Bathroom Design Ideas

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Selecting a Theme

On the whole, it seems as though people pursue one of two drastically opposite approaches to bathroom remodeling and design. On the one hand, there's the bathroom that's - well, a bathroom. It's bland, lit for the sake of being lit, and relatively clean. It has white vinyl floors with white walls and white ceilings. Its owner doesn't see this bathroom as a place to hang out; instead, it's a place to enter and exit quickly - do your makeup as quickly as you can, and don't linger. On the other hand, there's the elaborate Victorian bathroom with the ornate wallpaper, marble floors, oak cabinets, velvet curtains, and expensive rug. This type of bathroom, to the average person, is nothing short of intimidating. After all, who wants to step on a beautiful rug with wet, soapy feet? Is it even possible to salvage an expensive rug after a soap explosion?

When it comes to creating a theme or design concept for your bathroom, you absolutely must follow these two rules: (1) have a blast when you decorate, and (2) let your personality shine through everywhere from your walls to your floors to your faucets. Don't be self-conscious about what your bathroom "should" look like. After all, a bathroom is a home's most personal room. Let your charm take over, and you will love your space.

A beautiful bathroom is so much more than your budget. You don't need a multimillion dollar mansion with indoor hot tubs and exclusive works of art. You just need to be you. When you're you, the end result with be worth so much more than what you ultimately spend.

Don't worry; even the most creative of artistic masterminds aren't sure where to begin sometimes. Use Ideal Home Garden's design concepts exactly, or build upon them to add your own personality. Use them for inspiration, or critique what you don't like.

Before You Start

A few basic rules are applicable to bathrooms of any theme. Keep in mind that bathrooms are moist and humid environments that are perfect for bacteria, mold, and mildew to thrive. To keep your bathroom clean and practical, choose surfaces and building materials that are easy to clean and resistant to wear and tear.

Avoid carpets and rugs that are not machine washable. Stay clear of wallpaper unless you like the idea of replacing it every few years (or months, depending on how much traffic your bathroom gets). When you can, use plastic pipes instead of copper pipes. Plastic pipes are quieter, longer-lasting, and less prone to damage. If you live in an older home, be sure to have your pipes assessed so that everything is in working order since many older (50+ years old) homes are built with copper pipes that need replacement.

Plan a budget ahead of time, and stick to it. Give yourself some wiggle room for splurge-worthy items and unanticipated expenses. Don't be afraid to spend if you have to. Aim to buy high quality items that will last for years and years. Over time, your investment will seem smaller and smaller, and you will be glad to have invested in décor that is versatile, sturdy, and reliable.

Visual Bathroom Decorating Ideas

Victorian Bathroom Victorian Bathroom Modern Bathroom Modern Bathroom
French Bathrooms French Bathroom rustic bathroom ideas Rustic Bathroom


Don't Want a Theme? Design an Eclectic Comfort Space

Style Tips

Don't feel that you absolutely need a theme for a charming and elegant bathroom. Design your own theme, or choose none and all, and let your bathroom be eclectically you. Save money by using what you already have for décor, and buy what you like. Choose color or pattern to unify your bathroom's style, or design a dream bathroom for your kids.

Color Schemes

Even if you do not select a theme for your bathroom, it is best to have a color scheme of no more than three or four colors in order to avoid chaos in your bathroom. The color scheme should apply to walls, artwork, rugs, and other elements of décor. Make sure that your cabinets, tubs, and sinks do not clash with the colors that you select for your bathroom.


Be careful not to cause crowding and chaos in your bathroom by selecting a few basic design elements. Try to select items that are as practical as possible, and try to maximize your counter space.

Do you like to relax while watching TV? Consider installing a waterproof television that you can install while taking a bubble bath. 

When you select a material for your wall, make sure you find something that can withstand moisture and remain durable over a long period of time. If you choose wallpaper, make sure that you choose a material with a thick vinyl coat. Try ceramic tile if you would like something that is easier to clean, or use tileboard if you need something that is easier to install. Paint is inexpensive and does not require a long-term commitment if you would like a change in color or style. Mix tile with paint, or create an accent wall for some variety.

Sinks & Faucets

When it comes to sinks, you have a variety of styles to explore for your bathroom's look. You can choose a freestanding sink or unit that you can install into your vanity. Be sure to select a surface that is durable with a center of gravity that makes sense - in the event of an earthquake, you don't want your porcelain free-standing unit to fall and shatter. (For more information on faucet styles, see Sink Faucet Buying Guide).

If you are replacing the pipes in your bathroom, make sure that you select PVC pipes instead of copper pipes. In general, PVC pipes are less expensive, quieter, and longer-lasting than copper.

Bathtubs & Showers

Choose between luxury and functional tubs. You can choose a freestanding tub with jets, which may be ideal if you have a medical condition such as arthritis (For more information on bathtubs for the elderly, see Walk-In Bathtub Options For The Elderly). Luxury tubs with jets can cost as little as $1,000 and as much as $5,000. Consider a freestanding shower or a shower that is combined with your tub. Make sure that you select a tub that is not too large for your bathroom - you don't want a crammed space! (For a bathtub buying guide, see Bathtub Buying & Information Guide and for a shower head buying guide, see Shower Head Buying & Information Guide).


Your budget will vary with the extent of your remodeling job. If you are replacing the plumbing, vanity, and bathtub, you expect to spend at least $5,000. Realistically, you will probably spend closer to $10,000. If you are looking to upgrade the look and feel of your bathroom with new lighting and décor, you should be safe with a budget of $1,000 or less.


Remember that your bathroom is a moist and humid environment that provides an ideal space for bacteria and mold to thrive. For this reason, try to avoid using décor that is difficult to clean. Make sure that your hand towels and bath mats are machine washable. Easy-to-clean items will be longer lasting.

Last Updated: April 16, 2013
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About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

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