Interior Design Tips for Bathrooms

Sally Painter
Modern bathroom

Though they are often the smallest rooms in the home, as well as the most functional, bathrooms can still be a peaceful retreat. For proper bathroom design, consider the room's primary users in regards to different design elements, including lighting, fixtures and accents.

Coordinating the Bathroom Design

The key to elegant decorating is having an overall plan. When designing a bathroom, different users must be considered in order to create a serviceable yet still attractive room. For example, if the bathroom will only be used by an adult couple, more decorative accents may be accommodated and twin sinks or separate storage areas may be appropriate. If, however, the bathroom will be used by an entire family, a different color scheme or safety features may be necessary.

Because bathrooms involve plumbing and hidden infrastructure that cannot easily be relocated, it is wise to draw a basic layout of the room before beginning. By knowing the precise dimensions of the room, as well as where pipes and valves are located, homeowners can avoid costly misjudgments and other errors.

Designing the Bathroom

Once you know where the major features of the bathroom must be located, it is possible to use general interior design techniques to fashion a restful atmosphere. From basic fixtures to decorative accents, it is critical to integrate each piece into the overall design to take advantage of the small space's full potential.

Fixtures

The major fixtures of a bathroom - sink, bathtub, shower and toilet - are often regulated by the size of the room and the location of the plumbing connections. Within those broad limitations, however, there are many different design choices.

Small bathroom
  • Sinks: Wall-mounted, freestanding, and inset models are all available. The most common shapes are round and oval, but seashell, square, and other unique dimensions can be found at specialty stores, and both depths and colors vary. Many couples prefer dual sinks for his-and-her customization, but be sure the bathroom has enough space to accommodate both sinks comfortably.
  • Bathtubs: Simple bathtub-shower combinations are common for many bathrooms, though more luxurious whirlpool and jetted models are favorites for master suites. Rectangular and oval models are most popular, and tubs may be set along a wall, angled into a corner, or even centered in the room. Surrounds are often customized with tile, marble, or rock and may feature integrated shelves or niches.
  • Showers: Showers may be part of the bathtub or separate stalls. Round, rectangular, and corner models are available, many of which offer a choice of showerheads - detachable, rain, and massaging are favorite choices depending on the user's preferences and needs.
  • Toilets: Toilets are the most functional fixtures in a bathroom, but there are still different design options available. Heights and water flow vary, as well as basic shapes and outlines to suit different style preferences and space limitations.

Lighting

Most bathrooms are equipped with only the harshest, most unflattering lighting, but interior design for bathrooms can eliminate this unfortunate problem. Soft, muted light provides a relaxing atmosphere, and many people incorporate natural light via glass brick windows or other privacy glass options. Studio lights are popular, particularly near vanities where women may need to apply makeup, and heat lamps are popular choices to augment the steam and soothing heat of a warm bath or shower.

Storage

Storage is a concern in many bathrooms, but shrewd choices can make it a complementary part of interior design for bathrooms. If towels are colorful and plush, it may be suitable to have them visible on decorative racks or open niches, whereas more prosaic linens and other items (bubble bath, body products, etc.) may be in a small closets inset into the walls. Medicine cabinets are a necessity, and may be inset into the wall (behind a mirror is a popular choice) or freestanding to provide a small shelf above and hooks below. Some products may actually be stored in the bathtub or shower on corner racks, while over-the-door hooks provide additional storage options for pajamas or robes.

Accents

Once the necessary features are accounted for, interior design for bathrooms can focus on decorative accents. The walls and floor may be designed to set the mood with soft colors - aquas, blues, whites, and other pastel shades - and tile patterns. Colors, patterns, and prints reminiscent of water are the most popular, including abstract waves, bubbles, fish, or other aquatic motifs. For a more sophisticated look, many people turn to marble or granite in stark yet simple shades with a minimalist theme.

Shower curtains, rugs, toilet seat covers, and sink accessories (cups, soap dishes, etc.) can be purchased in coordinating themes and colors to give an overall character to the room, from palm trees and fish to frogs, flowers, and sailboats. These figural designs are often more appropriate to a children's bathroom, though they can add a whimsical touch to any bathroom if used sparingly.

The final touches to interior design for bathrooms are the superfluous items that generate a feeling of wellness and individuality to the room. Different accent items include:

  • Candles
  • Floral arrangements or plants (silk or real)
  • Decorative towels with embroidered patterns or initials
  • Mirrors
  • Framed artwork

Each of these small items adds an immeasurable touch to a bathroom, creating a truly integrated and relaxing space.

Design with Room to Grow

When designing a bathroom, one key factor to consider before finalizing plans is the family's potential growth. Whether new children will be born or the parents will age, choosing fixtures and designs that can accommodate these changes will show foresight and consideration for years to come, without expensive alterations.

Interior Design Tips for Bathrooms