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5 bathroom design mistakes and how to avoid them

bathroom design ideas

Working on a bathroom design is an exciting project. It’s your chance to create a little bit of hotel luxury in your own home, a place to relax and unwind after a long day.

What was once a purely functional room has now become one of the most important spaces in the house. This new found importance, however, comes with increased pressure to get every detail right. And even though your bathroom is one of the smallest rooms in the house there are a lot of details to think about.

With so much to consider it’s no surprise a few seemingly less important items can slip through the cracks. Here are five bathroom design mistakes you may not even know you’re making.

bathroom design ideas

Grout colour

Your choice of tiles is probably the most significant bathroom design decision you’ll have to make. What you choose will set the tone of the room, from marble to pattern, the choice is vast. But whatever your preference make sure you don’t forget about the grout.

Believe it or not there are more choices than white and grey. There is actually a whole rainbow of colours to choose from and the colour you use can make or break the look of the room. Ask the supplier what they would recommend and if they have any sample boards you could look at so you can see the finished effect.

Ideally, you should complement the colour of the tiles you’ve chosen. If you’ve selected a sandy or beige tile, then ivory is a good choice. For any tile with a white background you should use white grout. Dark grey should only be used if your tiles are very dark, even on floors.

A practical choice for floors is silver grey. It will be easy to keep and is not too dark. However, if your floor tiles are very light or white in tone I would suggest you ask the tiler to keep the joints between the tiles as tight as possible and use a white or off-white instead instead of grey. You should only go for a contrasting grout if you are trying to highlight the pattern of the tiles.

Bathroom Design Taps

The wrong taps

Not all taps are suitable for all basins. You need to make sure the water isn’t going to overshoot the edge of the basin. This may not always be obvious in the store. Depending on the design of the tap the water might flow out rather than down, meaning if your basin is very shallow or narrow you may find the water splashes out of the sink every time you turn on the tap. This won’t be possible in all showrooms but do ask if it’s possible to test the tap. When planning your bathroom design spend a bit of time researching before you buy and be aware that once you’ve opened the packaging you may not be able to return the tap.

Bathroom Design - Lighting


Lighting is critical to the success of any bathroom design. You need the right balance of ambient light for relaxing in the bath, for example, and functional light for putting on makeup or shaving etc. The best way to achieve this is to have two separate circuits – one for overhead ceiling lights and the other for the secondary or mood lighting. If it isn’t possible to rewire for a new lighting circuit, a simple fix is to put the existing lights on a dimmer switch, meaning you’ll have control over the lighting levels.

It’s essential the fittings you choose are suitable for a bathroom. To check this, you need to find out what the IP rating (Ingress Protection) of the fitting is. The IP rating is used to describe the light fittings durability against water and steam. For bath and shower rooms all fittings should have a minimum rating of IP45.


Make sure all joints around baths, shower trays and sinks are sealed with silicone and not grout. Silicone is a flexible waterproof material whereas grout is brittle and will crack with any movement increasing the chances of getting a leak. It’s also a good idea to silicone-seal all tiled corners of the room and the joint between where the wall tiles and floor tiles meet.

As with grout, carefully consider the colour of the silicone used. I would recommend sticking with white. This will match your sanitaryware, unless of course you’re going for coloured sanitary ware.


Plan more storage than you think you will need. In a bathroom, you can never have enough. A good rule of thumb is to have enough storage so that nothing is out on display. Your bathroom should be a functional and uncluttered space.

If you are building from scratch, try to incorporate built-in or recessed storage. Recessed mirrored cabinets and recessed shelves in showers for shampoo and shower gel are invaluable.

If you are refurbishing an existing space, invest in one or two medicine cabinets. These are a great alternative to built-in storage and ideal for storing all those small items for everyday use. Finally, make sure you have some vanity or shelf space to put things on. This might mean going for a basin that has space to take soap etc. or if space allows opting for a basin with its own vanity unit.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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