20 bathroom ideas from the experts who designed the most beautiful spaces we've seen

These designer bathroom ideas explain everything you need to know, from flooring and tiling to lighting and each piece in between

bathroom ideas with reeded wood bathroom cabinets and twin mirrors
(Image credit: Superfront)

Bathroom ideas have recently ascended, as the room itself has take on an indulgent, lifestyle-based role in the house. Now, the bathroom is a space that uniquely provides personal solace, privacy and dedicated relaxation as well as running water and the means to wash with it, and thus its aesthetic has quickly evolved to meet these new needs. Gone is the focus on speed, efficiency and practicality, as design traits from elsewhere in the house step in – beauty, opulence, architecture and extravagance. Do you really need sculptural lighting, deeply veined stones, experimental shapes and unexpected tactility in the bathroom? No. But do they soothe the soul, boost your mood and make your shoulders drop as well as leading you through your cleanliness journey? Oh yes. 

‘Today’s bathroom is a hyper functional space that’s becoming increasingly cherished as a place for retreat and regeneration,’ says designer Tom Dixon. ‘It used to be seen as something secret and hidden, but now it’s following the kitchen in becoming a room that you’re proud of, that you invest in and that you want to have attitude.’ 

‘Now more than ever the bathroom is a place for retreat and self-care,’ agrees designer Patricia Urquiola. ‘Over the past year, we have spent so much time at home and realized that our bathrooms have become almost like personal spas, spaces in which we can really enjoy moments of privacy and wellbeing in. Bathroom design is beginning to follow the re-discovery of this pleasant domestic moment.’

‘The bathroom is becoming more and more just like any other living space and turning into a domestic landscape rather than cold white laboratory-style environment’ concludes Erdem Akan, Design Director of VitrA. 

20 Bathroom ideas

1. Modernize your checkerboard bathroom floor 

bathroom ideas with red and white checkerboard floor

(Image credit: BC Designs)

We’ve seen it recently enter the kitchen, and now it’s heading to the bathroom too. Checkerboard flooring brings with it relaxed vibes, instantly whisking you to a small Italian deli or chic European café, speaking of holidays, dappled sunlight and days spent reclining. Now its iconic black and white checks are getting a modern overhaul, as the high contrast monochrome tones are swapped for shades more on the soothing side of things. 

‘Checkerboard floor is a great way of adding pattern and color to a modern bathroom without it becoming too complicated or over the top, says Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs. 

‘This trend is much more than the black and white tiles we associate with the classic look. Instead, homeowners are now attacking it with no rules attached, including using bold contrasting colors, different materials. We’re seeing softer variations of the light and dark elements – neutral shades tone down the sharp lines that can come with a checkerboard pattern, while rich and warm shades add an opulence and moody feel to a room. It is the different darker shades which add a modern take on the design.’ 

2. Brighten up the black bathroom trend

bathroom ideas


(Image credit: Little Greene)

The all-over black bathroom trend dominated recent design, and while we fell hard for its cocooning cave-like coziness, it’s undergone a calming update. There’s no need for a total redesign, just the quiet addition of color to soften the darkness so black’s warmth, intimacy and sense of escapism remain while some personality can shine through. Our shades of choice? Go for tones found in nature to soothe the mind and turn that expansive dark bathroom shade into a midnight sky or lingering shadow.  

‘Adding an accent color to a black bathroom can radically alter the overall scheme, with gentle, neutral shades lending a contemporary, soothing contrast,’ says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director of Little Greene. ‘Tones such as our ‘Vulcan' green create a calming and sophisticated feel when mixed with a charismatic, charcoal tone to retain warmth.’ 

‘Both water-based and completely washable, our Intelligent Paints offer both color and durability, which is very important in a space such as a bathroom that often experiences condensation and frequent cleaning,’ advises Little Greene’s Ruth Mottershead. 

‘For a more contemporary look, you may want to choose the Intelligent Matt finish, while the extremely-tough Intelligent Eggshell with a beautiful, low-sheen finish also copes well in environments that tend to suffer from condensation and steam.’ 

3. Experiment with semi color drenching 

bathroom ideas with blue floor and backsplash and blue tub

(Image credit: Otto Tiles)

While color drenching may be the phrase on every design hashtagger’s lips, we can’t deny it’s a daunting prospect. The bathroom can be a great room to compromise in, with bathroom tile trends offering a combination of a blast of brightness as well as calming respite.  

‘Partially decorating your bathroom with a bold color creates a visual statement and wow factor, and using the same color on the walls and floor can make a bathroom feel much larger than it is, grounding the space,’ says Damla Turgut, founder and Creative Director of Otto Tiles. 

‘If you’re not keen on your whole bathroom being decorated in a bold color, this half and half approach is a great compromise while being a bold design statement. We love to bring floor tiles up on to the walls creating a sea of pattern and color – tricking the eye, semi color drenching blurs the boundary between floor and wall, ensuring the senses aren’t overloaded so you can relax and unwind in the space.’

4. Hang a decorative bathroom pendant light 

bathroom ideas with a big pendant light

(Image credit: Davey Lighting)

Picture a bathroom ceiling light and it’s a sad fact that you’ll most probably imagine something perfunctory at best, with harsh hidden spotlights likely entering your mind. Happily, as the bathroom completes its transition into somewhere you actually want to spend time in, lighting is catching up - bathroom chandeliers are now a thing. 

In the drier areas of the home, sculptural pendant lights are taking the place of decorative art, celebrated for their beauty as well as illuminating qualities, and the bathroom is getting in on the act and learning about light layering. Statement pendant lights create a decorative focal point in the bathroom, and are becoming part of the space’s soul-pleasing design, be they hung over a bathtub or either side of a mirror.

‘Bathrooms are for relaxation and lighting is the best way to create a cocooning, atmospheric space – pendant lights provide the ambient glow that’s perfect for lying back and enjoying a soak,’ says Charlie Bowles, Director at Davey Lighting. ‘Pendants also create visual impact, whether that's playing with scale for dramatic effect, or working with the style or the materials of the pendant to compliment your bathroom – just make sure they’re high enough over high traffic areas to avoid bumped heads.’ 

5. Blend bath and shower time with an updated wet room

bathroom ideas with a marble and concrete wet room design

(Image credit: Darren Chung)

If the words ‘wet room’ conjure images of cramped showers, damp slippers and lingering water, get ready to reconsider. Enter the luxury wet room, an area that welcomes both a chic, freestanding bath and a cavernous extravagant shower for the best of both worlds. Ticking the accessible and space efficient boxes, think of it as an enlargement of the walk-in shower – why use all of that square meterage for just one function? 

‘An all-in-one freestanding bath and shower area is a great way of maximizing the space you have available. They can open smaller rooms so they feel less enclosed, bringing a sense of luxury and a contemporary finish,’ says Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs. 

‘Wet rooms are proving popular at the moment, and with good reason – they create a greater sense of space and they are particularly effective in small or awkward areas where head height is limited (which make great places for the bath) or where there are strange layouts. Remember, wet room installations are not for novice builders and it is critical that you make everything waterproof.’

6. Bring in nature one accessory at a time

bathroom ideas with wooden bath surround and plants

(Image credit: The White Company)

We all know the inherent wellness benefits of bringing nature indoors, and biophilia – the human connection to nature – has become ingrained in modern design language. But while installing living walls into some bathrooms works wonders, for other spaces it’s best to begin with baby steps.   

‘To bring the outside in, start with the small things such as a sprig of eucalyptus, a seagrass tea-light holder or a refreshing herbal scent – I prop a hand-crafted wooden bath tidy across the bath to hold sponges, soaps, loofahs and even candles. Natural materials are easy ways to incorporate a wonderfully rustic yet relaxed feel to a bathroom,’ says Chrissie Rucker, OBE and Founder of The White Company. 

‘In these hectic times of constant connectivity, creating a calm space where we can retreat to and feel connected to nature in are more valuable than ever. Bathrooms are a vital part of the winding-down process and scent is key to making them feel calming and inviting – I recommend clean and uplifting herbal fragrances for the bathroom; mint, lavender and geranium leaf are great notes to capture a refreshing and rejuvenating aroma.’

7. Ride the wave decorating trend

bathroom ideas with pink and red decorative tiles

(Image credit: Jonathan Bond)

The wave interior design trend is flooding through the home and it’s time to get the bathroom involved. Typically a space that’s dominated by sharp edges and linear shapes, waves add a contrasting roundness, drawing the eye with their wiggling movement as well as playfully hinting at the room’s watery function. 

‘Curves and curls are a modern, pleasing detail in interiors – from the indefatigable lines of a scallop to the froth of frill details in upholstery,’ says the interior designer Samantha Todhunter, founder of Samantha Todhunter Design. ‘Bathrooms are often utilitarian spaces made up of hard materials, so adding softness through a pattern such as the wave creates a happy result. Plus, a gentle ribbon effect or wave is a little romantic.’

8. Think inside the box with shaped basin bowls

bathroom ideas with square red sink and pink walls

(Image credit: Claybrook)

We’ve seen expressive, sculpturally shaped bathroom basins, organic, handmade bathroom basins, structural asymmetrical bathroom basins, shapely colored bathroom basins, rugged solid stone bathroom basins, hand crafted concrete bathroom basins, and now it’s the turn of the inner bowl to become the creative focus. 

Yes, the modern bathroom sink needs to hold and release water, but beyond that there are no rules – why not keep the exterior toned down and have some fun with the bowl? It’s what’s inside that counts after all.

‘Recently, people’s eyes have opened to boundary pushing options for every element of a bathroom scheme, and there’s a new demand for interesting shapes and concepts. Social media has allowed people to see what custom design looks like, and there’s an increased desire for something a little different,’ Rob Whitaker, Creative Director of Claybrook tells us. 

‘The basin is one of the bathroom’s key elements, they will always have a primary function to hold and release water, but there are fewer design constraints than ever now. We are moving into a time when bathroom design will only limited by the imagination.’ 

9. Keep things compact with a multitasking basin

bathroom ideas with on mirror shelving

(Image credit: C.P. Hart)

Organization is a key issue affecting small bathrooms particularly – how to display those vital toiletries, toothbrushes and towels neatly? The contemporary answer may be with an all-in-one basin, a design that compactly holds every accessory a functioning bathroom needs on one chic mega design. 

Here, on-mirror shelving makes the most of the upper space while the basin itself features a tiny towel rack and some storage surface while additional storage is wall mounted close by. A slim frame around each element boxes it into one drawing a physical boundary around for guaranteed orderliness. 

‘The ‘Elle Oval’ basic by Cielo is ideal for a smaller bathroom, or a cloakroom,’ advises Yousef Mansuri, Director of Design at C.P. Hart. ‘Wall-mounted basins keep the area below free to create a sense of space, while open storage can make everything feel larger. I personally would add floating closed storage below so you can hide away some things (we all have items we don’t want on show) to add more balance and practicality. Remember, as it is on full view, it needs to be kept very tidy!’

10. Bring forest bathing indoors with timber

bathroom ideas with wooden slatted shelving

(Image credit: C.P. Hart)

While we’re used to seeing wood-lined saunas and steam rooms, we’re now bringing the physicality of the spa style into the materials we use in the bathroom proper. While timber plus wetness may be a daunting prospect when wondering how to remodel a bathroom, if you do it correctly the material is full of benefits for the eye and the mind.

‘Bathrooms are calming, restorative spaces and one of the best ways to allow someone to relax and unwind is creating a connection to nature. Natural and organic materials physically bring the outside in, creating a room that feels warm and cocooning, especially compared to traditional materials such as tiles, stones and chromes that can be clinical and cold,’ says Karen Howes, Founder of Taylor Howes. 

‘Wood is not necessarily the first material people will think of when designing a bathroom, but it’s a simple and minimalist material that creates the feeling of Zen which is why it’s often referenced in luxury spas. You just need to consider a few key points when incorporating it – solid timbers with a tight grain are best for bathroom spaces and are less likely to be affected by moisture, ventilation is also key to reduce the moisture in the air to protect the timber, and always seal the wood to prevent moisture getting into it.’

11.Come clean with bright white

All white bathroom with freestanding bath

(Image credit: James Merrell)

If there was ever a time when cleanliness was under the design spotlight, it’s now. As the effects of the pandemic continue to ripple across every part of society, in the bathroom design world it’s leading to the return of the clearest, most sparkly white spaces as we acknowledge the shade’s association with hygiene. 

How to do white bathrooms in a modern, non-doctor’s-waiting-room way? Mix in texture, natural materials, warm tones or plenty of mood-changing lighting options.

‘The pandemic accelerated the world's approach to daily hygiene routines like hand washing and personal care, with many of us now seeking to invest in solutions that prioritize hygiene,’ says Patrick Speck, Leader of Global Design at Grohe. 

‘Following the health and well-being trend, an at home space that is clearly clean is becoming more critical than ever. Cleanliness is directly connected to white, as it "exposes" dirt and marks which will require special attention to maintain. The shade is widely acknowledged as a synonym of calm, purity, peace and it is ever increasingly found as the backdrop to the modern bathroom of all sizes and styles.’

12. Update your mosaic

bathroom ideas

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

Introducing the most modern of bathroom mosaic tiles. Penny tiles, or Penny Rounds, embrace the vogue for soft shapes, tactility and organic forms as a flexible and affordable modern bathroom tilling option. Available in an array of colors, these bathroom tiles are supplied on mesh-backed sheets so they’re easy to install and can be cut to fit into the trickiest of corners or to create specific designs. 

‘Penny tiles are ideal for creating a lovely sense of texture and a subtle decorative detail. They offer a fresh and eye-catching alternative to classic square or brick-shaped mosaics and yet the pared-back geometric simplicity of the format ensures that they’re just as timeless and versatile,’ says Colin Roby-Welford, Fired Earth's Creative Director. 

‘Since the key pieces in bathrooms can be a little hard and cold-looking – ceramic bowls, acrylic or cast-iron baths, metallic taps etc – penny round mosaics are also a fantastic way of introducing a softer element, and with their gently textured surface the tiles feel pleasing underfoot too – plus the copious amount of grout they need creates additional slip-resistance.’

13. Cocoon yourself in organic eco walls

bathroom ideas tadelakt wall and ceiling

(Image credit: Gunter and Co)

Taking over our living rooms, bedrooms and Insta grids recently has been natural lime-based plaster Tadelakt, and now it’s heading for the wettest room in the house. 

With a raw finish and organic feel, it brings a sense of nature inside as if transforming the bathroom into the chicest of caves, while remaining perfectly waterproof and crack free (when applied appropriately – we recommend calling in a specialist if in doubt). For a contemporary aesthetic, plaster the ceiling as well as all four walls to create a comforting sanctuary and an architectural hug. 

‘Tadelakt has a raw, earthy aesthetic that adds texture to a space, it feels soft to the touch and boasts a warming glow thanks to its subtle sheen,’ says Irene Gunter, foudner of interior design studio Gunter & Co. ‘The beauty of Tadelakt is that it can be used on any wall, from bathrooms and wet rooms to kitchens, and it can be tinted to almost any color, so you can create a look that best reflects your personal style.’ 

‘Tadelakt creates a hardwearing and waterproof surface that is seamless – with no grout lines – and resistant to mold,’ explains Gunter & Co’s Irene Gunter. ‘Tadelakt is also free of nasty chemicals and should be cleaned only with water and treated with olive oil-based Savon De Marseille, so it’s good both for your health and that of the planet.’ 

14. Pack a punch with bold bathroom paneling

bathroom ideas with red panelling on the side of the bath

(Image credit: Kelling Designs)

Paneling is sweeping through our homes, and the bathroom is clamoring to get a slice of the action. While bathroom paneling may rely on layers of sealant and paint, it’s using that to its advantage and paving the way for bright, statement shades which update the classic paneling aesthetic to something vibrant and unforgettable. 

‘Statement paneling is definitely on the rise as we’re becoming braver with our bathroom design choices,’ confirms Emma Deterding, Founder and Creative Director of Kelling Designs. ‘Post-pandemic, people want their bathrooms to feel less clinical and cold, and paneling brings in a tactile and warming finish. Paneling helps bring a sense of grandeur and allows you to upscale the space with a luxurious yet timeless finish be it a beautiful wood to bring in the great outdoors or a bold and bright color to inject personality into the room.’ 

As with how to paint bathroom cabinets, there are some tricks to employ. ‘Make sure that the paneling is super watertight and properly sealed and consider painting the planks with a hardwearing oil-based eggshell before they are installed in case they move,’ Emma says. ’Wood can shrink and expand depending on external factors such as moisture, so painting first will ensure perfection. For bathroom paneling, opt for a dado-height, keep it simple and symmetrical, and use a bold color to let your personality shine through. Gone are the days of completely neutral bathrooms, so don't shy away from color!’

15. Make an entrance with showstopping doors

bathroom ideas with arched doors

(Image credit: Gunter and Co)

The bathroom is a space where normal design rules don’t apply which means it’s a hotbed of creativity to experiment in. We’ve seen the transformation of functional baths, basins and brassware into art-like sculptural objects, and now it’s the time for bathroom doors to get involved. 

Either used to split the bathroom from the bath, shower or WC, or as an entryway to the room itself, as with the rest of the décor, doors must only obey the golden design rule of the bathroom: being able to withstand water. Other than that, there’s some space for fun.

‘To create modern, statement doors in the bathroom, glass and steel are the way to go!’ smiles Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. ‘There’s a lot to choose from in the world of glass – from clear glass to reeded glass, tinted and colored glass to glass with fabric sandwiched between it. When it comes to steel, the black Crittall aesthetic remains very popular, but don’t shy away from painting the metal in a color that picks up on an element within your bathroom scheme, or alternatively, opt for a metal finish like chrome, or bronze.'

Irene has one caveat. 'Bathrooms are home to many hard materials, so I often offset them with rounded shapes to soften the overall look – arched doors for example add interest, flow and movement to the space.’

16. Transform storage into a style statement

bathroom ideas with built in alcove recessed with marble background

(Image credit: Ripples)

Now there’s an opportunity to showcase your bathroom tile style that isn’t restrained to one final decision. Until recently, built-in bathroom storage nooks tended to blend into the bathroom background, tiled in coordinating designs to the wall for a subtle, almost secret spot for shampoo bottles and soap bars. Not anymore. 

The simple cut out space has evolved into an architectural canvas, an accent area to show off and experiment with your style via snippets of color, pattern and material (and as it’s so small, why not choose that luxury tile you liked?).

‘A storage area doesn't necessarily have to look like a storage area, it can be used as a decorative accent and it’s a great introduction to color and pattern for those who want to inject fun and personality without tiling the whole bathroom,' says Designer at Ripples Laura Popek. 'For a playful look, opt for something bright or patterned or for a more dramatic style choose dark tones like a deep grey or black marble.’

17. Migrate your marble

bathroom ideas with marble skirting and door frames

(Image credit: Mel Yates)

Stone tiles are an age-old presence here, found making up marble bathroom flooring, backsplashes, walls and cladding baths and basins. Now the timeless material is on the move, popping up in surprising bathroom zones we once wouldn’t have looked twice at. 

While in the living room, oft overlooked areas such as skirting boards and door trims are being reinvigorated and painted in bold colors, in the bathroom they’re getting a marble-y makeover, elevated from bathroom blind spots to style statements with regal slabs of rock.  

‘Cladding unexpected areas creates real impact, and a contemporary bathroom is all about unexpected moments of beauty,’ says Shalini Misra, Interior Designer and Founder of Shalini Misra Ltd. ‘

Decorative stone can be a stunning material and as no two stones are the same, it feels individual and offers a sense of grandeur to any sized bathroom. It is actually very versatile – I love to use stone on skirting, in architraves and on backsplashes. It’s a great finishing material, and using it somewhere that would otherwise be a plain space always sparks interest.’ 

18. Reassess your surface storage

bathroom ideas with reeded wood bathroom cabinets

(Image credit: Superfront)

Thought the main function of bathroom cabinets was to hold washing accoutrements? Not anymore. While basins – one, sometimes two – have traditionally dominated the bathroom countertop, in line with the room’s evolution into general lifestyle space they are stepping aside in favor of make-up, plants, bowls of snacks and whatever else takes your fancy as the room’s first function becomes one of recreation rather than lathering up. 

‘As the bathroom transitions from a practical space to more of a room for relaxation and enjoyment, bathroom surfaces have adjusted suitably – now they not only feature a basin but also accessories such as flowers, a vase or scented candle to give the room its own character and atmosphere,’ says Monica Born, CEO and Co-Founder of Superfront. ‘The bathroom cabinet has evolved from being a practical piece of furniture to a carefully considered design at the very center of our wellbeing.’

19. Go moderately maximal with monochrome

bathroom ideas black and white backsplash

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

Thanks to the recent trend for black bathrooms, there’s a plethora of dark bathroom objects now available, from black brassware to basins and beyond, and so the opportunity for monochrome spaces arises. 

A playful melding of the best bits of the trends for jet black bathrooms (edgy, bold), and traditional bright white (clean, hygienic), monochrome bathrooms are unique, creative and bold, with the high contrast between the shades making a vibrant statement which remains easy on the eye due to its colorlessness. 

Opt for tiles in matching or contrasting shapes and sizes (as long as they tightly fit together) and choose a classic pattern such as herringbone, stripes, or checks, or go for something freer and shuffle them before laying on the bathroom backsplash. Add either white or black sanitaryware, brassware and accessories to finish.

‘A monochrome tile scheme is a striking bathroom choice which never seems to date, and from patterned tiles to matt black fixtures and fittings against white tiles to a more subtle Carrara marble scheme with black interludes, the choices are endless,’ says Louisa Morgan, Creative Director at Mandarin Stone. 

‘Black absorbs the light, while white reflects it so by pairing these two contrasts, real drama is created. Play with scale and pattern and layer up with different textures to add to the atmosphere and remember to consider the overall layout of the bathroom and how the light reflects in the space.’

20. Tile with texture

bathroom ideas with textured tiles on the wall

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

We all know the drill – adding texture to a room is one of interiors design’s most basic rules, but it’s been elusive in the bathroom as it’s a space that classically favors the wipe clean over the woven. While tactility has been slowly dripping into the bathroom of late through various tactile finishes, real three dimensionality is entering the area as tiles venture out of their traditionally flat realm. 

The key to creating a harmonious bathroom with textured tiles is balance – these designs are not for every wall. Use them in a small area and surround them with tiles in similar tones which offer a contrast, to create an art-like feature you can’t help but run your eyes – or hands – over. 

‘A bathroom can really be brought to life using textured tiles, they create a depth and perspective in contrast to flat walls, adding character and allowing light and movement reflect from the 3D surface,’ says Louisa Morgan, Creative Director at Mandarin Stone. ‘Textured tiles stimulate our senses and create a statement visual impact, and in the bathroom they create an organic and calming feel and make the overall space feel less cold and sterile.’

What does IP rating mean in bathroom lighting?

There are some technical issues to make sure you understand before you go ahead with choosing bathroom lights. 

‘Bathrooms are divided into IP rated zones,’ says Charlie Bowes, Director at Davey Lighting. ‘They refer to how likely the electrical components are to get wet – the higher the number, the more watertight the light. Bathrooms usually require lights to be IP44+, which covers zones such as above the basin, in the shower and over the bath. When you’re choosing bathroom lighting, pay attention to IP ratings to ensure your fitting meets the legal safety requirements relating to these areas.’

What do you need to consider when starting to design a bathroom?

Bathrooms are big projects that require careful planning and delicate execution. This isn’t the same as redecorating a living room or bedroom, we’re talking hardcore plumbing and waterproofing before you even start to think about tile samples, brassware finishes and bathtubs silhouettes. There’s a lot of decisions to make, and a lot you need to ask yourself. 

‘There are numerous questions to consider when beginning a bathroom project,’ says Designer at Ripples Laura Popek. ‘I think the most important factors are: who uses the bathroom and what their requirements are; whether there are any structural constraints e.g. what water system they have and how much natural light is available in the space; how much money you want to invest in the project and what style you’d like to achieve and what colors, patterns and textures you are open to.’ 

‘The first thing to consider is where the pipes are located – although of course it is possible to move them,’ says Yousef Mansuri, Director of Design at CP Hart. ‘The type of flooring is very important too as different floor styles manage water in different ways.

It is only once these main considerations are worked out, that you are ready to start choosing products and creating the overall scheme.’ 

‘When it comes to creating a bathroom, the layout is one of the most important elements you need to consider to create a harmonious space’ says Emma Deterding, Founder and Creative Director of Kelling Designs (kellingdesigns.com). ‘It's about ensuring there's a good flow to the room – for example, you wouldn't want your WC right by the where you lie in the bath. We like to create symmetrical layouts and designs as they’re easier on the eye and help makes the bathroom feel calming.’

‘The initial layout is key – try to see beyond the existing layout and be creative with the space,’ says Louisa Morgan, Creative Director at Mandarin Stone. ‘Think about how you want it to look visually as you enter and ensure there is enough space around each fixture, and remember to leave enough room for opening doors and screens. If there are existing key features such as windows or special architectural delights, think about how you can will work with them. Designing a bathroom is about creating the perfect balance between practicality and beauty.’

‘Avoiding clutter and managing space effectively is important for a relaxing environment in the bathroom, so make sure there is plenty of storage and try to ensure that storage is attractive itself – I prefer closed drawers rather than open shelving as this enables the occupant to easily store things in a tidy way,’ says Interior Designer Shalini Misra. ‘When you’re ready for final touches, remember smells and scents in terms of their impact of mood and relaxation. The bathroom is a place to relax and rejuvenate, so ask yourself what scents help you do that.’

What is the best lighting for a bathroom?

You can have the most beautiful, watertight bathroom in the world, but if it’s incorrectly lit then it all goes to waste. Lighting is a vital element in bathroom design, and not something to be overlooked – treat it as you would in any other room and give it the time, attention and budget that it deserves. As with elsewhere in the home, layering lighting is key to creating the right feel and mood, so mix natural light with bulbs of all sizes and positioning for a space that speaks of relaxation and rejuvenation. 

‘Lighting is incredibly important in a bathroom, especially so if there is no window/natural light,’ explains Yousef Mansuri, Director of Design at CP Hart. ‘I think of lighting in three categories: general lighting, task lighting, and ambient lighting. General lighting is the main light source for the room, either ceiling spotlights or a central light. Task lighting, as the name suggests, is for specific tasks such as applying makeup or shaving, which tends to be around the vanity area (I always suggest to have lighting to the sides of a mirror, rather than above so there’s an even wash of light across the face). Ambient lighting is to create a softer mood, such as indirect lighting within recesses, under vanities, or behind baths to create a relaxing atmosphere. These indirect lights can also double up as a night light, and are especially useful when fixed to a sensor.’

‘Aim to create a layered scheme,’ says Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding. ‘The main ceiling light will ensure the bathroom is generally well lit, but you should also ensure there's lighting over the shower or bath for washing, while task lighting at the vanity or built in to mirrors will ensure ample light for putting on makeup on brushing teeth. Think about using dimmer controls for the option of softer lighting for when you're relaxing in the bath.’

‘Lighting is often overlooked, but it makes a huge difference to the way a bathroom functions, looks and feels,’ says Ripples’ Laura Popek. ‘To start with, take advantage of any natural light when planning your space, then think about additional lighting – often this is above sanitaryware near mirrors you use (which also help to bounce the light around the room). Then build on your plan to also include secondary and feature lighting to add drama or atmosphere.

What are the best bathroom tiles?

If a house is only as good as its foundations, then a bathroom is only as good as its tiles. Tiles and bathrooms go hand in hand, be they covering the whole space or used as a small feature backsplash, you’ll be hard pressed to find a bathroom without them. The modern bathroom tile possibilities out there are endless, from tiny mosaics to expansive large format slabs to organic handmade Moroccan Zellige to rectangular herringbone to tactile cement to polished terrazzo to cut marble to printed pattern… There are choices to make about size, shape, decoration, color, material, texture, laying patterns, grout and positioning.

‘We recommend tiled flooring 90% of the time for the bathroom as they are so practical in terms of anti-slip and cleanliness,’ says Ripples’ Laura Popek. ‘Tiles are a fantastic material for bathrooms, but you don't always need to fully tile a bathroom and it's good to combine the different textures of tiled and painted surfaces for both practical and aesthetic reasons. I recommend tiling the floor and shower area at a minimum as they lock in the water, and then you can have a mixture of tiles and paint throughout the rest of the space.’

‘I like to only tile where it is necessary, such as in showers, and behind vanities and baths,’ says CP Hart’s Yousef Mansuri. ‘Larger tiles means that there are less grout lines which are sometimes tricky to keep clean. However, smaller tiles in different shapes such as herringbone, chevrons, and hexagons, add an extra layer of pattern and interest to a space. Texture is also very popular at the moment, and this can be brought into a bathroom using tiles – single walls with ridged textures or porcelain wood-effect with a natural grain are great ways to introduce texture and depth to a scheme.’

‘We tend to use tiles in the bathroom as they are perfect in wet and humid conditions and easy to maintain, whereas wood floors, although suitable, would need to be mopped more frequently to avoid moisture damaging the floor,’ explains Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding. ‘Again, think about the styles and colors that you love and be bold with your design choices. Instead of a plain tile, why not introduce a vibrant patterned design for the floor, then pick complementary colors and use those on the walls to make the look cohesive?’ 

‘Don't think you have to use small tiles in a small bathroom,’ says Mandarin Stone’s Louisa Morgan. ‘Often larger tiles will trick the eye – as they have fewer grout joints, they can actually make smaller spaces appear bigger. And don't be afraid of dark shades – many people feel a bathroom must be pale, but using dramatic tones such as deep greens or navy can really create an intimate, cozy atmosphere.’

What is the best bathroom sanitaryware?

An investment buy that will be used repeatedly on a daily basis, sanitaryware is unique to a bathroom space and what you choose will set the tone for the whole room. While basic requirements are fairly standard – basins, bath, shower and WC – what they look like is anything but as designs have become increasingly experimental. The approach should initially be one of practicality (remember those pipes), with big aesthetic decisions coming later – don’t worry, there’s a lot to choose from these days. 

‘Sanitaryware choices come down to personal requirements and the way you intend to use the bathroom,’ says Laura Popek of Ripples. ‘For example in a family bathroom, an integrated basin might work better as it's easier to clean and better at minimizing splashes.’ 

‘The key to sanitaryware is choosing designs that you love and ensuring they'll stand the test of time as it's an investment – a bathroom isn't something you change each year,’ advises Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding. ‘If space is at a premium, then opt for wall-hung WCs and vanity units to create the illusion of more room and make the bathroom feel bigger by revealing the floor. In larger bathrooms, if you can fit a freestanding tub and a separate shower unit, then it'll give you the best of both worlds. I'd always advise to go for neutral sanitaryware colors as they remain timeless, and allow you to have fun with your tiling, wall colors or other elements.’

If the bathroom trends of last year were about dark black spaces, high gloss brassware, jungle wallpapers and sculptural taps and semi-precious stone tiles, what do the most contemporary bathrooms have in store?

‘I am definitely noticing people moving away from installing baths, and instead opting for super glamorous, larger showers as we come to terms with water scarcity,’ says Emma Deterding of Kelling Designs. ‘We are also seeing people aiming to recreate their favorite spas/hotel bathroom designs at home for that feeling of luxury, escape and relaxation.’

‘There is definitely a huge trend for replacing baths with walk in showers (a shower that has minimal enclosure or no door) – around 80% of our clients are specifying them. They’re super easy to access, spacious, easy to clean, and also look neat,’ agrees Laura Popek of Ripples. ‘Special finish brassware such brushed brassware finishes are still growing in popularity as not only do they look super stylish, but they also hide limescale well. Large format tiles are also a big trend at the moment as they can make a real statement in the bathroom and also have minimal grout lines so they're easier to keep clean.’

‘Bronze is creating a sense of drama in bathrooms at the moment and ages beautifully, with natural patinas revealing themselves over time,’ muses Interior Designer Shalini Misra. ‘Decorative tiling is also increasingly popular, it’s an interesting way to show personality and can transform a bathroom completely. Overall, I am being asked for a much more personal feel bathroom than I have in the past as people become bolder with the space.’ 

‘As tiles options have grown so much, many people are using two or even three different tiles in one space – ensure they all work together tonally to create a cohesive feel,’ advises Louisa Morgan of Mandarin Stone. ‘Gone are the conservative days of sterile white bathrooms. Now, people feel more confident in playing with color, texture and shape.’ 

‘Texture is huge at the moment, and fluted or banded textures are everywhere. From vanity units and cabinets, to glass shower panels and brassware detailing, this is a trend which has exploded across almost all products, and which will stick around due to its simplicity and ability to work across all styles,’ says Yousef Mansuri of CP Hart. ‘Rounded and organic shapes are also a big trend right now, along with an increased interest in nature and wellbeing. Wellness is at the forefront of bathroom design as people want to create personal spaces for not only hygiene and cleansing, but relaxing retreats to escape to.’ 

What is the best way to design a bathroom?

Do the experts have any final bathroom design secrets up their sleeves?

‘Seemly small touches can completely change the look and feel of a space – they really matter,’ says Interior Designer Shalini Misra. ‘Use taps and hardware to create points of interests to demonstrate your personality. Consider using the shower enclosure to create a point of interest in the room, perhaps tiling it in an interesting tone or texture, or tiling the whole unit including the ceiling. I also like to include a heated mirror that won’t fog in the shower enclosure, always plastered into the wall rather than hung.’ 

‘My top tips are – make use of any scenic views when positioning a shower or bath to enhance the experiences, incorporate shower niches into stud walls, link feature lighting to a PIR system so that when you walk through the bathroom door the feature lighting comes on by itself, and consider a shower toilet as they are super hygienic and easy to use,’ says Laura Popek of Ripples. ‘Overall, invest as much as you can in your bathroom project – it’s a room you use frequently, and it should be a sanctuary for you to use which stands the test of time.’

‘One trick I always recommend is to opt for colored glass instead of tiles,’ divulges Emma Deterding of Kelling Designs. ‘Not only does it introduce color and look beautiful, it will also save a fortune in grout and mastic, while being super easy to clean and maintain!’

‘While small samples give an initial idea of a material, it's always best – if possible – to visit a showroom to see tiles on a larger scale,’ advises Mandarin Stone’s Louisa Morgan. ‘Many have a lot of variation which can't be seen from a sample, and colors and textures can look completely different depending on the amount of natural/unnatural light in a bathroom and also against different fixtures and fittings – after you’ve seen them in person, take samples home to see how they work in your individual space.’ 

Amy Moorea Wong
Amy Moorea Wong

Amy Moorea Wong is a freelance interior design journalist with a decade of experience in contemporary print and digital editorial, previously News Editor at Livingetc. She writes on a broad range of modern design topics from news and interior zeitgeist to houses, architecture, travel and wider culture. She has a penchant for natural materials, surprising pops of colour and pattern and design with an eco edge.