5 outdated bathroom trends interior designers are leaving behind that will make your space feel old-fashioned

These design experts tell us what bathroom design decisions they are no longer making and why

a marble and brass bathroom
(Image credit: Sivan Askayo. Design: Studio Oshir Asaban)

Like every other room in the home, bathroom trends come and go but redesigning a bathroom can come with a hefty price tag. Choosing a design that you love that still feels modern and sleek can feel daunting, but knowing what is no longer desirable in the world of design is a good place to start.

Bathrooms have also changed quite considerably in recent years, moving away from spaces that are purely functional to rooms that act as an escape within the home - places to relax and unwind. 

So what's changed when it comes to the bathroom trends we adopt? We spoke to bathroom experts about what trends are falling by the wayside and what ideas they recommend choosing instead.

1. Schlüter trim   

While a raw edge on a bathroom tile isn't often considered a "finished" look, too harsh a line can also provide a problem. ‘A finishing edge for tiles needs to stop,' says states Los-Angeles based Brooke Spreckman, founder and principal designer of Design Hutch. 'A Schlüter tile trim makes your bathroom look like a doctor's office.' This style of trim, which tends to be a metal or plastic edging to a tile, can be quite harsh and jarring for the eye as it abruptly breaks up the space instead of boasting a continuous, coherent design. 

So what’s the alternative? ‘Always try to trim off the exposed edges of your tile with a trim piece in either the same material, manufactured by that same company, or use a liner in a compatible material’, says Brooke. ‘Sometimes, I even go as far as having my stone fabricator cut off trim pieces of the stone used on the countertop, to trim out the edges of the tile’. This way, your overall bathroom design will feel more considered and thought through. 

2. Exposed bulbs

wall lights in a small powder room

(Image credit: Benedetto Rebecca. Design: Charles Cohen Designs)

There’s no denying that exposed bulb lighting has been popular amongst those that are inspired by modern industrial design. However, they may no longer be the best lighting decision for your upcoming bathroom renovations. 

‘No more exposed bulb wall sconces!,' says Brooke. 'Bathroom lighting needs to be even and smoothing, and a fixture without a filter around the bulb is going to be too bright.' 

As Brooke suggests, an exposed bulb may work above a kitchen island for example, as it’s a functional work space that requires bright lighting. But, a bathroom should be a relaxation haven that feels soft and spa-like. 

Choose bathroom wall lights that have a glass or fabric shade covering the bulb to diffuse the light. 

3. Faux brass finishes 

Brass is a bathroom trend that has been awarded timeless status. However, faux brushed brass is not a favourite among experts. ‘I tend to stay away from the use of any faux brushed finished brass, most fixtures made of aluminum with a brass finish, that are trying to emulate brass typically look yellow and have a fake shiny gold look’, says Brooke. ‘It immediately makes the hardware or fixture and overall space look cheap’. 

Bathroom designers would recommend saving and investing in real brass finishings if this is your preference. Alternatively, other metals available can look just as stylish. Matt black fixtures, chrome and polished nickel are all great options for a contemporary bathroom design. 

4. Freestanding bathtubs 

a green tiled built in bathtub

(Image credit: Working Holiday Studio)

There was a time when any luxury bathroom worth it's salt had a freestanding bath at the heart of it, but in recent years, bathroom trends have tended to swing back towards built-in bathtubs. 'We usually prefer a built-in bath,' says Carlos Naude, founder of Working Holiday Studio. 'We think is more comfortable and we like the tile the ‘hero’ of each one of our bathroom projects.' 

It mirrors the trend towards bathrooms that are comfortable enough to spend longer periods in, to truly relax and unwind. So does that mean the freestanding bath is outdated? No at all. 'There are definitely instances where a freestanding bath works well,' Carlos says, 'but is not usually what we tend to do.'

5. Artificial plants 

Plants arguably add the finishing touch to a room and tie an entire scheme together. Using them as part of a bathroom design makes sense for most interior styles and trends. Nevertheless the incorporation of artificial plants is now seen as outdated, according to experts. 

‘Green in particular is popular in bathroom design as we associate it with the outdoors and one of the big trends is how we bring the goodness of outside into our own homes’, says bathroom design expert Barrie Cutchie of BC Designs

Rather than reaching for faux plants, instead do your research and choose the best plants for bathrooms that will thrive. Ferns are a fantastic choice as they like an environment with high humidity as do Calathea, often described as a ‘prayer plant’. 

Becca Cullum-Green
Freelance writer

Becca Cullum-Green is a freelance interiors content creator and stylist. She fell in love with interiors when she landed her first job as an editorial assistant at a leading UK homes magazine fresh out of university. You can find her renovating her 19th-century cottage in the Suffolk countryside, consciously trying not to paint every wall with Farrow and Ball’s ‘Pitch Black’. Her signature style is a mix of modern design with traditional characteristics. She has previously worked for House Beautiful, Grand Designs, Good Housekeeping, Red, Good Homes and more.