Materials: Ceramic tile will always be in style. As long as 6,000 years ago, tile made from clay, gypsum, shale and other earthen ingredients was used in bathrooms. It can be polished or left unfinished. Wood in a bathroom warms up the area, particularly when opposite to metal fixtures or glass shower doors. Use decay-resistant materials like cedar, teak or redwood. Using glass, even for counter-tops or with a large window to the outside, will brighten up small, otherwise dark bathrooms. Synthetic materials such as plastic laminates or solid-surface materials like Corian, can give similar looks to more expensive natural materials.
Bathtubs and Showers: With limited space, use fiberglass or acrylic combined tub/shower units. With more space, walk-in showers separated from soaking tubs provide safety and a rich look. The shower can fit at one end of the tub and be completely enclosed in glass. This prevents the shower from looking like a closed in closet. Use wood rafters over the shower area and a glass block wall to make an architectural statement. Set a recycled cast-iron tub level with the floor surrounded by a tiled tub deck for an inviting look.
Toilets and Sinks: With floor space problems, a triangular toilet tank can be set into a corner. Shorter and round bowl toilets are another space saving feature. If the bathroom style tends toward the classical or older European look, toilets with sculpted bases are available. One piece toilets have a more contemporary look than two piece but are more expensive. Sinks now are available in many colors and styles besides traditional white. Vitreous-china pedestal or wall-mounted sinks depending on the need for under sink storage probably are the most common, but more expensive cultured marble or granite is often used when set in vanities. Pedestal sinks offer multiple options for enhancements such as covering the base in wood.
Faucets: Tall, gooseneck faucets provide more flexibility in terms of multiple uses of a sink than low-mounted ones. While many faucets have either chrome or brass exteriors or even baked-on finishes, the best will be made of solid brass parts. From this underpinning, though, styles are many. Lever action handles offer easier use as people age and develop hand problems. Cross handles give a more antique look. Wall-mounted handles can be spread further apart and make it easier to keep the sink cleaner. Single control faucets make cleaning even easier. Glass bowl sinks with single faucets provide a minimalist style to the bath.
Storage: A tall but narrow linen cabinet next to the tub is an optimal way to store towels and wash-cloths. Often shallow cabinets can be mounted in the wall above and around the sink or vanity. Where drawers are used, shallow ones offer more versatility than deeper drawers. Use white painted cabinets with raised panel drawers for a classic appearance. For a country appearance, the medicine cabinet can be fitted with glass-front doors. A completely different feel comes from an oak cabinet with a smaller inset mirror.