How can you make a bathroom feel more modern? 10 ways to blend calming and contemporary

Kickstart your bathroom refresh in 2024 with these expert tips on how to make a bathroom feel modern

how to make your bathroom feel more modern
(Image credit: Emily Lauren Interiors / Studio LIFE/STYLE / BC Designs)

Gone are the days when a bathroom was merely a utilitarian space. These bathroom ideas to make your space feel more modern go beyond the boring white suite, seamlessly blending functionality and aesthetics to create a space that caters to both daily routines and relaxation. 

From the classic allure of marble to the practical charm of a shower niche and the space-saving ingenuity of custom vanities – contemporary bathrooms certainly don't have to mean cold.

As Anne-Marie Barton, Owner and Principal Designer of AMB DESIGN, aptly puts it, 'Designing a bathroom is the perfect space to indulge while creating elements of surprise and comfort. It's your chance to create an emotional response even to the practical necessities… selecting parts and pieces that unite and lure you daily into a sanctuary.'

Whether you're envisioning an update to your master bathroom, a shower room upgrade, or planning to transform your ensuite into a spa-like retreat, we've consulted the experts to bring you a truly comprehensive list of ways to make your bathroom feel more modern in 2024.

How to make a bathroom feel modern 

There is something instantly calming about a modern bathroom. Perhaps it's the clean lines, the contemporary fixtures, or even the dedication to bathroom storage that gives the space that allure. 

'Modernizing your bathroom design can be as simple as refreshing things like your bath mat, shower curtain, and waste baskets with pieces that feel a bit more sleek, modern, and stylish,' says interior designer Kathy Kuo. 'These pieces are the epitome of small pieces making a big impact. If you're hoping to take your modernization a step further, try swapping your bathroom mirror for something super-modern that really makes a statement,' she adds.

For those in favor of a more contemporary look for your home, finding ideas for a bathroom design to match can be a little overwhelming. But don't fret - ahead, discover 10 modern bathroom ideas, examples, and tips straight from expert interior designers.

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry.

1. Install a shower niche

modern bathroom with tiled shower and marble niche

(Image credit: Emily Lauren Interiors / Photography Madeline Harper)

'We love to include an enlarged custom niche in our modern bathroom projects,' says designer Gretchen  Murdock of Modtage Design. 'Try to take into account the selected tile layout and the desired size of the niche to work within the tile pattern where possible – this takes some planning and effort.'

'It is also worth considering the size of items you'll want to store in the niche and make sure there is enough room for any 'pump' style bottles and a place to hang scrub brushes or washcloths,' adds Gretchen.

The most effective material to use in a niche is a heavily-veined marble, says Emily Brown, principal designer and founder of Emily Lauren Interiors. 'We expect to see statement marble used in unexpected places like shower benches, niches, integrated sinks, and vertical details such as wall treatments, baseboards, and door trim in 2024.'

2. Commit to bespoke cabinetry and vanities

modern bathroom vanity and cabinetry by Studio LIFESTYLE

(Image credit: Studio LIFESTYLE)

'We've found that in order to achieve a modern look, we like to custom-build bathroom vanities that are simple and made of one material,' observes Lexie Sokolow, designer and brand manager at Studio LIFE/STYLE

'When designing a modern bathroom, we typically incorporate flat paneling for that smooth and clean line aesthetic,' she adds. 'Incorporating the stone into the sink rather than sourcing a porcelain sink helps elevate the vanity.'

Emily Brown agrees. 'Use bespoke bathroom cabinetry for a unique design opportunity and choose ornate millwork, rich wood tones, and earthy paint colors with statement hardware and intricate stone edging details along the countertop for a contemporary look.'

'For pedestal and console sinks, we hope to see a charming transformation with the embrace of patterned curtain wraps, introducing an element of surprise and concealed storage below,' adds Emily.

3. Try out microcement

microcement modern bathroom with walk in bath and shower

(Image credit: BC Designs)

'Look for alternative materials to use,' advises Barrie Cutchie, design director at luxury bathroom company, BC Designs. 'A big bathroom trend is concrete, but this can be expensive and heavy, especially in upstairs bathrooms. A great alternative is to use microcement, which is a specialist coating that can be applied to any hard surface and replicates the design aesthetics of real concrete for a modern, minimalist design.'

'Best of all, it is water-proof and suitable for underfloor heating so makes the perfect alternative to tile design for a walk-in wet room,' adds Barrie. 'Use microcement to maximum potential by creating a modern bathroom of dreams. Choose to double up or go as large as possible, with double showers and a large, oversized bath with modern, smooth curves.'

4. Focus on spa-likes clean lines

modern bathroom with floating wood vanity and plaster walls by A Naber Design

(Image credit: A. Naber Design)

In this calming bathroom, designer Abbie Naber of A. Naber Design, chose to forego texture wall tile for a plaster application that felt unstated and spa-like.

'To achieve a modern bathroom look, focus on clean lines (flat front and/or integrated cabinetry), sleek and minimal textures (in this case, natural stone countertops and flooring paired with plaster walls), and minimal mirror and lighting selections,' advises Abbie.

A monochromatic color scheme works well in a minimalist environment to achieve that 'infinity effect' in the space. While a neutral, polished wall color veils the entire space, the layers of light wood cabinetry and textures from the brass hardware and accessories bring the design to life.

annie naber interior designer
Abbie Naber

Abbie Naber is the owner and principal designer of a NABER DESIGN, a San Diego based interior design firm. Focusing on renovations, new builds, interior design, and styling, Abbie strives to create spaces that are approachable, fresh, and inviting. 

5. Embrace a warm color palette

warm color scheme in a modern bathroom by ca pietra

(Image credit: Ca' Pietra)

Let this be your sign to try out a bathroom with a warmer palette. 'Modern doesn’t mean it has to be stark white,' says Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca' Pietra. 'With a rising trend for warm neutrals, this new bathroom color palette provides the opportunity to create a modern bathroom but with a richness and homely feel.' 

Emily Brown agrees, adding: 'In 2024, bold color palettes are on the horizon for bathrooms, in both paint colors and bathroom wallpaper choices. We're seeing rich browns and reds, deep greens, and luxurious deep yellows, creating a moody and elevated ambiance in bathroom spaces.'

'Using a couple of color tones on the walls in combination adds softness and layering,' advises Jo Littlefair, co-founder and director of Goddard Littlefair. 'Keeping the ceiling and the majority of the walls off-white helps retain that sense of space while dropping in some textured elements in a colour helps to layer in warmth and interest.'

A headshot of Grazzie Wilson from Ca'Pietra
Grazzie Wilson

Grazzie Wilson is head of creative at Ca'Pietra, a luxury stone and tile brand based in the UK.

6. Create texture with tile, stone and plaster finishes

modern bathroom design with zellige tiles and marble

(Image credit: Emily Lauren Interiors / Photography Madeline Harper)

While most of the hallmarks of a modern bathroom design include clean lines and a pared-back color palette, in order to really make neutrals sing you're going to want to introduce texture. 

'To get the best out of this approach, layer different neutral shades in the bathroom, choosing colors with the same undertone running underneath,' says Ca' Pietra's Grazzie. 'Choosing bathroom tiles with a Zellige feel adds texture and dimension through its rustic approach to modern design,' she advises. 

By adopting a series of textures from handmade tiles, microcements, polished plaster walls, and marbles, you're able to enhance the simple beauty of your sanitary and hardware. 

7. Invest in a statement mirror

modern bathroom with floating vanity and statement modern mirror

(Image credit: Kimberly Harrison Interiors / Photography Kathryn MacDonald)

'An easy way to help make a bathroom more modern is to hang large mirrors from the counter to the ceiling,' advises Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs. 'This helps any space reflect light more and make a space feel larger than it is.'

'This is foolproof for any future interior design trends because who doesn't love a large mirror to see themselves in the bathroom and reflect natural light?' she adds. 

For a space that is starting to feel a little too minimal, accessories are key to grounding the space. Arsight founder, Artem Kropovinsky, agrees. 'Pull the eyes towards a standout mirror or piece of art – it invites interest and adds class.'

Linda Hayslett
Linda Hayslett

Linda Hayslett is a Los-Angeles-based interior designer that specializes in residential projects. With a rich fashion and entertainment background, Hayslett moved to LA in 2003 and became a designer after working as a celebrity fashion stylist. Linda was recently named one of House Beautiful's 2020 Next Wave Designer to watch and was 1 of 8 designers for Wholehome 2021.

8. Switch up your hardware

modern bathroom with chrome and gray color scheme and dark marble

(Image credit: Logan Killen Interiors / Photography Alison Gootee)

'While unlacquered brass is here to stay, silver metals such as polished nickel are making a statement in our projects this year,' observes Emily Brown. 'Polished nickel is not only timeless and classic, but the warm tone beautifully complements other raw metals like unlacquered brass and oxidized bronze.'

For a cleaner and more streamlined look, wall-mounted faucets are a go-to for interior designers. 'Wall mounting your faucets picks up on my 50/50 Rule ... anything beautiful can be practical,' says Annie-Marie Barton. 'Raising the faucet off the countertop creates an element of surprise and cool factor while making it easier to clean,' she adds.

'Pair shiny tiles and sanitaryware with flat finishes or raw aspects,' adds Artem Kropovinsky. 'This makes the design more engaging and multi-dimensional.'

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Based in New York, Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, has a decade of extensive and considerable global design experience. Prioritizing minimalism, sustainability, and authenticity, Artem, alongside his team of professionals, works on projects in the US and worldwide.

9. Add extra lighting

modern bathroom brass wall sconces by emily lauren interiors

(Image credit: Emily Lauren Interiors / Photography Lindsay Brown)

'The choice of finish on lighting can make all the difference to the look of any room in the home, with bathrooms no different,' says Jo Plant, head of design at Pooky.

'Nothing says traditional more than antique brass lighting with patterned shades, so steer clear of this combination if you are trying to modernize this space. Nickel and chrome are the most popular options for those adding finishing touches within more contemporary bathrooms, with the cooler tone of the metal sitting prettily alongside modern fixtures,' Jo advises.

Linda Hayslett also agrees that switching up your bathroom lighting is one of the easiest ways to make a bathroom feel more modern. 'Getting a more streamlined light or installing a light in a more interesting way can make a bathroom instantly feel modern,' she says. 'Stagger lights, oversized lights, and different style lights that are in the same look will always be on trend and never be out of style, even past 2024.'

10. Paint the unexpected

modern bathroom with painted window trim and shutters

(Image credit: Logan Killen Interiors / Photography Alison Gootee)

'For an on-trend look consider painting the walls, ceilings, and doorframes in one block hue to enjoy the joys of full-on color,' advises Helen Shaw, director of marketing at Benjamin Moore. 

Alternatively, for a more subtle contrast, look to paint your woodwork and trims around doors and windows – and even shutters as seen in this bathroom design by Logan Killen Interiors above – to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation whilst still helping to keep the space open.

'If your bathroom doesn’t benefit from natural light, rich colors can play with artificial light sources to make a strong style statement. Painting bathroom furniture in the same tone will add to the dramatic effect of a dark bathroom. Layer with metallic accents such as gold, brass, or copper adding depth and a touch of luxury,' adds Helen. 

Helen Shaw
Helen Shaw

Helen Shaw is a color expert and Director of Marketing (International) at Benjamin Moore. Helen and her husband Craig were also founders of Shaw Paints, acquired by Benjamin Moore in 2020.

How do you make a bathroom more modern fast?

If you're considering a bathroom renovation but don't want to quite go the full hog of ripping everything out, there are a few ways to bring a seemingly dated bathroom into 2024. 

A simple lick of fresh paint, a lovely new bathroom flooring, or retiling can transform an existing bathroom room in the nick of time. Just listen to our expert interior designers for fresh ideas on the most modern of color schemes, lighting plans, and mirrors to accessorize.

As well as considering aesthetics, you might be thinking about the function of your bathroom too. Now this will require a little more know-how that simple DIY, but if you're happy with your color scheme and overall styling of your suite but are feeling a bit let down by the fixtures and fittings, perhaps it's time to upgrade that grab shower experience. 

Create a relaxing bathroom for unwinding at the end of the day or getting ready in the morning with these contemporary ideas. From luxury marble to unexpected paintwork and delightful mirrors and lighting to add drama, hopefully, these projects, tips, and tricks have left you suitably inspired to think a little more modern in your bathroom. 

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome