3 expert tips for designing a bathroom, according to interior designer Emily Henderson

Follow these three tips to create the ultimate relaxing bathroom

White bathroom and Emily Henderson
(Image credit: Paul Raeside / Getty Images, Amy Graves)

We can always count on interior designer Emily Henderson to provide endless amounts of inspiration when it comes to her home. Taking to Instagram, Henderson recently unveiled her new bathroom design, which balances modern design with traditional elements.

In addition to this, Henderson also shared her design knowledge with us, listing three things you should avoid if you're designing your own bathroom ideas

So what does Henderson say you should steer clear of and opt for instead when designing a bathroom? We've rounded up her three ideas below and spoke to other designers to get some more expertise. Considering both style and function in equal measure, these tips will help ensure you avoid making bathroom design mistakes

1. Avoid counter clutter with a medicine cabinet

neutral bathroom with cabinet

(Image credit: Future)

Henderson says that you should reduce counter clutter and opt instead for a medicine cabinet as a bathroom storage idea. Nureed Saeed, Owner and Creative Director at Nu Interiors agrees, saying: 'Medicine cabinets are a practical option to solving for bathroom storage. Particularly in smaller bathrooms, I always advise my clients to opt for one to ensure they have plenty of storage and can avoid clutter on their counters.'

Interior Designer
Nureed Saeed
Interior Designer
Nureed Saeed

Nureed is the owner and creative director of Nu Interiors, a full-service interior design and remodeling project management resource specializing in kitchen and bathroom renovations, serving clients across California and New Jersey. 

Experts warn however that medicine cabinets can end up looking bulky, so it's important to consider their shape: 'I love the storage and simplicity of a medicine cabinet, but the thickness can be bulky,' says Elizabeth Ryan, principal designer at Elizabeth Ryan Interiors. 'The key to a successful medicine cabinet is a sleek, recessed installation. Plan this with your contractor and designer early to make sure there is space in the wall.' 

For an additional feature, you can also opt for an electrified medicine cabinet so that you can easily charge electrical items out of sight, as owner and principal at Dorling Design Studio Jessica Dorling advises: 'The key for me is that the medicine cabinet needs to be electrified. This offers a convenient place to store and charge personal grooming tools like electric toothbrushes and keeps them off the vanity.' 

2. Opt for café curtains instead of blinds

Bathroom curtain ideas with white sheer curtain and blind, layered over window in white bathroom

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Henderson's preference is to opt for café curtains in a bathroom instead of blinds, which allows soft natural light to enter the room whilst still getting enough privacy. 'Cafe curtains allow for both privacy and natural light by leaving the top part of the window uncovered,' explains Dorling. 'Typically made from delicate materials like linen, they introduce a touch of softness that complements the bathroom's tile and stone decor.'

There can also be practical benefits to opting for bathroom curtains instead of blinds, as Saeed explains: 'Blinds can collect dust and other messes which are hard to clean. Cafe curtains are easy to wash regularly. But aside from practical reasons, cafe curtains offer a soft touch to an otherwise hard surface area, making the space feel more cozy and inviting.'

3. Create ambient lighting

Vintage bathroom with black and white flooring and vintage wood closet

(Image credit: Artist Residence)

For Henderson, it's important to create ambient lighting in the bathroom rather than anything too harsh. Bright lighting is commonly found in bathrooms and while it can serve a practical purpose, it's a good idea to also have ambient lighting settings.

'Overhead lighting makes shadows so when you are applying making or doing anything that involves using the mirror, this type of lighting can make getting ready a challenge. Ambient lighting can also give the bathroom a more calming, spa vibe, which if you like to take baths, is a more favorable option,' explains Saeed. 

When deciding on the best type of bathroom lighting, Ryan recommends: 'Layered lights in the bathroom, soft sconces at the sink switched separately from overheads so the owner can adjust depending on the task at hand.' 

Elevate your bathroom with these pieces

Designing a bathroom is a costly investment, so it's important that you get the main design decisions right the first time around. While smaller decor items can be swapped out over time, make sure you carefully consider these points including lighting and storage, to make sure the end result is both practical and stylish.

Now that we're in fall, you may also want to consider how you can make your bathroom cozy to create a warm and inviting space for the colder months. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.