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Whether it reflects a desire to return to basics, a renewed appreciation for the beauty of nature or an increased environmental awareness, more homeowners than ever are using soothing and comfortable natural 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 are drawn to what’s familiar, honest and comfortable. Natural materials have all of these qualities. The colors of stone, wood, marble and metal are soothing and complementary; their textures are organic and straightforward.

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 and one that reflects a sense of balance between work and play, family and personal time.

Material world

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

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

Glass, ceramic, stone and marble tiles each delivers its own natural feel, and these materials can be mixed and matched to create a unique mural in the shower or on the wall.

Color and finish also play an important role for bathroom fixtures. Dark faucet finishes like oil-rubbed bronze work well in contrast with light, earthy tones, mirroring the light and dark contrasts found in nature. Honed surfaces and dimensional tones, like Sea Salt™ and Black 'n Tan, subtly mix to create natural depth and texture. For best results use colors that reflect those found outdoors, 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. 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.

Warm it up

It’s easy to add natural warmth to your space with the right kind of bathroom furniture.

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. FSC-certified woods are a good choice, because they are responsibly harvested and sourced.

Along with wood there’s a trend toward warmer, earthier brown finishes. Dark, rich cabinetry is still in demand, but now homeowners are softening that look with glazes and highlights. These techniques can be applied to accent a difference in textures.

Spread it out

There are a lot of ways to implement a touch of nature into your home. 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.

Wall paint colors are shifting 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 there are so many ways to use them. 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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