat™ finish

Karmann has seen clients embrace the bathroom-as-sanctuary idea fully enough to install a bar tap in the bathroom with instant hot water—which the client uses to brew a cup of tea while starting their morning routine.

Some of these new options are not just smart and beautiful, but healthier, too. Hands-free faucet options can keep your fixtures touchless and free of germs. And clean-coat technology, such as the Delta® Lumicoat™ finish, means fixtures are hydrophobic, repelling water (and germs) so mold and bacteria don’t grow. The surface is wipeable without needing chemicals or cleaners.

Sure, some of it may seem like an extreme luxury, Karmann admits. But when looked at as a whole, there’s something about really customizing and personalizing a space to your own particular needs that’s very comforting.

“If you look at this as creating a sanctuary, as enhancing comfort, then it’s really self-care,” Karmann says. “It’s very appropriate and it’s needed right now.

“We’re not just fluffing space, but fluffing our wellbeing,” he adds. “These touches can completely change our daily routines. We crave routines, and if we can better that routine, we better ourselves.”