21 NYC Bathroom Design Ideas

by | Last updated May 5, 2021 | Apartment Renovations, Houses, Interior Design

We have done many remodels in New York City and have explored a plethora of different types of bathroom design. In this post we will review some bathroom design ideas from some of our bathroom remodels. As an architect, I see that bathroom design is one of the most important issues for people when renovating their homes. The bathroom is often one of the most expensive spaces in the home, and should get plenty of attention during design.

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in New York and owner of Fontan Architecture in NYC. In this post I will review some general bathroom design ideas and show you a few bathrooms we have renovated in NYC.



Adding contrast can be a great feature to a modern bathroom design. Some people like an all-white bathroom, but, sometimes, adding some color or texture can make it pop. This comes down to personal taste, but start with an open mind, especially when it comes to bathroom color and texture.

The picture below is of a bathroom in an apartment that we renovated on the Upper West Side of NYC. The bathroom was gutted and remodeled. It is mostly white but we added a blue mosaic floor and a wood vanity to bring a little contrast and color to the bathroom. Adding natural materials to an otherwise stark bathroom can give it a little life.

NYC Bathroom Design Ideas

NYC Bathroom Design Ideas


Alternative Materials 

There are many alternative finishes you can use in a bathroom for a more unique and modern design. Here are a few examples of alternative materials for bathrooms:

  • Acrylic
  • Back Painted Glass
  • Concrete
  • Epoxy / Resins
  • Venetian Plaster


Concrete Bathroom Design

Concrete finishes can be a great alternative for a bathroom if you are looking for an ultra modern option. For a bathroom, concrete finishes should be smooth. Rough concrete would not be a good option for a bathroom.

If you want to read more about concrete interior design, we have another post on Concrete Interior Finishes you can see.

Concrete Bathroom in an NYC apartment

Concrete Bathroom in a Manhattan Apartment NYC


Keep It Simple 

Some people may want to go all out, while others want to keep it simple when renovating their bathrooms. A simple bathroom design is a good option for many people.

The bathroom picture below is a simple bathroom design in an apartment renovation in Riverdale, New York. This bathroom has simple white marble walls with a light beige floor. All fixtures and cabinets are white, including the custom white vanity. This bathroom is simple and classic.

Simple Bathroom Ideas

Simple Bathroom Design, bathroom in Riverdale, NYC


Linear Shower Drain

As an architect, one bathroom design trend that I have been a little surprised by is all the bath to shower conversions. So many of my clients are preferring showers to tubs and are taking out their bathtubs to install walk-in showers.

A modern touch to a shower floor is a linear shower drain. Linear drains are rectangular, sleek, and minimal. This is why they are used in modern bathroom designs so often. There are different types, but let’s put them into two categories. The first is where you have a metal grill top, like a normal drain, but it is linear and more modern in appearance. The second type is where you install a matching floor to a metal pan with the drain being a thin line around the perimeter, as in the pictures below. I am a big fan of tiling the linear drain. It leaves a small reveal for the drain, which is a great modern bathroom design idea. This is one of my favorite details for a walk-in shower.

Below is a photo of a linear shower drain in an apartment we renovated in NYC using an Infinity Drain. This has a concrete floor, which is also installed on the drain. The only part of the drain visible is the rectangular reveal in the shower floor.

Concrete Bathroom Floor & Linear Shower Drain

Concrete Bathroom Floor & Linear Shower Drain in a Manhattan apartment (FiDi)


Frameless Shower Doors

Shower doors are a critical part of any bathroom design, whether they are for the shower or tub. The shower door hardware is an area where the details make all the difference. One important thing to note about the shower doors is that these are really the last thing to get installed in the bathroom. Therefore, it does not have to be the first thing to consider when renovating your bathroom, but that does not mean it’s not important.

Options for shower doors:

  • Frameless Shower Doors
  • Framed Shower doors
  • Barn Door Style Shower Doors
  • Point Support Hinge Doors and Frame with clips
  • Sliding Doors
  • Hinged Doors
  • Partial Fixed Panel with No Door

In the picture below you can see frameless shower doors for a tub in one of our Manhattan bathroom renovations. This bathroom does not have tracks for its shower doors. It has point support clips, and the hinged door also acts as point support. This eliminates the need for continuous tracks or frames, making it a much sleeker look. The glass needs waterproofing seals, which can be clear and minimally visible.

Frameless Shower Door

Frameless Shower Door in an Upper West Side Manhattan apartment


Electric Towel Warmer

An electric towel warmer is a luxury item you may want to consider. These are good for high end bathroom renovations where you really want all the fancy accessories. There are two major advantages to towel warmers. First, they warm the towel while you are in the shower. That way you dry yourself with a nice warm towel. The second advantage is they help dry the towel after you shower so that you do not have a damp towel hanging on the wall all day. The wet towel will dry quickly.

As an architect, people are constantly asking me what accessories they should add to their bathroom. I think an electric towel warmer is a great addition to a modern bathroom.

In the photo below, the towel warmer was mounted on a mirror. This was in an apartment that we renovated on the Upper West Side of NYC.

Electric Towel Warmer

Electric Towel Warmer in a modern Upper West Side Apartment Renovation


Large Bathroom Mirror

Mirrors are critical in any bathroom. A large mirror can be a good addition to a bathroom. It can make the space seem larger. Additionally, a large bathroom mirror is very useful and a nice piece of design.

The photo below shows a medicine cabinet and towel warmer mounted on a large bathroom mirror white tiles.

large bathroom mirror

Large bathroom mirror in a Manhattan apartment renovation


Custom Bathroom Vanities

The photo below is from a bathroom renovation in Riverdale with a custom vanity and integrated sink countertop. It is all white and made of Corian. Anything custom is usually on the higher side in terms of price, but if made well, it is worth the cost.

Custom Bathroom Vanity

Custom Bathroom Vanity with integrated sink


Shower Niche 

Storage is critical, and bathroom niches are a great way to add some shelf space in your bathroom. This shower has a vertical shower niche from floor to ceiling in white marble. It is a continuous sleek design and provides plenty of space for your shower products.

Modern Bathroom Niche Ideas

Modern Bathroom Niche in a Manhattan apartment


Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain is a very popular material for bathroom tiles. One significant difference between porcelain and natural stone is that porcelain tiles are nonporous and will not absorb moisture the way a stone, like marble, can. This means the tile will be more durable and less likely to discolor over time.

Porcelain tiles come in many different textures, colors, and patterns so you should be able to find something that suits your taste. Many manufacturers also make porcelain that is designed to mimic natural materials; Some of these look nicer than others. I always recommend going to see these in person at a show room before you purchase them.

Modern Bathroom Porcelain Tiles

Modern Bathroom Porcelain Tiles in a Brooklyn Apartment


Attention To Detail

There are lots of unique bathroom details you can incorporate to give your bathroom an individual feel and accentuate the design.

Below is an electrical outlet installed on a mirror with a mirrored switch plate in a bathroom we renovated. This is just one example of a simple detail that can elevate a bathroom design.

NYC Bathroom Design Details

NYC Bathroom Design Details


Tub Selection

Therapeutic Tub

There are many different types of tubs and features to incorporate. The picture below is of a therapeutic tub.

Therapeutic Tub

Therapeutic Tub


Freestanding Tub

A freestanding tub is very elegant and has a luxurious feel if you have a bathroom with enough space for it.

The simple bathroom below was designed so that the sculptural tub was the main feature, with the rest of the bathroom acting as a backdrop.

Freestanding Tub

Freestanding Tub in a Tribeca Loft



A little texture is a good option for people who want to add another dimension to their bathroom. You can use more textured materials in many different ways. In the picture below we used a 3D tile from Porcelanosa to add depth to the accent wall in the shower.

NYC Bathroom with Texture Materials

NYC Bathroom with Texture Materials in an apartment in Chelsea NYC


Wall Mounted Toilet

Every decision matters, and that includes the toilet design. Wall-mounted toilets are a more modern bathroom design idea. They have advantages and disadvantages.

Wall Mounted Toilet Pros

  • Does not require a floor drain, therefore more flexible for location in retrofits
  • Adjustable Height at installation
  • Wall face plate easy to remove for maintenance
  • Easy to clean underneath
  • Modern design

Wall Mounted Toilet Cons

  • Can be more expensive
  • May require furring of walls
  • Requires fully open walls to install
  • More Components to coordinate, wall carrier and toilet are sold separately


Wall Mounted Toilet

Toto Wall Mounted Toilet in a Chelsea Apartment NYC


Modern Vanities 

The vanity below has a white integrated sink top over a dark wood cabinet. This is a very modern and simple design. The vanity is wall mounted which makes it easy to clean underneath but also looks sleek. Vanity design and selection is a major consideration for a bathroom interior design. The vanity can blend or provide contrast.

Wall Mounted Floating Vanity

Wall Mounted Floating Vanity in a Chelsea Apartment


Smart Toilet

You can also consider smart toilets, which have lots of different features to look at. You can have a built in bidet, or get a bidet seat. Dual flush can save water. There are many other features in toilets these days.

Smart Toilet

Smart Toilet in an UWS apartment


Custom Bathroom Accessories

You can custom make almost anything, as in this ceiling mounted custom black metal towel rack.

Custom Ceiling Mounted Towel Bar

Custom Ceiling Mounted Towel Bar in a Concrete Bathroom in a Manhattan Apartment (Financial District)


Bathroom Lighting Design

Bathroom lighting is important for design and utility. Sconces or accent lighting can be useful and decorative at the same time.

bathroom lighting

bathroom lighting


Shower Head Options

Shower Heads have a surprising amount of options. I think of all the bathroom fixtures the shower head is the hardest one to select.

Shower Head Options:

  • Single Function vs Multi Function Shower Head
  • Wall or ceiling Mounted
  • Rain Shower
  • Hand Held Shower
  • Body Spray Shower
  • Adjustable height hand held shower head
  • Thermostatic vs Pressure Balance
  • Dual or Multiple Shower Heads
  • 2 way, 3 way, or 6 way diverter
Shower design

Walk in shower


Bathroom Floor Heat Mat

Bathrooms can be cold because many bathrooms are not going to have independent heat sources. If you do not have any heat in your bathroom, you can put an electric bathroom floor heat mat to heat the bathroom. This is a mat installed in the floor under the tiles, which is then connected to a thermostat in the bathroom.

Thermostat for Heat Mat in bathroom floor, in Chelsea, NYC

Thermostat for Heat Mat in bathroom floor, in Chelsea, NYC


Coordinate Your Accessories

When you are purchasing your bathroom components, you should coordinate them. Do not buy everything individually without thinking about what else you are selecting. There are lots of options and accessories you will want to consider, and the bathroom should look like every choice was done deliberately.

Coordinate Matching Bathroom Fixtures

Coordinate Matching Bathroom Fixtures


We have another blog post with more Bathroom Design Ideas if you want to check it out.


A Few Extra NYC Bathroom Design Tips:

Bathroom ADA Accessibility

If you are in NYC and you are planning to renovate your bathroom, it may have to be ADA accessible. ADA stands for the Americans With Disabilities Act. In NYC, all apartments in elevator buildings or apartments on the ground floor of walk-up buildings are subject to ADA accessibility. We have another post you can look at if you want to read more about NYC Bathroom Codes.


Go To Showrooms

If you are renovating a bathroom in NYC, you should definitely go to some bathroom showrooms. It is very helpful to see things in person to get ideas, and you can touch the vanities and tiles to feel the texture and quality. That is the great advantage of being in NYC. There are so many showrooms for home renovations with different levels of quality and price.

Architect Jorge Fontan with Clients in Showroom

Architect Jorge Fontan with Clients in NYC Bathroom Showroom


NYC Bathroom Design Ideas and Pictures

In this article, we discussed some ideas for NYC bathroom designs. Although most of these ideas apply anywhere, these are all our actual projects in NYC. Any reference to Building Codes is based on NYC Codes. All New York bathroom design pictures in this post are of our actual projects.

Grey and Wood Bathroom

Grey and Wood Bathroom in a Manhattan Apartment


Thank you for reading our blog post on Bathroom Design Ideas in NYC.

I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect you can contact Fontan Architecture directly.


Contact Fontan Architecture


Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.