Ultimate Rules of Bathroom Design You Should Know – Ideas for 2021

Modern bathroom design

You’re probably familiar with the old saying that you must first know the rules before you can break them, and while we’re no fans of rules, there are some guidelines that make the gargantuan task of designing a bathroom a little easier and more foolproof. Modern Bathroom design rules help us make decisions that make our bathrooms more comfortable, calming, and relaxing spaces. With that in mind, here are 10 ultimate rules of modern bathroom design you should follow.

Start with a Focal Point (hint: create a feature wall)

white ceramic sink


Finding your bathroom’s natural focal point is a great place to start when designing the room. One excellent way to add charm to the bathroom is by adding a feature wall as a focal point. 

Something as simple as painting one wall in bright colors should do the trick. Choose the colors such that they contrast well with the rest of the bathroom. For instance, you can use tiles to create your feature wall or make it turquoise colored. The rest of the bathroom can be neutral or off-white. 

Remember, in order for feature walls to work, you need to make sure that all other decorative pieces are muted and subtle. To make your feature wall stand out, you can install a skylight over it. A more discreet way of adding light over the feature wall is to tuck an LED strip directly into the ceiling and flood the wall with light. 

Introducing Plants and Flowers into the Bathroom

Shower stall with plantation


Make your bathroom feel like a spa hotel by adding humidity-loving plants. Not only will plants add a little style to your space, but they can purify the air and help relieve anxiety and stress. 

Plants generally thrive in the high humidity environment of a bathroom, so you won’t have to do much in the way of ‘gardening’. You don’t need oversized plants to make a big impact. Small plants paired with sleek planter boxes will seamlessly fit onto any countertop or shelf. 

And if you’re short on space or don’t have much surface area, try lining up the walls with elkhorn ferns – they’re hardy and don’t need much in the way of maintenance. Most ferns are shade-loving and don’t need a ton of light – which makes them perfectly suited to bathrooms. 

Another popular idea is to introduce bamboo in your bathroom. These luscious plants add a powerful pop of green in your bathroom. The best part is that even the laziest gardeners will have no trouble keeping them alive.

Setup Bathroom Ventilation


The bathroom will be the wettest space in your home thanks to all those steamy showers, flushing toilets, and running sinks. All that moisture brings several potential problems: mold and mildew, peeling wallpaper, paint that chips easily, and foul smell. 

You could just as easily open the windows to help ventilate the bathroom and prevent the buildup of mold – but that’s not going to be a permanent solution. It’s highly recommended to install a bathroom fan. In fact, there’s a good chance your building code requires a bathroom vent fan.

The fan works by pulling moisture-laden air out of the room and venting it outside. You can find vent fans in all shapes and sizes – giving you plenty of chances of becoming creative with the décor. 

There are combination bathroom fan/light fixtures, wall mount bathroom fans, and even simple box fans that fit in the ceiling. 

For a complete guide on how you can further improve bathroom ventilation, you might want to check out this guide by thisoldhouse.com.

Deck Out the Bathroom with Cabinets and Wall Organizers

Related:  Expert Tips for An Appealing Bathroom Renovation

White ceramic sink with a basket underneath for storage

Organizing the bathroom design is important because this is where you’ll be cleaning up after yourself. This means no towels on the floor, wires scattered randomly, and definitely no countertop clutter. 

The idea behind cabinets and wall organizers is to give all your items – including cleaning products, extra linens, and makeup – a space to stay and keeping your everyday essentials at your fingertips. 

Here are a few ideas for smart bathroom storage:

  • Baskets: Don’t have the budget for wall organizers and cabinets? No problem! Skip the cabinets altogether and just place stylish baskets on the floor for that casual look. 
  • Bar carts: Bar carts have wheels that allow them to be moved around with little to no effort. More importantly, they give you the space for bathroom essentials you can’t live without (such as towels and toilet paper). 
  • Add Hooks: Hooks work best if you don’t have tons of counter space and closets to work with. It’s highly recommended to opt for hooks in metallic hues to give your bathroom that extra bit of sparkle. 
  • Over the Door Shelf: These handy shelves are perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the budget for a linen closet. An over the door shelf lets you make the most out of your unused ceiling space. 

Tile Your Walls and Floor

Tiled walls of a bathroom

If your bathroom was a blank canvass, then tiles are the ink that helps you bring your visions to life. Tiling gives you an opportunity to go bold and add a lot of flair to your space.

If you want to make your bathroom design appear luxurious, consider natural stone tiles like marble, limestone, and bluestone. 

You can go one step further and introduce patterned tiles to bring more personality to your life. Cement encaustic tiles are available in an array of styles, from bold geometric patterns to ornate murals – different folks, different strokes, as they say.  

Pro tip: Make sure to opt for tiles that are durable, slip resistance, and waterproof. 


Contrast different colors and textures or pair various shapes together to create a unique pattern. Some of the trendiest shapes for bathroom tiles include: 

  1. i) Hexagons: These honeycomb tiles give a fun spin to your bathroom surfaces. We recommend playing around with grout colors to take more advantage of this shape. 
  2. ii) Circle: These shapes lend well to backsplashes, bathrooms with limited floor space, and showers. They are mostly used on walls to create a dramatic effect. 

iii) Rectangles: Consider laying rectangular tiles if you want a simpler design strategy

Incorporate Natural Lighting

Most bathrooms don’t have natural light. But if yours do, make sure to take advantage of it. If your bathroom receives natural light from outside, whether through the skylight or a window, try to improve on it if possible.

Natural light is a great way to reduce mold and mildew in the bathroom, reduce your energy costs by replacing artificial lighting, and add more tranquility to the space.  

Install Artificial Lighting

It’s time to give your bathroom’s lighting scheme a serious makeover. The light fixtures you choose will make a huge difference on the ambiance of the room. For instance, if you want to make your bathroom feel more grand, consider installing a mini chandelier.

If you prefer something more simpler, choose ceiling-mounted lights for a touch of elegance. 

Alternatively, if you want to get rid of shadows when looking into the mirror, we recommend installing lights behind or around the mirror. If you want to make your shower feel bigger, we suggest adding water face recessed lights. 

And if you want to achieve the “wow” factor, you might want to go with smart bathroom lighting. This goes beyond the minimum requirement of providing a full spectrum of lights.  Vanity mirrors give the greatest amount of light. 

Make Your Windows More Functional 

White ceramic bathtub with a large window.

Windows are an integral element of any bathroom. They let in fresh air and natural light. Moreover, they give you the much-needed privacy. Nearly every bathroom has one, and some of them are quite large. 

You can do many things with the window depending on your preferences. For instance, if you like to soak in the bath and enjoy the view outside, try a large window. 

On the other hand, if you prefer privacy, you could opt for bathroom window treatments. Not only do they add more privacy but they also add an extra pop of pattern. Speaking of window treatments you can choose from various ideas, including bathroom curtains, roller blinds, and shades. 

Pro tip: When choosing blinds and shutters, always invest in ones that resist humidity, moisture, and mold, as well as provide a degree of light control. 

Choosing the Right Taps and Fixtures

Stainless steel faucet

The tap is a must-have component of the bathroom, but with thousands of different designs and prices, how can you choose the right one for your bathroom? Before we discuss the design aspect of bathroom fixtures, it’s important to be cognizant of two things: 

  • The water pressure

To get a strong flow of water from your taps, it is essential for the water pressure to be sufficient. Check this before choosing any particular tap or have it measured by your plumber.

  • Size of the holes in the washbasin

It may seem rather obvious, but you should measure the size of the hole in your washbasin before choosing a mixture. 

With that out of the way, let’s deep dive into the design aspect of bathroom fixtures.

Make sure you choose something that is high quality and long-lasting. The last thing you want is water leaking everywhere. You can go with something simple like white porcelain with elegant and clean lines, or something more fancy like silver tapwares, which look great in most homes.

Whatever style you choose, make sure it is consistent with the style, color, and size of your fixtures. For example, if you’ve chosen silver fixtures, it’s best to install them in your shower, bathtub, and vanity. Likewise, if you choose white, install these everywhere in your bathroom.

Remember, uniformity is a key aspect of modern bathroom designs.

Look Up Shower Trends 

There’s no denying that soaker tubs are relaxing, but they are not as functional as showers, which are just as rejuvenating. Even better, walk-in showers work in both big and small bathrooms, and you can design one to accommodate your preferences, whether it is modern or vintage. 

The latest trend for showers in 2021 is installing shower stalls that are made of only glass. This is cutting edge as far as modern bathroom designs go. Plus, they also make your bathroom feel clean, spacious, and updated. 

Add the right showerhead and your bathroom will look like it’s straight out of a home design magazine. When finalizing the shower wall and floor, you can choose from stone tiles or porcelain tiles. It’s also a good idea to choose a different style of tiles for the shower compared to the bathroom. 

Finally, you may want to consider framing your shower. It’s not a big deal if you choose not to, but something that you can leave as an afterthought. 

Pro tip: One lesser-known trend is to go with curbless showers. By getting rid of the curb around the shower, your flooring can continue right into the shower. This works best with stone slab, concrete, and tile floors. Not to mention the fact that curbless showers are easier to clean.  

Keep the Toilet Out of Sight (and out of Mind)

Toilet installed in the corner of the bathroom

Toilets are obviously the most necessary component of the bathroom, but they tend to stick out like a sore thumb. There are a few things you can do to make them pleasant.

For instance, why not invest in a high-quality toilet to begin with? Think long term. A high-quality toilet will minimize plumbing problems and messy leaks, saving you time and money with replacements down the road. 

The most important rule when it comes to designing a luxurious bathroom is to keep the toilet out of sight. In fact, most modern homes are implementing this trend. So how can you achieve this? You can either build a partition wall to hide the toilet or install it in a corner behind the vanity. 

Remember, nobody thinks ‘elegance’ when they see a toilet – because no matter how much you sugar coat it, a toilet is still a toilet. 

Wrapping Up

Now that you know of a few modern bathroom designs to guide you along the way, you can give free rein to your imagination. We’re privileged to live in a time where tireless innovations in bathroom design are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. 

What ‘rules’ of modern bathroom design do you think are important? Tell us in the comments below and share this story with your friends.