BuyMyWardrobe logo

Spotlight On Bathrooms

By Kate MacLeary on Dec 06 2014

This week's focus is on bathrooms. It's a room in the home that I feel all too often gets neglected. Clever advertising suggests that our bathrooms should be a sanctuary, a place to relax and unwind, a clean space devoid of chaos. But does this really ring true of your bathroom right now? Chances are the answer will be a resounding 'no'.

Bathrooms can be a utilitarian space and the reason for this is, in my opinion, is that many of the products on the market for washrooms are quite simply, uninspiring. So let's shift our thinking somewhat and throw the rule book out the window because the minute you stop thinking of this room as merely a functional space, is the minute things get interesting!

Let's start with the basics. If you are lucky enough to start from scratch then you have the luxury of picking out sanitary ware that you love. But your scheme need not be dictated by budget. I renovated my entire bathroom on a shoestring simply by scouring the web for bargains and thinking outside the box.

Style it up

Learn to soften up the zone by adding unexpected items that you might normally associate with other rooms in your home. Cold sterile floors can be softened by adding a textural rug - pick one that can be thrown in the washing machine if hygiene is a worry. Better still, companies are catching on to the demand for stylish outdoor rugs created from plastics and other manmade materials which are perfect for use in bathrooms and eco friendly to boot. If money is tight then try my trick of 'shopping your home' which consists of basically just collecting bits and pieces from around the house and repurposing or relocating them into different rooms. Think taking a stool or wooden winebox and repurposing as an occasional table next to your bath or shower - perfect for corralling your high end products or simply adding a pop of colour by plonking a plant on top. Ridiculously easy but gives a brand new look in minutes and adds a bit of interest to your decor scheme.

Speaking of plants, they are a really simple and cheap way to introduce some personality. Go as full-on as your dare like the example above to give your space a real sense of escapism.

One trick I'm obsessed with right now is to add a little stool into your shower space in place of a wire basket or similar. You can bunch together all your products on top and it looks ultra glamorous.

Image via

These small extra touches make such a big impact because contrasting textures and colours never fail to make a room seem more tactile and interesting. The slick tile above paired with gnarly natural wood and teal blue tap with coir rope draw the eye and the well considered extra touches like organic soaps and the small hits of pattern in the accessories make this space super inviting.

Size doesn't matter

No space for stools in the shower? No problem.

Of course, I'm mindful that many of these tips are easiest to execute if your space is of a decent size. Teeny tiny bathrooms or en-suites can be an issue but don't let small size limit your imagination. Here are a selection of tiny bathrooms that really work:

Image via

By going big on the design elements, interior designer Kelly Wearstler has given this space that elusive 'wow factor'. The brass porthole mirror, marbled wallpaper, delicate wall sconces and that quirky abstract hand all come together perfectly, ensuring the small space makes a big impact.

Image via

Graphic wallpaper by Vivienne Westwood brings this small room to life. The blue and white colour scheme is simple and the fittings fuss-free, allowing the wallpaper to do the talking.

What this bathroom lacks in space, it makes up for in personality with the use of the cute mini cast iron bath top and geometric colourful tiling - a throwback to a different design era.

Image via

The images above showcases another small space which despite it's size, manages to be so appealing. The chevron wooden floor is to die for, the mixture of sanitary ware is slightly quirky but the vintage Bally print and accessories popping against the black subway tile really steals the show.

Change one thing

The easiest thing you can do to completely change the look of your bathroom aside from painting is to replace the hardware. Simply switching out your old taps for new ones can make the world of difference and is much less costly than replacing your entire suite.

Image via thedpages

Consider using unusual finishes for taps and shower heads. I used polished nickel as an alternative to chrome which produces a warm glow and looks very elegant but brass and copper are excellent alternatives to standard silver taps. Brass was a popular choice in the 80's and 90's and for that reason has long been considered dated and perhaps a bit garish. However brass is having a huge resurgence in popularity as the above example illustrates. It's all down to how you style and decorate the rest of the room. Think Moroccan or dark hues with gorgeous gold accents or fresh white shades to make that brass really pop.

Image via

J-Crew founder Jenna Lyons nails the look with her brass fixtures and fittings contrasted with concrete, wood and the luxe glossy black painted walls.

mage via

I'm more than a little obsessed with Genevieve Gorder's brass shower fittings. Ok, that's a lie, I'm obsessed with the whole room! Clever use of tiling and the addition of that little stool in the cubicle really elevate the room to another level - as far from an average, boring bathroom as can be.

This bathroom follows a modern monochromatic scheme using black matte fittings. The stained wood panelled wall complements the black and white colour scheme but adds much needed texture. Aesop products by the bath look cool and add a gorgeous aroma when in use, guaranteed to create a luxury spa like bathing experience. Super chic.

Play with materials

Matching materials can be a tad boring, so consider bringing different textures and finishes together for an unexpected look.

I'm not sure what I love more about the vanity above- that stunning marble sink, the tarnished antique gold hardware or the crisp contemporary wooden cladding. It's an unexpected combo but it totally works.

Cameron Diaz showcases a drool-worthy bathroom in her Manhattan home. The metallic antiqued tiles and brass hardware on the cabinetry create an clean, sophisticated feel, whilst those stunning mirrors bounce the natural light around to amazing effect.

The black wall in this dark, dramatic bathroom creates a bold statement but the use of high gloss paint ensures it retains a contemporary twist. The shiny smooth wall contrasting against the highly sculpted metal bath and heavy curtains add layers of contrasting textures and materials. This look proves that having the courage to do something unexpected can really pay off. The addition of the mustard yellow velvet chair is a whimsical bolt of colour which lifts the entire scheme.

Buck the trend

Don't be afraid to try something different. This is your space so embrace your creativity. Bathrooms are a perfect space to try something a little daring as you spend much less time in this room than say a bedroom or living room. Maybe that black and white chevron floor is just too wild for your dining room. But in the bathroom or w/c? Go nuts!

Image via

Where to start? The concrete, the copper piping and that trough-like sink. This individual bathroom nails the rough luxe, industrial trend but uses surprising elements such as the square shaped pipe formation to give the look a fresh new edge.

Herringbone is once again a really popular design choice for flooring and it's easy to see why- just look at this black and white floor! The marble tiles in this super cool herringbone pattern completely transform what could otherwise be a sterile bathroom. The continuation through into the shower cubicle keeps the look cohesive.

mage via

The example above uses marble flooring which, lets face it, is a little pricey. I was thrilled to discover recently however, that you can buy chevron lino ( - how cool is that? No longer considered a cheap and inferior product, linoleum is once again a popular choice for modern homes and is the perfect material for a sleek, contemporary yet practical bathroom.

These homeowners decided to have some fun with graffiti around their vanity unit resulting in a personal, yet totally unique look. The fixtures they've chosen add to the eclectic vibe.

Lastly, it would be impossible not to give a mention to Jonathan Adler's completely OTT Hermes inspired bathroom. The perfect marriage of maximalist style meets fashion - it's slightly crazy but utterly fabulous. A lesson in how to go all out from one of the greatest designers.

So this weekend, if you're bathroom isn't already the perfect sanctuary, hopefully you'll be inspired to think about making some changes. Whether that be reaching for the sledgehammer or just investing in a new shower curtain, I promise the effort pays off. With busy lives it's really easy to neglect these spaces which are usually the smallest and least inspiring room in the home. But with styling and a little flair, the addition of fresh flowers, plants and fabulous smelling products to the space can totally elevate the feel and appearance of your bathroom easily and cheaply, making it somewhere you'll want to linger.