How to decorate a bathroom – a step-by-step guide on introducing color, storage and more

Deciding on how to decorate a bathroom? These tips will provide a starting point for a wow-factor washroom

How to decorate a bathroom with a blue painted wall white bath and sink basin and luxury vinyl tile flooring
(Image credit: Carpetright)

If you're wondering how to decorate a bathroom, you need to look at it as much more than simply a functional space.

The best bathroom ideas provide a place of sanctuary and solace. They also make for a relaxing hiding place after too much time with the kids! 

Thankfully, there are lots of little tips and tricks to tackle to create a satisfactory look that appeals to your taste and is considerate of your space. 

And now that you've got the bathroom remodel out of the way, it's time to have some fun with the finishing touches. So let your imagination and creativity flow.

How to decorate a bathroom

With our global obsession over interior design inspiration on Pinterest and a limitless number of home decor Instagram accounts, there's so much bathroom design inspiration available out in the public domain. Sensory overload much?

If you're still undecided on your scheme, and your brain is fried from an endless abyss scrolling and archiving, we're here to provide some simple ideas on how to decorate your bathroom.

1. Pick a color scheme for your bathroom

Bohemian bathroom with concrete bath and red/cream soft furnishings

(Image credit: B&M)

While white and black bathroom decor makes for a super simple bathroom idea for decorating a bathroom and maximizing your space, there are a spectrum of shades to suit your washroom scheme.

But before you pick up that roller and make like Picasso, it's important to consider how color can affect our mood and perception of the space. While green can add a zen feel, soft pinks ooze romantic and regencycore vibes. 

Contrary to popular belief, dark bathroom paint ideas CAN be used in small bathroom spaces. These hues can add an element of luxury and style to our space - no matter the square footage.

'Don’t be afraid of dark and rich colors, like orange, for a braver burst of color.' says design director David Harris, of global design company Andrew Martin. 'These hues bring intimacy and depth whilst also allowing you to show personality and flair.'

2. Lay down the foundations for bathroom flooring

Luxury vinyl tile flooring in bathroom with freestanding bath by Carpetright

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Your bathroom floor is a high traffic area and deserves due diligence when deciding on a finish.

Imitation flooring such as laminate flooring or luxury vinyl tile (LVT) go a long way for those decorating a bathroom on a budget. The latest designs and finishes are a far cry from cheap-looking linoleum and are easily to install.

Real wood flooring is a durable option that can last a lifetime. Just be sure to sand it down correctly, and if you're worried about splinters can always add coziness and comfort with a bathmat or rug. It's also worth noting that opting for engineered flooring is a smart idea. This is because it's less likely to warp in wet, high-moisture areas.

And while bathroom carpet ideas may be an absolute no-no for some, others may enjoy the soft and warm touch an area rug provides over cold tiled flooring. So long as you know how to choose a carpet for this room, and how to clean it properly, it can be a hygienic choice that doesn't harbor bacteria.

3. Decide on your wall finishing

Freestanding bathub with navy wallpaper and palm leaf print bath mat

(Image credit: Matalan)

By and large, whether you choose to paint your bathroom walls, search for bathroom wallpaper ideas, or look to tile ideas and trends - the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Ultimately, there's no right or wrong answer on how to decorate your bathroom, however all come with different levels of practicality and suitability for your household and are budget dependent too.

Paint is a cheap and versatile option. Think outside your usual 4-wall scheme and get creative with an accent or feature wall. Have fun with Ombre effects, style with stencils or go industrial with a concrete finish.

Bathroom tiling decor is a smart strategy for walls that are likely to get wet. Coordinate your tiles with the trend that dominates your bathroom for a harmonized scheme. Try using a mosaic motif in a retro bathroom for a groovy '70s look. Or, why not revisit the Roaring Twenties with art deco-inspired scalloped tiles?

Another option is to paint over wallpaper. Yes, it's controversial but it is totally possible to achieve a professional finish.

And lastly, if you're extremely lucky enough to have well-maintained walls with beautiful brickwork underneath, exposed brick is another trendy way to decorate your bathroom for an industrial feel. Just make sure you understand the safety implications on how to create a feature brick wall before picking up the sledgehammer and power tools.

4. Be bold with your sink and faucet design

Maison Valentina bathoom basin with round mirror

(Image credit: Maison Valentina)

Another update for your current bathroom, or to consider in your new bathroom design, is to be bold with your sink. By updating your basin style and adding a pair of newly-purchased faucets, you can totally change the feel of your bathroom. 

There's lots to consider when thinking about how to choose a bathroom sink, so decide what's best for your space including height and tap type before you make the financial commitment to buy. 

For example, while butler sinks can add a rustic country feel to a space, they are significantly deeper than other types of basin so may not be suitable for those with young families.  The same rhetoric applies to black sinks. Although they are a sleek idea to complete luxury bathroom decor, cleaning toothpaste marks and other stubborn stains can cause more inconvenience that it's worth.

Cost can also play a huge part in how to decorate your bathroom with this feature. Quite often, ceramic and resin sinks are singled-out as affordable options for most bathrooms.

5. Elevate your space with elegant bathroom storage

Black and rattan storage ladder with yellow wall

(Image credit: B&M)

When looking to decorate your bathroom, one successful task to tick off is to source a bathroom storage design that is both stylish and practical.

From bathroom cabinet ideas, to luxury ladders that add height to a space and ornately organized shelves, it's important to assess the functionality of this fixture and how it works in practice.

For example, households with young dependents dare not dream of displaying expensive candles and bathroom accessories in touching distance of a toddler, while pet owners should probably take a not-so-perch-friendly ladder off their lust list. 

Top tip: Cats won't bat an eyelid at using your expensive investment buys as scratching posts. It's worth taking this into consideration when you're on the hunt for bathroom furniture.

6. Choose your window treatments wisely

Freestanding bathtub with cream upholstered chair and heavy green draped curtains

(Image credit: Soho Home)

Bathroom window treatments, in our opinion, are an essential aspect of bathroom design – they offer colorful sensory for kids, a feeling of privacy and dignity, light control, insulation and have the ability to quickly revive an otherwise bland scheme.

Decorating a bathroom with drapes, blinds, curtains or window film will ultimately come down to your taste, budget and how private your window panes are.

Peelable window decals are a purse-friendly option for renters and homeowners alike, especially in a situation where traditional window treatments are out of the question, like a window inside a shower. 

If you want to add a coastal touch to your space, shutters emulate the appearance of a beach cabin. For a brighter, airier feel, translucent voile curtains lightly cover a window without the commitment to heavy drapes.

And if you're looking to manage your bathroom's temperature, honeycomb blinds can help save energy and cut your fuel bills. This is because of their cellular pleated design which create a clever insulation barrier.

Whatever treatment you choose, if you're on a tight budget, DIY-fit options may prove more appealing than those fitted by leading suppliers.

7. Settle down to bathtime with bathroom seating

White tiled bathroom with freestanding bath and wooden stool

(Image credit: Wearth London)

For those with children, you'll know too well about wanting to tackle the bath time schedule with speed before bedtime.

But for babies and toddlers who want to enjoying sudsy relaxation and recreation, parents will often find themselves sat on a closed toilet as a source of makeshift seating while supervising water play.

Instead: look to bathroom seating for a dignified personal care regime. Using a waterproof seat in a walk-in shower will make for a comfortable space that everyone can enjoy using.

Asides from its obvious purpose, consider using a stool to display towels and luxury bathroom accessories to add a feature to your room. This multipurpose furniture idea also looks great as a spa bathroom idea. It provides a cute pop-up pedicure station to polish your toenails pronto.

8. Maximize your space with mirrors

How to decorate a bathroom with crittal-style shower screen black bathroom mirror and white sink

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Whether you're getting ready for a night out, or just checking there's nothing stuck in your teeth, a bathroom mirror is a must - but it isn't just a pretty face.

With almost magical abilities, the right mirror design ideas can do wonders for making your space look bigger if you're looking for small bathroom ideas that are cheap and affordable.

For those fortunate enough to be gifted with a ginormous amount of floor space - we've five words for you. Go big or go home! This is your opportunity to glamorize your space with a floor length statement mirror and get those Instagram selfies. 

Baths and showers make for ultra-steamy spaces, but don't stress as heated mirrors have anti-mist abilities. This ensures that they won't mist up in a high-moisture rooms like the bathroom. Mirrors with LED lights are another chic idea that ensure your grooming game is on fleek.

Oh - and whilst we're keeping things good for the 'gram, here's a PSA. No one likes a streaky mirror so brush up on how to clean a mirror before you post that pic sis!

9. Lastly, curate a collection of well-considered accessories

Blue tiled bathrooms with indoor bathroom plants and various accessories

(Image credit: Homesense)

One of the more fun decisions when it comes down to how to decorate your bathroom, accessories can add instant impact to a space. 

The quantity and style you choose will say a lot about you, so buy items with your own identity in mind. Do bear in mind however that clutter isn't cool (unless you're going for a maximalist or cottagecore look - then by all means, carry on). But, generally speaking less is more, so spend well, especially when it comes to small bathroom design.

Choose from bathroom plants for global feel, a cool slogan bathmat for a cheekily grown-up aesthetic, or gallery wall made up of personalized prints to make your interiors feel tailored to you.

Pick plants carefully if you have pets to avoid a costly commute to the vets. Nathan Raab, MD of Pointless plants says:

'Many people are keen plant parents as well as pet parents, so you're always going to want to make sure they get along. 'But some pets can get a little too curious and decide to eat their houseplant siblings, which can cause a whole host of health issues. 

'So it's not surprising that owners want to be vigilant by making sure the plants they add to their home are safe for their pets.'

How do I decorate a bathroom to make it look luxurious?

Staying on a neutral theme, wallpaper designer Elizabeth Ockford says: 'Beige is extremely versatile. It’s super easy to decorate with and you can accessorize to your heart’s content. It doesn’t take much skill to make beige look great. 

'While beige might not be the first color that springs to mind when you think 'glamorous', by combining it with bright colors and intricate, exciting patterns, it can still deliver a slice of luxury.'

And as brilliant color chameleon, blue is a great accent option to brighten up a neutral palette and create a glam Grecian look. Joanna Ross, General Manager of Design at Sheridan suggests pairing the shade with 'white for a fresh, summer aesthetic.'

Christina Chrysostomou
Former acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the former acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.