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It’s that time of year, all the white sales are on and everyone seems to be thinking of creating a fresh home sanctuary, which usually involves the bathroom. There is a lot to be said for a clean, white, Carrara marble-clad spa escape (I have one myself!) but lately I’m inspired by a cosier, more homey look that seduces you into spending more time there. Here are a few of my favourite examples:

Photo: chic black bathroom with exposed tarnished brass plumbing

I’ve mentioned the impossibly stylish Jenna Lyons (creative director of J. Crew) before but I will again because who doesn’t love this chic black bathroom? I’m a big fan of the exposed tarnished brass plumbing — she weathered it herself by soaking it in salt water to remove the brassiness (keep an eye out for a patina story coming up in our April issue) — and the black walls and tub. Black bathrooms are a hot, hot trend right now and end up being far cosier than the predictable spa look. Check out the new flagship J. Crew store she designed that has a similar feel, featured in issue two of online magazine Lonny.

Photo: concrete-like finish tub with galvanized metal window frame

I have to find out where my friend Sarah Dinnick got this gorgeous tub. It is matte-coated so that it has a concrete-like finish, which coordinates with the heated concrete floors and galvanized metal window frame. Artwork and a kilim rug warm it up and give it another layer of style. I also love her extra-long, single towel bar that runs the width of the room.

Photo: New York loft raised bathroom

The bathroom in the New York loft of Christiane Lemieux and Joshua Young, the dynamic duo behind Dwell Studio textiles, is all about the entrance. Raising it a couple of steps and adding double pocket doors makes it seem more spacious and grand. Again, a rug, a large ottoman and artwork on the ledge of the tub add character.

Photo: tailored, French hotel look for a bathroom

Continuing with the theme of furniture in the bathroom is this tailored, French hotel look that belongs to ex Domino magazine contributing editor Allison Sarofim. If you have a bathroom covered with '80s-style mirrored walls, adding wood framing is a great trick for making it feel current again. And cutting down on so many reflections of yourself!

Photo: Bathroom - bold colour, moulding and marble backsplash around the tub

This overly decorated look isn’t entirely my taste but it's fun and a big trend right now. I love bold colour in a bathroom and the moulding and marble backsplash around the tub are lighthearted and girly — I don’t think you could be cranky for long having a soak in here!

Photo: cowboy-inspired bathroom with furniture

This space takes furniture in the bathroom to a whole new level and its cowboy-inspired, eclectic vibe is refreshingly not serious — definitely not your typical spa effect! An unfitted, country look like this is really easy to work with and change around often.

Photo: cottage charm bathroom with rustic tub

A cleaner take on cottage charm is designer Darryl Carter’s bathroom in his Virginia farmhouse. I love its rustic tub and sparse, almost monastery, vibe.

Photo: Modern bathroom glass enclosed wet zone and wood slatted siding

This modern bathroom designed by Dana Lyon shows an updated version of the tub and shower being integrated in a glass-enclosed wet zone, Euro style. The wood slatted siding on the tub gives it a sauna feel and warms up the marble tile. I think the real star of this room is the narrow window that maintains privacy but still permits a great view. It reminds me of a funny scene with Colin Firth in the bathroom of the John Lautner house that was featured in Tom Ford’s A Single Man. The art directors have distilled the hottest looks from the era that happen to be on trend today. I highly recommend seeing it for the juicy '60s style inspiration.

P. S. Our February 2010 issue just hit newsstands — pick up a copy for more inspiration and useful info if you’re planning your own bathroom reno. 

Photo credits:
1. Melanie Acevedo
2. James Tse
3. From House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Angus McRitchie
4. From Domino: The Book of Decorating (2008 Simon & Schuster), photography by Paul Costello
5. Etoile collection from Waterworks
6. From Domino: The Book of Decorating (2008 Simon & Schuster), photography by Eric Cahan
7. From Elle Decor, photography by Simon Upton
8. From Palm Design Group

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