6 Design Mistakes You're Making in Your Bathroom, According to Experts
Interior designers say you'll want to pay attention to how much (or how little) light you have.
Believe it or not, your bathroom can leave the biggest impression on others about your entire home. Whether they're guests visiting or potential real estate buyers, this small but highly-functional room can take your house from mediocre to super-stylish. But it's not as easy as grabbing your bottle of bleach and wiping things down or buying a nice set of matching towels (though you'll certainly want to do these things, too). It turns out, there are a lot of design mistakes you're probably making in the bathroom, whether they're small decor-based decisions or larger renovation choices. To find out how to avoid these gaffs, we consulted interior designers and home experts. Read on for their advice.
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You forget to focus on the floors.
According to real estate website Opendoor's 2023 Home Decor Report, the biggest turn-ons for potential home buyers are updated bathrooms (61 percent) and new flooring (43 percent). So, you certainly don't want to neglect the floors in your bathroom.
"Sometimes, folks might forget to invest in an easy-to-maintain but aesthetically appealing flooring option," Yasmine El Sanyoura, home designer at Opendoor, tells Best Life. "Many homeowners opt for heated floors if budget allows, but this isn't a requirement. I also recommend a matte finish versus polished to safeguard against potential slips."
In the report, El Sanyoura specifically calls out luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring for its durability in wet rooms and how it mimics the look of real hardwood floors. "Lean into those resembling wood grain and opt for more brown versus gray tones, as this will provide warmth into your space," she writes.
You have too little—or too much—light.
Not only is the bathroom where you're likely primping and preening, but it's where guests stop to fix their hair or make sure they have nothing in their teeth (we've all been there!). This is why you'll want to ensure you've chosen the appropriate lighting.
"Many homeowners make the mistake of using only one light source," explains Zara O'Hare, interior design consultant at Land of Rugs. "This can create harsh shadows and make the space feel uninviting."
However, as Aaron Jerez, home improvement expert and founder of Home Bar Select, explains, an overabundance of lighting is also a poor design choice. "Too much light can create a glare when you're trying to get ready in front of the mirror or make it difficult to relax and unwind in a hot bath."
To find a happy medium at an affordable price, El Sanyoura suggests battery-operated sconces. "These won't require an electrician to wire, and will instantly upgrade your space. Some sconces can even be placed over artwork to elevate the look."
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You select the wrong size vanity.
Whether your bathroom is teeny tiny or super spacious, you'll want the vanity to feel in proportion to its surroundings.
"Make sure not to choose a vanity that is too small for your bathroom so that it doesn't bring attention to any wasted space," advises El Sanyoura. "That said, it's also important to leave clearances between the vanity and other fixtures (like the toilet), so don't just choose the biggest size vanity that can fit in the space."
As a rule of thumb, El Sanyoura says you typically want 15 inches from the center of the toilet to the side of the vanity for comfortable clearance space.
You shy away from color.
Yes, white walls are always a safe bet, but being a closed-off room, the bathroom is crying out for color. In a Jan. 2022 report about design trends for the coming year, Opendoor found that 77 percent of homeowners love a brightly colored accent wall.
"In the bathroom, a relaxing neutral (e.g. grey or beige) is a great go-to or a serene seafoam green for a spa-like feel," shares El Sanyoura. Plus, painting a wall or two is an easy and inexpensive project that you can take on with just painter's tape, a roller, and a drop cloth.
If painting the walls isn't an option, El Sanyoura recommends adding color with decorative paintings or prints. "Wall art is perfect if you're trying something new but don't want to commit to a full paint upgrade, and it's easy to remove as you look to redecorate the following season."
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You choose wood-based decor.
"Many homeowners want to decorate their bathrooms with natural materials such as wood, jute, and bamboo," notes Kelly Simpson, senior director of design and innovation at Budget Blinds. "These natural materials absorb moisture, which leads to warping, cracking, mold, mildew, and bacteria growth."
If you were considering wood blinds or woven grass shades for the bathroom, Simpson suggests going with faux wood shutters and blinds "as they can withstand high humidity and water splashing" or quick-drying linen shades as alternatives.
Likewise, Raquel Kehler, interior design creator at RoomCrush, cautions against hanging any paper-based or wood-framed pictures in the bathroom. "Instead, I always suggest using canvas wall art, which has greater resistance to moisture or using decor that's safe for humidity and moisture, like plants or wall art made of metals that won't rust."
You neglect the little details.
You don't have to spend a fortune on new floors or bathtubs to noticeably upgrade your bathroom. Just a few small details can make a big impact.
For one, Kehler says to take a look at the knobs and handles on vanities and cabinets. "Many homes come with these pre-installed… However, plastic and fake crystal instantly cheapen your bathroom, no matter how luxurious the rest of the design is. This is why I always recommend that people get knobs/handles in trending metal finishes that suit the design style of their bathroom, such as brushed nickel, brass, or gold."
O'Hare also suggests paying attention to other hardware pieces like the towel rack (and making sure it matches the finish of your knobs) and the color of small accessories like the soap dispenser.
And, lastly, be mindful of clutter. "Your bathroom may appear small and chaotic if the worktops and cabinets are cluttered and stuffed to the brim," says Artem Kropovinsky, an interior designer and founder of Arsight, an interior design studio based in New York City. "Add floating shelves or a chic storage box to keep everything orderly and hidden."