Dexterity on Demand

Designers employ creative solutions in bathrooms to meet clients’ needs and aesthetics. That ingenuity is being tested due to shortages and extended lead times for items such as tile, cabinetry and plumbing fixtures. “My prediction is that we’re probably going to be in this predicament for the rest of the year, at least if the trends are staying consistent with where they are right now,” says Whitney Ray, principal designer of Wyeth Ray Interiors.

Lead times for custom mosaic tile stretch to three months. Cydney Mitchell and Brittany Stafford of Source say one work-around is reinventing patterns with field tile, which has shorter wait times and comes in sizes such as 12 inches by 24 inches, to give clients a look they love. They’re ordering more tile “overages” in case the design changes. Plumbing fixtures have lead times up to 16 weeks. All but one item in the entire order may be available, which Ray says forces her and her clients to decide if they want to choose a different showerhead or faucet. “What is really shocking and making us change the way we do things is the lack of items I once could always find in stock,” says Ray. “I took those things for granted.” Once ubiquitous items like marble subway tiles have 24-week waits. Some cabinet workshops are only booking projects for 2023, says Mitchell. Source’s strategy with clients is to strenuously plan in advance, remain in constant contact with vendors, follow up weekly with logistics and be transparent throughout.