How do you decide on a bathroom style? Interior designers offer their top tips

With an infinite amount of styles to choose from it can be a tricky decision, so we asked designers for their best advice

How to choose a bathroom style
(Image credit: Future/Matthew Williamson)

Bathrooms aren’t always the first rooms that spring to mind when we think about stamping our individual style on a home. The humble three-piece suite has historically just been a functional part of day-to-day life. But in fact, whether you’re designing a bathroom from scratch or just looking to update your existing one, there are plenty of bathroom ideas out there to help you have a beautiful and stylish space.  

Bathrooms are no longer just simply functional rooms – nowadays people want a space that helps with relaxation and pampering, helping to promote wellbeing. Of course, for most of us, bathrooms are fairly small rooms, meaning you need to use your space cleverly. Fortunately, we’ve spoken to the experts to help you decide on a bathroom style that makes the most of whatever space you have available. 

How do you decide on a bathroom style?

Bathrooms need careful consideration, particularly as they’re not as easy to update as some rooms in the house. The key is to create a timeless bathroom, whilst still allowing you to add individual touches to make it a space that speaks to you. As interior designer Rodney Lawrence says, ‘Clients have distinct preferences on what they want for a bathroom, either traditional, modern, or something in between. However, no matter the style, to make a bathroom truly beautiful, there has to be a moment of drama.’

1. Consider the existing style of your home

Small bathroom with cream walls and red vanity and mirror

(Image credit: Future)

When deciding on the style of your bathroom, consider the style of the rest of your home,’ says Amy Youngblood, founder of Amy Youngblood Interiors. ‘Is it traditional, contemporary, or somewhere in between? The look of your bathroom(s) should really follow suit.’ Designer Kathy Kuo, CEO of Kathy Kuo Home agrees, ‘Generally speaking, if you have an overarching interior design style in the rest of your home, it makes solid design sense to continue that aesthetic in your bathroom as well.’

Following this advice helps to give your home a cohesive theme. As designer and artist Kathy Taslitz explains, ‘The style of the bathroom depends on the rest of the house. I believe rooms should flow one into the other with a sense of ease rather than a jolt.’

An image of interior designer Amy Youngblood
Amy Youngblood

Amy Youngblood began her career in interior design over 20 years ago. She has worked for several interior design firms, both residential and commercial. With a strong background as an accomplished artist, Amy fused her creative abilities along with her business and design experience to launch Amy Youngblood Interiors in 2009. Both Amy’s artwork and design commissions have been featured over the years in the local and national media. Amy’s appreciation of all styles has made her known for her clean lined, yet comfortable, sophisticated look.

2. Think about your own personal style

neutral bathroom

(Image credit: Future, PAUL RAESIDE LTD)

If you want your bathroom to be a restful oasis in your home, it’s important that it reflects your own personal tastes and styles. No one wants to spend time in a room that they don’t relate to. How to start? Pippa Jameson recommends that you, ‘Identify your personal style. Are you drawn to modern, classic, vintage, or eclectic designs? Consider bathroom colors, materials, and overall aesthetics that resonate with you. Are you looking for a spa-like feel or more of a traditional feel with period-style features and a roll-top bath, for instance?’

Designer Matthew Williamson explains that, ‘Just like the rest of your home, I believe the bathroom should be an expression of the items and colors you love, so try not to focus on a specific style, but choose things that you’re drawn to. Focus in on a few key pieces that work hard within the bathroom, especially if space is a premium. A decorative chest of drawers can be a storage-filled vanity, for example.’

As Jill Norman, co-founder and designer at Studio Masa says, ‘Bathrooms are deeply personal, functional spaces, and marrying functionality into the overall look and feel is crucial when developing the overall design.’

3. Don't be afraid of colors and patterns

Dark bathroom with statement cream mirror

(Image credit: Inside Stories)

Don’t shy away from bringing color and pattern into the bathroom with striking bathroom tiles or wallpaper, whether you opt for a traditional pattern repeat or an on-trend mural look,’ says Matthew Williamson. ‘Not only will this feature give the bathroom a unique feel, but it will invariably lift your spirits.’

Kathy Kuo agrees, ‘I often find that a bathroom space can be an opportunity to experiment a bit with color and decor elements like mirrors and soft goods in a way that adds some playful contrast to the rest of your home. For example, if you have a coastal beach-style home with lots of blues, grays, and off-whites, maybe test out a warmer coastal look in your bathroom with shades of coral and terra cotta.’

The use of color and patterns comes back round to a personal style, with Miranda Cullen, Owner and Principal at Inside Stories reminding us that, ‘Bathrooms can be considered the jewelry box of the home and go from colorful and bold to dark and moody to light and bright - you can really go as out of the box as you want with this space!  Function is always a must, but in regard to aesthetics, the sky's the limit!’

An image of designer Pippa Jameson
Pippa Jameson

Pippa Jameson is an Interior Stylist and Creative Director with 25 years of industry experience. Former editor of leading UK magazine titles, she's the Founder of Pippa Jameson Interiors Ltd, specialising in styling, creative direction, and shoot production. Author of 'The Sensory Home®,' which addresses a more mindful approach to decorating.

4. Keep relaxation at the forefront

Neutral bathroom

(Image credit: Arsight)

I tend to keep my primary bathrooms classic. This main bathroom is a big investment and should look timeless for at least 20 years,’ explains Lisa Frantz, owner of Lisa Frantz Interiors. ‘However, classic does not have to mean boring. Luxury finishes such as cerused oak and polished nickel can amp up the style factor without being trendy, something I always avoid in a bathroom.’

Kathy Taslitz advocates for a making bathrooms relaxing, ‘Primary bathrooms for me, should always feel like a calm and restful place to start your morning or end your day. It’s wonderful to have natural light in a bathroom for beauty and utility. If one can have greenery within view, even better!’ And Jill Norman points out that, ‘As a designer, it's also important to truly understand how the client plans to use the space. Do they want to luxuriate in a spa-like environment? If so, calm colors and soft, natural textures may suit them best – maybe a steam shower or a freestanding tub.’

5. Pick a style that's also fit for purpose

Bathroom vanity

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to choosing a bathroom style, you need to think about how your bathroom is going to be used. ‘Evaluate the functionality you need in your bathroom,’ says Pippa Jameson. ‘If you have a large family, practical bathroom storage solutions are crucial, especially as you will want to hide the clutter when it's your turn to relax in the bathroom. If it's a master ensuite, focus on creating a relaxing and luxurious atmosphere.’

That’s not to say that a bathroom needs to be dull. ‘When choosing a bathroom style, we stress mixing the practicality with the individuality,’ explains interior designer Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight. ‘Here, we are talking of a space that is not only practically apt but also signifies the uniqueness of its residents. The choice of materials is crucial. We pick out textures and finishes which can bring a sense of comfort and opulence hence making sure that bathroom is no longer just an ordinary room but has become a sanctuary.’

6. Let creativity run wild in a second bathroom

Blue and yellow bathroom

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

If you have more than one bathroom in your home, this is the place to let your imagination run a little wilder. ‘The only bathroom I think that can stand an extra pop of drama is the powder room,’ says Amy Youngblood. ‘As it is primarily used for guests, it can be a fun way to express yourself with decor such as dramatic wallpaper, lighting and even flooring.’

Lisa Frantz agrees, ‘Secondary bathrooms are the best place to have fun with color and pattern: powder rooms, guest, and children's bathrooms. My number one rule when designing a children's bath is that they will eventually grow up, and those rooms should stand the test of time. They can be fun without being juvenile. I always tell clients that those kids' bathrooms could eventually become guest rooms, so let's approach color with that in mind! I bring in fun, punchy colors in the vanity and sconces and try to keep the tiles relatively neutral but use graphic patterns for a touch of whimsy.’

7. Lastly, don't forget a few important logistics

Black bathroom with wallpaper

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

It’s no good deciding on the perfect bathroom style if you haven’t considered a few important practicalities. Pippa Jameson points out that you need to, ‘Consider your budget. Some styles may involve higher costs due to specific materials or intricate details. Find a balance between your desired style and financial constraints.’

‘And check delivery times to ensure items are available before ordering. Lastly, be sure of sizes – one common mistake is that baths are ordered and cannot fit up staircases!’

Choosing a bathroom style needs careful consideration. This is a style you're going to live with for some years. But follow our advice and you should be left with a stylish and calm oasis that you (and your family) will be queuing up to spend time in. 

Jo Plumridge

Jo Plumridge is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of magazines, websites and books. She writes, perhaps unsurprisingly, about photography, but also on all things interior design and sleep-related, alongside reviews of home and tech products. Jo loves exploring the latest design trends, although she’s yet to find a carpet that doesn’t show up the cat hair from the cats she and her husband foster.