Of all the rooms in a home, bathrooms have some of the most decisions and options to consider. There are many obvious and not so obvious bathroom design ideas you can incorporate into a new bathroom or bathroom renovation.
As an architect, I spend a large percentage of my time designing bathrooms. In this blog post we will review some miscellaneous bathroom design ideas from big picture items to small details. All photos in this post are from my projects in New York.
- Contrast Color and Texture
- Keep it Simple
- Alternative Finishes
- Porcelain Bathroom Tiles
- Plan Grout Lines
- Vanity as a Centerpiece
- Custom Vanity Design
- Custom Accessories
- Add a Niche
- Freestanding Tub
- Frameless Shower Doors
- Linear Shower Drain
- Wall Mounted Toilet
- Attention to Small Details
- Coordinate Your Fixtures
- Towel Warmer
- Heated Bathroom Floor
- Mosaic Bathroom Floor
- Mix Old and New
Contrast Color and Texture for Bathroom Design
Some people like to have a bathroom that is all one color, but you may want to consider a little contrast as well. Like all bathroom design decisions, it is all up to personal taste. A little contrast can make a bathroom a bit more dynamic and less one dimensional. Contrast can come in many forms such as contrasting colors, materials, or textures.
Simple Bathroom Design
We just mentioned contrast to create a dynamic look, but now I am going to discuss simplicity. With everything in this post, bathroom design comes down to personal taste. For some people simplicity is the key. Below is a picture of a white bathroom with a very simple custom vanity. Not everyone likes a white bathroom, for some people it is too stark. For others, it is just right.
You can make a simple or even monotone bathroom with any color, not just white. I do see a lot of people making white bathrooms. Keeping the bathroom design simple can always be a good option.
Bathroom Texture and Design
You may want to incorporate texture into your bathroom design. You can do this in many ways. First I would consider some wood, whether it is in the vanity or some other detail. Bathroom textured wall tiles can add a lot of character to a bathroom. There are 3D tiles for bathrooms that have dimension and depth. These won’t go with every design, but it can be used as an accent in certain situations. Texture can also be subtle in a tile with a very minor minimal texture.
Alternative Bathroom Finishes
Bathrooms do not have to be made of tiles. There are many alternative finishes you can use in a bathroom for a modern bathroom design. Here are a few examples of alternative materials for bathrooms:
ALTERNATIVE MATERIALS FOR BATHROOMS:
- Back Painted Glass
- Epoxy / Resins
- Venetian Plaster
CONCRETE BATHROOM DESIGN
Concrete finishes can be a great alternative material for a bathroom. A concrete bathroom design is an ultra modern option. For a bathroom, concrete finishes should be on the smooth side – rough concrete would not be a good option for a bathroom.
If you want to read more about concrete finishes, we have another post on Concrete Interior Finishes you can see.
We have another post on Concrete Bathroom Design if you want to see more on this modern concrete bathroom.
Porcelain Bathroom Tiles
We have been using a lot of porcelain bathroom tiles in my projects. I think the trend is one that will last for a while. Porcelain has many advantages. It is nonporous so it will not absorb and discolor like natural stone would. It is more affordable than many natural stones and it comes in many different styles and designs.
There are lots of faux finishes in porcelain for example porcelain made to look like marble, concrete, or wood. I am always surprised by how much people like these types of porcelain tiles. Although some people want a more purist look to their bathroom design it will all come down to personal preference.
Plan Grout Lines
Building a new bathroom or renovating an existing one requires a lot of attention to detail. Grout is one of those things people can often overlook or leave as an after thought. There are lots of decisions to make with grout. First of all: is what color are you going to use? Grout can match the tiles or be used to have contrast.
The thickness of the grout lines is important. Some people prefer a very thin grout line. Also, matching these up is critical to the bathroom design. How are the tiles being laid out? You may be able to align the grout on the walls and the grout on the floor. This makes the bathroom look very neat and planned out. The thickness of the grout joints is also an issue to take into consideration. These days most people want to do very this grout joints.
Bathroom Vanity Design as a Centerpiece
The bathroom vanity is an important feature of a bathroom design. It can be designed or selected to fit in or to be a centerpiece. The vanity can bring contrast or a pop of color to an otherwise uniform bathroom. In the picture below, we had a very grey bathroom where we put a wood vanity with a white top. The vanity went very well with the grey but also provided a little natural material to an otherwise grey bathroom.
Custom Vanity Design
Vanity design is critical to a bathroom. There are lots of vanities to choose from by many different manufacturers. A custom vanity can give you a unique and personal feature to your bathroom. Custom is more expensive so this may or may not work in the budget.
Below is a picture of a custom vanity with an integrated sink countertop.
Custom Bathroom Design Accessories
Anything can be custom made. One of our clients wanted a very specific design for his towel bars, so he had them custom made (see picture below). This is a custom ceiling mounted black metal towel bar. Custom will of course increase the budget but if you have that kind of budget it may be a thought to consider.
The advantage of custom design for your bathroom is that you will have a unique design just for you.
Bathrooms require a lot of products and a bathroom niche is a great way to provide a storage area for shower and bath products. Your bathroom walls have plumbing in them so these need to be planned out and coordinated with the pipes. You can never have too much storage and do not overlook details like a shower niche when working on your bathroom design.
Selecting a tub is a big decision when purchasing your bathroom fixtures. The tub can be a sculptural element if you pic one with the right design. If the bathroom is large enough you could potentially install a freestanding tub to be more of a feature and not just a utilitarian fixture.
Frameless Shower Doors
Frameless shower doors are a great simple detail to enhance a bathroom design. You have to select the hardware and finishes and then most glass companies can provide the glass and installation. Think about if you want hinge or sliding doors. If you have a sliding shower door do you want both to slide or one to be a fixed panel.
Shower doors are the last thing to go into your bathroom. They will measure for the glass towards the end of the job to make sure everything fits properly.
Linear Shower Drain
Linear Shower Drains are a sleek and minimalist option for a modern bathroom design. Linear drains can have a grill or as in the picture below can have the bathroom floor material integrated into the drain. The groove is the drain with a metal pan to receive the floor material in the middle. This can be easily removed for maintenance and cleaning. In this example we have a concrete bathroom with concrete material in the linear drain. This could be any material you can put tile into the drain to match a tile floor. There are also square shower drains that can have a material on top.
Integrating the material on top of the drain is a great bathroom design detail, and a linear drain adds a real modern look. Lots of our clients are using this type of shower drain.
Wall Mounted Toilet
We often put wall mounted toilets in modern bathrooms. These provide a sleek modern look and are easy to clean underneath. The wall mounted toilet has a tank in the wall that you cannot see. The tank is part of the wall mounted toilet carrier. It is operated by a wall mounted push plate with dual flush for water conservation. The push plate can easily be removed for maintenance.
All the components in the toilet wall carrier are installed in the wall. There are three parts to purchase with a wall mounted toilet: the toilet, the carrier, and the push plate. You must make sure that these all work together. The toilet seat is usually sold separately. One major advantage of wall mounted toilets in a bathroom renovation is that they do not require a drain in the floor. This means if you are installing a toilet in a new location or building a new bathroom you do not need to open the floors or drill if you have a concrete floor.
Attention to Detail
No detail in a bathroom is so small that it does not deserve attention. Everything needs to be thought out and designed. Here is a bathroom with an electrical outlet on the mirror. The outlet cover is mirrored in order to match. All bathroom design details are important.
Coordinate You Bathroom Fixtures
Coordinating bathroom fixtures is critical to a good bathroom design. Consistency is important. There are many fixtures to purchase and these need to match. Coordinating and matching bathroom fixtures involves attention to material / finish, fixture style, and function.
Fixture Material / Finish
The finish of the fixtures should probably be the same throughout the bathroom so whether you are using brushed nickle or polished chrome you should make sure they are all the same.
There are many different bathroom fixture finishes to consider:
- Brushed Nickel
- Gun Metal
- Polished Chrome
- Oil Rubbed Bronze
These were just a few examples of bathroom fixture finishes.
Bathroom Fixture Style
Not only should the material match in the bathroom fixtures but the overall style should as well. I think some consistency is important for bathroom interior design. For example if you are using square fixtures you may want to use all square fixtures or if they are round you could keep them all round. Most bathroom fixtures come in a set or a line. If you are purchasing fixtures from the same line this can make matching easy but you may not want to be constrained to one line or one manufacturer.
Bathroom Fixture Function
I am in New York and we have so many showrooms here where you can see and feel the fixtures. I n fact many plumbing showrooms in New York have operable displays for their fixtures so you can see the fixtures in action. Depending where you are located you may or may not have something like this available. I like to touch and feel products out before selecting them.
Bathroom Towel Warmer
A towel warmer can be a great addition to a bathroom. Obviously these are towel racks that heat the towel, so you have a nice warm towel when you get out of the shower. You can also leave it running to dry the towel after you use it, to not have a damp towel hanging all day.
Heated Bathroom Floor
A cold bathroom is very uncomfortable especially when you get out of the shower. Often bathrooms do not have their own heat source. We often heat the floor in the homes we build or renovate. There are many ways to heat a bathroom floor you can put a full radiant heat system or by a simple electric heat mat. The heat mat is really the easiest and most affordable way to do this.
You can have a thermostat just for the bathroom that can be programmed or get a thermostat that can be operated by a phone app. That way you can turn the heat on while you are still laying in bed in the morning.
Mosaic Bathroom Floor (nonslip floor)
In bathrooms you want to have a slip resistant floor. Mosaics are a good choice. Mosaics are small tiles with many grout lines and these grout lines create traction. OF course you do not have to use a mosaic on your bathroom floor but it is a popular option. Often people will put a mosaic in the shower floor and larger tiles in the rest of the bathroom.
Mix Old and New Bathroom Design Features
Some people like modern bathrooms and some like traditional bathrooms. You do not really have to decide you can make a modern bathroom with some traditional features.
Below is a picture of a claw foot tub which is a traditional design within a contemporary bathroom design.
Bathroom Design Ideas and Tips
As an architect, I study design and construction, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article, we reviewed some tips and ideas for bathroom design but there are many others to consider. Every project is unique and must be assessed on its own unique characteristics. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.
Thank you for reading our blog post on Bathroom Design Ideas.
I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect, you can contact us directly.
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 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.