Add Warmth and Personality to Your Bathroom

Modern bathroom design is often all about going minimalist with clean finishes for a spa-like feel. But sometimes the look ends up feeling clinical. To make sure your space feels just as inviting as the rest of your home, try some favorite bathroom design tips to create a sense of warmth and personality while achieving spot-on style.


Bathrooms often are devoid of interesting patterns, which is a shame, because energetic patterns can add life to any room. Consider adding a patterned window shade or playful towels, or simply hang a colourful print or wallpaper sample in a frame as artwork. These low-commitment ideas allow you to keep a classic colour scheme for the fixed elements while dabbling in colour trends as the mood strikes.

A horizontally striped shower curtain is a foolproof way to add some pattern and excitement in a bathroom of any size, style or budget. Try a gray-and-white stripe to match any palette.

Anchor With Colour

Having lighter colours at the eyeline will help a bathroom feel clean and airy, but try balancing them with a deep colour lower to the ground. This adds a sense of richness that helps keep the space from feeling too stark, without making it overwhelmingly dark. Plus, it beautifully sets off classic white fixtures.

If your bathroom has a large amount of wall space eaten up by tile, windows or mirror, try a dark colour on the remaining plain walls. This helps the more interesting features to advance and the plain walls to recede, for a more dynamic look and lots of rich character.

Detailed Mirror

A plain slab mirror can be beautifully functional in a modern bathroom, but if you’re looking to add some personality, a statement mirror frame is a great place to start.

Hanging Mirror

Go a step more dramatic with your mirror and hang one with a chunky strap from an equally substantial hook. You can also layer this look by hanging a bold frame at eye level over a flat rectangular mirror slab as a quick upgrade to an existing mirror. Have nowhere to attach the frame because tile or glass is in the way? Ask your contractor if a mirror or frame could be hung from your ceiling instead.


A free-standing open shelving unit adds essential storage and some personality for a more lived-in look than built-in shelves which some people find have a drier vibe, but ultimately it all comes down to preference.

Natural Materials

Bathrooms usually feature a lot of crisp materials that, while waterproof, are sometimes a little visually cold. Natural materials reintroduce some warmth and a sense of human touch, so look for places to add wood, organically shaped stone or woven baskets.

Animal-inspired prints also bring in a sense of life, as do shades of natural green and blackened bronze.

Tip: Towels with a fringe add a sense of personality and fit well with the traditional-meets-modern elements of a wood vanity.

Vessel Sink

An eye-catching vessel sink makes a space feel more enticing. Switching away from the typical porcelain makes an evocative statement. Consider natural materials and imperfect shapes, like a carved wood, stone or blown-glass sink.

If you do prefer the look of crisp white porcelain, consider a vessel sink with a mounted faucet behind it, especially in a finish like bronze or brass.

Also consider a trendy yet classic farmhouse-style sink, with a raised back to frame a faucet or two. This eclectic look has a homey yet sophisticated appeal.


Want to get really creative? For a unique bathroom look with plenty of personality, mix different-color tiles together to create a mosaic design on an accent wall. This takes some planning and usually costs extra to have installed, but you can achieve a dramatic with very few tiles.

Try this especially with plain porcelain subway tiles, throwing in a few leftover or retired sample tiles scooped up at a showroom at a bargain price to add personality and a look unique to you.


Just as in the kitchen, cabinet hardware often goes overlooked as a detail worth upgrading. Fun or quirky knobs and pulls add an interesting personal detail that you can always change inexpensively down the road.

Dramatic Ceiling

If you can’t find the right spot to add drama, try looking up. A single roll of wallpaper is often enough to make over a bathroom ceiling, and since bathrooms are often taller than they are wide, adding a little interest overhead will only help make the room feel intimate and more well-proportioned.


Using Bathroom Cabinet Towers

Traditionally the vanity has taken on the bulk of bathroom storage, with an occasional assist from a medicine cabinet. But lately tower bathroom cabinets have been taking hold with homeowners. Tall cabinets are most often installed atop a counter or as a freestanding piece of furniture adjacent to a vanity.

Tower cabinets offer handy storage at eye level and provide easy access. They are also a great place to conceal electrical outlets, whether inside or on the side of the cabinet. 

Stylish Division

Stacking two cabinets can divide the sink area from a makeup table area. The cabinets can also anchor two floating shelves. Countertop towers provide storage at eye level, which is especially nice to include in a bathroom that doesn’t have room for a medicine cabinet.


When placing a countertop cabinet between two areas, consider which side of the room it will serve the most. Then have the door open up to that side.

Linen Storage

When planning a contemporary renovation for their bathroom, a countertop tower can be placed in a corner to keep the room feeling as open as possible. Integrate the design by matching the room’s molding around the top of the cabinet.


Install an electrical outlet on countertop cabinets rather than cluttering up the nice lines of a backsplash with it.

Backsplash Frame

Countertop cabinets can provide pleasing boundaries for a tiled wall backsplash. Careful measuring allows the square tiles to fit between the mirror frame and the cabinets.


Note bottom drawers are great for storing jewelry, electronic devices or everyday items like hairbrushes.

Full Height

The towers atop a vanity can extend all the way up to the high ceiling, but make sure the scale is appropriate for the size of the bathroom. The top cabinets are hard to reach, so they’re best for storing infrequently used items. But even if they remain empty, these upper cabinets are key to the pleasing proportions of the towers.


Outlets and pullout shelves installed inside the tower makes them great for storing and plugging in electric toothbrushes and shavers or for charging phones.

Display Space

A vanity, can also be styled for display — it’s always nice to bring art and organic elements into a bathroom. But the open look also can be functional and attractive. Neatly folded towels and toiletries corralled into baskets would look great.


When planning for open shelves, add closed storage on the bottom to provide balance.

Symmetrical Arrangement

Twin storage towers gives cabinetry a more traditional furniture-like feel and provides symmetry that’s easy on the eye.


Use the sides of towers to your advantage. They provide a convenient spot for hand towel rings.

Handy Hampers

Often a hamper is a freestanding piece in a bathroom — an afterthought brought about through necessity. Towers can provide hampers that make collecting and sorting dirty laundry easy and attractive.


Don’t forget to plan for a hamper or laundry chute when renovating a bathroom, laundry room or closet.


Designing You Bathroom Vanity

A fabulous vanity design requires careful planning and attention to detail. There are plenty of decisions to be made, from the layout and style to the types of sinks and countertops. This six-step process gives you a game plan to follow as you create your new vanity space.

Settle on a Layout

Before you decide on colors, finishes and fixtures, you have to know where your vanity is going and how big it’s going to be.

A galley layout includes two vanity spaces separated by a pass-through. Each of these spaces can include sinks, or you can use one space to wash up and the other for seating.

Many bathrooms feature horizontal vanities with one section of cabinetry. These vanities are efficient and take full advantage of available storage and counter space. They also ensure clean lines and a streamlined bathroom design.

Homeowners also may choose L-shaped vanities, particularly in master bathrooms. While they don’t always maximize space, corners are seldom efficient, they offer ample leg and arm room, as well as distinct vanity spaces, in bigger bathrooms. Unless they are used in small bathrooms, L-shaped vanities rarely feel cramped.

Determine the Number of Sinks

You’ll need to find a vanity style that can accommodate the number of sinks you want.

If they had their choice, many homeowners would prefer double sinks. Unfortunately, there are often space restrictions.

Vanities smaller than 60 inches wide usually have only one sink. The sink can be in the center, to the right or to the left. Your sink cabinet can have drawers or standard cabinet doors.

Vanities more than 60 inches wide can comfortably accommodate two sinks. However, if one sink is enough, you can use the extra room for additional counter space.

Choose the Style

Once you find the layout that best suits your bathroom and determine how many sinks you want, the next step is to decide on the vanity design. Do you prefer cabinets? An antique furniture piece? A pedestal sink?

If you want traditional vanity cabinets, there are several factors to consider:

◦  Do you want a paint or stain?

◦  What color do you prefer?

◦  What type of door style do you want?

◦  Do you want drawers, doors or pullouts?

Vanity cabinets don’t have to be built-ins. Freestanding vanities aren’t attached to any walls and can have open shelving in lieu of closed cabinets. They also can feature furniture-style details.

Another style is a floating vanity, which is mounted to the wall and has open space below.

Repurposing a family heirloom, such as an antique dresser or table stand, can add time-tested character to your vanity.

If you don’t need storage space and are seeking a minimalist design, you can forgo cabinetry and simply install a wall-mounted countertop.

Find the Right Countertop

If you’re buying a pedestal sink or restoring an old piece of furniture, you might be able to skip this step. Most other designs, including cabinets and repurposed furniture pieces without a top, will require some type of countertop.

There are a number of materials available, including quartz, granite, marble, laminate, concrete, wood and solid surface.

Quartz and granite are popular choices for bathroom countertops. Both are durable, high-quality materials with designer patterns. Granite needs to be sealed every one or two years because it’s a porous stone.

Softer stones like marble scratch more easily than granite and quartz and have less tolerance for moisture. Wood and laminate don’t always mix well with moisture either, but they may be more budget-friendly than stone.

Keep in mind that repurposed furniture pieces aren’t always able to bear the weight of stone countertops like quartz and granite. Consult a remodeling expert to get specific recommendations for your furniture piece.

Pick the Type of Sink

The next step is to determine the type of sink, such as undermount, drop-in, vessel or wall-mount. After that, choose the color and material for your sink, whether it’s porcelain, natural stone or something else.

Undermount sinks are mounted below your countertop with supporting brackets, providing a seamless look. They’re harder to install and usually require a professional.

Vessel sinks sit above your counter. A hole for the drain is cut out from your countertop. There’s more to clean, but vessel sinks give you the option to choose a sink with patterns, designs and custom shapes.

Drop-in sinks are installed inside a cutout in your countertop. These sinks have lips that rest on top of your counter.

Fixtures, Fixtures and More Fixtures

It’s time to wrap up your design with fixtures. You may focus most of your attention on your layout and cabinet finishes, but you still need to select your cabinet hardware, faucets, lighting and mirror. Most important, these should be coordinated with the rest of your design and color scheme.

Specifically, you need to make the following decisions:

◦  Do you want sconce lights, wall-mounted lighting or recessed lighting?

◦  Do you want a built-in mirror or a decorative mirror that you can easily replace?

◦  What kind of cabinet knobs and pulls do you want?

◦  Do you want a detailed faucet design or something more simple and modern?

There is no shortage of options for cabinet hardware and fixtures. Settle on a finish (oil- rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, chrome, stainless steel) and then choose a style (traditional, contemporary, modern).


Questions To Ask When Planning Bathroom Storage

Whether you’re designing a new bathroom or updating an existing space, it’s important to think carefully about where you’re going to keep everything. Before you choose cabinets, drawers or shelves, take time to consider these key questions to ensure your storage is practical for your needs, stays useful and looks stylish too.

Do I Know What I Need to Store?

The best way to begin any storage planning is by assessing the items you need to keep. Allocate some time to declutter — recycle any empty bottles, use up almost-empty toiletries and donate towels, jars and accessories you don’t need anymore.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be left only with the essentials, and these will dictate the storage you plan. It’s so much easier to organize a space with only necessary items, and the storage you plan will then be useful for a long time and hopefully ensure you continue to keep just the things you need.

Have I Grouped My Items?

Your essential bathroom kit can now be organized into groups, which will help you assess where to locate everything.

How you group your items will depend on your own needs and lifestyle, but it makes sense to position things near where you’ll use them. Makeup, for instance, should be kept near the best-lit mirror in the room.

It’s a good idea to create an everyday drawer, shelf or basket where you keep all those items you need each day. This will be helpful when you’re traveling too, as you can grab them all at once to throw into your suitcase.

Could I Divide and Conquer?

Have you ever tidied your drawers and cupboards, only to find they become a disorganized mess a few weeks later? The answer is to separate them into sections, and use jars, pots and baskets within each cabinet.

A drawer can be fitted with dividers to ensure everything has its own space and items won’t fall onto each other.

If you’re storing items in a cabinet, use shelf inserts, baskets and small decanters to create a mini organization system within the cupboard.

Have I Maximized the Space?

If you think you’ve used every inch of space in your bathroom, it’s worth having another scan. It’s surprising how many areas we overlook when it comes to planning storage. Have a chat with a bathroom designer or cabinet maker to see if they can help you find some clever storage solutions.

Could I Store Anything Elsewhere?

If your bathroom is small, you might not have room to store everything. Towels, in particular, can take up a lot of room. Instead, look around your home to see if there’s anywhere you can create overflow storage for those items you don’t use frequently.

A hallway cupboard can be used to house towels and cleaning products, which frees up space in the bathroom. If you can’t spare a whole cupboard, you could use a section of your wardrobe or some under-bed drawers or boxes.

Is My Storage Easy on the Eyes?

While cabinets and drawers are ideal for neatly stowing items out of sight, some open shelving will add a little character to your bathroom.

The key to stylish success when your storage is on display is to think carefully about the baskets and boxes you choose. Opt for storage items that have a similar look. By creating a cohesive display, your bathroom will look streamlined and attractive, rather than cluttered.

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