When it comes to bathrooms, homeowners are increasingly looking for practical and flexible design solutions that don’t compromise on style. Lisa Hibberd gets the low-down on the latest fitted furniture launches, and finds out how they meet clients’ expectations in terms of both form and function.
“Fitted furniture endures because of the seamless look it offers,” says Julie Lockwood, product manager for fitted bathroom furniture at PJH. “That wall-to-wall finish which, almost regardless of style, offers a clean and integrated appearance. With lots of unit types and sizes available, fitted furniture brings small gaps and awkward, redundant areas into use which is great for storage purposes, as well as covering up any room shape imperfections or visible pipework.” The continuing trend for a streamlined look is no doubt inspired by the multitude of sleek, clutter-free bathrooms showcased on Instagram and Pinterest – often tricky to achieve in a busy family space with minimal storage.
National sales and development manager for Mereway, Ed Norris, suggests that fitted bathroom furniture not only makes a bold statement in a customer’s bathroom, but creates simplicity and ease of use. “Over the past year, home renovations, particularly in the bathroom, have become very popular and our fitted bathrooms are accessible and flexible with easy installation and a luxurious feel. Storage has been a real focus for quite some time and introducing this into a bathroom means that consumers are maximising their space whilst staying on-trend.”
“Colour will continue to play an important role in fitted bathroom furniture design in 2022,” reports Helen Clark, head of marketing at Utopia Bathrooms. “At the moment, blues, greys and pinks are extremely popular, so much so that we have added three new greys to our ranges, plus two more pinks and one blue in addition to our existing colour palette. We are definitely finding that customers are happy to add their own personality to a room and colour is a great way of doing this. Looking at our Roseberry painted timber collection, it’s clear to see that consumers are becoming very bold. They are not afraid to invest in colour, even in smaller bathrooms, to inject their own style and personality.”
“Over the past two years we have seen an increase in interest for fitted bathroom furniture, especially when combined in an en-suite setting,” says Simon Collyns, marketing and retail sales director at Symphony Group. “Bathroom furniture styles seem to fit into two categories; the first is very modern and sleek, with white or gloss white finishes continuing to be very popular. The other style is more classic and traditional with coloured painted furniture, often matched with reproduction Victorian or Edwardian-style sanitaryware and brassware. Our biggest seller continues to be our Gloss White furniture; a minimal look that is matched with an unfussy style of unit and door.”
RAK Ceramics UK reports seeing quite a crossover from the kitchen to the bathroom, particularly with the trend for Shaker-style furniture. Ben Bryden, sales and marketing director, says: “Fitted furniture for the bathroom is quite a big commitment for the consumer, who wants the assurance that the look they settle on won’t date or go out of fashion too quickly, which is one of the reasons Shaker and classic-inspired styles remain so popular. Colour wise, warm tones and shades that combine well with nature-inspired materials are on trend. Darker colours are also popular, with a focus on blues and greens in particular.”
It seems that customisation is a key consideration for clients, with a greater demand than ever for creating a bespoke space. “This is especially true of hardware and handle options, fascia finishes as well as more choice in terms of furniture configuration,” says Greg Williams, furniture designer at Roper Rhodes. “In the same vein, storage is a top priority and consumers are looking to include different styles of storage such as drawers, doors and open shelving, in different combinations to suit their own individual tastes and requirements. Most notably, we are predicting a trend for more multifunctional fitted bathrooms – that might also incorporate a vanity table, for instance, as well as slim depth fitted furniture – which by all accounts is perennially popular.”
For retailers, fitted furniture offers a great opportunity to upsell complementary products such as brassware, mirrors and bathroom lighting. “Likewise, when we launch a new finish in Roper Rhodes, our retailers can benefit from a fresh new showroom display, simply by changing fascias. Finally, buying a fitted furniture suite requires the guidance and expertise of an experienced bathroom retailer, giving independent stockists the upper hand over larger online retailers.”