Bathrooms, a bit like kitchens, take a lot of consideration especially when you are starting from scratch and designing a totally new space. Unlike living rooms and bedrooms where you can quite easily switch things around as your tastes and trends change, bathrooms need to be considered from the start – they need to last through ever-changing trends and get that balance between being both current and classic.
Essentially you want to be creating a bathroom that never dates, a timeless space that always looks on trend. Easier said than done we know, which is why we asked top interior designers for what they think makes for a timeless bathroom.
How to design a bathroom that never dates
The key to a timeless bathroom is really about creating a space you love and not being too swayed by interior design trends. If you reflect your own personal style that’s what’s going to give a space longevity, plus choosing colors and finishes that aren’t going to date too soon (although if you love it, what does ‘dated’ even really matter?).
1. Pick classic materials to create an elegant canvas
‘Begin by layering your bathroom with timeless natural materials, in both the bathroom flooring and countertop selections. I love a classic marble paired with wood flooring or a beautiful tile. These elements create a canvas that fosters a sense of enduring elegance.’ suggests Marie Flanigan.
‘Plumbing fixtures with clean and subtle silhouettes help strike a balance between contemporary touches and timeless design. Create a balanced and inviting atmosphere with strategically placed fixtures that not only enhance functionality but also offer a new finish to the space. Hardware selections serve as jewelry for your bathroom. Choose timeless finishes like unlacquered brass or polished nickel and pay attention to intricate details that add a touch of sophistication to the overall design.’
‘I’m a big believer in choosing timeless materials for things that are not easily changed like tile and plumbing fixtures in a bathroom,’ agrees Emily Henderson. ‘Think of a pretty subway tile for instance. Then after those foundational elements are in place you can either continue with traditional light fixtures, bathroom paint colors, decor…or you can decide to play with different styles to make it feel more eclectic.’
Marie Flanigan is an award-winning interior designer whose passion and achievements in design have positioned her as one of the nation’s best. She is classically trained and practiced architect, and her trademark style is evident through the sophisticated use of color, texture, and light. Every home she designs receives her personal signature of timeless elegance and innovative simplicity.
2. Get the balance between form and function
‘A timeless bathroom is all about the fusion between form and function. Everything in your bathroom should serve a purpose, especially if the space is on the smaller side,’ explains Kathy Kuo.
‘I would advise first making a list of the bathroom essentials you know you’ll need -shower curtain, bath mat, towels, soap dishes, a toilet paper holder – and then make design-centric choices to check those pieces off your list. Finally, finish the space off with an artful wall mirror, some fun wall art, and a chic waste bin – these are items that you can more easily swap if you decide you want a slight refresh down the line. If you let practical needs lead the design, you can’t go wrong!’
Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry.
3. Think at least 5 years ahead
‘Bathrooms have come a long way in the last few years. The use of unusual and impactful materials has really been on the rise. One thing we keep in mind for someone looking for a showstopping bathroom is whether it will work in five years!’ recommends Jennifer Walters, founder of Folding Chair Design.
‘Some of this boils down to materials. The use of a powerful marble is always a good idea in my book. Marbles have been used in bathrooms for hundreds of years and will continue to be used in different ways, so the timeless quality of this material always holds up. Geometric porcelains and cement bathroom tiles are already seeing their way to the door, so we like to use more trendy looks in spaces like bathroom backsplashes where they can easily be changed out in a few years if necessary without redesigning a whole room.’
4. Keep the lines simple and the color scheme neutral
‘Creating a timeless bathroom is all about blending enduring aesthetics with functionality. We begin by selecting materials that have stood the test of time. Marble bathrooms immediately come to mind, with their innate elegance and timeless beauty, or subway tiles which are known for their versatility and clean lines.’ explains Jennifer Davis.
‘We keep the bathroom color scheme to neutrals, like pristine whites, warm beiges, or soft, inviting grays. To complement these foundational elements, opt for fixtures and plumbing fittings characterized by classic lines, nothing to ornate or too modern. We tend to stick with timeless metals such as polished chrome or brushed nickel. The marriage of classic materials, neutral tones, and timeless design elements creates a space that surpasses the fleeting bathroom trends.’
Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs. Jennifer offers a balance of creativity and forward-thinking with a structured, organized, and detailed mentality. Jennifer is driven by her deep passion for design while curating an exceptional client journey, ensuring pure delight from the very beginning to the end.
5. But if you love bolder colors lean in to it
‘Aesthetically, try for clean, beautiful finishes. But a bathroom does not have to be all white or neutral to be timeless,’ says Mindy O’Connor Principal Architect and Founder of Melinda Kelson O’Connor Architecture & Interiors. ‘Bold tile, wall, or vanity colors and deep saturated or colorful hues can be timeless as well. The way you apply those colors though is critical for longevity. Think in large areas, and avoid overly complicated or intricate patterns, especially ones that might be disturbed if a plumbing fixture, mirror, or vanity needs to be updated.’
‘Be conscious of scale looking for proportional places to use small or mosaic shapes versus larger format tiles and think of continuous surfaces and how they intersect or meet the curb, windows, or walls in the room. Stick with more neutral (and easily cleanable) metal finishes that can work with changing tastes as well.’
6. Make the layout functional and plan in storage
‘In order to design a timeless bathroom, focus on a proper bathroom layout with distinct areas wherever possible. Even in a small space creating breathing room around each function will make the room feel more open and lasting. Include bathroom storage in your vanity (or medicine cabinets), and a separate tiled shower where possible. Having spaces to put things away makes for a more usable bathroom and allows for lasting finishes.’ adds Mindy.
So it seems that if you want to design a timeless bathroom, it’s all about the marble, clearly designers believe this is the most classic of materials. You want to create a setup that is malleable, by that we mean it’s a neutral (or neutralish) backdrop for you to bring in smaller decor and fixtures that bring the bathroom up to date and change the look as trends change.