Milan Design Week 2018: Bathroom Trends

As promised last week, we’re going to take a look at some of the bathroom trends that emerged from Salone this year. There was a vast hanger full of bathrooms and exhibitors and I only scratched the surface of it but there were definitely a few ideas that seemed to pop up again and again so I thought I would share them with you here.

avocado bathroom suite by India Mahdavi at Bisazza
avocado bathroom suite by India Mahdavi at Bisazza

Don’t forget they are, at this stage largely ideas. It took a long time for kitchens to move out of their all white comfort zone and just because there was lots of colour in Milan doesn’t mean that we all have to rush out and buy an avocado bathroom suite. But yes I did see one and no I didn’t hate it. So that is the first thing to note:


coral bath by India Mahdavi at Bisazza
coral bath by India Mahdavi at Bisazza Bagno

There was lots of colour and not just on the walls but on the furniture as well.  India Mahdavi showed her wonderful plouf, splash range for Bisazza Bagno and I have to say I loved it. There was a strawberry bath, a blueberry one or the aforementioned pale pistachio and it was all gorgeous. To pull this off you would need to have very modern tiles and a sleek floor – no carpets and frilly bathmats this time round. I could be tempted. Bisazzo showed the range against a new pinstripe tile collection which worked in contrast with the soft curves of the bath and mirror.

If that’s a little too much then there were lots of teal walls and even dark grey and black – which does show off a bath well. It also means you need to pay attention to the lighting which is a whole different issue.

blueberry bath by india mahdavi for bisazza bagno
blueberry bath by india mahdavi for bisazza bagno

But in contrast to that – because when there is this much stuff you can always find what you want to find – there were also, like the soft furnishings from last week, plenty of warm neutrals offset with black accents because:


black is the new brass as seen at Milan
black is the new brass as seen at Milan

There were a lot of black taps around. Having said that there was still a lot of brass, as well as bronze and polished nickel, so don’t panic if you’ve recently gone over to brass. It’s a classic and it won’t go out of fashion it’s just that there’s a lot of it about at the moment. Mind you it’s still expensive and, while it’s getting easier to find a brass loo flush and basin bottle trap, you can still struggle to find a basin with a brass waste as opposed to a chrome one. And if you can find one then it won’t be the cheapest option. This makes black an easier choice because a black tap will always go with with chrome plug hole so it’s easier to source and fine to mix and match. Which makes a bathroom update a little simpler as you don’t have to rip out every single thing and start again.

Mind you it wasn’t just the taps that were black. There were lots of black accents – stands for basins, towel rails, mirror frames. In short, as I have always said, every room needs a drop of black to finish it off and if you can work some into the bathroom all the better.


warm neutrals with black accents at Salone 2018
warm neutrals with black accents at Salone 2018

As I said above, in a space as large as the Fiera you can always find a little bit of everything, but it’s true that there was either eye-popping colour or lots of warm neutrals – rather like the colours in the furniture halls as mentioned last week. What there wasn’t was a sea of white which you might expect at a bathroom show.


curves were everywhere in Milan along with black accents
curves were everywhere in Milan along with black accents

Yes it’s all gone curvy. Lots of free-standing baths and oval basins. Round mirrors were everywhere along with curving taps and a general sense of softness and luxury which was also apparent everywhere you looked.

blue was strong with round mirrors, curved basins and baths and wooden furniture
blue was strong with round mirrors, curved basins and baths and wooden furniture

This stand combined everything: strongly coloured walls, a curved basin, a round mirror, a touch of black on the lights and the last one – a wooden vanity unit because:


natural wood and sleek vanity units at Milan
natural wood and sleek vanity units at Milan

This was more about the styling than the baths themselves but it was all part of the luxury feeling. This year was about a room to relax and one in which you could also wash rather than a high tech sleek space. There were wooden shelves with leather fixings. brass lights and natural timber. Shelves were styled with vases and ornamental pots adding to the sense of comfort and relaxation.

wood, leather and strong colour at Milan
wood, leather and strong colour at Milan

So those are the main trends that I spotted at Milan last week. I imagine you will be on board with most of them apart from, perhaps, the coloured baths. Perhaps we should resume this particular conversation in a year.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. We’re just about to start a major renovation and I can’t wait to rip out the dark red bathroom suite! My father-in-law however loves it and thinks we are mad to get rid of it. The worst thing about it is that every time someone spits toothpaste you have to clean the sink. It shows every mark and stain. A nightmare to keep clean. I do like many of the bath shapes here but it will be white all the way for me at himmeandourthree!

  2. Bring it on!! I love all the colour. However, in choosing a bathtub and sink then , according to the principles set out by
    Kate in her recent book, then one would consider these as one would a lesser colour of your wardrobe. If you just love that colour that you continue to wear with almost every outfit….then why not??
    If there was a pink bathtub and sink…..hmmmm

  3. Whilst I’m inclined to agree with the verdict on the coloured baths, both in terms of the shades and the shape, I am going to reserve judgement. I can think of a number of trends that I have been unsure of initially that have, after I have seen them used in a number of settings, grown on me. Although I am never going to be a fan, I have even embraced plywood in some interiors. I remember my mother installing a bath in ‘whisper grey’ that I think wouldn’t look out of place in most modern homes, so it wasn’t all avocado and chocolate! White bathrooms have been dominant for so long it’s going to take a while for anything else to catch on, especially for those that remember them from the 70s and 80s, but perhaps it’s time for a change…on the plus side I bet they don’t show the dirt as much, so that has to be a bonus 😀

    1. That’s sort of what I think. I think we often think these things will be awful but then we see them around and get used to them and they are styled in very modern new ways and suddenly what seemed like a terrible idea seems quite interesting. When I wrote in 2009 that grey was the colour for walls I honestly never thought it would catch on! Now look.. and yes a grey bath seems quite fabulous – in a plaster pink bathroom…

    1. I hear you! Can I also make a point about the new GDPR regulations which mean that from the 25 May you have to consent to me publishing your comment. Its not enough to just make it. That means that while I can publish this one without your consent – which is implicit as you have written here with a view to contributing to the conversation, you have to actively give consent from now on. It’s complicated and I don’t fully understand all of it yet but that’s definitely part of it.

  4. I’m afraid I agree with Jane. I’ve just taken out a blue bath, a beige bath and a tomato jacuzzi style bath. All good quality from the 80’s but horrible and these offerings at Milan aren’t any more appealing .

  5. I’m going to say that I don’t like the shapes at all. The wild colours are fine – for a limited while – and the wood idea is OK, although possibly a bit hard on a northern wood to ask it to cope with a tropical atmosphere, but I find the shapes ugly, clunky or – in the case of the little wooden legged furniture, just naff. This might be an age-related thing. When you’ve already lived through that style once (50s 60s?) it doesn’t have any sense of new and exciting on its side and without that it just appears (to me) as uninteresting, unergonomic (straight legs sticking out at an angle to catch unwary feet? How… thrilling), and even a bit cheap. Which I’m sure it’s not. Cheap, that is.

  6. Hi Kate, thought I had gone off coloured bathroom suites,especially
    avocado, ’till I saw these latest ones. So eye catching. Those striped
    tiles are yummy. Love your new book.

    1. Yes I somehow felt they were quite interesting too with modern styling. So glad you like the book. Can I refer you to the earlier comment about GDPR regs for consent too x

  7. Great to read Kate – just about to renovate my bathroom – but I don’t think I will be going for the coral suite. Just ripped out an orange bathroom suite in the last house !

Comments are closed.