How can you make a bathroom less boring? 7 elevated design schemes that prove bathrooms can be the chicest room in the home

The bathroom is just as worthy of a stylish refresh as any room. Give your own an upgrade with these seven expert-approved design tips

Three elevated bathroom designs
(Image credit: Donna Mondi Interior Design; BC Designs; Carpetright)

The bathroom is often overlooked when it comes to a characterful and comfort-forward design scheme. A utility-first room with seemingly limited decor options, it's not unusual for the washroom to be left until last. Much more likely to be fitted with a simple, sterile style that does the job (but not much else), many of our bathrooms have much more design potential than we're giving them credit for.

Luckily, interior designers and homeowners alike are making more of the bathroom, and giving these tucked-away rooms stunning revamps worthy of the spotlight. With special attention to calm, cozy and comforting design features, they're proving once and for all that the bathroom doesn't have to feel different than the rest of the home. To get their top tips on how to design a bathroom that's dressed to impress, we spoke to designers who love making these rooms into worlds of their own – here's how to get the look at home.

7 expert-approved tips for designing anything-but-boring bathrooms

The desire to give bathrooms luxury-level design refreshes isn't new, says Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs. Instead, it's part of a larger return to comfort in interior design, a reaction to years of pared-back, minimalist interiors that didn't deliver on coziness or character.

'I’ve seen it in bathroom design for close to six years but it has been accelerated in a post-pandemic world when we’ve craved our homes to comfort us, which has resulted in clinical bathrooms being out, and inviting, relaxing spaces being in,' says Barrie.

Here, Barrie and other designers share their tried-and-true tips for designing a bathroom that doesn't look like a typical bathroom, but rather blends into the rest of your carefully curated and perfected home.

1. Light the space with intention

A black, white and gold bathroom with a walk-in shower

(Image credit: Pooky)

Treat your bathroom like every other room across your home, and light it with intention. Create a calming, layered bathroom lighting scheme by using several types of light fixtures and considering the placements that will prove both functional and stylish over time.

Jo Plant, head of design at Pooky, says that though 'gentle and warm' ambient light should define an elevated bathroom space, you'll want to place more intense lighting strategically throughout the room. By placing pendants or 'a couple of small chandeliers' throughout, you'll achieve the first bit while leaving room for function-forward lighting, too.

'For the most effective light, whilst remaining flattering, you want to use a wall light either side of a mirror. This ensures you can see what you are putting on your face, whilst also giving you the most effective levels of light you need if used alongside a flush pendant or spots,' says Jo.

Helen Pett, Arteriors design ambassador, agrees. She says that 'a pair of wall lights or sconces' placed on either side of the main mirror 'will eliminate shadowing' and create a soothing, homey atmosphere all at once. Beyond that, she adds that creative lighting can make your small space feel larger, and make the ceilings feel higher, a luxurious touch that's sure to upgrade the bathroom's look and feel.

'If you have high ceilings, low drop chandeliers are a wonderful option to add an element of luxury and decadence to the bathroom. Alternatively, a great tip if you are decorating a bathroom with lower ceiling height, opt for a smaller pendant on a shorter chain which will give the impression of beautiful soaring ceilings,' says Helen.

2. Mix lush materials and textures

A white bathroom with a wooden stool and marble countertop

(Image credit: Carpetright)

'When designing your bathroom think about the aesthetics as well as the practicality – this is a space in which we all spend a lot of time relaxing in and functionality and style need to be considered,' says Helen.

To get the luxury look down, and create a space that doesn't scream 'bathroom,' Helen suggests 'incorporating high-end materials such as marble, brass or crystal accents.' Just because the bathroom is a high-use space that you won't intentionally relax in often doesn't mean it deserves bland, boring design details.

Give your bathroom the attention it deserves by investing in long-lasting, beautiful materials that'll bring a smile to your face each time you enter. A similar effect can be achieved when you introduce lush textures into the space, whether through furniture, a washable rug or natural wood details.

'I want to create bathrooms that seamlessly integrate with the rest of the home, as opposed to jumping onto a specific trend. So it’s really bringing that lived-in, yet elevated aesthetic into each space, creating something approachable and timeless all at once. One way I like to do this is by adding textures, such as vintage rugs, wallpaper, curtains or natural wood,' says Amber Lewis, principal designer and founder of California-based Amber Interior Design.

3. Opt for statement wallpaper

brown bathroom wallpaper with dark wood

(Image credit: Jamie Haller / Photography Lauren Moore)

'Another key design element is the introduction of wallpaper, which we often associate with other rooms but can work easily as well in a bathroom,' says Barrie. In fact, a small bathroom (whether a guest bathroom, powder room, or hidden-away en suite) is the perfect place to bring bold, patterned wallpaper that wouldn't fit in with the rest of your home's design scheme.

Add character to your bathroom by going bold, with color, pattern or both. By defining the small space with vibrant, exciting wallpaper, you'll make your bathroom's design scheme stand out all on its own – without needing help from the rest of the home.

4. Try out a moody color palette

A dark plastered bathroom sink with a round mirror

(Image credit: Future / Mary Wadsworth)

If wallpaper isn't your thing, or you're a bit worried about upkeep, there's no need to scale back your design scheme. Instead, opt for a dark, moody look using paint and architectural details that carry through the rest of your home.

Eugenia Triandos, principal designer of Montreal-based Hibou Design & Co., says that the bathroom's placement within the home affords you plenty of unique design opportunities you might otherwise overlook. Opt for characterful crown molding or millwork atop a dark or sultry shade, and consider a coat of limewash or plaster for good measure.

'People are increasingly viewing bathrooms as opportunities to incorporate fun design features. With the freedom of closed spaces, they can experiment with darker walls and wainscoting, making the bathroom feel less conventional,' says Eugenia.

5. Include comfortable furniture

A light-filled bathroom with an outdoor beach view, a marble bathtub, a velvet maroon chair and a vintage runner

(Image credit: Donna Mondi Interior Design)

Furniture isn't necessarily the first design feature that comes to mind when assembling your bathroom, but it shouldn't be left out of the mix: 'Part of the reason we are designing our bathrooms to look less like bathrooms is our desire to create unique and personal spaces. It is a trend that works best in larger bathrooms, as this provides the space to allow you to be creative, adding in items such as armchairs, vintage pieces of furniture, rugs and artwork,' says Barrie.

Don't count out a classy armchair or ottoman when designing your ideal bathroom look – though the bathroom probably isn't your first-choice lounge space, you'd be surprised how many times a thoughtfully placed piece of furniture comes in handy. Whether you make use of a footstool while perfecting your makeup, or place clothing atop a pouf to make your post-shower ritual more relaxing, bathroom furniture can prove quite underrated.

'When it comes to designing this style of bathroom, your main bathroom products – baths, toilets, showers, basins – don’t have a huge effect on the overall look. However, you may wish to choose an upcycled piece of furniture for a vanity unit in warm woods as this helps to bring to life the non-bathroom-bathroom trend,' adds Barrie.

Amber adds that the addition of furniture to a bathroom space doesn't have to go over the top: 'While I’ve incorporated some gorgeous chairs and bench seating when space and architecture allow, it could be as simple as a small wooden stool or ottoman,' she says.

6. Invest in custom vanities and built-ins

A blue bathroom with gold hardware

(Image credit: Industville)

'Custom vanities start to resemble furniture pieces, adding a touch of luxury while also serving to conceal bathroom aspects,' says Eugenia, sharing that built-ins and bespoke bathroom fittings go a long way to elevate even the smallest of spaces.

'Concealed water closets contribute to this trend, allowing for a more seamless integration of the toilet within the space. The concept of incorporating shower and toilet walls further aids in hiding typical bathroom elements, giving the space a more cohesive and sophisticated look,' she adds.

Think out of the box when designing your ideal bathroom, and don't leave any layouts or arrangements out of the picture. With so many bespoke solutions available, you won't need to limit your grand ideas for the bathroom – and the final look can easily put style equally alongside function.

'Ultimately, the goal is to make bathrooms feel like a natural extension of the home, complete with their own unique design features. People are beginning to think creatively about the space, not letting traditional "bathroom elements" hinder the overall aesthetic of the design,' Eugenia adds.

7. Don't forget the finishing touches

bathroom with green bath

(Image credit: BC Designs)

'I am a big proponent of putting as much design effort into your bathroom as any other other space in your home. Invest in items like wall art, window treatments, wall mirrors and lighting to achieve a really elevated and serene look so that your bathroom will feel like a true sanctuary!' says Kathy Kuo, interior designer and founder of homeware brand Kathy Kuo Home.

Final touches make the entire design scheme, and the bathroom is no exception. While Kathy opts for wall art and window treatments, Amber suggests 'fresh florals in beautiful vessels, a catchall or tray, and some artwork.' The options here are endless, and all you'll need to consider is how to make the space feel like you. Traditional bathroom finishes in gorgeous colors and textures also contribute to a detailed, thought-out final product, adds Helen.

'You can create a contemporary and luxurious scheme by pairing classic matte finishes with hints of metallic detailing. Introduce soft traces of gold with decorative additions such as an oversized mirror to make a big impact. This will reflect the light and give the illusion of a larger space whilst the ornate gold finish adds a layer of luxury to the overall look,' she says.

Renovating, redoing, or refreshing your home shouldn't exclude this crucial room – your relaxing, spa-like escape awaits! Make your bathroom stand out as a space of its own with these trusted tips. From ambient lighting to living room-worthy seating, you'll never see the bathroom the same way.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.