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Bathroom design mistakes to avoid – and 7 clever ways to fix them

Homes & Gardens logo Homes & Gardens 28/07/2022 Chiana Dickson
A collation of three images from within the piece - a grey bathroom side with hanging pendant lights, a white sink with green/blue tiled backsplash, and a free standing bath and wooden stool © Provided by Homes & Gardens A collation of three images from within the piece - a grey bathroom side with hanging pendant lights, a white sink with green/blue tiled backsplash, and a free standing bath and wooden stool

The bathroom is often the smallest room in the house and, until recently, they have been a bit of an afterthought when it comes to design. The result was a multitude of bathroom design mistakes that can leave the room feeling drab or lifeless. 

Bathroom ideas should be quite the opposite, however, as Diane Hyde, marketing manager at Craven Dunnill Jackfield explains. ‘If you’re looking to experiment with bold colors and decors and inspired layouts and patterns, the bathroom is the perfect space to make a distinctive design statement that is uniquely individual.’ 

Although many people focus on avoiding or fixing important bathroom remodel mistakes, design mistakes are just as important to rectify so that you can have a spa-like sanctuary within your own home.

Here, experts offer their advice for avoiding bathroom design mistakes and creating a bathroom to impress.

Bathroom design mistakes  

Before diving into bathroom design options, consider what kind of space you would like your bathroom to be. Whether it be a spa-like retreat or an exciting hotel-type statement, setting your intentions before a redesign will ensure that your space will have a luxury and coherent final look. 

1. Don't overlook lighting fixtures 

Inadequate bathroom lighting is one of the most common bathroom design mistakes. Bathroom lighting needs to be both functional for everyday use and also able to set a mood for a relaxing experience - placing one ceiling light in the center of the room is no longer enough for a luxury bathroom look. Consider a range of bathroom lighting ideas to set the right tone, whether in your family bathroom ideas or guest powder room ideas

‘People are becoming more adventurous in the design of their bathrooms,’ explains Niki Wright, co-founder of lights&lamps. ‘Designing lighting that complements those schemes and pushes the boundaries of what is “normally” seen in these spaces is another trend we will continue to fulfill.’ 

‘Lighting is one of the most important elements of interior design as it can completely transform the look and feel of a room. Layer lighting and use multiple light sources to make a room flexible and versatile,’ suggests Martin Waller, founder  Andrew Martin. ‘Choose bold pieces featuring structural shapes, interesting texture, or colored glass to make a style statement, even if the lighting is switched off.’

Making sure you have the correct standard of lighting is also another mistake commonly made, and is one that could have dangerous results. ‘First of all, you need to adhere to the zones and use the relevant IP-rated lighting,’ warns Scarlett Hampton, co-founder of lights&lamps.

2. Put thought into the flooring

Neglecting the bathroom floor is a common bathroom design mistake and missed creative opportunity that can take away personality. Rather than sticking with traditional white tiled flooring, consider playing with popular bathroom trends and select an interestedly patterned tile or chose characterful tiles that could move up the wall for added visual effect.

‘Bringing texture up onto the walls through tiles adds tactility and allows light to beautifully reflect off the glazes, bringing vitality to a space, explains Diane.

3. Consider different finishes

Chrome hardware is a popular finishing choice for bathrooms, but it is not the only one. Different hardware finishes can change the character of the space, for example, copper finishes can add a chic touch, while black suggests a sleek, more modern look. Gold, on the other hand, can ooze opulence and fits well into many pre-existing bathrooms. 

‘Think about who is going to be using the space and whether you want it to be simply functional or somewhere you want to spend a lot of time,’ advises Yousef Mansuri, director of design for C.P. Hart. ‘With the lines between contemporary and traditional design becoming more and more blurred, the ‘Cool Classics’ trend offers a way to update looks by using more modern finishes. Alternative plated finishes are available on a selection of our brassware ranges, but the options do vary.’ 

What's more, consider different finishes for sink basins, such as this copper wash basin, for an alluring textural addition to your bathrooms.

4. Personalize your space

The biggest and most common bathroom design mistake is creating a lackluster room that lacks personality. The bathroom does not have to be a white or monochrome area that sits apart from the rest of your home, instead, bring elements of your personal style into the bathroom to create a home that is coherent and not disjointed. 

Consider introducing textures or colors that could be found in other areas of your home for a fluid, effortless finish, or be adventurous. In small bathroom ideas, for example, stay away from stark whites and utilize dark, moody colors or playful patterns that can be used to great effect as a conversational starter to impress guests. Bold schemes work well in small spaces as they can enhance the dramatic appeal. 

Another way to add personality is by infusing the space with functional items that also look beautiful. Put elegant or traditional shaving kits, or guided brushes on display but hide bulky appliances and make-up in clever bathroom storage ideas.

5. Take time choosing tiles

‘Tiles are beautiful pieces of art on their own and have the power to utterly transform a room,’ says Diane.

Choosing the right tiles can make or break a bathroom, so choosing the right size, color, and material should take time. Selecting a grout color could change up the look of your bathroom or alter the overall appearance of your tiles too, so consider taking extra time to plan your tiling choices.

‘If you know you love color, then make a statement by going bold with your tile choice,’ suggests Fredi Maria Rees, designer at C.P. Hart. ‘Add colorful tiles in certain areas of the room, for example around the shower area. Small format tiles can also be used to create a feature wall; adding some texture to the space. We like using 60x60mm floor tiles paired with small wall tiles for depth and dimesion,’ she adds 

6. Forget basic mirrors 

The bathroom mirror is somewhere many people spend a lot of time. It is not only a practical bathroom feature but also one that can make a huge difference to the final look and feel of your room, even having the ability to affect how big or small the room looks. ‘Mirrors have long been a creative design tool of interior designers for their versatility and ability to make a statement in almost any room of the house,’ says Owen Pacey, founder of Renaissance London. 

Bathroom mirror ideas should enhance the design of your room, as well as be large enough to see your reflection clearly. The area around the mirror should also provide the proper illumination for applying make-up or shaving. 

‘Statement mirrors come in all shapes and sizes. From Italian gilt mirrors of golden acanthus leaves to 1970s Murano glass in the glossiest pinks, emeralds, and sapphires, vintage mirrors are true conversation starters,’ Owen continues. ‘They also serve the purpose of reflecting large portions of the room back at you, increasing space perception for a more generous feel.’

7. Remember to accessorize

Because the bathroom is often seen as purely functional, it can be easy to forget to accessorize the space. Adding décor pieces through functional items as well as purely decorative adds another layer to the space and can contribute to the relaxing, spa-like retreat many people are looking for. 

‘The bathroom is the place to bring in soft and nurturing textures. They are also key to creating a spa-like feel in your bathroom. Nothing says spa quite like a fresh stack of plush towels placed over a towel bar, rolled in baskets, or stacked neatly on a shelf.’ suggests Joanna Ross, general manager of Design at Sheridan

‘It’s important for your towels to be incredibly soft and superiorly absorbent, but longevity is also imperative. Colors are also key and have the ability to transform a room. Whether it’s adding a pop of color with a bold red or toning down a bathroom with a calming blue.’ she adds.

What should you pick first when designing a bathroom?  

When designing a bathroom it is good to pick one stand-out item first before designing the rest of the bathroom around it. For example, choose a beautiful bath or basin unit, or even gorgeous tiles before planning the rest of the style to match. 

Starting with the item you have your heart set on will lead to a bathroom you will love to get ready in each day. 

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