Gone are the days when bathrooms could be taken for granted as plain-Jane necessities. Apartment developers led the way with upgraded kitchens, and that trend toward higher-style fixtures and finishes has definitely trickled down the hall to the bath.

“My sense as it relates to the multifamily side of things is that bathrooms should not be viewed as an afterthought,” says Kevin Wisdom, senior vice president of ZOM Texas, a subsidiary of Florida-based ZOM Development. “It's a space within the home that contributes significantly to the lease or buy decision.”

FIT 'N FINISH: Castleby, Moen's popular bath (and kitchen) collection, has a unique styling that speaks to the past. But its brushed nickel finish, new to the Castleby line this year, definitely speaks to the present. The brushed nickel finish is available in the full bath suite, including the high-arc Roman tub faucet.
FIT 'N FINISH: Castleby, Moen's popular bath (and kitchen) collection, has a unique styling that speaks to the past. But its brushed nickel finish, new to the Castleby line this year, definitely speaks to the present. The brushed nickel finish is available in the full bath suite, including the high-arc Roman tub faucet.

Some of the recent changes are subtle. “On the market-rate end, I'm seeing a move from laminate tops to cultured marble, even stone or granite on the higher end,” says Gary Pascioni, senior vice president of Picerne Construction in Orlando, Fla. “There are also changes in lighting, from strip lighting to some low lighting [near the floor]. And almost every bathroom we do has a ceramic tile floor these days. It gives the bathroom more of a home appeal.”

A relatively simple way to give bathrooms an up-to-date look is to use fixtures that have cutting-edge finishes. Although chrome is still the most popular finish for both the kitchen and bath, many other newer finishes are gaining popularity with consumers. According to Gary Pember, wholesale director of marketing for Moen, brushed nickel has recently assumed the No. 2 spot in consumer preferences. Also coming on strong are such Old World finishes as oil-rubbed bronze, antique nickel, and wrought iron.

“My sense is that despite the fact that we all have budget and space constraints, we need to work to create bathrooms that are a comfortable enclave, more of a single-family home orientation,” says Wisdom. “Depending on the various options, it could be what makes someone decide between renting and buying.”

For more information, call Moen at 800-BUY-MOEN or visit: www.moen.com. Kathleen Stanley is a freelance writer in Washington.