While we'd all love a bathroom with a beautiful view, or failing that, a large window that fills your serene, spa-like space with morning light, the reality is often far from the dream. Sometimes, a tight or tricky floorplan necessitates squeezing in internal bathroom, or carving one out against a windowless external wall. En suites are often slotted in between adjoining bedrooms, where there's no chance at all of a view to the outdoors.
Whether you're starting from scratch or faced with the redesign of an uninspiring, light-deprived modern bathroom or shower room, all is not lost. Make your space interesting enough, and you'll forget you ever wished for a window. You could choose not to fight against the lack of light, and instead envelop your space in a dark palette for a restful, atmospheric scheme. Alternatively, look for ways to create or highlight recessed areas and niches to help detract from that boxy, slightly claustrophobic feel that a small, windowless space can have.
Lovers of bright, energizing rooms could look to bold color and pattern to emulate that mood. And those of us who favor earthy, organic interiors should look to tactile surfaces and clever lighting, both of which can create depth by enhancing the interplay of light and shadow. In search of more expert advice, we asked five designers to share their failsafe tips on how to make the very best of your windowless bathroom.
1. EMBRACE THE LACK OF NATURAL LIGHT
A cohesive combination of inky blue bathroom cabinets, paneling and mosaic tiling makes for a dark yet inviting scheme in this light-deprived space designed by Cedar and Suede. The studio, based on Australia's Gold Coast, chose to work with the space rather than fight the light conditions: an approach that really paid off thanks to the deep shade of blue and contrasting textures.
'We embrace low-light spaces as opportunity to create mood and intrigue,' explains Carlene Duffy, co-founder of Cedar and Suede. 'We typically achieve this by working with a saturated palette. We like to color-drench these spaces and give consideration to artificial light to help add to the scene.'
2. INTRODUCE LAYERS OF TEXTURE
Windowless small bathrooms can often feel a little boxy and clinical, which is why techniques that bring in depth and texture should be your go-to decorating tools. This bathroom by Canadian design practice Blanc Marine Intérieurs is a masterclass in how to decorate a bathroom without a window, with a frame around the bath that creates a recessed nook and a wealth of tactile materials and surfaces.
‘We made sure to create a warm and dramatic space by playing with contrasts, such as the dark wood furniture and the strong color on the lower half walls,' shares Mélanie Cherrier, the studio's co-founder . 'The linen shower curtain and the patterned rug help bring in some softness, making the space more inviting.'
3. CHOOSE TILES WITH A LUSTROUS FINISH
Another way to offset that boxy feel, and to capitalize on any light that is available, is with glazed bathroom tiles. Covering just a small area of your walls in a tile with a lustrous glaze is enough to lift the space and help your scheme to feel a little more dynamic.
'A glossy tile with tonal variations and surface irregularities, such as our Hoxton range, works really well in windowless space. The glaze helps to catch the light, whether natural or artificial, and the imperfect finish adds character and texture,' says Mandarin Stone's creative director Louisa Morgan. 'A heavy glaze is also a great way to counterbalance the use of strong color, like this Bottle Green shade.'
4. CREATE ATMOSPHERE WITH LIGHTING
We love the inviting, moody feel of this Californian bathroom, the work of LA-based designer Jessica Nicastro. In this warm and earthy space, understated yet elegant brass wall lights cast an atmospheric glow, highlighting textural details, such as the plastered walls and stone basin unit. The result is a luxurious haven that feels calm and cocooning rather than dingy and deprived of light.
'After working in interior design for several years, I felt compelled to bridge the gap between high-end custom design services and everyday people looking to build or reimagine their space,' says Jessica of her approach. 'I believe everyone deserves to feel proud of where they live.'
5. ENLIVEN WITH COLOR AND PATTERN
'Color and pattern are great for evoking feelings and emotion, particularly when they’re used across walls,' says Rebecca Drury, co-founder of MissPrint, who advocates the use of pattern as a way to get your brain to switch modes when you're in a familiar space. All of the studio's designs are originally hand drawn, which helps achieve a more organic feel that's closer to motifs found in the natural world.
'When it comes to rooms without any windows, it’s important to carefully consider the colors and prints you are going to be incorporating. Start with a wallpaper in a bold hue for visual interest. Mirrors can also be strategically placed to reflect light and create the illusion of more space. Finally, add colorful towels, ceramics and accessories to help the space to pop.'
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Tessa Pearson is an interiors and architecture journalist, formerly Homes Director at ELLE Decoration and Editor of ELLE Decoration Country. When she's not covering design and decorative trends for Livingetc, Tessa contributes to publications such as The Observer and Table Magazine, and has recently written a book on forest architecture. Based in Sussex, Tessa has a keen interest in rural and coastal life, and spends as much time as possible by the sea.
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