Designing Interiors with a Full Palette of Choices

Consider all the options for creative results
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Sponsored by ASI Group, Bradley Corporation, Cultured Stone, Inpro, Tamlyn, and Vectorworks
By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP
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Note that a popular trend in today’s restrooms is a modern concrete aesthetic. Using this new, matte quartz option, especially in dark gray and beige colors, allows designers to mimic a contemporary, concrete-like aesthetic without actually having to use concrete, which is susceptible to stains, cracks, and reactions to cleaning chemicals.

  • European-Style Partitions A new preference for European-style partitions gives restroom guests a fresh and welcomed surprise in commercial restrooms. In addition to being nearly full height for enhanced privacy, different product selections also add sophisticated style, elegance, and resiliency to restroom designs. Several different types of partitions are currently available.

    One resilient type uses frameless construction made of phenolic material. These partitions are lighter than comparable partitions, yet equally durable. Another phenolic type creates the impression that the partitions are floating on air—even though they are securely anchored to the floor and walls—with the feet, headrail, and hardware hidden from view. In some cases, an innovative LED light occupancy indicator can be specified that turns from green to red to alert users. Most phenolic partitions are available in a range of standard colors as well as a selection of custom colors.

    A third type of European-style partition is made of enameled tempered glass to bring both light, and lightness, to a restroom. Minimalist stainless-steel hardware is mounted on the inside of the stall, and the even surface of the partitions convey a smooth and streamlined look. Scratch-resistant, easily cleaned, strong, and safe, these enameled glass partitions achieve their soft opaque look from vitreous enamel paints that are available in an array of standard and custom colors.

    Paying attention to the details of current product offerings for restrooms, such as those described here, will allow complete, coordinated, and successful restroom interiors to be created.

  • Photo courtesy of Bradley Corporation

    Restroom washbasins can be made from a quartz-based material that looks like concrete. It is an easy-to-clean, durable, and attractive option for restroom applications.


    The use of color is clearly an important and significant consideration for building interiors. Spending some time understanding not only color theory, but also the application of that theory, to create a color scheme that promotes the intended response from people is, therefore, a worthwhile endeavor for all projects.

    Photo courtesy of Inpro

    Paying attention to the theoretical aspects of color meaning, combined with the practical aspects of incorporating materials and surfaces into an interior design, can achieve a total theme for a space. The materials used here were selected in a color scheme that focuses on wellness.

    Manufacturers of interior products have taken the lead on assembling such coordinated color schemes around different themes that may be dictated by general things happening in our culture or society. There are many different themes that may be appropriate based on the level of activity, the use of the space, and the type of surfaces available to work with. Wellness, for example, is a common and popular theme for many people who use buildings, so it stands to reason that using a color scheme that has been organized around promoting wellness would be appropriate. An example of colors that could be used on walls and other interior surfaces with the meaning or significance of those colors explored might be as follows.

    Blue/green: Seen as a clean and crisp color, it can stand for fresh air, calm surroundings, focus on listening, observing, and being.

    Low chroma greenish blue: This color symbolizes transition and transformation. The deeper tone is grounding and relaxing. As with all blues, it brings visual comfort. It communicates high trust and low risk.

    Rich yellow brown: This color feels leathery and luxurious. It points to the earth and the organic influence on our lives.

    Neutral tan: This is a neutralizing and clean shade. It is calming and cleansing, yet reserved. It is hopeful, yet stoic, and plays well with many colors.

    Altogether, the colors work cohesively to create a balanced and coordinated scheme to reinforce the intended theme.


    Aluminum trim can be used in conjunction with many different surface finishes, such as fabric or vinyl wall coverings, in addition to conventional painted drywall. Such trim pieces are available in a variety of traditional, contemporary, and modern looks to create subdued, elegant designs or emphatic three-dimensional appearances. Since aluminum is highly durable, recyclable, lightweight, and noncombustible, it is a popular and logical choice for interior trim. In addition, the design options, variability, and cost effectiveness of this trim make it very well suited for both public and private spaces in multifamily buildings.

    Photo courtesy of Tamlyn

    Aluminum trim can be fabricated in custom shapes, profiles, and colors to suit the needs of a particular project.

    Photo courtesy of Cultured Stone

    The attributes of manufactured stone veneer make it a great choice for entire walls or for feature areas such as the dramatic fireplace surround shown here.


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    Originally published in Architectural Record
    Originally published in October 2022


    Designing Interiors with a Full Palette of Choices
    Buyer's Guide
    Introducing ASI’s Proprietary, Integrated Privacy System For Metal Partitions
    We have elevated the standard for privacy in metal partitions. ASI’s partitions are engineered with built-in privacy and manufactured as one-color matched units. The result? A patent pending design with superior aesthetics and complete privacy without the need for any retrofitted components. Exactly what building occupants want and deserve.
    ASI Accurate Partitions
    Evero® Matte Quartz Material for Washbasins
    Bradley's Evero® Matte is a fresh new quartz option with an elegant stone-like appearance for commercial handwashing basins. With its unique mixture of extra fine grade quartz, natural matte finish and understated texture, Evero Matte quartz is reminiscent of the popular concrete aesthetic while being durable, hygienic, and sustainable.
    Bradley Corporation
    Arctic Hewn Stone
    The crisp white colorway of Arctic Hewn Stone exhibits a rustic texture and clean lines to integrate with a variety of design styles. This distinctively fair color palette contemporizes the aesthetic of European castle-work and is available in five unique sizes for specifiers to customize and pattern as desired.
    Cultured Stone
    Images that make an impact ... and take an impact!
    Give your walls a purpose and expand their longevity with Aspex® Printed Wall Protection. You get total design freedom while protecting walls from damage at the same time. With Aspex®, your graphic is back-printed onto clear, high-impact PETG wall protection to keep your walls safe from damage.
    Fire Rated Aluminum Trim for Interior Applications
    The addition of a factory-applied intumescent strip along the back wall of the profile enables drywall designs to achieve 1-hour and 2-hour fire ratings without the requirement of an extra layer of drywall. XtremeInterior Fire-rated profiles have been third-party fire tested per ASTM E119.
    Vectorworks Architect
    Built to showcase your skill and creativity, Vectorworks Architect allows you to sketch, model, and document in a fully integrated workflow with the world’s most design-centric BIM solution. With superior 2D graphics, 3D modeling, and visualization tools, Architect is built to deliver absolute creative expression and maximum efficiency.
    Vectorworks, Inc.