Gone are the days when bathrooms were just the place you went to do your business.
These days, homeowners are turning their bathrooms into spacious retreats where they can wash away the stress of everyday life.
And as bathrooms become more prominent rooms in the house, bathroom lighting has become more decorative and emotionally evocative.
Just look at the lighting used in each of the winning bathrooms from the 2008 Design Competition from the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
Nearly 580 projects were entered into this year’s competition, which recognizes the best in residential kitchen and bath designs. Of those, 16 bathroom designs were recognized during the awards ceremony on April 11 at the National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Chicago.
Judges are now accepting entries for the 2009 Design Competition. Entries will be accepted through Oct. 20, and this year, the cash prizes will more than double to $100,000. Of that amount, $25,000 will be presented to the winner of the Pinnacle of Design Award.
In many of last year’s bathroom designs, decorative lighting took center stage as chandeliers, sconces and wall-mounted fixtures gave the bathrooms added personality.
Asian aesthetics were evident in many of the winning entries, including in the bathroom that received the Best Overall award.
Designed by Siri Evju of Siri Designs in Portland, OR, this bathroom uses muted colors and horizontal lines to evoke a peaceful serenity. Horizontal strips of wood flank the tub, and gray stone slabs make up a wall the divides the tub from the sink area.
Evju carried the design theme into the lighting fixtures by using rectangular, horizontal sconces from Hubbardton Forge whose yellow glass brings added warmth to the room.
Asian themes were evident in other entries as well, including the first place winner in the small bathroom category, which went to Michael Ranson of H O M E + atelier Michael Ranson in San Diego, CA.
Ranson said he got his design inspiration from his clients’ traditional Japanese garden that featured a gently flowing steam and a pond filled with koi fish.
Ranson tried to recreate the look of a traditional Japanese furo, or soaking tub, and he used natural material such as bamboo, pebbles and grass cloth in his design. To carry the theme through into the lighting fixtures, Ranson chose pendants from Resolute and ceiling fixtures from CTT Furniture, a California company that specializes in custom-designed Asian lighting fixtures and other architectural elements.
Designer Leslie Ann Cohen also evoked a feeling of Asian serenity in her bathroom design, which came in second place in the small bathroom category.
“Inspired by contemporary Asian design and natural elements, this bath epitomizes the definition of a Zen relaxation retreat. The floating hemlock cabinets, rugged colorful slate, striking glass tile and golden-sanded Venetian plaster walls draw you into this hideaway,” Cohen wrote in her design statement, which was submitted with her entry.
Here, mottled brown and gray marble slabs add color along the wall, and the sleek black-and-white lighting sconce from Hubbarton Forge looks perfectly placed attached to a large, contemporary mirror at the vanity.
Of course, not all of the winners went Asian in their designs.
In the large bathroom category, two of the winning bathrooms featured a feminine touch.
The second place design from Donna L.A. Riddell of the Artistry Design Group Ltd. in Victoria, BC, has a stately, European elegance. A grand archway flanked by columns separates the toilet and the shower from the tub and two large white vanities. An Italian Carara marble floor and polished nickel vintage-style faucets add to the sophisticated styling.
To really capture the regal look, Riddell used crystal chandeliers from Shoeneck above the tub and in the archway, and cloth-covered wall scones dress up the vanity.
A feminine elegance is also the theme in the honorable mention design from Tracey Scalzo of Eurotech Cabinetry Inc., in Sarasota, FL. Here, the vanity area features decorative pilasters and gold fixtures provide a regal touch. Brass sconces mounted to the mirror and dripping with crystals complete the effect.
From a lighting perspective, one of the most interesting award-winning designs was from Mark Morris Design Group in Brisbane, CA, which received an honorable mention in the small bathroom category.
Morris explained in his design summary that he had to design a bathroom for an Edwardian flat in San Francisco.
Because the bathroom was built out of a space that used to be a hallway and had no external windows, Morris said he had to use dramatic lighting and extraordinary materials to give the room interest.
Morris used onyx pendants from Basic Source to add visual interest above the sink and recessed cans from Juno for directed overhead light.
Drenched in emerald greens, reds and browns, Morris said the inspiration for the color palate came from an oil painting that was part of the owner’s extensive art collection.
For more information on the 2009 National Kitchen and Bath Association Design Competition, visit www.nkba.org .