5 things that people with professionally-designed bathrooms have in them - they make spaces feel elevated

If you want your bathroom to stand out from the crowd, these are the things to include, according to designers

A bathroom in full marble
(Image credit: Julie Soefer. Studio credit Marie Flanigan Interiors)

You can always tell when a bathroom has been designed by an interior designer. There are things, both big and little, that make it stand apart. These clever ideas make these spaces stand apart, while always nailing a calming atmosphere. 

However, once you know these tricks, you can achieve the look without having to call in professional help. We’ve pulled together our hit-list for a design-inspired modern bathroom - this is what it includes. 

1. Tiles used cleverly

A bathroom with printed tiles and wood flooring

(Image credit: David Tsay. Studio credit RailiCA design)

When it comes to adding personality, the right bathroom tiles used in the right way are a detail that can effortlessly improve your space. Porcelain tiles can be a great option as these are resistant to water, and can last for years if properly maintained. Plus, these have so many options in colors, finishes, and shapes that you can choose the one that best fits your personal aesthetic.

'For this multi-surface bathroom floor, we definitely started with the hexagon-shaped tile in the wet areas, and picked a spot halfway into the room to transition to wood,' says Raili Clasen, founder of RailiCA Design. 'We love doing all wood floors in primary baths, but with three little kids using this tub, we added the extra layer of protection with the tile in those splash spots.'

2. Luxe materials

A bathroom in full marble

(Image credit: Julie Soefer. Studio credit Marie Flanigan Interiors)

Whether it is marble bathroom flooring, or marble across all surfaces, this wonderfully versatile and naturally water-resistant material is the hallmark of timeless luxury. The designs with fine grey veins and gold notes are a classic choice, while rich, black marble can add a dramatic vibe to the room. Surfaces aside, you can bring in marble through accessories too, with marble trays, bottles, vases, etc.

'Marble is such a beautiful statement piece in a bathroom,' says Marie Flanigan, principal and founder of Marie Flanigan Interiors. 'In this space, the marble is the main focal point, complemented by the fluted glass and iron. The marble has so much character and movement that it was essential to keep the other features, like the shower surround, cabinetry, and finishes clean and simple. The fluted glass lets the eye travel while allowing for a visual break in the veining.'

What makes this material such a pleasure to work with is its dynamic and irregular look. The natural grains bestow the space with individuality. 'I always love to include natural elements in each space I design, and a bathroom is no exception,' says Marie. 'Marble is incredibly luxurious because it’s always unique and bespoke. No two slabs are the same, which is what makes finding the right slabs so important and often, time-consuming.'

3. A statement bathtub

A bathroom with a white, standalone bathtub

(Image credit: Tom Ferguson Photography. Studio credit Luke Moloney Architecture)

A beautifully designed standalone or a built-in bathtub can imbue a space with hotel-like luxury. In fact, this is a surefire way to turn your once strictly utilitarian space into a serene oasis.

'The bathroom was designed so that modern interventions in a grand old room could be clearly read as new and different,' says Luke Moloney, founder of Luke Moloney Architecture. 'The new work is crisp, spare, and floats in the middle of the space..and doesn't touch the sides. This allows the scale of the original room to be clearly read, and the old wobbly details to still feel old and wobbly – it still feels like an old house. The Patricia Urquiola-designed bath was selected because it straddles the gap between old-fashioned elegance and trim modernity.'

To give the bathroom a spa-like feel, consider placing the bathtub by the window to take in the views of the lush outdoors, and for a wonderfully serene vibe. 

4. Storage niches

A shower area with a small storage niche

(Image credit: Julie Soefer. Studio credit Marie Flanigan Interiors)

Bathroom storage is not just a practical element but also one that can add an elevated feel to the room. Think of fluted cabinets, shapely vanities, and pretty shower storage niches (very indicative of luxury hotel bathrooms). These help keep this high-traffic area calm and tranquil, keeping all the chaos at bay.

'The shower storage was created to blend seamlessly into the shower wall,' says Marie. 'The stunning veining throughout the marble camouflages the shelving and encasement making the niche appear seamless. It’s also important to have varying shelf heights to accommodate an assortment of bottle sizes and shower necessities.'

To add a luxury feel, display high-end toiletries, and bath products on the shelf for you and your guests to use. Use pretty trays for an added aesthetic feel. 

5. Mood lighting

A bathroom with recessed lighting

(Image credit: Le Atelier)

And finally, no room can shine (literally or figuratively) without good lighting. Bathroom ceiling lighting usually includes pendants, sconces, and bulbs. But mood or recessed lighting has its special place in design. This illumination adds depth to a room, subtly and softly bathing the room in a warm glow. 

'Recessed ceiling fixtures can allow a space to go from a brightly lit space to a soft relaxing spa with the flick of a switch,' says Reena Sotropa, founder of  Reena Sotropa In House Design. 'Flush mount fixtures are very subtle in their appearance and can provide an extremely bright and even quality of light in a space that is the next best thing to natural light.'

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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.