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•Learn how to introduce nature into the bathroom.
•Discover natural textures and materials.

The natural world has a timeless appeal, one that both harnesses and inspires beauty. That may be one reason a growing number of people are including natural materials in the design and construction of their homes.

   
Whether this reflects a desire to return to the basics, a renewed appreciation for the beauty of nature or an increased environmental awareness, homeowners are showing strong interest in soothing and comfortable materials, particularly in the bathroom.

From countertops, cabinets, and flooring to wall and window treatments, the trend toward using materials found in nature is gaining ground.

Comforts of home

When it comes to our homes, many of us tend to connect to things that are familiar, honest and comfortable. Natural materials are all of these things. The colors of stone, wood, marble and metal are soothing and complementary. Their textures are organic and straightforward.

Natural materials remind us of things that are familiar and real. In that respect, they’re a little like childhood memories -- solid and unchangeable. They make us feel safe.

Getting the natural look

From the kitchen to the master suite, natural materials help make a house more of a home.

Natural environments include a mix of colors and textures. In the desert, vivid red rocks meet blue skies filled with white clouds. In the forest, rough-barked trees stand beside soft ferns and stones smoothed by flowing rivers.

   
Even on glaciers, miles of ice are broken by dark moraines, vivid blue crevasses and tiny green plants. Nature finds a balance between hard and soft, dark and light. By echoing nature’s blending of colors and textures in your home, you can make it a more comfortable, more natural place to live.

The trend toward using natural materials in the home also reflects a growing desire to balance the many aspects of our lives: work and play, family and personal time. It’s the contrast of smooth countertops and textured tile backsplashes or a stone hearth against a polished hardwood floor. Everywhere you look, the trend of everything that’s familiar and natural is appearing in today’s homes--especially in the bathroom.

Natural necessities

When choosing a sink or faucet, look for smooth, organic shapes similar to those found in nature. The delicate, arched handle and curved spout of the Vas® ceramic faucet, for example, mimic the petals and stem of a flower.
   
Likewise, the Leaf™ vessels lavatory draws inspiration from the soft bow of a fallen leaf, floating on the water.

While organic-shaped faucets offer visual reminders of the natural world, some expand the experience to other senses. WaterTile® Ambient Rain™ flows water from overhead, invoking the gentle, soothing touch of a rainshower.

Material world

Honed stones such as granite, quartz, soapstone, Jerusalem stone and marble are popular for countertops because they soften hard edges. In addition, they complement the woods often used in bathroom cabinetry.

Many nature-inspired colors and textures are available now, including realistic stone-like finishes, engineered quartz, versatile concrete and warm woods such as cherry. Eco-friendly materials can also be used. Many homeowners prefer recycled glass, paper or concrete for a look that's both natural and green.

Tile is another opportunity to mix color, tone, texture and motif. Glass, ceramic, stone and marble tiles each deliver their own natural feel, and can be mixed and matched to create a unique mural in the shower or on the wall.

   
Just like tiles and countertops, color and finish play an important role for bathroom fixtures. For the faucet, dark finishes like oil-rubbed bronze work well in contrast with light, earthy tones, mirroring the light and dark contrasts found in nature. For fixtures, play with both texture and color. Honed surfaces and dimensional tones, like Sea Salt and Black 'n Tan, subtly mix several tones into one surface to create natural depth and texture. The best colors to use are those that are ../commonly found in nature, like beiges, greens and greys.

Bathroom sinks come in a range of materials, including bronze, glass, and cast iron. Some decorated sinks draw inspiration straight from nature directly onto the basin.

Take advantage of this variety by choosing more than one surface. Because natural materials complement one another, you can use different materials for the countertops in your vanity area, and yet another for your wall tiles and tub surround.

Cabinets and hardware

The trend in bathroom furniture is toward adding soothing warmth to the space.

   
Close-grained woods such as maple and birch, for example, are popular in part due to their calming effect. Bamboo is also growing in popularity, as more and more homeowners opt for environmentally responsible alternatives. If looking to go green with your cabinetry, FSC-certified woods are a good choice, and maintain that warm and natural feel.

Also on the rise are warmer, earthier brown finishes. Dark, rich cabinetry is still in demand, but now homeowners are softening that look with glazes and highlights. These techniques are often applied to accent a difference in textures.

Choose hardware that contrasts or complements your cabinetry to create a natural balance. You can add drama with drawer pulls and handles without making a long-term color commitment. Replacing the hardware with a different color, finish or style at a later date can change the look of the room.

The extensive range of hardware that’s available today offers opportunities to support or enhance your style or color concept. An increasing number are being produced in antique bronze, for example, which integrates well with the natural materials of countertops and cabinetry.

Flooring, walls and window treatments

An array of natural flooring options is available, including limestone tiles in earth tones; authentic linoleum made with linseed oil; cork; bamboo and various hardwoods.

A shift is occurring in the intensity of wall colors. The change is toward nature-inspired colors in stronger hues.

   
Natural lighting is also in demand, with more homes featuring daylight. You can draw light into your home through tubular skylights, or simulate natural light by using full-spectrum bulbs to illuminate details and colors, even at night.

Even window treatments are more natural now, featuring leaf-inspired rods and natural fabrics such as textured cotton and silk. These appeal to the eye, as well as the touch.

Part of the beauty of natural materials is that they are so varied, and can be used in your home in so many ways. Whether you choose to work with granite, wood, marble, bamboo, slate or a combination, bringing the natural world into your home is sure to make it a more comfortable – and more stylish – place to live, work and play.

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