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  • Writer's pictureSteven Haase

The Most In Demand Bathroom Trend Isn’t What You’d Expect

A recent study revealed that fireplaces rank as the most coveted bathroom feature

All too often bathrooms get neglected in homes flaunting vivid kitchens and showplace living rooms, relegated to uninspiring utilitarian status. But, fueled by a pandemic-era desire to reside in true sanctuaries, the bathroom is quickly morphing into a soothing and spa-like retreat. One of the most dramatic ways to ramp up this underutilized space? An imposing yet serene fireplace. Industry specialists Showers To You dug into the top bathroom trends of the moment, and have found that fireplaces are the most popular bathroom accessory on Pinterest, popping up on 992 boards and garnering 191,178 pins.

Summer is an ideal time to embark on revamps that make way for a fireplace, promising that by the time temperatures start to dip, bubble baths will be accompanied by warm crackling flames. A cozy and characterful focal point, the bathroom fireplace has been embraced by the likes of Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady, who sought out a soft white one for the primary bath of their Los Angeles house by Landry Design Group and Joan Behnke & Associates. AD100 designer Elliott Barnes is also a fan, as evidenced by the mirrored fireplace he incorporated into the bathroom of an Alpine ski chalet.

Thomas O’Brien, founder and president of New York’s Aero Studios, also outfitted the primary bathroom of his Long Island abode in Bellport with a fireplace. Bountiful heat source aside, the allure of this bathroom trend, O’Brien tells AD PRO, is that it’s simply “a beautiful, luxurious thing.” Even the smallest of sitting rooms can benefit from a fireplace, he notes, but in the bathroom, it packs a particularly indulgent punch. “Bathrooms are usually organized around a vanity or tub in the center, but when there’s enough space for it to be a fireplace, then that’s even more special,” he says.

Although they can be factored into renovations, fireplaces are easier to accommodate in new-builds because they can be configured into commodious layouts from the get-go. Most important for all wood-burning fireplaces is ensuring the chimney is in tip-top shape or that a flue system has been properly installed. (Given the abundance of water splashing around near a tub, an electric fireplace is a no-no, and gas fireplaces require the extra hurdle of weaving in gas lines.) But once such logistics are in place, a joyful and gracious mood awaits. O’Brien enjoys peering at his fireplace through the open bathroom door. “It’s at the end of a long view, and even puts it in the bedroom. And it’s a wonderful thing to walk into,” he points out.

As for the style of fireplace most appropriate for a bathroom, it should ultimately reflect the overall aesthetic—or it can be an opportunity to intentionally bring a new layer to a design scheme. “A lot of what I do is helping a client find their way through lots of choices, navigating a way to make classic things feel young and fresh,” O’Brien explains. “Or sometimes people want to have a patterned carpet, but they can’t quite do it, or they are modernist and love a certain antique. I help them find a way to make that language work.” A fireplace is no exception. One behind glass, for example, could brighten a rustic ambiance, or a more formal version paired with artwork could add grandeur. A fireplace, O’Brien says, is another way to help “unlock choices.”

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