Usually considered purely utilitarian, functional spaces, bathrooms have since evolved into our own personal wellness sanctuaries. Where remodelling a bathroom might once have been a straightforward project anchored in practicality, we now approach the task with a lot more more care and consideration, with the aim to create a more welcoming space.
Whether you are planning on updating your master bathroom, upgrade a shower room or turn unused space into a luxurious ensuite, there are now a vast array of bathroom ideas available to suit your taste, from colors and materials to finishes and shapes.
Before you dive in, think about the investment you wish to make. Write down your must-have items (for instance, is a bathtub a non-negotiable?) as well as any changes that need to be made to the existing size and layout of the space that will take up a significant portion of your total spend.
'Bathrooms are much more complicated than people realise,' says C P Hart managing director Paul Rowland. 'There are a great many behind-the-scenes mechanics that need to be considered when creating a functional and reliable space.'
Scroll down for our top picks of the best bathroom ideas, giving you inspiration to help you create your dream washroom.
- See more: Small bathroom ideas – super stylish solutions for tiny spaces
Bathroom ideas – for every space
These are our favorite sources of bathroom inspiration – use them as ideas to kickstart your remodel.
1. Choose bold brassware for a showstopping look
Brassware is an important part of any bathroom and should be considered early on in the design process.
'Faucets are working parts that have continuous water flowing through them,' explains Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P Hart. 'They are the most used and have the highest potential to break, so investing in high-quality fittings that stand the test of time is essential.'
2. Embrace interesting materials
Marble adds a sense of luxury and helps make your bathroom feel more expensive, too. This is why, more often than not, it's a design feature often found in hotel bathrooms and spas. High-quality slabs will be water-resistant, but due to its mineral nature, marble still requires regular maintenance.
Applying an additional sealant during installation will help avoid premature wear from harsh cleaning products.
3. Highlight architectural details using bold colors
When deciding on your bathroom decor, you may want to take a particular piece of art as a starting point and use the colors present throughout your space. Remember that water-resistant formulas should be used if your bathroom is being painted.
'Don’t forget to paint your ceiling in the same tone, or one that complements the walls – you will be amazed at how often your eyes are drawn upwards when you are relaxing in the bathtub,' suggests Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene.
4. Keep the bathroom floor clear
When you have a small bathroom and limited space to work with, opt for wall-hung sanitaryware, as it will create the illusion of more space. And if you want a freestanding bathtub, choose one with feet to elevate the tub.
5. Choose lighting that stands out (rather than blending in)
Lighting should not be overlooked, as it can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your bathroom. 'Assess your lighting at the planning stage to maximise opportunities,' advises Peter Bowles, founder of Davey Lighting at Original BTC.
'You need two types of illumination when planning your bathroom lighting: shadow-free task lighting for functional tasks, such as shaving and applying make-up, and ambient lighting for when you simply want to lie back and enjoy a soak,' he adds.
Make sure all lighting fixtures have the appropriate IP (Ingress Protection) rating, too.
- Also see: Bathroom lighting ideas – brighten up your space with an efficient lighting scheme
6. Squeeze in a tub – even in a tiny space
If you have your heart set on a freestanding tub but are restricted on space, consider a reduced-depth model, like this compact design from The Albion Bath Company.
What material the bathtub is made of may be a deciding factor, too – while a cast-iron tub may have a high-quality appearance, it’s weight may be a drawback if your floorboards are not reinforced.
7. Opt for sanitaryware that stands out
Bright pops of color don’t have to be restricted to the wall anymore, with options to have colorful washbasins and toilets, tiles and even brassware greater than ever before.But which shade to go for? Warm, earthy tones create a sense of calm, whereas bolder hues can feel more energizing.
8. Delight in the details
Want to create a cohesive look? Try sticking to a theme. Wherever possible, make sure you see samples of bathroom paint, fabrics, tiles and even your brassware and check they work well together before committing to a full order.
You don’t want to have your whole bathroom tiled before realizing it doesn’t match with the furniture you picked out.
9. Combine vintage pieces with new hardware
Vintage vanity units are on the rise in bathroom design, and can be combined with new traditional-style fittings that match without compromising on functionality.
And wall-mounted mixer faucets work well in compact bathrooms, as the pipework can be hidden without the need for a pedestal.
10. Be smart about storage
Maintain a clean and clutter-free washroom by making sure you have plenty of bathroom storage worked into your design.
Keep everyday items such as toothbrushes and soap close to hand, while cleaning products and extra toilet rolls can be stored out of sight in cupboards or drawers.
11. Add accessories to make your bathroom characterful
Don’t forget about finishing touches – towels, soap dispensers and objets d'art can help pull together the final look of your bathroom, and folded clean bathroom towels are a thoughtful touch in a guest bathroom.
Just make sure any valued items are situated away from wet areas of the bathroom to avoid getting splashed.
12. Make a feature of your bathroom heating
Not only will a heated radiator keep towels warm and dry in your bathroom, but it can also help reduce the relative moisture in the air.
But how about going one step further and installing underfloor heating, especially if you have a wet room? There are two options to choose from, an electric system or a wet system.
Electric systems are often preferable in smaller spaces as they are easier to install, whereas a wet system connected to your central heating tends to have an expensive initial outlay but may be more cost-effective in the long run.
13. Create a decorative link between your bedroom and ensuite
Create a link between your bedroom and adjoining ensuite by using similar design cues throughout both spaces. With this in mind, you may adopt the same colors or use complementary materials between the two rooms.
For example, here, the monochrome pattern on the wallpaper in the bedroom is complimented by a similarly colored pattern on the bathroom floor, and the rich copper hue on the lampshade is echoed by the bathroom lighting.
- See more: Ensuite bathroom ideas – classic designs for master bathrooms and powder rooms
14. Choose clever bathroom storage that doubles as a design feature
While organic materials such as wood and stone are becoming more popular indoors to evoke a feeling of wellbeing and connection to nature, they are not always the most practical solution in a bathroom.
Fortunately, there are alternatives available. 'It is now possible to achieve the look you want without the challenges and maintenance the real material can bring,' says Jo Oliver, Director at Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.
'Wood-effect porcelain tiles, for example, can also be supplied in large formats, which reduces the potential for leaks,' she adds.
15. Express yourself in your bathroom decor
The terms 'classic bathroom’ and ‘maximalism’ don’t tend to go hand in hand, but that's not to say they shouldn’t.
Now’s the time to bring your personality into your bathroom decor. If bright colors and bold patterns bring you joy, then you are more likely to enjoy spending time in your bathroom.
16. Go for gold bathroom fittings
Another way to elevate your bathroom design is to switch up your brassware.
While chrome fixtures offer a classic look, popular finishes such as gold and even rose-gold can add an interesting element – and are one of those bathroom ideas that can even be retro-fitted if you are not planning a complete renovation.
- See more: How to plan a bathroom – an essential guide to layout and design
17. Play with pattern on walls and floors
To make a real impact in a small shower room or wet room, use the same tiles on the floor as on the walls. Not only will this add wow-factor to your bathroom, but the continuous running pattern creates a sleek, seamless look. Think of it as the equivalent of using a bold wallpaper.
18. Define zones with decorative bathroom ideas
In contrast, larger bathrooms benefit from definitive zones. Use different colors and materials as markers in your bathroom, such as patterned or colored bathroom tiles in the shower or around a vanity unit.
Another option is to add privacy screens in front of the shower or WC, which can be particularly useful for busy family bathrooms.
- See also: Shower room ideas – looks and layouts for a bathroom focused on the shower
19. Work in hidden storage to enhance space
When working with a smaller space, pieces with dual-functionality are a must.
Take a mirrored cabinet as an example; not only can you keep your bathroom tidy by hiding away toiletries, but mirrors will help to reflect light around the room.
20. Lots of room? Add a snug seating area
'Don’t be afraid to use a bold, statement wallpaper in the bathroom, it’s a great way of injecting personality into a small space and can bring character and warmth,' says Lee Clarke, Director at Warner House.
'If you are worried about using wallpaper in a bathroom, ask your decorator to use a water-resistant finish when installing,' he adds.
21. No room? Go all white to stretch the space
Whether your main bathroom or guest bathroom is on the compact-side, going all white will make it feel larger, lighter and brighter.
In this bathroom by LA-based designer Stefani Stein, the bathroom has been made to feel larger with narrow tiles hung horizontally, which tricks the eye into seeing the space as wider than it is – this visual trick is useful for correcting awkward proportions.
In an all-white bathroom, it's important to add some texture, detail and warmth. Here, gold-finish fittings add warmth, detail is added in the patterned floor tiles and, of course, you can easily add texture with accessories such as baskets and towels.
- See more: Small bathroom ideas - stylish designs for compact washrooms
22. Hide the toilet behind a screen
This is a simple but very effective bathroom idea – a see-through screen that hides the toilet. Of course, you could erect a half- or foreshortened wall here, but his simple solution allows light to penetrate into the entirety of the room, and allows a clear view of the window beyond.
23. Go for a monochromatic bathroom scheme
Black and white bathrooms can be extremely elegant if you get the balance right: namely, more white than black, but black in key places, such as the sides of a freestanding bathtub.
Our advice? Add warmth to the space with natural accessories, such as basketwork and colorful towels.
24. Be adventurous with the layout
This bathroom is planned for impact. The glass panel directly behind the bath in this bathroom is also the shower screen for the enormous walk-in double shower.
The other clever detail is the tiled wall that matches the floor: it creates a smart, streamlined finish that not only frames the bath in the view, but is also warm and interesting to look at.
25. Maximize natural light with smart shutters
Bathrooms benefit from plenty of natural light so if your washroom is lucky to have an excess of bathroom windows, it's worth investing in shutters instead of light blocking drapes of blinds.
Shutters will to allow you to maintain the right amount of privacy when required and open out the space to full light when not.
26. Pair black bathroom fittings with bold colors
Black works wonderfully well with a large selection of colors. Colored tiles laid diagonally are all the more eye-catching against dark flooring and fittings.
- Also see: Bathroom color ideas - both striking and soothing looks for your washspace
27. Choose sage green for a relaxing haven
Sage is a chic green hue that adds a more mature spin on the pastel trend that comes back year on year. Its muted tones are softer on the eye, but it still uplifts a room as much as a brighter more poignant shade would do.
28. Choose vintage chic for charm and character
Whether you want to ensure your interiors are in keeping with your period property, or jump on the trend for vintage, this timeless theme will always be here to stay.
In the bathroom, think gold tones, curvy accents, artworks, statement chandeliers and a statement freestanding bath.
29. Let statement tiles take the limelight
Statement bathroom tiles can bring a new dimension to a washspace and elevate the space. Whether you choose monochrome patterns for the floor or tile up the wall by your basin, it will add a point of visual interest.
To elevate your design further, mix it up with different shaped tiles such as hexagons or a mixture of large and small squares joined together.
30. Pick Crittall-style framing for screens
Fitting well into the industrial style, these dark and rather striking windows add sharp angles and allow for plenty of light to flood into the room.
But they don't have to just be used as windows; Crittall shower screens are also proving ultra-popular and make a cool alternative to clear glass.
How should I decorate my bathroom?
No matter what size your bathroom, there are several aspects you need to consider when it comes to decorating and hunting down bathroom ideas.
Firstly, the essentials. Every bathroom will need a WC, basin, bath or shower (often both), including all the accompanying brassware.
The layout of your space will determine the placement of these elements, as well as the size and style. Lighting should also be planned early on, as ideally you will need to account for both overhead lighting and task lighting. The same goes for heating, too.
Once you have an idea of where everything will go, you can start to decide on the bathroom decor. 'Bathrooms can sometimes be the last room that's thought about when it comes to decorating, and it can be easy to forget that it should also be a space to decompress, relax and enjoy,' says materials specialist Fameed Khalique.
'The same attention to detail and personal touches applied to other rooms in the home can be done here, too.'
Finally, when all the work is finished and your new bathroom is ready, put in place your towels, soap dispensers, candles and artwork to complete the look.
What is the best flooring for a bathroom?
Durable tiles with anti-slip properties are the most practical option for bathroom flooring. 'It is always a good idea to discuss slip resistance with an expert before you make a final selection, as there are many factors to consider,' advises Jo Oliver, Director at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.
'For example, the most slip resistant tiles tend to have a very rough surface with grooves and indentations. These provide an ideal space for dirt and substances to collect.'
Large formats are also a good option for bathroom floorings, as there are less grout lines to have to scrub to keep clean.
What are the on-trend colors for bathrooms in 2021?
In keeping with the popular opinion that bathrooms are a place for rest and relaxation, there is currently a shift towards warmer colors.
'The ever-so-popular cool grey is moving towards softer shades of clay and beige, and trendy baby pinks are also being replaced by earthy terracottas,' says Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P. Hart.
'Keeping in line with the natural trend, wood is increasing in popularity, with raw or reclaimed textures becoming more of a stable,' he adds.