I think we can all agree that the bathroom can pose significant “decorating” challenges to the layperson. Would you agree? It’s typically such a small space designed largely for utilitarian purposes. While many large and spacious sitting-room-esque bathrooms exist (and good for you if you have those!), they aren’t the norm. In general, bathrooms must squeeze a lot of function into a rather small footprint.
It is this challenge that makes bathroom decorating so important. It’s a space that many people use, so it should be pleasant and well styled. But “decorate” can feel like a loaded word sometimes. In its utilitarian role, a bathroom calls for non-traditional forms of decorating. In fact, I’ve discovered that, often, successful bathrooms are less decorated and more designed. In this article, we’ll look at several ways of how to decorate a bathroom without clutter.
How to Decorate a Long, Narrow Bathroom
A common bathroom layout is the long, narrow bathroom – one enters a bathroom “hallway” of sorts, where a vanity and mirror rest on one side followed by the toilet, and a bathtub/shower is on the opposite side.
For the bathtub/shower combination that is common in family homes, take advantage of the stylistic opportunity that is provided by a shower curtain. Color and/or pattern on the shower curtain will make a big difference in the feel of the bathroom overall. Elegant? Juvenile? Fun? Say it with the shower curtain.
From what I’ve observed, the most successful bathrooms utilize few trinkets and tchotchkes in the name of “decoration.” However, some corners of the bathroom can benefit from a softening touch – a plant or a photo or something seasonal, for example.
Keeping the majority of the countertop free of clutter is one of the best strategies for bathroom decoration.
Hardware is a key component in bathroom style. Whether you choose something with modern lines or something more ornate, opt for something that matches the décor of your bathroom. In small spaces, it is often these details that carry the style out most effectively.
Speaking of hardware, choosing the right faucet for the bathroom sink is a form of decorating…it’s just a bit more permanent than, say, choosing wall art.
One strategy for maintaining a clutter-free bathroom is to provide adequate shelving. This space behind the bathroom door was filled with shelves; because it didn’t make sense to install a door in front of the shelves, the bathroom door itself serves as a door in front of the shelves when the room is open.
How to Decorate a Powder Room
From the doorway of this small powder room, the aesthetic is tidy and contemporary.
A glass countertop on the wooden vanity houses a matching glass bowl sink. Using clear materials, such as glass, often helps to free up the visual clutter in a smaller space, making this bathroom seem more spacious.
A contemporary sink fixture looks great with a contemporary glass bowl sink. The single-stem faucet is efficient in design and look.
To add a “homey” vibe to the small modern bathroom, half-wall with wainscot and chair rail provide a clean-lined albeit traditional flavor.
Although it’s not recommended to have too much going on around the toilet, placing a potted plant on top of the toilet tank can provide some greenery to the room. Make sure to opt for a low-light indoor option in those cases of a windowless bathroom.
And, just because the bathroom is a functional-focused space, some type of art on the wall is always welcome. A single, larger piece here, framed in white, looks more streamlined than several smaller pieces of art would.
Small cube-shaped above-mirror lighting maintains the contemporary vibe without taking itself too seriously.
How to Decorate a Modern Bathroom
This super-modern basement bathroom needs no adornment more than this fire engine red floating vanity, really.
A stainless steel sink and faucet pop against the red and complete the modern aesthetic.
With such a bright color of sink, everything else is kept to a minimum. One large artwork ties in with the red but doesn’t overdo it. A round mirror helps to soften the hard right angles everywhere else.
Here is the view of the bathroom from the doorway. Imagine how different the feeling would be if there were more colors, more pieces, more things introduced into the space in the name of “decoration.” It would lose much of its urban appeal.
A curved shower curtain rod is a subtle way to make a regular bathtub/shower unit feel more luxe. Almost like a hotel.
Remember that the devil is in the details, as far as bathroom design goes. Sleek doorknobs not only match the rest of the home; they set the tone for the modern bathroom as well.
How to Decorate a Large/Master Bathroom
A double-sink vanity, when there’s enough space for it, is a luxury for the master en suite bathroom.
Round mirrors are a hot item in bathroom décor right now, perhaps because they have such a different look and feel than builder-grade rectangle mirror slabs.
A metal wall art provides a bit of color between the mirrors. The aged metal finish looks a little vintage, but the silhouette of the piece is clean. A contemporary bathroom can benefit from some aged or weathered touches.
Unique sinks are a gorgeous way to make a bathroom feel decorated and different. This bathroom wins, making the most of its decorating buck (with minimal actual decorations).
These white porcelain flat bowl-style sinks have a beautiful, modern feel.
The farmhouse vibe of this particular faucet is another way to bring a subtle rustic or traditional vibe into the more contemporary bathroom. (Learn how to install your own bathroom faucet – this same one in fact.)
Medium to dark wood stain is a beautiful visual contrast to the white countertop and other white bathroom elements. Including wood into your white bathroom gives it a grounded, organic touch.
In the bathroom with extra space (this often, although not always, is the case with master baths), installing a small sitting area or makeup vanity is a luxurious use of space. If the vanity can face a window, all the better – great view and great lighting.
A walk-in shower completes the white bathroom. A bathroom can get away with being all white when there’s plenty of natural light (to keep it from feeling washed out). Note the dark grey floor as a balancing detail to the rest of the light space.
How to Decorate a Basement Bathroom
The basement bathroom can pose a challenge in decorating, simply because many of us rely so much on natural light to brighten up a space. But this bathroom employs some useful tips for a low-light space.
For starters, a long countertop provides useful surface area for getting ready. This bathroom is used primarily as a guest space, and in general a double sink vanity isn’t required for an effective guest bath. When you have guests who travel and bring into the bathroom their toiletries, it’s actually nice to have a little extra counter space to set them.
A simple under-mount sink and contemporary faucet fixtures clean up the aesthetic of the sink area. Even something as simple as a glass soap dispenser might be all the “decoration” your bathroom sink area needs.
A light granite countertop instantly helps the bathroom to feel visually lifted. Some flowers in a vase help to soften the corner where nothing else is happening; if this were a double sink vanity, however, the flowers would likely be too much clutter.
A bathtub surround in beautiful aqua glass tile, laid out in a classic horizontal brick pattern, brings a sense of nature’s coloring into the space. A simple white shower curtain also helps to keep the bathroom’s necessary accessories on the light-and-airy side.
A light faux wood tile gives this basement bathroom a nice touch of nature, but in a way that’s appropriate for high-moisture areas. In general, hardwood wouldn’t make the best bathroom flooring option.
Wide, open shelves located behind the bathroom door provide useful storage space. These will be filled with additional toiletries and towels as needed before guests arrive.
How to Decorate a Tiny Cottage Bathroom
This bathroom, located on the main floor of a smaller cottage, squeezes functionality out of every square inch while also incorporating plenty of great taste and style. A long runner provides a slip-free zone and simplifies the space right away (as opposed to separate rugs in the key wet zones).
Blonde wood vanity doors don’t weigh down the space, and they do double-duty in making the bathroom feel tidier by keeping bathroom “stuff” (we all have it) hidden away.
A custom concrete countertop adds a contemporary feel to the bathroom and works nicely paired with the white wood. I love the rough edge of the countertop, particularly, because it adds some texture and depth in a subtle way.
Tucked away directly next to the toilet is a cheerful turquoise-colored trash can. With its being so close to the toilet, the trash can’s lid is not only a cute and colorful touch, it’s also an appreciated one.
Opposite the toilet and sink area is a glass-doored walk-in shower. The glass door and surround really opens up the bathroom and makes it feel almost twice as big as it actually is. White subway tile continues from the bathroom walls to the shower surround, again showing that continuity of design in a small space equals less visual abruptions, which in turn equals a more spacious feel.
Coordinated bath towels are rolled and set out in a basket on the countertop for guest use. This not only brings in a color palette, but it also is an intuitive suggestion or offering for guests. The towel basket can easily be tucked back into the cupboards after guests leave.
How to Decorate a Bathroom with Color
Vibrant yellow walls in the bathroom make up, in sunshine and cheer, for the lack of bathroom window in this renovated main floor bath. As a bathroom that doubles as the primary bathroom for both guests and the home’s young children, this happy color strikes an energetic balance.
After the wall color, the most noticeable detail of this bathroom comes out in its glass countertop. A subtle yet gorgeous variation on the standard bathroom vanity countertop, this opaque glass is smooth and refreshing.
Even the simplest of bathroom sink fixtures get a facelift with this modern countertop. That’s one way to think about great design in a bathroom – it provides its own form of “decoration,” which ultimately means less clutter.
A couple of potted faux plants in the center of the long countertop break up the expanse without feeling heavy or overly “decorated.”
In fact, a potted plant is a nice and simple way to soften the standard toilet vignette. The key is to keep the plant itself and the pot minimal and contained – this is not the place for hanging vines or overflowing fronds.
If you have a very long bathroom mirror, one cost effective way to provide sufficient lighting throughout the length of the mirror is to install two (or more) identical lighting fixtures, rather than one very long one. It’s best to strive for even lighting across the length of the mirror.
A wide, chunky mirror frame makes a dramatic statement as well. This particular frame matches the vanity itself, so the two work together more than they compete visually. If you have a large frame that you’re looking to downplay, you might consider keeping the wall and frame paint colors more similar, which therefore decreases contrast.
A yellow and white shower curtain is hung tastefully across the shower, tying in with the bold wall color but not adding much to the visual pop that’s already there. A good rule of thumb, when working with bright colors in the bathroom, is to let either the walls or the shower curtain be the main attraction, but don’t try to make both their own individual features. That will probably feel like just too much.
How to Decorate a Bathroom Pragmatically
If you’re not into putting decorations into the bathroom, consider this simple way of decorating a bathroom as our final example. Use only those items that are actually useful and needed in the bathroom as your décor. A tissue box, in a pinch, can give the neutral bathroom an instant color palette.
A white vanity and dark countertop is a classic combination that looks great and, really, needs no other adornment. Plus, the dark speckled countertop will hide any number of offenses, making it a solid choice for a children’s bathroom as well.
Continuing a great wall tile, such as classic white subway tile, around the bathroom and into the bathtub or shower surround gives the wall enough visual “texture” that it doesn’t need more. A window is all the wall art this particular bathroom needs, which matches the homeowners’ simple style preferences perfectly.
Patterned towels folded neatly and left on shelving display style and taste without being decorations. Plus, fresh towels are always at the ready, for residents or guests alike. Also, note the usefulness of this shelf unit in and of itself. You may also consider installing a tall, narrow countertop-to-ceiling shelving unit at the non-sink end of a long, bare countertop if that meets your needs better.
We hope you’ve enjoyed and been inspired by reading about different methods of how to decorate a bathroom of various sizes and styles.