The 5 Things People With Flattering Bathrooms Always Have — How Many do You Have?

If you're on a quest to make your bathroom more of a flattering zone, don't forget these five key elements

A bathroom with natural light and warm materials
(Image credit: Ome Dezin)

A flattering bathroom is so much more than getting the right lighting to complement your reflection. It's about creating a space with enhanced conditions that give the room that spa-like quality, fostering a tranquil atmosphere for those self-care moments.

Upon speaking to the expert designers in their field, we've found that the most flattering bathrooms consistently enlist the help of warm colors, perfectly optimized layered lighting, and natural materials that enhance your modern bathroom as a temple of relaxation where you to feel your best. Here are five factors the designers strive for in their quest for a flattering bathroom, how many do you have in yours?

1. Good lighting

A naturally lit bathroom with sconces either side of the mirror

(Image credit: Lindsay Brown. Design: Emily Lauren Interiors)

Good bathroom lighting is a non-negotiable. Contrary to popular belief, overhead, recessed lighting isn't the most flattering for a bathroom. 'It's important to have multiple types of levels of lighting for a room that flatters,' says Ming Thompson of Atelier Cho Thompson. 'Only having a single overhead downlight can make for harsh shadows.' Not only does overhead light cast a harsh shadow downwards and enhance imperfections on the face and body, but it creates a bright and cold environment.

Layered lighting is as important in the bathroom as it is in other rooms of the home. You want a mix of wall lights - crucially at head height, overhead lighting, and the glow of flickering candles as optional. 'Adding in sconces or cove lighting on dimmers can create softer lighting conditions and variability for different times of day,' says Ming. A combination of layered lighting also means the light source doesn't come from any one particular point - instead, it is distributed equally, creating the right glow for a flattering reflection.

Try and conceal the bulb where possible - there is nothing as unflattering as the harsh glare of a bright bulb. Think porcelain glass bulbs for thick coverage, frosted glass, or fixtures with tastefully shaded hoods. Alternatively, conceal the bulb behind molding or behind a mirror to shine outwards, encircling the frame.

Consider the tone of the lighting too. Anything between 2,700k - 3,000k bulbs will create a soft, warming glow that is gold to yellow in light - a tone that flatters every skin tone.

2. Matte textures

A curved shower wall

(Image credit: Damien Furey. Design: Fabric Architecture)

If lighting is crucial in a bathroom that flatters, stay clear of those gleaming surfaces and instead pick out matte textures for bathroom walls. Plaster and limewash bring that matte texture to the surface of the walls and give a spa bathroom feel to the space.

For designer Corinne Mathern, an added benefit is that matte textures help to stop the harsh glare of shiny surfaces. 'Consider a warming limewash or plaster in the room for that matte wall that doesn't reflect light in random directions,' she says. 'A warm plaster throughout a bathroom nods to souks and hammams from hundreds of years and still feels timeless today. It’s a soothing finish that makes the walls feel like cashmere.'

3. Natural materials

A bathroom with wooden touches

(Image credit: Sierra Anderson. Design: THELIFESTYLEDCO)

Wood might not seem like a material that belongs in a bathroom because of its natural properties which mean it doesn't pair particularly well with water, but it is a crucial component in creating a flattering space.

Its natural warmth can cancel out any sterile quality omitted by white walls and surfaces, contributing to the color scheme to bring a golden hue. If you're not looking for a big change to your bathroom color scheme, the addition of hardwood in smaller doses might be a good option (think bath tray or stylish stool placed next to your freestanding tub).

4. Strategically placed mirrors

A bathroom with strategically placed mirror

(Image credit: Derek Shapton. Design: Barbara Vokac)

Bathroom mirrors are hugely important for creating a flattering space, giving you multiple options to take in your reflection from varying angles. Natural lighting comes into play here too. You need a natural light source to help you get ready for the day ahead. Even if you have small windows, maximize natural light with strategically placed mirrors to enhance what natural light you do have.

This bathroom design by Canadian-based design firm Barbara Vokac Taylor Architects embraced a large mirror to make the space flatter with an abundance of natural light 'The bathroom was so nicely lit from a window on one side and we wanted to reflect that natural light in the space with the mirror,' explains Barbara. 'The client was so super and game for a lot of energy in that space - we used a three-dimensional tile on the backsplash and putting a rectangular mirror just felt too stiff.

'The sculptural shape of the mirror provided some play and allowed us to make the lighting for the double basin vanity asymmetrical, as well as adding some interest to that wall. The sculptural shade adds a subtle and elegant energy to the space.'

5. A warm color palette

A bathroom with a nod to nature

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Corinne Mathern)

Warm colors are integral to a room that flatters your reflection, so think twice before picking up that paintbrush and going for that classic white bathroom. Instead of cold tones from the colder side of the spectrum like blues, greens, blacks, purples, and whites with cool undertones, stick to a warm palette with undertones from the warm side of the color wheel.

For example, off-whites with a red undertone will bring a rosy hue to the room that will enhance your complexion, and give your bathroom a spa-like feel. 'In the bathroom, we love using warmer, lighter colors like Dunn Edwards Foggy Day and Benjamin Moore Smoke Embers to create a serene ambiance for enjoying those self-care moments,' says interior designer Adam Hunter. In this example from Corinne Mathern, the designer has opted for a mix of neutrals, with an earthy off-white paint that creates real warmth.

3 Buys for a Flattering Bathroom

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.