Tips for Designing Your Dream Bathroom
Keep these design tips and ideas in mind as you plan your dream bathroom. Discover the best layouts, the spa-like features to add, and the color palette that will soothe you after a long day.
Everything In This Slideshow
1 of 18
Plan an Efficient Layout
Even the dreamiest bathroom has to deal with plumbing drains, water lines, and vent stacks. Bathroom floor plans generally fall into one-, two- or three-wet-wall layouts. A one-wall layout lines up the sink, toilet, and shower along one wall as in this bathroom. It's the most cost-effective design, but it's also the most limiting.
2 of 18
Layouts to Try
A two-wall layout gives you more flexibility. The sink and toilet can be plumbed on one wall and the tub and shower on the other. The three-wall layout is the most versatile and also the most complicated and expensive. Working with a certified bathroom designer or architect can help you avoid costly mistakes and make the best use of space.
3 of 18
Consider the Sink
Integral bathroom sinks (one piece with the vanity counter) and undermount bathroom sinks make it easy to wipe messes from the counter into the sink. Self-rimming bathroom sinks, on the other hand, are the most economical and the easiest to install, but the perimeter lip can collect grime.
4 of 18
Design a Bathroom Lighting Plan
The most critical area for bathroom lighting is the mirror. Ideally you should have wall-mount lights at each side of the mirror at about eye level, with a third light above the mirror. This arrangement illuminates your face from both sides and above, eliminating shadows.
5 of 18
General Lighting Tips
For general bathroom lighting, use ceiling-mounted fixtures or add style and mood with chandeliers or pendant lights. Enclosed showers and tubs usually require enclosed vapor-proof downlights. Accent lights can spotlight a collection or an architectural feature and contribute sparkle and mood.
6 of 18
Make a Statement with the Tub
Bathtubs are the natural focal point of a bathroom and have a powerful impact on the decorating style. Freestanding bathtubs may rest on claw-and-ball feet or a pedestal base (like this one) or they may be streamlined and straight-sided like a piece of sculpture.
7 of 18
More Bathtub Tips
A platform bathtub has an unfinished exterior and drops into a supporting boxlike structure. The top or decking is usually a waterproof material such as tile, marble, or limestone, and the sides may be paneled in wood or covered in tile or stone to match the decking. Whichever type you choose, you can opt for a soaking tub or a whirlpool tub to maximize your relaxation the bath.
8 of 18
Design a Spa Shower
Luxury showers replicate the spa-resort experience in a dream bathroom. Plan on a variety of spray heads. Ceiling-mounted rain shower showerheads soak you from above, while body sprays (vertical rows of showerheads) create a crisscross pattern for a water massage. Handheld showerheads allow you to direct the spray for washing your hair, rinsing off, or even cleaning out the shower stall. For a custom-made stall, choose your favorite waterproof material to cover walls, floors, and ceiling. Frameless glass doors showcase stunning tilework, like the marble shower shown here.
9 of 18
Express Your Style with Cabinetry
The modest single-sink vanity cabinet has given way to a host of options, from double-sink vanities to custom storage hutches and wall-mounted cabinets. Bathroom cabinetry merges form and function and carries the style statement you want to make, whether it's contemporary, traditional, vintage, or Old World.
10 of 18
Cabinetry Buying Tips
As with kitchen cabinets, you can purchase bathroom cabinets in stock units or with semicustom options, or you can have them custom-designed and built. Stock cabinets are typically least expensive and custom the most expensive, with price ranges for each depending on the material, construction, finish, and accessories.
11 of 18
Bathroom floors need to be hardworking, impervious to water, and slip-resistant--but they also need to be attractive. The most luxurious choices are stone tiles and ceramic tiles, but highly polished stone is slippery when wet. Choose a honed flooring finish for better traction.
12 of 18
Easy to Care For Floors
Ceramic tiles rated "impervious" are the most waterproof and are ideal for bathroom use. Tiles designed for floors are extremely durable; they resist water, stains, and wear, and are easy to care for. Select tiles with a slip-resistant finish and seal all grout, because otherwise it's difficult to clean.
13 of 18
Pamper Yourself with Amenities
To make your dream bathroom an in-home retreat, include features that take it from utilitarian to pampering.
• A gas-insert fireplace communicates that this is a place to linger.
• In-floor radiant heating takes the chill off of stone or tile floors.
• Television, sound systems, and a beverage center will make your master bathroom so comfortable, you may never want to leave.
14 of 18
Create Mood with Color
Color has the power to energize and to soothe, to wake you up and calm you down. Consider the mood you want to evoke before selecting your palette of materials. As you develop your bathroom color scheme, remember that color comes from more than wall paint and fabric. The hues in the cabinetry wood and in the stone or tile you choose for floors and walls play a major role in creating an overall color personality. Even the sink and tub contribute to the bathroom color scheme, whether they're made of white porcelain, dyed concrete, or stone.
15 of 18
Add Softness with Window Treatments
Bathrooms are mostly hard surfaces, so dressing the windows with fabric allows an opportunity to add softness and absorb sound. The treatments also let you introduce color and pattern. Bathroom window treatments should resist moisture and humidity, and they usually need to provide privacy and light control. That's why simple shades, blinds, and shutters are the most popular bathroom window treatments.
16 of 18
Window Treatment to Try
Valances, balloon shades, and modified Roman shades also work. Depending on the layout of your bathroom, even draperies can provide a frame for your windows. Consider using the new all-weather acrylic fabrics to make bathroom window treatments. Designed for outdoor use, they're moisture and mildew-resistant and come in an expanding range of interior-quality patterns and colors.
Bonus: Tips from Designers
Discover the luxurious ideas from designers to help you create your dream bathroom.