The Top 3 Things to Consider To Create A Functional Bathroom

A bathroom can be a tricky thing to design and organise. Typically you're dealing with a smaller small space than the other rooms in the house, but yet a space that serves multiple purposes.

As experienced new home builders, we know that designing a bathroom that is both enjoyable to be in, and also functional, can be difficult.

That's why we decided to round up some of the top interior designers we could find and ask them this question:

What are the top 3 things to consider to create a functional bathroom?

The responses have come in and they're exactly what we were hoping for - practical and elegant.

If you're looking for useful tips on what to do with your own bathroom, check out their responses below.

The Top 3 Things to Consider To Create A Functional Bathroom

Karianne -

A place for linens - Every bathroom needs a place to store towels, washcloths, and hand towels.  Stack towels in a basket on a bench, place them in a cupboard or place them on a shelf.

A place for product - Face the day in style.  Keep hair products, make-up, brushes and accessories organized with drawer organizers and baskets.

A place for cleaning supplies - To keep the bathroom sparkling clean, store products and paper towels under the sink in an acrylic organizer.

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Cristin Bisbee Priest -

Bathrooms are high-use spaces that are typically on the smaller side, so keeping them functional is paramount. When renovating a bathroom, I start with space planning. To ensure that you get the right size vanity, shower, tub, etc. it is important to see what will work in the space.

Then I move to storage needs and what can be achieved in the space. Selecting the right vanity or having it custom built will ensure that you get the most of the space you have.

Thirdly, bath accessories are important to keeping a bathroom functional. A trash can, stylish hooks for towels and trays by the sink to corral essentials are a must.

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Natalie -

Storage - Putting some thought into storage in the bathroom is definitely time well spent. The bathroom is often the place where we're usually in a rush, getting showered and ready to leave the house so it pays to have everything to hand. Add some shelving for fresh bath towels, a basket for additional loo roll and a cabinet below the sink to store all of your toiletries.

Lighting - Lighting is vital for setting the tone of the bathroom and making it a functional space. If you want the bathroom to be somewhere you can relax on an evening, it's worth considering dimmer lighting, or individual LED lighting. Spotlights are great for when you want to apply your makeup, pluck your eyebrows or shave in the mornings, but can be a little bright if you're after creating that spa effect at home.

Double sinks - if space allows, having double sinks is definitely worth investing in. That way you're not constantly waiting for your other half to finish shaving/cleaning their teeth etc in the morning and you won't be getting in each other's way!

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Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe -

Are you a bath or shower person? Prioritise the space accordingly. Don't have an enormous freestanding bath just because you think you should if it compromises your shower experience.

Storage is key - no one wants to see all of their potions and lotions and toothbrush chargers on display. Factor in some building storage. We always try to make use of wall depths for hidden storage behind mirrors or tiled book sin shower areas.

If dealing with a small space for a bathroom, try to use one unifying colour or material for the walls and floors to give a greater sense of space.

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Pete Sveen -

Research - There are so many resources available online to see ideas of what others have done to create functional layouts for their bathrooms. Pinterest, Houzz, blogs, and books are all fantastic resources. Combine your favorite ideas with some of the ideas you find online and you'll have the bathroom of your dreams!

Plan - Take your time to design the layout for your bathroom. While re-plumbing and moving items may require additional work, having a layout that best suits your needs is important.

Simple and Clean - Design a bathroom with the essentials, and not too much clutter. Create storage for towels, soaps, and other bathroom items. Tile the bathtub or shower surrounds and the sink backsplash to protect the area and give the bathroom a custom look. "

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Lauretta Wright -

Storage is a must to keep your bathroom functional (and aesthetically please!) Make the most of any wall space with enclosed shelves or hooks - or better still, have a dedicated sink cupboard for storage everything out of sight.
Have a ‘go to’ basket! I have a basket where I keep essentials - items like a spare loo roll, tweezers and your favorite toiletries will ensure you never run out of the things you need - as long as you keep checking it to make sure you’re not running out!
Create a sense of calm & try to make your bathroom somewhere you’d be happy to stay for a while. Little luxuries like underfloor heating, rolled flannels in baskets and candles ready to be lit all add a sense of opulence.

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Becky Goddard-Hill -

Good ventilation is crucial to keep bathrooms hygienic and mold free. It may sound boring but it is essential.

Storage is really important and keeps the personal clutter at bay keeping a bathroom looking clean and tidy and ready for guests.

Bathrooms tend to be fairly small rooms so keeping any accessories to a minimum will help it feel more spacious.

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April Russell -

Underfloor heating for stone floors for the colder months. I loath cold stone floors.

Heated towel rails (even in the warmer months).  There is nothing worse than damp towels.

Very good water pressure and good Storage

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Melanie -

The most important consideration is the layout, especially in a small space. When you are cleaning your teeth you don't want to block from the mirror by the toilet. Try and keep a 60cm distance between each piece of sanitaryware.

Bathrooms can be expensive so think where you can cut costs but not lose out on style. How about a sink placed on an old reclaimed vanity unit? Stylish, functional and cost-effective.

If you are short on space invest in a bath that is short in length but deep in height.

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Elena Giavarini -

The most important aspect when decorating a bathroom is the light. Of course, you need to be able to see properly but make sure you have a warm, honest and flattering light; always remembering that the bathroom is a space where we relax as well as get ready.

Invest in some quality faucets; the difference in price is worth it after long and frequent use and the routine attack of washing detergents will take its toll on poorer quality materials.

Last but not least go for quality paint and/or some quality wallpaper. You can get away with some budget tiles but not with cheap paint in the most steam room in the house.

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Liza Jones -

Proper storage/with drawers for all the necessities. Electrical outlets that are conveniently located and more than one. And lighting.

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Claire Price -

Storage - You can have the best bathroom suite in the world and ruin the whole look by having nowhere to put all those lotions, potions and spare towels!

Lighting - How much natural light have you got? Add extra light wherever you can. Wall lights either side of the mirror are my new favourite bathroom addition.

Tiles - Tiles are enjoying a design moment and can totally transform a bathroom. Be wary about grout because over time it will gather dirt and grime and be difficult to maintain. I suggest going for bigger tiles in wet areas to minimise the maintenance.

Pia Orr -

Make sure that you have the correct measurements before buying any products and if your bathroom is on the smaller size (often it's the smallest room in the house) consider using some wall mounted bathroom appliances to free up some floor space.

If your bathroom is very old or you're doing a major renovation, consider hiring a bathroom designer to oversee the project for you. It may seem like an extra expense but hiring a professional can help you save money in the long run as they will be able to spot any hidden problems and also ensure that you can make the best use of the space you've got.

Don't be afraid to make a bold statement. Contrasting colours like white and black look stunning in modern bathrooms and make a big impact. Bathrooms don't have to be boring, functional rooms anymore. Many of us want to have a bathroom with a spa-like atmosphere which is why it's good to invest in good quality accessories and luxurious finishes.

Sarah Mailer -


Whenever I am designing a room - be it bathroom, kitchen, living room etc., I always draw a floor plan and consider the space thoroughly and carefully. Functionality is so important in any design scheme and the correct placement of key elements should be central to the design.

For a space like a bathroom, get your exact dimensions and draw out the basic footprint. Consider if there is any existing plumbing or if you would like wall mounted toilet, where the cistern could be concealed or built into. Then add in the vital elements (shower, sink, toilet), considering their size and placement in the room, depending on how you intend to use the space.


Functionality is important but strong aesthetics are also central to a winning scheme. Consider the different vistas of the space - for example, what would you like to see first as you enter the room? Identifying your focal point is key - be it a striking floating vanity unit with the gorgeous faucet to statement wall lighting either side of a mirror.

Use lighting to add ambiance and to help with certain tasks. LED lighting is great to give the underside of a wall mounted vanity a soft glow (which is perfect for night-time toilet trips). Wall sconces add a sense of glamour but are also great if mounted at the perfect height for make-up application, cleansing, and teeth-brushing. Also, consider accent tiles or mosaic in key places like within the shower surround. These are perfect to add a little flurry of pattern or colour but also to protect the area's long-term.


Mix materials and finishes for a striking effect but also to support functionality. If you wish to go for a paint finish on the walls (this is the most cost-effective way to seal them) then choose a specialist bathroom finish paint to avoid it bubbling or peeling over time.

Use tiles as a backsplash to the sink or shower, for easy maintenance as well as a focal point. Lighting should be specialist for the bathroom (always read the specifications or tear-sheets carefully) and remember that light grout will inevitably dirty quickly so you may wish to go darker to avoid continuous scrubbing.

Complete your look with gorgeous hardware - brass is the finish of the moment and is also practical in a bathroom setting.

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Martina Pardo -


Lighting in a bathroom is a key element. Make sure to have enough artificial light as well as natural (when possible). Artificial light can be of two types: overall lighting (for example a ceiling lamp) and task lights.


These should be at the sides of the mirror, never above (otherwise they will create a shadow under your eyes and your face will look tired for no reasons).


The more the better! I know that tiling all the walls may seem too expensive, but think about this: you will never have to re-paint moulding walls (which otherwise you are likely to get every once in a while, even if you use anti-mould paint). In the long term is a valuable investment.

Also, tiled walls are really easy to clean and don’t get stained. It’s the best choice to make sure that your bathroom will always look new and clean.


Try to find space for wall-hung storage units so that the floor will be free and easy to clean. The storage unit will ideally be closed by doors so that you can hide clutter and not appealing stuff like toilet paper or razors.

But also an open display (or a little shelf) for plants and scent dispenser will add a personal touch and make the room feel cosier.

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Maria Jones -


There typically tends to be a lot of reflective surfaces in a bathroom space and lighting can be used to visually soften these hard surfaces, such as mirrors, tiles, and glass.

In general, the bathroom needs a good amount of ambient light that is practical to carry out our day-to-day ablutions. Think about adding layers of lighting, no matter how small the space. By having at least two circuits ensures that you can manipulate the lighting from practical to soft, mood enhancing for bathing. Also think about introducing lighting at different levels, such as niches and low-level flooring fixtures.

The mirror in the bathroom is the place to add task lighting to and it is best to avoid positioning lighting directly above. Lighting either side will stop shadows forming across the mirror and gives you optimum light to carry out tasks such as shaving. Lighting the mirror also gives some focal point to the space for the eye to fix on.


Bathroom spaces, whether large or small, should offer you somewhere to escape and indulge in some essential me time. Keeping it clear of everyday necessities will help at least create the illusion of serenity if not the reality, especially if you have children.

Accessibility and ease of use are often key to keeping bathroom spaces neat and tidy. If you can visually see where something goes then the likelihood is you’ll put it back.

If space is tight in the bathroom, incorporate multifunctional pieces that work harder than their stand-alone counterparts. You’ll save on floor and wall space.


Don't be fooled into buying cheap when it comes to taps and shower fitments especially if you have a family. They are in constant use and will wear quickly and possibly break over time. Try and buy the best you can afford because the hassle of replacing them will cost you more in the long run especially if you have built in vanity units and sealed bath units.

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Anna Williams -

Colour - Go for it with colour and pattern; I think bathrooms are those rooms in the home you can afford to take a little more risk with and really embrace colour and pattern.

Consider patterned tiled flooring, or colourful basins and baths, taking into consideration that you want your bathroom to wake you up in the morning and help relax you at night so this is key to its multi-functional use.

Consistency - If you're going for brass fitting for example, make sure you follow this look through in the accessories you style your bathroom with for example towel rails, storage and mirror frames, this will keep the look consistent and easy on the eye.   

Storage - I always find a sleek, minimalist look works best in a bathroom when it comes to storage, shampoo and shaving foam bottles, for example, need not be on show so make sure you build in maximum storage to hide these sorts of things away. Building in a recess mirror/cupboard above the sink for example which is flush to the wall creates a really smart and clean look.

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Amanda Cotton -

Layout and functionality.

You've got to consider where the pipes/plumbing will go and where the sewage pipe is. This will dictate where you can have the toilet and then build the rest of the framework around. Moving a sewage pipe can be costly. Don't let that eat into your budget.


Everyone always plans a bathroom based on the feel of the shower, sink and tiles and we often forget that we all need somewhere to store fresh towels, cleaning products and the spare toilet rolls. Built-in storage or a sink unit with some shelving is a must to consider.


As this feature is all about functionality this is a big thing to consider when planning your bathroom. Brass taps might be on trend right now, but consider the maintenance and cleaning.

Bathrooms require heavy cleaning products so keep this in mind when choosing your shower head, taps and thermostat. You don't want to be getting the brass only cleaning products out for the family bathroom.

Think of the ware and tear and value in the money spent and how long you will want something to last and look good for.

Becky Freeman -

Have a think about what who will be using your bathroom- is it a grown up or a family space? If it's a family space and you'll be bathing the children, make sure there is room to get everyone in and out of the bath safely and get them dry. I have 3 children and coordinating bath time is a big deal! So consider where your bath and sink are located.

Have plenty of storage for bath toys which used to be the bane of my life until I got them organised. You can still have an attractive bathroom and kids, it is possible!

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Lucy Gough -

1. Make sure you have enough storage. I always opt for a basin with a cupboard underneath. You don’t want your cotton buds on show to the world!

2. Have a shelf for house plants. They increase the oxygen levels in your home which is good for your health. Keeping plants is easier in your bathroom than other rooms in the home due to increased condensation from the shower.

3. Think about using a rolling pocket door or ‘barn door’ in your bathroom. This allows you to maximise the usable space in the room and lessens the dead space that could otherwise be used for a storage cupboard.

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