11 Steps to a Dream Bathroom

Designing your dream bathroom calls for careful space planning, considering your needs and a sophisticated mix of materials, textures and proper lighting. Get expert tips for making your dream a reality.



Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Think Function First Think Function First

A bathroom, like the kitchen, is one of the hardest-working spaces in the home. If it’s not functional, everybody suffers. Keep all of its functions in mind when choosing the sink, tub, shower, toilet and other pieces. For instance, the bathroom is a workstation for preparing for the day so plenty of storage and access to outlets is key

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Make It RelaxingMake It Relaxing

But the best bathrooms aren’t all about functionality, they’re also a sanctuary — a spa-like space where you can relax and wash off the cares of the day

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Map the SpaceMap the Space

Plumbing considerations will impact where you place the shower, toilet and tub. Yet, you also need to think like an industrial engineer when making a bathroom floor plan. Walk the space with your contractor and imagine the tasks required to get ready for the day. Consider the length of your arm’s reach. Do you want to store objects in a vanity and, if so, would you mind bending over to retrieve them? The objects used most often, as a rule of thumb, should be closest at hand

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Plan for Little LuxuriesPlan for Little Luxuries

Consider what other functions you can incorporate into the bath with a little clever planning; perhaps you’d like a seat in the shower, a steam room or built-in storage for linens

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Choose a MotifChoose a Motif

How do you want to feel when you’re in the bathroom? Is it a formal space (consider a black-and-white scheme) or a casual area (try neutrals)? The motifs often associated with baths are water oriented, like this fish-themed powder room designed by Kate Ridder. Seashells, boats, piers, blue hues and sandy beach colors are also frequently used.

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Reflect Your Favorite StyleReflect Your Favorite Style

But water themes aren’t the only option, it’s okay to think outside of the box. Choose a motif that relates to the area in which you live (city or country?), a style of architecture you love (classic English country or New England cottage?) or a style that you’re personally attached to (bohemian or Asian?). Remember: A bathroom motif doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) knock you over the head

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Know Your SurfacesKnow Your Surfaces

When selecting products for the bath, such as tile or marble, be sure that you know the inherent qualities and the drawbacks of each material. Will the marble or tile stand up to heavy wear? (Watch out for veins in marble, which often indicate weak points.) Do you want a polished floor or more of a honed look? Shiny floors may become slippery while natural materials may have a pitted surface that is more slip-resistant, but may also collect dirt.

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Add Drama With FixturesAdd Drama With Fixtures

Plumbing fixtures are the jewels of the bathroom because they’re metallic and can add a dramatic effect to any space, just as jewelry can to an outfit. There are a plethora of finishes and styles offered by today’s manufacturers, from brass to bronze and all metals in between. Keep in mind your motif and maintenance as you choose your bathroom fixtures. Elaborate gold fixtures probably won’t jive with a beach-inspired bathroom and may also require more cleaning than you’re up for.

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Be Careful With LightingBe Careful With Lighting

Choosing the correct lighting is critical in the bathroom, where mirrors are present and mood is important. Consider the appropriate task lighting for sink and shower areas. Keep in mind that fluorescent lighting casts a bluish tint, as opposed to the yellowish radiance of incandescent bulbs. Combine blue wall paint and blue-hued fluorescent lighting and you may look like Frankenstein’s bride in the mirror

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Mix Soft and HardMix Soft and Hard

Use small amounts of fabric to reduce the inherent harshness of many bathroom materials. Anything from towels and shower curtains to window treatments and small upholstered pieces, like a vanity stool, will bring a soft touch to a hard space

Steps to A Dream Bathroom - Add a Touch of Mother NatureAdd a Touch of Mother Nature

Don’t forget to incorporate plants and greenery in the bathroom. The asymmetrical nature of growing things (in design lingo this is called fractal) will help offset the bathroom’s many right angles and straight lines