Stylish and practical bathroom ideas

Turn your smallest room into a sanctuary with clever touches that create tranquillity, ambience and plenty of neat storage. Cinead McTernan discovers the many and varied options that will work in any home

Retro Metro tiles, 85p each, Fired Earth.

Spa day

Chatsworth Grey Close Coupled Roll Top Bathroom Suite
Chatsworth Grey Close Coupled Roll Top Bathroom Suite, £849.95, Victorian Plumbing.

For those of us who prefer our bathroom to be something of a spa-like retreat, a neutral colour palette is the way forward. Bright whites and crisp greys are the perfect choice here, creating a calm, tranquil atmosphere. While the decor may be simple, don’t forget to focus on the detail – here, the roll-top bath and patterned tiled floor make the space feel inviting while the painted panelled wall provides an elegant backdrop to the whole scene.

A ripped Burlington bath with a blush pink towel


Bold touches

Alalpardo tiles, £3.96 each, Bert & May.
Alalpardo tiles, £3.96 each, Bert & May.

This eye-catching cherry-red locker screams retro chic and transforms an otherwise traditional scheme into an uber-stylish space – good news if your bathroom is on the ‘to redecorate’ list, and you’re looking for a quick fix to make it feel more ‘you’. In this example, the modish geometric tiles accentuate the cool vibe, but plainer shades or designs would merge more with the overall scheme, should that be your preferred look. 


Shower solutions

Retro Metro tiles, 85p each, Fired Earth.
Retro Metro tiles, 85p each, Fired Earth.

A smart feature in any size of bathroom, circular shower rails really come into their own if space is an issue. It is a practical choice when you need to combine a bath and shower, and works with freestanding or built-in baths, whether it is suspended from the ceiling or attached to the wall. It’s a sensible idea to tile the wall behind the bath, as additional protection against damp. These glossy, colourful subway tiles are a timeless classic, suiting all interior styles, whether laid in a traditional brick, herringbone or geometric l-shaped pattern. Designed to be an easy-to-clean surface and create a friendly atmosphere for commuters, they first appeared in New York City’s subway system in 1904.


Opt for shutters

Shutters, £POA, Thomas Sanderson.
Shutters, £POA, Thomas Sanderson.

Large windows are a fabulous feature in a bathroom, providing plenty of light and, if you’re lucky, a gorgeous view. Lack of privacy is sometimes the price you pay – however, all is not lost, because one of the most practical solutions also happens to be a stylish one. Plantation shutters add a sense of character to a room, as well as being durable, easy to clean and, if you go for PVC plastic, 100 per cent waterproof, so can withstand all of the moisture and humidity of bathrooms, both large and small. 


Bright botanicals

Luke Edward Hall's botanical bathroom
The walls are hung with ‘Apothecary’s Garden’, a 1926 Charles Voysey design, which is printed by Trustworth Studios.

If you’re lucky enough to have a good-sized bathroom with adequate ventilation, wallpaper is a great option. A historical design, like this Arts and Crafts print by CFA Voysey, in Luke Edward Hall’s apartment, is the perfect way to accentuate period features.

Luke Edward Hall in his design studio


Little pleasures

Bazaar Delft Glazed Terracotta tiles, from £141.44 per sq m, Mandarin Stone.
Bazaar Delft Glazed Terracotta tiles, from £141.44 per sq m, Mandarin Stone.

This look works scaled up or down, in a spacious bathroom or in the downstairs loo. Wall-mounted taps bring a modern feel and offer a charming contrast with a vintage or reclaimed sink. They’re also a space-saving solution and easy to maintain.


Keep it unique

A vintage wooden ladder makes a beautiful towel rail in a bathroom
A vintage wooden ladder makes a beautiful towel rail. Find similar at Vinterior.

Carefully chosen antiques create a truly unique bathroom that feels relaxed and super-stylish at the same time. Here, the basin has been fitted into a vintage kitchen cupboard, which works with the overall 1940s feel and provides storage space aplenty. 


Blend right in

Walls painted in Stone Blue Estate Eggshell, £64 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball.
Walls painted in Stone Blue Estate Eggshell, £64 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball.

Embrace the growing interiors trend for painting woodwork the same colour as the wall – particularly useful if you need to make unattractive features blend in and disappear, or wish to create the illusion of space and make it feel cosy. Opt for a monochromatic scheme to help  exaggerate the size of a room and also act as a clean backdrop to furnishings and fabrics, as shown here with the Turkish rugs and reclaimed claw-foot bath. 


Light show

Dress your bathroom with candles and hammam towels such as these from Dunelm.
Dress your bathroom with candles and hammam towels such as these from Dunelm.

Lighting can make or break a bathroom. It’s worth spending a bit of time planning the right combination if you’re designing from scratch. In an ideal world, a combination of natural light, downlights, accent spotlights and recessed lighting will satisfy all your illumination needs. However, if a complete overhaul isn’t possible, a simple solution to produce a range of options is to exchange any light switches just outside the room for dimmers. Alternatively, a pretty selection of candles and tea lights, as shown here, will give you that sought-after ambience.


Playful pattern

Allium 2 hand-knotted wool and silk rug, £585 per sq m, Amy Kent; Adam’s Eden Fresco wallpaper, £70.81 per m, Lewis & Wood.
Allium 2 hand-knotted wool and silk rug, £585 per sq m, Amy Kent; Adam’s Eden Fresco wallpaper, £70.81 per m, Lewis & Wood.

Demonstrating less isn’t always more when it comes to using pattern, the designers at Knox Interiors have combined two strong statement features in this elegant bathroom. Cleverly choosing harmonious tones for both the Amy Kent rug and wallpaper ensures they complement each other, rather than vying for attention. Using a neutral colour palette for the paintwork and bathroom suite helps them stand out further, while the cupboards are a clever idea, making the most of the high ceilings and space, and have the added bonus of framing the wallpaper, too.  

Choosing the perfect blinds for your bathroom…

Laura O’Connell, Product Manager at Thomas Sanderson, offers advice on selecting the right window covering for a bathroom

Shutters or blinds are an elegant choice throughout the home, offering privacy as well as light. However, some materials are better than others for a specific space. Not all shutters can withstand wet conditions, but waterproof designs, such as Thomas Sanderson’s Waterberry Vinyl shutters, are perfect as they are wipe-clean, and won’t warp or develop mould.

Choosing a style that is available in a range of finishes is a clever way to create a seamless flow around the house. Whichever finish you choose for the Waterberry shutters, they look incredibly similar.

Another advantage of going for shutters is that they can be custom-made, fitting unusual shapes and irregular dimensions – all too familiar in period homes.

Blinds work equally well in bathrooms, even if privacy is an issue, as some designs, such as Pleated or Café blinds, can be opened from either the top or bottom, giving you ultimate seclusion while still allowing light to flood into the room. As with shutters, the high humidity of bathrooms means that it comes down to choosing the right finish in your preferred style.

As a rule of thumb, Venetian blinds look good in a traditional interior, while Duette, with their thermal insulation, are ideal if you’re looking for a modern twist.

4 of the best mirrors to hang in your bathroom

Little Venice A mid 19th-century antique Venetian cartouche mirror, with rare decorative bevelled edges, £1,750, Georgia Lacey Antiques.

19th-century antique Venetian cartouche mirror

Tray chic Crafted from reclaimed iron trays, this simple piece will make a striking focal point in a bathroom, £395, Nkuku.

Reclaimed iron tray mirror

A close shave An unusual and intriguing Arts and Crafts silvered brass shaving mirror, c1890, £245, Levels Antiques at Antiques Atlas.

Arts and Crafts silvered brass shaving mirror, c1890

Industrial revolution A distressed oval metal wall mirror with a super-useful integral shelf, £64.90,
The Farthing.

distressed oval metal wall mirror with a super-useful integral shelf