What does it take to build a dream bathroom? To me, 12 things and a little imagination. These are what I think would make the ideal bathroom escape, and I included some tips for how to bring some of them into your real-life bathroom right now. Read about them and then be sure to share your ideas in the comments below so we can all dream together.
1. Elegant tile.
One of the best parts of designing a dream bathroom is the chance to use lots of luxurious tile. Whether you love a bold pattern, sumptuous stone or just crisp classic white, floor-to-ceiling tile gives a bathroom a sense of polish and luxury.
My personal dream bathroom would have large-format stone tiles (20 by 30 inches or bigger) to create a virtually seamless effect, as shown in the previous photo, in a space I designed for a client. However, you can get a lot of impact by applying a coveted tile to just the floor (generally the smallest “wall” in the space) and using plain subway tile elsewhere, as shown here. It’s a beautiful look on a balanced budget.
2. Quality essentials.
Let me be clear: My dream bathroom doesn’t just look pretty — it works well and is built to last too. While plumbing essentials like the toilet may not be exciting items to invest in, using good-quality pieces will reduce the risk of messy leaks and will save you the task of having to rebuy in a few years’ time.
For me, the over-the-top high-tech gadgets are unnecessary. I don’t need a toilet that can talk! Simple gleaming white porcelain fixtures with elegant clean lines suit nearly any bathroom and stand the test of time.
3. A statement pendant.
Call it a pendant; call it a mini chandelier: A hanging light fixture in a commanding (but not overbearing) size makes a bathroom feel incredibly grand. The scale of such a light always feels so much greater in a relatively small space, such as a bathroom, than in an open-concept dining or living room. This factor makes a statement pendant one of the best ideas to steal on this list, as you can get a lot of impact for just a little splurge.
For a light that feels like a mini chandelier rather than a more modest pedant, go for a diameter of 18 inches or more. For a sizable bathroom, 10 by 10 feet and beyond, start at 24 inches or even 36 inches to suit the scale.
4. A character-rich vanity.
This one was definitely a tough choice. I love the simplicity of a streamlined modern vanity (like in the first photo), and I use such styles in many projects. But there’s also something transformative about a furniture-style vanity, especially one with shapely legs or curvy feet in a beautiful wood. It packs a heap of personality and gives a bathroom an unexpected twist — skipping a typical vanity for a vintage furniture piece can be a total design and recycling win-win.
Whichever way you go, the vanity is a very important piece for defining the style of a dream bathroom, so you should put some thought into yours.
See 30 unique vanity conversions
5. Layered lighting.
Even in my dream bathroom, my statement pendant can’t be expected to do all the heavy lifting — or should I say light lifting? To make your space, and particularly your mirrors, well-lit, you need a good layered lighting scheme. Using lights that glow from beside, above or behind the mirror will light your face properly so you don’t miss a spot during your morning routine.
Don’t forget to add a small, water-safe recessed light or two in the shower to brighten the area and make it feel bigger. Every inch of your dream bathroom deserves to be well-lit and photo-ready.
6. A custom shower stall.
Think shower stalls are only for minimalist homes with no space for a bathtub? An elegant shower, sans tub, can be a beautiful, luxurious part of a more traditional or transitional home as well — it all depends on how you style it. You can stick to minimalist lines, or use molding, rich tile and elaborate hardware to bring some traditional grace and strike the right balance for you.
For my dream bathroom, a glass shower door is a must. Sparkling glass keeps sightlines open so the room feels clean, breezy and extra expansive.
7. A luxurious tub.
Having a stand-alone shower in my dream bathroom doesn’t mean I can’t have a tub too! Few things say “luxury” more in a bathroom than having a free-standing tub.
Whether you have the square footage for a separate tub and shower or not, you can make your bath feel extra luxurious by adding a small stool to act as a resting place for a book, candle or glass of wine. A perfectly fitted tub tray will keep essentials even closer.
8. Elegant storage.
No matter how big your dream bathroom may be, you’ll probably want to squeeze in as much storage as possible. Walls in a bathroom often can be partially opened to work in useful storage niches and medicine cabinets. (Consult a contractor if you’re looking to add one to a finished space before you go breaking open walls.)
Use open shelves to add some storage without closing in a room. Where you do need a closed storage closet, try a mirrored door front to create the illusion of a bigger space while providing a useful full-length mirror.
9. A slab-stone feature wall.
Feature walls aren’t made just in living rooms and bedrooms with paint or wallpaper. In a bathroom, a slab-stone wall treatment dramatically calls attention to a tub, vanity or other key detail. The statement of rich mirror-matched stone is absolutely breathtaking, and it contrasts nicely with sleek porcelain.
To make sure all eyes are on your beautiful feature wall (whether it be slab stone, tile or another interesting material), wash the wall with light from a discreet LED strip tucked directly into the ceiling or hidden in a cove and cascading out.
10. A touch of nature.
Bathrooms tend to have lots of hard surfaces and shiny finishes, which can sometimes lead to a cold and impersonal feeling — but not my dream bathroom! My perfect bathroom would have an element of natural plant life to maintain a sense of warmth and welcome.
Whether it’s a bouquet of freshly cut flowers, a hardy potted plant (such as a moisture-loving orchid) or a floral motif, a touch of nature helps make the bathroom feel like a truly welcoming part of a home.
11. In-floor heating.
Laid underneath the tile or even under the subfloor, in-floor heating trades morning cold feet for a luxurious sense of warmth under the toes.
In-floor heating can actually be fairly practical, as having the heat radiating from below (rather than having so much of it circulating in the empty space over your head) helps a room feel much warmer. You can also selectively apply it to the areas where you tend to stand, such as beside the vanity, to save costs. Plus, it’s completely hidden, so it’s a technology that can work for even the most traditional styles.
12. A beautiful view.
Lastly, for my perfect dream bathroom, I really think I need one last thing: a beautiful view to reflect upon while I take a relaxing soak.
After all, my dream home would have views onto a lush forest or the stunning beaches of Miami; it would be beautifully secluded so no one else could see in. From my dream bath I could gaze out on nature and dream about … well, my next dream room, of course.
Your turn: Share your dream bathroom must-haves!
via 12 Must-Haves for a Designer’s Dream Bathroom