From transitioning to a electronic toothbrush to investing in the latest spa-like gadgets, making the move to a modern bathroom idea isn't as scary as you'd think.
If your tired bathroom is in need of some TLC, we're here to spill the tea on how easy it is to give it a facelift. But rather than take a sledgehammer to your scheme and start again - a small 'tweakment' here or there can give this ageing room a well-needed boost.
Modern bathroom ideas
1. Update the old with copper, chrome or gold
If there’s one quick way to bring your bathroom scheme bang up to speed - it’s by adding a metallic accent.
While copper is reminiscent of the industrial era, it’s having quite the resurgence. Word has it that the cool kids are using this rose-gold hue in coffee shops, cute co-working spaces and the like. So why not revive your bathroom with this modern bathroom design?
But if the idea of a copper scheme is too akin to tin, then gold and chrome schemes are much subtler shades to work metal magic with. Think faucets, towel rails and lighting fixtures as classic ways to introduce metal into your bathroom without being too intrusive or tacky.
Though, if you do want to go large-scale with a ore-inspired design that your guests will be in awe of, add metallic wall paneling to your walk-in shower design for a guaranteed glow-up.
2. Combine multiple trends for a modern bathroom design
If you took sociology in high school, you may remember Henry Ford uttering the words: 'You can have any car you want, as long as it's black'. Thankfully, we've since progressed from that rigidity and instead are provided with lots of opportunity to personalize our possessions.
More recently we're going against the grain and leaving the conventional rules of interior design behind. For example, just because you have a period home, it doesn't mean that modern bathroom decor is off the cards.
And in this act of rebellion, we're taking to social media to show off our pads.
Kathy Smith, Managing Director of SBH Radiators (opens in new tab) says: 'Many interior renovation Instagram accounts are showing ultra-modern homes being turned into traditional havens using wall paneling and bold striking colors.'
While Sophia Charalambous, Founder of Bathroom Origins (opens in new tab) explains the ‘transitional design’ movement is taking hold.
She says: 'Typically, it refers to meshing modern with traditional, but it can also mean mixing different genres, such as edgy industrial with country cottage.
'Using transitional design is a great way to create unique bathrooms that truly reflect your individual style.'
3. Add a modern bathroom mirror to make a statement
Appearances matter when it comes to modern bathroom ideas, so why not begin your decor journey with a statement mirror? These days, mirrors aren’t just a pane of glass to check your make-up or teeth. No, there's so much more to consider.
So whether you decide to pick up an ornately-framed mirror to create a focal point in your washroom, or opt for a smart mirror with steam-free settings - let the options available reflect your interior personality.
And remember, modern doesn’t always mean minimalist bathroom decor or clean, defined lines. So embrace your curves with an abstract-shaped mirror whilst butchering the lyrics to ‘Who run the world? Girls!’ into your hairbrush.
4. Make your bathroom storage work harder with a modern bathroom idea
Whilst our bae Jeff Bezos has been giving us almost-instant access to cult beauty products using Amazon Prime, you might be struggling to know where to store those essentials.
A modern bathroom cabinet idea is the way forward to stow away your prized products. One way to do this is by incorporating LED lighting into your storage to add visibility.
Alternatively, take inspo from Khloe Kardashian X Home Edit’s popular pantry design which blew up on social media.
She used clear canisters, turntables, acrylic bins and woven baskets to create a contemporary way to consolidate her goods. This is a particular good for a small bathroom storage idea to de-clutter your space in a dash.
5. Get creative with color and pattern
If the thought of a neutral bathroom makes you yawn with boredom, then look to bold colors and abstract patterns to give your bathroom a pop!
While dark bathroom ideas have had their time on the ‘gram, it’s time to make way for eye-catching designs and bright colors that deserve that double-tap.
This swoon-worthy zesty lime green shower screen is ticking all the boxes with its, contrasting yet clean red and black lines. In the words of a fashion-forward millennial, it’s ‘giving us life’. Paired with geometric luxury vinyl tile, we can see this idea shaping up in many modern bathrooms around the world.
6. Make your bathroom speak up with a slogan
As the world becomes more and more technologically-advanced each day, we’re becoming increasingly communicative souls that like to speak up. And, it’s not just through micro blogging sites or by telephone that we’re using our voice. We’re taking to our interiors to express our opinions, add a cheeky bit of character or cleanse our souls with a few affirmations.
So say it with your whole chest by incorporating signage and slogans in your modern bathroom idea. Whether tongue-in-cheek or a quirky quote from a famous face you can get the conversation and giggles going.
Thankfully, you can adapt this signage to suit your interior scheme. As a kitsch bathroom lighting idea, set the scene with a modern neon sign. Or keep things clean in a traditional bathroom design with a framed wall print.
Rustic bathroom ideas don't have to miss out on all the fun. They too can also be revived by adding a wooden or aged metal plaque.
7. Opt for atmospheric lighting
Lighting is key if you’re designing a bathroom with relaxation in mind. Avoid bright, overpowering illumination, and instead, opt for something with a warmer light and a more understated feel. Industrial-style designs make the perfect addition to a contemporary bathroom. For more on how to choose bathroom lighting go and have a read of our expert guide.
Find this Hex Box Pendant Lighting at Original BTC (opens in new tab).
8. Go modern and save time with greyscale panels
In a world where many of us are time-poor and tech savvy, we're often on the lookout for quick and foolproof ways to renovate our interior spaces. So rather than getting our hands dirty (or those of a laborer if budget permits), waterproof paneling proves a grout-free game-changer for upgrading our bathrooms.
With no need to prepare existing wall spaces, post formed panels are easy to affix and take considerably less time than tiling surfaces. We love these cool concrete-like tones by Mermaid Panels (opens in new tab) for an on-trend nod to industrial chic.
Suitable for small or big bathrooms, you can add as many panels as your space can permit. For washrooms that are larger than most, why not use a statement panel design to create a separate shower or bathing zone?
9. Experiment with texture
While a sleek, fuss-free scheme is a great starting point for a modern bathroom, you’ll want to consider experimenting with texture and visual effects to create a unique space. Despite its characteristically minimalist feel, this bathroom is given its own personality with a statement house plant. For more house plant and indoor garden ideas, check out our gallery.
10. Opt for modern bathroom tile designs
Looking for modern bathroom ideas that still incorporate some pattern and interest? An on-trend, geometric bathroom tile scheme makes a striking feature in a modern bathroom. Consider opting for a monochrome version if you want a muted finish, but team it with brass fittings to add a warming note. Small bathroom? Find out how to choose the right size tiles to make your bathroom feel bigger and brighter.
11. Build a focal point into your modern bathroom design
An intricate monochrome wall mural in this small modern bathroom creates a stunning focal point, drawing the eye and creating the illusion of a longer space – a great trick if you’re looking for small bathroom design ideas.
Paired with a stylish, matt black freestanding bath and statement light fitting, this bathroom is a great example of a successful contemporary space.
12. Add color to a contemporary bathroom with accent features
With grey and monochrome schemes often favored for more contemporary bathrooms, going for an accent feature is a great modern bathroom idea as it adds both color and interest to the room. Mustard yellow or blush pink are on-trend additions to a grey scheme.
'Often, homeowners automatically opt for pure white bathrooms to give the illusion of spaciousness. However, pint-sized spaces can lend themselves well to a strong color.' comments Helen Shaw, Benjamin Moore UK Director.
'If your bathroom doesn’t benefit from natural light, rich colors can play with artificial lighting sources to make a strong style statement. Painting bathroom furniture in the same tone can add to the dramatic effect of a dark bathroom, add accents of interest with your choice of brassware and accessories'
See more bathroom paint ideas in our gallery.
13. Incorporate natural materials for an easy modern twist
If you're after modern bathroom ideas that are contemporary but also warm and welcoming, bringing natural materials is key. Adding wooden accents into a sleek, cool-toned scheme is a brilliant way to add texture and interest to a modern bathroom without compromising its minimalist feel.
We love this combination of a dark wood freestanding unit and streamlined sanitaryware from GSG Ceramic Design (opens in new tab).
14. Design an open space
When you’re designing a modern bathroom, prioritize creating an open and spacious feel. A walk-in wet room is a good way to go as it helps keep the layout as streamlined as possible. Zones can still be distinguished within it without detracting from the open feel.
Natural Slate Effect Tiles (opens in new tab) are a stylish solution for a contemporary bathroom or wet room. If you love the idea of transforming your bathroom into a wet room, check out our guide to creating a wet room for all the tips and tricks.
15. Create a design feature using house plants
The easiest modern bathroom idea going, is to add loads of house plants.
Whether you’re looking to make a design feature with a statement species – we love the addition of a slightly unruly house plant to an otherwise streamlined space – or prefer something a little more understated, our house plants guide will tell you everything you need to know about house plants, so that you can choose a species that suits.
16. Add personality in a modern bathroom with a gallery wall
Avoid a clinical feel and inject personality into a modern bathroom with the addition of a gallery wall. Start by reading our guide to displaying photos and pictures before selecting images that suit your style – we’d recommend an eclectic combination of tasteful photographs and prints.
17. Add exotic wanderlust with an ethnic scheme
With travel very much limited for most of us in back in 2020, we’re yearning for cultural experiences and opportunities. But if that’s off the cards, then look to your bathroom for a modern bathroom idea.
Set the scene with global motifs like palm trees, detailed Moroccan-inspired designs and African Berber-style rugs.
With people around the world ‘craving travel and exploration now more than ever before’ according to Anna Whitton, VP of marketing at Yankee Candle (opens in new tab), don’t just rely on just soft accessories that can spruce up your modern bathroom design.
Although woody Oud and other scents have added warm and spicy notes to many bathrooms around the world, their fairly recent inclusion in European and American homes make them a modern addition to our washrooms. So turn to candles and diffusers with tropical fragrances for a one-way travel opportunity to your favorite destination.
18. Choose sleek, but statement sanitaryware
Smooth edges and simple silhouettes make for stylish sanitaryware in a modern bathroom. Positioned in the center of a bathroom (if yours is large enough) a freestanding bath can create a striking focal point, just check out these amazing freestanding baths.
19. Strip back walls for an industrial feel
Creating a feature wall with exposed brick walls is a sure-fire way to create a contemporary industrial look, especially if paired with factory-style light fittings, like these from Fritz Fryer (opens in new tab). The downside to this pared-back look? The bathroom can feel a tad cool, so why not go for underfloor heating beneath the tiled floor plus plenty of fluffy towels to dry off with?
20. Undress the windows in a modern bathroom
One way to make modern bathrooms feel bigger is to choose bathroom window treatments that are minimalist – like this white Roman blind just peeking into shot. However, if your room is overlooked, you might like to add window film to allow in plenty of light while preserving your privacy.
Bear in mind, too, that if the window is undressed, the room might feel somewhat cold, so up the comfort factor with plenty of quality towels and pretty accessories to dress the room – these are from JD Williams (opens in new tab).
21. Give a traditional bathroom a pop of modern
Want to combine modern bathroom ideas with a more traditional look? Part contemporary, part period style, and bang on trend, boho-chic interiors are all about paring back a traditional scheme to the minimum and adding a couple of stand-out modern details.
Here, it’s the artwork, but it could just as easily be a shapely roll top bath or contemporary flooring.
22. Create symmetry in a modern bathroom
Modern bathrooms really benefit from symmetry and structure. You can re-create this contemporary look easily by adding symmetry with mirrors, or even frames if you're being edgy and leaving mirrors out of your modern bathroom design completely.
Even if you haven’t been blessed with a double sink, hanging two oversized circular mirrors above a smaller sink or a vanity unit would be just as striking. For similar mirrors, check out these versions from Made (opens in new tab) – they come in loads of colors, too, if you want to make a move on from monochrome.
23. Add softness to a modern bathroom
Modern bathrooms don't have to all be about the super sleek monochrome look. You can create a contemporary space with softer neutrals and natural materials too. We love how in this bathroom a single color scheme has been kept but the interest comes with the mixture of textures – the granite, the wood and the polished plaster walls work perfectly to create a serene modern space.
24. Choose built-in storage for a chic and tidy look
If you want to create a really minimalist space, zero clutter (apart from a few strategically placed houseplants and accessories, of course), investing in built-in storage is going to be the best way to achieve that.
Floor to ceiling cupboards with a simple design would work best for a contemporary space as they will just blend into the rest of the room. You could always use the cupboards to add some color by painting them too – we love this dark green, looks gorgeous with the light wooden accents.
25. Bring terrazzo finishes into a modern bathroom
Terrazzo is a super stylish material that is going to bring a modern feel into any bathroom. We love this overall terrazzo look that you could achieve using tiles (check out these from Tiles Direct (opens in new tab)). But you could also bring in the material in more subtle ways– this terrazzo bathroom wall light (opens in new tab) from John Lewis would be ideal and they have loads of matching bathroom accessories too.
26. Strip back a small bathroom for a contemporary look
Modern bathroom ideas work perfectly in a small bathroom because they are all about a clean, uncluttered look. Just keep everything to a minimum, the furnishings, the colors, the decorations and always opt for closed bathroom storage so you can hide away all the things that aren't aesthetically pleasing and basically just have your
Aesop bottles out that you just keep filling with whatever soap you pick up from the supermarket (oh don't pretend you don't do that too!).
27. Go against traditional bathroom layouts
We love how this modern bathroom has a really unusual layout. The bath and shower are almost one, with the shower being a walk-in design, right next to the bath. The slightly raised flooring keeps it in its own zone from the rest of the bathroom, but the wooden planters and the wooden flooring in the rest of the space keep it looking cohesive. Very cool, very spa.
28. Add warm tones to a modern bathroom
Cool tones are synonymous with modern bathrooms, greys, whites, blacks all work well to create a contemporary space. But that's not to say you can't throw in some warmer colors too. Check out this contemporary bathroom, it's got plenty of grey going on but the orange towels, soft shower curtain and rattan accessories soften up the look.
29. Divide up your space with a Crittall door
Crittall style doors have been a huge bathroom trend for 2020 and looks like our love of this industrial look is still going strong in 2021. They are the perfect addition to a bathroom because they can create zones in your space with out blocking out light or having it add stud walls.
In this bathroom the Crittall wall separates the walk in shower but you can create a similar look by switching out your shower screen for a Crittal style door.
30. Mix in vintage furniture
Modern bathrooms don't have to contain exclusive modern furnishings, in fact adding in a retro piece or decor can create a really stylish contrast. We love how this retro vanity looks in this more contemporary space – keep your eyes peeled on places like eBay and Etsy for piece you could repurpose in your bathroom.
It needn't be furniture either, frames, artwork, mirrors and even rugs can work in your bathroom to bring more character into a modern bathroom.
31. Create the on trend look of 'plaster' walls
Plaster walls are bang on trend right now, they bring a very... exotic hotel vibe to your space. The unfinished look is the perfect contrast to a modern bathroom, adding texture and depth, something that very modern bathrooms can often lack.
Obviously creating plaster walls in your current bathroom is not the easiest thing to do but, you can create a very similar effect with paint. Just check out our guide to how to create plaster effect wall for everything you need to know.
32. Choose classic marble tiles
Marble is synonymous with modern bathrooms and there are so many ways to bring it into your bathroom no matter your budget. You could go all out and invest in some really beautiful marble slabs to seamlessly cover your walls or floors, or go for marble tiles in your shower enclosure. If you are working with a smaller budget there are plenty of marble effect tiles that will give you a similar look for a quarter of the price.
What to pair with marble in a modern bathroom? We love the look of natural textures so wooden cabinetry and seagrass baskets are a good start. Black and gold are best for your hardware to warm up the cooler tones.
33. Choose a bold color in a modern bathroom
Because modern doesn't have to mean monochrome!
'When choosing the scheme for your bathroom, consider creating a sense of flow from you’re the rest of your home into the bathroom with a complementary scheme. This does not necessarily mean being too matchy, however picking out key colours works particularly well.' explains Helen Shaw, Benjamin Moore UK Director.
'Adding a splash of colour to the bathroom doesn’t need to be daunting, the bathroom is a great place to be a little more adventurous with how you use colour and what colour you opt for. For something a little more trend led in the bathroom, consider painting the lower half of walls in a bold shade.'
'Rich blues or greens lend themselves particularly well to bathrooms in this instance, consider a tonal hue or white for the upper wall to keep the space feeling fresh and open. Alternatively, adding a pop of colour to your ceiling for additional interest can warm up a white bathroom to give a cosier feel.'
34. Install a multipurpose radiator
Contemporary radiators have come a long way from the cringe-worthy, bulky metal rads, that dare we say... Can be a bit dangerous in a home with young children. So, if only for the sake of safety, update your warming appliance to something more aesthetically-pleasing. This mirrored Relax Inox model from The Radiator Company (opens in new tab) is a tasteful addition that reflects well on you.
'Many consumers are careful about almost everything that is on show in the home, from rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens, to furniture, flooring, appliances and even artwork. Why then, given almost every room in every home contains a radiator, would you put up with an eye sore of a heating emitter, when you can have so much more?' says Andy Philipps, sales director at The Radiator Company.
What are the bathroom trends for 2021?
There are plenty of new inspiring bathroom trends we have been seeing so far this year. A few of our faves are wallpaper in a bathroom – yes you can hang wallpaper in a bathroom and it's the perfect way to bring pattern into a more modern space – darker moodier bathrooms and more sculptural shapes, think scalloped tiles and curved baths and basins.
How can I modernize my bathroom cheaply?
So you've inherited a dated bathroom and want to give it a bit of a glow up? If your bathroom is tiled, you can actually paint over tiles for a fresher, clean look, just check out our guide to how to paint tiles for help.
If it's the flooring that's dragging down the vibe of the room, they consider covering with vinyl flooring or even tile stickers – Etsy (opens in new tab) and Amazon (opens in new tab) have some really cute options you can order online and lay yourself.
'Vinyl flooring is a great way of creating a stylish bathroom without blowing the budget, and is highly water-resistant. In recent years there have been many developments in design and styles that mean the effects vinyls can create, such as tile or wood, are incredibly realistic.' explains David Snazel hard flooring buyer at Carpetright.
'Increasingly we are seeing customers opt for bold colours and patterns in their bathrooms; using it as a way of adding a little personality to the room. Light and bright colours work well in smaller areas and can help give the illusion of space. If your room is on the larger side you could consider patterned flooring to create a statement. A well placed rug can also be added to spacious bathrooms to help create a warm and inviting atmosphere, just try to make sure it is not in an area that is often wet.'
Modernizing your bathroom could come down to just treating yourself to some new accessories. Change your bath mat, your toothbrush holder, if you've been blessed with a shower curtain switch that out too. We'd recommend checking out H&M Home (opens in new tab) for loads of cheap bathroom accessories.