Spotlight on: bathroom decorating

August 23, 2023

Looking to give your bathroom a refresh this summer? Check out these clever hacks and quick updates to create the stylish space you’ve been craving.

Accessorise it right

Bathrooms can often look clinical so soften the space with small decorative buys. Dress ledges or shelves with accessories in similar colours and focus on natural materials to add texture. Woven baskets make for practical and stylish storage solutions while candles, lanterns and piles of fluffy towels create a cosy and relaxing vibe.

Pictured: Rope rectangle basket in White, £4;5-piece storage jars with bamboo lids, £8; Retreat Knitted bath mat in Biscuit, £9; Rope and wicker belly basket in Neutral, £10; Mono Striped basket with handles, £7 and Marble effect mirror, £7, all B&M

Photo: B&M

Conceal pipework

If you’ve got unsightly plumbing you’d rather hide under your basin, get on board with the sink skirt trend, which has made a resurgence of late. It’s a budget-friendly alternative to replacing existing pipework and can hide all your cleaning products and loo rolls, while also adding a splash of colour to the space.

Pictured: Striped recycled linen fabric in Pickle and Bon Bon, £75 per m, Colours Of Arley

Photo: Colours Of Arley

Play with pattern

While wallpaper isn’t typically associated with the bathroom, it can add wow factor if used appropriately, like in this space by Otta Design. Choose a bold pattern to inject a sense of fun and character, but use it in areas less likely to be in direct contact with water. Opt for a vinyl wallpaper, which has a higher moisture resistance; you can protect it further from steam and splashes by applying two coats of clear decorator’s varnish.

Pictured: Madame Ziggle wallpaper, £172 per 10m roll, Ottoline. Yoga porcelain mosaic tiles in White, £18 per sheet, Artisans of Devizes. Bobbin mirror, from £957, Susie Atkinson. Joinery and panelling painted in Dix Blue estate eggshell, £31 for 0.75L, Farrow and Ball

Photo: Jonathan Bond/Otta Design

Glam up your lighting

Add a touch of glam to your new scheme with glass and brass light fittings; not only are they classy and elegant to look at, they also reflect and diffuse the light for a warm, relaxing vibe. However, it’s worth noting any lighting positioned close to a water source needs to be IP rated – usually a rating of IP44 is sufficient, but check with your electrician.

Pictured: Rodtastic IP-rated wall light in glass and brass, £235 and Smaller Lachrymose chandelier in glass and brass, £280, Pooky

Photo: Pooky

Get creative with paint

If your bathroom is on the small side, don’t be afraid to go bold; deeper hues are well-suited to small, internal bathrooms for a cocooning feel, or try colour blocking in a dramatic shade. Here, a strip of marigold yellow draws the eye upwards to make the most of the high ceilings, while the black window adds a modern graphic twist to the scheme and ties in with the dark hardware.

Pictured: Golden Nugget Aura Bath & Spa Matte paint, from £37 per 0.94L, Benjamin Moore

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Photo: Benjamin Moore

Update your flooring

Waterproof, slip-resistant and comfortable under foot, vinyl flooring is ideal for a bathroom refresh. It’s a great way to mimic the look of wood or tiles, but without the expensive installation and maintenance. Luxury vinyl flooring offers the same benefits as sheet vinyl but with a high-end look and feel, plus, if there’s a problem later down the line, you can simply replace one tile rather than the entire floor.

For a similar look, try Olympus Barcelona vinyl in Black, £22.49 per sqm, Carpet Right

Photo: Carpetright

Fake a tiled wall

Whether your existing tiles are a bit tired or you don’t want the faff of retiling, a wall panel that mimics tiles is a smart alternative. Showerwall’s waterproof panels are easier and less messy to fit than tiles, plus they can be fitted over existing tiles by a competent DIYer. Because the panels are grout free, they’re also much quicker to clean and maintain than traditional tiles, requiring a simple wipe down.

Pictured: Square Parquet wall panel in Marshmallow, from £580.80 per panel, from the Acrylic Collection at Showerwall

Photo: Showerwall

Add panelling

A painted panelled wall will instantly add interest to your space, plus it’s more affordable than tiling. Just make sure any wood is well sealed, primed and finished with a water-resistant paint. You’ll also need to batten the wall first to provide a narrow airspace between the wall and planks. The bonus is it’ll remain mould and mildew free, plus it’ll help insulate the bathroom in a way that tiles won’t.

Pictured: Traditional 8-column towel radiator in Black, £229.99, Bathroom Mountain

Photo: Bathroom Mountain

Dress your window

Practicality is key when it comes to window treatments, as your blinds will need to stand up to steam, condensation, and humidity. While roman blinds are best avoided in small, heavily used or very steamy bathrooms, roller blinds are a great alternative, filtering light beautifully while providing much-needed privacy, as well as being available in a number of moisture-resistant fabrics.

Pictured: Lucca Brick polyester moisture-resistant roller blind, from £55, Hillarys

Photo: Hillarys

Interior Designer Nicola Holden shares her tricks for updating your bathroom

  • Incorporate wooden elements – being a natural material, it’s a great way to add warmth. Vintage pieces work well, adding character and narrative to the space, from an antique mirror to a mid-century sideboard upcycled into a vanity
  • Introduce curves – bathrooms tend to be hard spaces, so choose rounded and curved designs and add further softness through window dressings, fabric-covered lampshades and layered bath linen
  • Add personality – use art for instant wow factor and to make it feel like any other room in your home; get your picture framer to foil-back your art to protect it from steam
  • Bring in plants – a simple and quick trick to breathe life into your bathroom is with plenty of foliage such as moisture-loving ferns, peace lilies and spider plants
  • Plan in plenty of storage – add shelves into alcoves, ledges above radiators, tall wall-hung solutions in wasted spaces, or bathroom storage mirrors to keep your space calm and clutter free



A message from the editor:

Let us help you create the home of your dreams! Get ideas & inspiration from Good Homes every month, delivered direct to your door. Visit to sign up for the weekly Good Homes newsletter.

~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes