How can I make my bathroom cozy? 7 ideas for a soothing sanctuary

From color to layout, lighting and accessories, designers share how you can transform your bathroom into a welcoming, restful retreat

How can I make my bathroom more cozy and inviting? Green bathroom with bathtub. Orange bathroom with sink and bathtub. Modern, dark wood bathroom with sink and shower.
(Image credit: BC Designs | Beata Heuman / Simon Brown | GRAFF Designs)

When thinking of cozy rooms in the home, you are not usually drawn to bathrooms – but you should be.

Bathrooms are often viewed as cold, clinical environments that are more practical than they are beautiful, but over the last few years, bathroom ideas have shown a wonderful shift in favor of more decorative and comforting spaces, rich in texture, color and character.

A cozy and inviting bathroom can not only make this room in the home feel more united in your overall design scheme, but it can also help you feel more relaxed, calm and connected to the space – who wouldn't want that at the start and end of each?

Learn how to make your bathroom feel cozy and inviting

Whether you're designing a bathroom in a new home, or are looking into how you can add warmth to a room, we have asked a selection of designers and bathroom experts for their best design ideas; so you can really make the most out of your bathroom space, and celebrate this relaxing room in the home.

1. Choose the right color scheme

Green bathroom with green tiles, wallpaper, green bathtub

(Image credit: BC Designs)

'Whilst a bathroom is a place of cleanliness and sanitation, it needn't be clinical. A warm and cozy room with dark and moody colors punctuated with shiny brass or chrome and white china can be fresh and crisp at the same time as being cozy,' says London-based interior designer, Naomi Astley Clarke.

Bathroom color ideas shouldn't always revolve around a classic blue and white palette (don't worry though, beam bathroom decor will still remain ever-timeless), darker colors can create a wonderfully cozy and cocooning space, and bolder, brighter shades can bring an inviting energy into the room.

NYC-based interior designer, James Stanley, also advises, 'picking soothing colors can make your bathroom feel calm and serene. Incorporating shades of blue, green, and white can help to create a spa bathroom environment, while earthy tones can create a rustic, warming atmosphere.'

 Naomi Astley Clarke
Naomi Astley Clarke

London-based interior designer, Naomi Astley Clarke, has worked in the interior design industry for over 20 years and has a client base of movie stars, producers, music moguls, professionals, and entrepreneurs. She creates uplifting and exciting renovations and refurbishments of both residential and commercial properties.

James Stanley
James Stanley

Interior designer, James Stanley is the principal and founder of James StanleyNY, a boutique Architectural Design firm in Tribeca, New York. JSNY specializes in high-end luxury residential renovations. James’ creativity and attention to detail can be seen at The Plaza, Tiffany & Co, and throughout residential homes in Manhattan. 

2. Incorporate plenty of soft, tactile texture

Chinoiserie wallpaper in a guest bathroom

(Image credit: VSP interiors)

From a warming rug underfoot with bathroom rug ideas to plenty of cozy towels and bathroom curtain ideas, creating moments of softness in your bathroom, both large and small, will help to balance out the cooler fixtures and fittings, helping to make the space feel more inviting.

Joanna Ross, general manager of design at Sheridan says, 'a bathroom is a place that needs soft and nurturing textures, with this use of material key to creating a relaxing, spa-like feel. Nothing says spa quite like a fresh stack of plush towels placed over a towel bar, rolled in baskets, or stacked neatly on a shelf.'

For further inspiration, we explore a selection of beautiful towel storage ideas in our dedicated feature.

Joanna Ross
Joanna Ross

Joanna Ross has worked at the Australian home and lifestyle brand, Sheridan, for over 5 years, and has a background in fashion retail and buying, trend forecasting and textile design.

3. Decorative accents

Large bathroom with copper bathtub, navy and white paint ideas, wooden flooring, plants and candles, beamed ceiling

(Image credit: BC Designs)

'Finishing touches such as candles, plants, and artwork can enhance the ambiance of your bathroom. The best candles provide both ambient lighting and will make the space smell nice – creating an inviting experience. Plants add a natural element, which can help to establish a calming and relaxing environment. And artwork can add a beautiful, aesthetic dimension to your bathroom.' says interior designer, James Stanley.

Wall decor ideas and decorative accents can make all the difference in helping your bathroom space feel more personal and unique. 

Interior designer, Julie Brown also supports this and says, 'trying something unusual like hanging a plant from the ceiling, using a vintage coat stand to dry towels and adding single photograph or painting will add personalized comfort and sophistication to an otherwise functional room.'

Julie Brown
Julie Brown

Julie founded Brownhouse Design in 2005 after a career in video and event production. She’s proud to have fostered BHD from a design table in her bedroom to the ever-growing company that exists today.

The Ultimate Bath by Barbara Sallick | $37.95 at Amazon

The Ultimate Bath by Barbara Sallick | $37.95 at Amazon
The co-founder of Waterworks, Barbara Sallick is a trusted expert on bathroom design. In this book, Barbara walks readers through the creation of stylish, functional spaces from a wide-ranging list of revered design contributors, including Gil Schafer, Nickey Kehoe, Brigette Romanek, and Miles Redd. 

4. A successful storage system

Double vanity bathroom idea with wallpapered wall and gilted mirrors over

(Image credit: Unique Kitchens / Stacy Goldberg)

'The more products you can hide away the more successful your bathroom will be. Incorporate as much hiding space as possible for bottles, vials and bars of soap,' advises interior designer, Naomi Astley Clarke.

If your bathroom is messy and unorganized, it is going to feel far from cozy and inviting, and the right bathroom storage ideas can help streamline your space – and make way for more purposeful and beautiful decoration.

James Stanley also comments, 'keeping your bathroom neat and organized can create a more welcoming atmosphere. Adding storage solutions such as bathroom cabinets and bathroom shelves can prevent clutter and enable the space to feel more inviting.'

We explore how best to organize a bathroom in our dedicated feature.

5. An adaptable lighting scheme

Bold blue floral wallpaper in bathroom with red wall lights and scalloped shape basin

(Image credit: Barlow & Barlow)

The right lighting really does have the power to transform a cold, dark space into one filled with warming and inviting pools of light, and your bathroom lighting ideas should cater to a range of different tasks and moods.

'Bathroom lighting has to be flexible – you want to be able to do your makeup and skincare in bright strong lighting, lit from behind the mirror. But equally in the same room, you want to relax and unwind in a dimly lit bubble bath,' says interior designer, Naomi Astley Clarke.

James Stanley advises: 'Lighting can play a significant role in the overall ambiance of the bathroom. Soft, warm lighting can help to create a relaxing and calming environment. Consider installing dimmer switches to enable you to control the light levels to suit your mood. A warm vanity light fixture can also add a touch of elegance and create a cozy atmosphere.'

6. Warming materials

Modern bathroom, dark wood cabinetry, wicker mirror, brass wall lights

(Image credit: GRAFF Designs)

One of the biggest design decisions for a bathroom often comes down to your chosen materials. For an inviting and cozy space, embrace the beauty and warmth of grounding, natural materials such as wood, as Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs advises.

'We’re really investing in materials and shades that ‘cuddle’ us in the home. We want to feel secure, happy and relaxed in our own environments and what better way than through warming textures? One way to achieve this is through the use of wood in the bathroom. Whether it is wooden floors (imitated through tiles or the real deal), or wood paneling, bathroom vanity units, or even teak baths, there is a lot to be gained from using this material in helping to make our bathrooms a cozy space.'

Other materials that can help make a bathroom feel warmer and more inviting can also include certain metal finishes.

'Brassware is an easy way to introduce softer tones, organic shapes and textural detailing to the room. Opting for a brushed gold or olive bronze can give a softer rather than a polished look. Ensure a cohesive aesthetic by using the same finish throughout the brassware and accessories,' advises Ziggy Kulig, president and CEO at GRAFF Designs.

Barrie Cutchie
Barrie Cutchie

Barrie Cutchie founded British bathroom brand, BC Designs in 1999. Barrie is an award-winning designer who has been at the forefront of bathroom design for over 30 years.

Ziggy Kulig
Ziggy Kulig

Ziggy Kulig founded luxury bath brand, GRAFF, in the early 70s, with a vision of bringing creativity and enduring beauty to the world of bathroom design. Recognized worldwide for its unique vision and originality of products, the brand is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

7. A well thought out layout

Small bathroom with orange painted walls, basin and curtain with skylight

(Image credit: Beata Heuman / Simon Brown)

The right bathroom layout should work in harmony with the size of the room, and create a functional space that is easy to move around in. Too many bathroom layout mistakes will make the room feel awkward, uninviting, and less joyful to use. 

Naomi Astley Clarke advises: 'Do not try to cram too much into the bathroom space – if one sink fits comfortably but two are a push – then just have the one. If a bath and a shower are cramped – then, you've guessed it, just choose one – it will then, ultimately, be a more generous and relaxing space to be in.'


What is a relaxing color for a bathroom?

A color that one person may find relaxing, could be one that another finds overwhelming – a relaxing color scheme all comes down to your own personal preference and sense of style. 

That said, there is a selection of shades that have been proven to help us feel more relaxed and at ease, as Devin Shaffer, interior designer at Decorilla explains.

'There are several reasons why we are drawn to wellness colors and colors of nature for our homes. One of the main reasons is that these colors are associated with a sense of calmness, tranquility, and relaxation. When we see greens, blues, and earth tones, our brain is subconsciously triggered to think of natural environments and outdoor spaces. These colors also have a physiological effect on our bodies, as they can help to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and promote a feeling of well-being.

Another reason why we are drawn to wellness colors for our homes is that they help to bring the outdoors in, and over the last few years, it has become important to create a sense of connection with nature in our living spaces. The use of natural colors, textures, and materials can help to create a calming and nurturing environment that promotes wellness and relaxation.'

We explore the most relaxing colors further in our dedicated feature.

Devin Shaffer
Devin Shaffer

San-Francisco based interior designer Devin Shaffer has a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design and is a lead designer at Decorilla Interior Design.

'Bathrooms can often feel quite cold spaces when stark white walls are mixed with chrome brassware. Living spaces in their own right, bathroom design must be approached in the same way as the rest of the home,' says Ziggy Kulig.

From a cocooning color on the walls to a comforting rug on the floor, there are many design ideas you can embrace to make a bathroom feel more cozy and inviting. The aim is to create a scheme that not only showcases your sense of style, but one that warmly welcomes you into a comforting and relaxing space, and where you can blissfully while away the hours.

Zara Stacey
Managing Editor

Zara is the Managing Editor at Homes & Gardens. She joined the brand in February 2022 as an Interiors Content Editor, specializing in writing content on interior color trends, decorating ideas and design inspiration. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.