Tips for Designing a Modern Bathroom

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

Contemporary architecture is focused on being bright and bold, and a modern bathroom should be no different! You’ll find an emphasis on strong clean lines, creating a spacious ambiance, and making use of a number of shapes when it comes to designing this room—and the final results look very different across the board. Here are some tips to help you create your own unique bathroom that stays true to contemporary design, so you can enjoy a beautiful and functional place to unwind.

BEHR Premium Plus Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel

A tri-color palette consisting of Aqua Fresco, Sandstorm, and Ultra Pure White creates a refreshing modern space. All of these colors are available in BEHR PREMIUM PLUS® Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel paint, a zero-VOC choice that resists mildew growth.

Choose Neutral Colors

Bathrooms should be calm and rejuvenating even if they take bold design liberties. Decide on a backdrop that gives the space the right atmosphere. Neutrals including sandy browns, gentle blue-grays, subdued greens, and off-whites are popular, because they help to paint a natural picture that modern organic design loves to show off. If the light, crisp look isn’t what you’re going for, darker shades can also be done very well. A dark steely gray or navy blue helps to make sanitaryware and fixtures pop in a well-lit bathroom, and the result is beautiful in a way many don’t expect.

Some people choose to get very dramatic with their modern designs, and in the bathroom that leads to vibrant and contrasting colors that often include black, white, and red. While this very in-your-face scheme is undeniably contemporary, it is better suited to a powder room than a full bath because it is so loud. People will either love or hate the intensity and it could lead to a costly renovation when it comes to resale, so proceed with caution.

Fireclay Tile Brick Tile

An offset brick tile design with high-contrast black grout gives this shower its own lines and clean-cut look. Fireclay Tile has plenty of brick and geometric patterns that cater to all sorts of modern styles.

Consider Patterns

Tile might inspire thoughts of old, traditional bathrooms, but it is finding a lot of use in modern design. Stick to an orderly pattern in neutral colors and you can’t go wrong. Tiling the shower is a popular choice, as it gives the usually plain space some personality of its own. Many people take liberties with the floor and create their own bright and bold designs—this works especially well if you’ve chosen to keep to a simple and sharp palette for the rest of the room. Tile helps prevent your design from falling flat by providing structure with simplicity, so it definitely has a place in modern bathrooms.

Pfister Kelen Single Control Trough Bath Faucet

With defined right angles and an open waterfall spout, the Kelen Single Control Trough Bath Faucet from Pfister® combines a very chic profile with distinctive performance to make the sink area special.

Look for Distinct Fixtures

What sets modern fixtures apart from traditional ones is their singularity; when you see one, you immediately notice it and probably think you haven’t seen anything like it before. Whether it shows off hard, square angles, has immaculate geometric curves, or flaunts a very flattened shape, it never strikes you as ordinary. This is true for sink and tub faucets as well as showerheads, and there are so many unique styles to consider that you really have to see them all for yourself. Maybe a waterfall faucet will complete your organic contemporary look, or a sophisticated industrial tap is what you need for a themed bathroom—the possibilities are endless!

A bright finish like polished chrome is favored for most modern applications. Not only is it customary, but it also provides a natural highlight. If you don’t care for shininess, options like brushed nickel are a good choice, because they are still lighter in color but don’t reflect nearly as much. Even a dark bronze or black finish could be appropriate for the right design, but it’ll be harder to find contemporarily styled fixtures in these finishes than traditional ones.

Kohler Veil Intelligent skirted one-piece elongated dual-flush toilet

The Veil® Intelligent skirted one-piece elongated dual-flush toilet from Kohler® boasts a sleek contemporary design, and its functionality is also extremely modern. It has a self-cleaning bidet, a heated seat, and a hands-free, motion-activated open and close function for the seat and lid.

Select Simple Sanitaryware

Minimalism is the way to go when it comes to contemporary sanitaryware, which includes ceramic plumbing fixtures like sinks and toilets. Just like with faucets, you’ll know a modern toilet when you see one—it is typically stark in its design, whether it takes a very square or rounded shape, and you might not even recognize one as a toilet at first! In modern bathrooms, this is the feature that falls to the background to let the other pieces make their statement. There are also more refined transitional toilets available that have a basic traditional form, if you think the extreme contemporary look is too much.

As with toilets, modern sinks tend to be distinct yet simple. Consider a trough or vessel sink if you want a vanity; while on opposite ends of the spectrum, both inspire minimalism. A trough sink is wide, integrated into the counter, and can provide a drain for multiple faucets, so it is very visually unobtrusive. On the other hand, a vessel sink sits like a bowl on a vanity or tabletop, and it is striking despite its elementary and purposeful design. Floating sinks—think of a pedestal lavatory without the pedestal—are also an option that open up space and are especially preferred for small rooms.

With these basic guidelines, you know everything you need to start planning your own modern bathroom! Take a good look at all the options and don’t be afraid to ask the professionals for suggestions, because there are a lot more choices and it isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. That just means more design freedom for homeowners, though, so take advantage and create the contemporary bathroom of your dreams.

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