5 Bathroom Remodel Mistakes Interior Designers Always See — And How to Avoid These Pitfalls

These common errors can turn your dream bathroom remodel into a nightmare, say designers

A bathroom with a sculptural tub and large windows

Everyone dreams of a relaxing, beautiful, and highly functional bathroom but sometimes designing or remodeling one can be a confusing task. You're always stuck between choosing elements that look stunning yet you've got a budget to contend with, too.

There are common mistakes that many people make when remodeling, some more serious than others. Sometimes the ambience doesn’t feel quite right, lighting fixtures burn a hole in the budget and the tiles don’t complement the fittings.

It's an interior designer's job to notice these mistakes, and they sure do spot them. To help you avoid these errors, we asked experts to tell us about the most common modern bathroom mistakes people make. And here's what they pointed out.

1. Choosing mosaic tiles

A bathroom with large porcelain tiles


Picking the right bathroom tiles is of utmost importance because this element not only adds to the aesthetics but also the practicality of the space. The largest surface in the room, bathroom floor tiles need to be anti-skid, easy to clean, and timeless. Plus, you don't want to choose tiles that are too expensive and hard to maintain.

'Oftentimes it is the cost of the labor that significantly increases the price of the tile installation,' says Julia Mack, founder of Julia Mack Design. 'Consider large format porcelain wall and floor tiles with minimal grout joints. These are quicker and easier to install than small mosaic or handmade tiles, and the result is a clean and contemporary look for a newly remodeled bathroom.'

2. Using the wrong shower glass

bathroom shower lighting ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell)

'Make sure you have a say in the shower glass type and work with your contractor and enclosure supplier so they ensure the thickness and structural stability is appropriate for the design,' says Sondra Ganz, founder of Studio Ganz. 'Decide whether Low E (i.e. Starphire/ Pure Clear) or Standard Clear (slightly greenish tint) is important to you. In all cases, you want an integral glass treatment on the surface that requires less cleaning/ low maintenance and is water-repellent to prevent mildew, soap scum, and water buildup. Talk through where there will be bumpers and seals in smaller walk in showers to prevent leakage so you won’t get charged for adding these things later.'

'One of the most frequent budget misunderstandings that always come up on projects is when contractors either budget the cheapest glass specification or they completely omit the shower enclosure,' avers Sondra. 'Then this becomes a +$5-10K discussion that the homeowner is never happy with. This is certainly a conversation that should be had from the beginning to avoid any surprises or miscommunication. A good contractor should supply drawings/ specifications for your shower that get into this level of detail.'

3. Spending more than you need to on vanity storage

A bathroom vanity with a pull out drawer

(Image credit: PAUL RAESIDE)

Ensure the bathroom storage is easy to install, use and easily accommodates all of the room's paraphernalia.

'Budget-friendly fiberboard choices are typically constructed of painted, pressed fiber board,' says Julia. 'Another issue that drives pricing is cabinet door vs drawer configurations. So keep in mind that open shelving and standard swing doors are less expensive than a series of rollout drawers that often require more costly hardware to function properly.'

4. Buying an expensive bathtub that doesn't fit the space

A bathroom with a large, wooden bathtub, and a curbless shower

(Image credit: Barbara Kraft. Design: STUDIO PCH)

While remodeling a bathroom, it's easy to get carried away and choose elements that look stunning. But while aesthetics definitely matter, their costs should be proportional to their usability. It would be a mistake to go in for an extremely expensive freestanding bathtub, or even a seriously cheap one but a design that just doesn't fit into the room's space.

'One of my biggest design pet peeves is when a built-in bathtub doesn’t fit its alcove and a ledge needs to be furred out to cover the extra inches,' says Sondra. 'You can find a bathtub and/or design an alcove to make it look intentional like the bathtub fits just right; it just takes a little extra planning and effort to take your design from C-Level to A++.'

5. Not investing in quality countertops

built-in makeup counter ideas; marble makeup counter by YSG Studios

(Image credit: YSG Studios/Prue Ruscoe)

'At some bargain warehouses, you'll find vanity tops or counters that contain cheap glue particles to hold the quartz together — I’ve seen some serious chipping, staining, and breakage issues when the company is not known or reputable,' warns Sondra. 'Check with the manufacturer, and ask about the country of origin of the stone. Try to stick with trusted brands such as Caesarstone and Cambria, etc. There are some great trusted buy-out option tops with integrated sinks that come with vanities now…it makes cleaning and maintenance so much easier.'

A great luxury bathroom design can also sport colorful counters or veined marble varieties that look utterly sophisticated. Natural stone not only looks good but also lasts decades and only requires regular sealing.

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.