In Focus: Modern Bathroom Trend

WORDS Robyn Alexander PHOTOS Elsa Young/Bureaux; Supplied; Warren Heath/Bureaux; Greg Cox/Bureaux; Henrique Wilding/Perfect Hideaways/Courtesy of Victorian Bathrooms

Personal, private and above all restorative, the Modern Haven bathroom is a dreamy, aesthetically pleasing retreat, as well as a space in which to bathe and dress.  


Modern Haven bathroom
Bathroom manufacturing specialists Duravit, whose Zencha range (designed by Sebastian Herkner) is seen here, have also identified the Modern Haven bathroom as a key trend, suggesting that “natural materials, subtle colours and organic forms create an inviting bathroom in which to while away some time”.

In an increasingly frenetic world, even our homes have become places from which we work – and where it can sometimes be difficult to find a peaceful corner to retreat to. The Modern Haven trend might just be the answer: it’s all about the bathroom as a space to linger, and in which we relax and regenerate. Intensely personal and private, the Modern Haven bathroom is a place to spend quality time preparing to venture into the outside world – but it’s also more than a dressing room, doing triple duty as a leisure space that features a chair or chaise on which to curl up and read, or just take some much-needed time out. It definitely has a soft rug rather than a bath mat, and might also include luxe curtains, library shelves, a sound system and other entertainment options.  


  • Hygge is always going to reign supreme as your favourite interior aesthetic. 
  • The latest Nigella Lawson cookbook is by your bedside.  
  • You’d much rather have family photos on your walls than expensive art. 
  • Moody autumn is your best season of the year.  
  • Your first-choice destination for a weekend away is a luxe yoga retreat.  


Modern Haven bathroom
This luxe bathroom with a view includes a round freestanding tub – Agape’s In-Out bathtub, designed by Benedini Associati, is a good match for this one – and a white Spartan Boxx heated towel rail from Jeeves.

Bathroom manufacturer Duravit suggests we will see our bathrooms as living areas rather than merely functional zones. “Not only are contemporary bathrooms being designed in an increasingly homely style in terms of their sanitary objects and bathroom furniture,” says the brand, “but furnishings, lamps, textiles and accessories are finding their way into this corner of the home.”  

In addition, the bathroom is “no longer merely a place for a daily care and health routine. It has become a place of refuge from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, where you can feel at ease, unwind and be at one with yourself.”  

And how is the space organised? “Room boundaries become fluid, with the washing area and bathtub located in the centre of the bedroom, for instance, and only the toilet being physically separated,” says Duravit. “Floating spaces work because sanitary objects are now designed and installed like furniture – as decorative standalone features made from natural materials such as ceramics, wood and stone, with a look and feel that creates a sense of sanctuary.”  

Italtile’s marketing manager Nicole Russell suggests that South Africans are definitely ready to embrace the trend. “Since Covid, we have seen more consumers investing in their bathrooms, creating sanctuaries more than functional spaces – including natural, soft and soothing elements, initiating a space that can revitalise and bring a soothing experience,” she says.  

Tonic Design cofounder and interior designer Philippe van der Merwe adds a South African perspective of his own, reflecting on the fact that our climate allows for adding an indoor-outdoor dimension to Modern Haven bathrooms.“If you’re designing an entirely new home, there’s nothing better than an indoor bathroom space that also opens fully to a private outdoor area,” he says. “That greenness, rather than hard shiny surfaces, creates a sense of freedom that is true luxury.” 


Modern Haven bathroom
Created by interior designer Andrea Graff – who designed the Perspex display and storage unit for collected treasures – this en suite bathroom and dressing room in a Cape Town family home is an ultra-feminine space. The bath is positioned to enable its occupant to take in a picture-perfect view, the walls are hand-painted with chinoiserie-style decorations, and the hanging light fitting is by Moooi.

Owner and partner at Johannesburg design firm Studio 19, Debbie Votin, concurs with Philippe about the desirability of creating an indoor-outdoor feel in new-build bathrooms. “There’s nothing more satisfying than a garden-courtyard atmosphere in a bathroom, so if we can create an indoor- outdoor feeling, our clients love it,” she says. “For downstairs bathrooms, we open up to a garden space full of greenery; upstairs, perhaps it’s an outdoor shower on a patio that opens up, also full of greenery. Plants bring so much joy. If space allows, we add a little ottoman or bench to sit on while you run a bath or get ready for a shower… any kind of pause area is a bonus.”  

Debbie identifies two more key trends that Studio 19 is picking up on. “We are seeing some dramatic moodiness” on the one hand, she says, while on the other, there’s “a really fresh, bright, clean palette”.  

We also asked Debbie for her top renovation tips overall:  

  • Light is crucial. “People are sometimes afraid of windows from a privacy perspective,” she says, “but the need to get natural light into the space is paramount, and there are ways of handling privacy with planting and screens.”
  • Don’t crowd the space. “Avoid putting so many things in the bathroom that you can’t move,” says Debbie. “Not every bathroom needs a bath and a shower – rather opt for a luxurious shower than two small, poky elements that you won’t enjoy using.”  
  • Balance your budget according to your priorities. “Use that bit of marble that’s going to make your space feel extra-special – and don’t skimp on taps!” |

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