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25 Things That Never Belong in a Bathroom

Interior designers said the goal in bathroom design is balance, function and timelessness. Avoid anything that will make it look cheap.

NEW YORK – Black toilets, wall-to-wall carpet, and all-white bathrooms are a few design sins we're here to save you from.

Designing and decorating your bathroom can be tricky. Unlike other rooms, your bathroom is constantly at the mercy of excess moisture. It's also where most people begin their mornings, end their evenings, find some alone time, and try to relax.

The goal should be a balanced, functional, and timeless bathroom design, and we have some rules to help you achieve it. According to interior designers and home experts, the following bathroom items and designs should be wholly avoided.

Plastic storage

Plastic storage in your bathroom can make it feel cheap and childish. Although plastic might seem excellent, as it's waterproof and durable, its vibe is offputting. Even expensive plastic pieces usually look low-quality.

We think having one or two plastic items is okay if you store them out of sight. However, it's not cute to have a wealth of plastic bins in the bathroom. Instead, consider metal, ceramic, wood, or even wicker storage solutions.

Clear storage

Along with plastic storage, we want to veto clear storage. Clear storage can be chic in some home areas, like your kitchen dish cabinets. However, bathroom items are not usually as attractive as your fine china.

Glass bathroom cabinets and other see-through storage can make your bathroom look chaotic and cluttered, even if you organize everything perfectly. Sure, clear storage makes seeing and finding items easy, but at what cost? The price of your bathroom aesthetics.

Dark walls

Dark walls can be contemporary and sophisticated, but in the bathroom, they can feel icky. First, showering, grooming, and primping surrounded by blackness can be... unpleasant. You might feel suffocated or overwhelmed by the darkness.

Second, dark walls are notorious for not showing any dirt or dust. Your bathroom may become grimy and gross without you even realizing it. You can use some dark colors in your bathroom, but avoid turning it into a black hole.

Heavy curtains

Heavy curtains can have the same effect as dark walls. They feel suffocating and intimidating, which is definitely not the energy we want in the bathroom. Plus, heavy curtains can easily absorb moisture and develop mold.

The last thing you want is an overbearing pair of smelly curtains. Natural light is amazing in bathrooms, making them bright but not aggressively so. If you want bathroom curtains for privacy, opt for sheer, airy curtains that will still let a little light in.


If you thought blinds were a good alternative to thick curtains, we regret to inform you that they are not acceptable either. Blinds collect dust, dirt, and grime in ways that fabric window treatments do not. Therefore, they require more bathroom cleaning, which we doubt you want.

Blinds are also less attractive than curtains. They can feel sterile and cheap, dragging down your bathroom's overall aesthetic. If you're dying for blinds in your bathroom, we beg you to at least get the cotton, sheer ones.


It's distressing that this even needs to be said, but please, for the love of all that is good, do not put carpet in your bathroom. Wall-to-wall carpet in a bathroom is a recipe for mold, mildew, and funky smells.

This was a trend that started in the '50s and squeaked through to the '80s. It wasn't super widespread, but people did it enough that here we are, warning you against it. Do you really want to vacuum your bathroom? Get a bathmat or two; that should be plenty to prevent sopping wet floors after a shower.

Bulky furniture

We want to warn you against using too much furniture in your bathroom. A chair or bench can be nice if you have a spacious bathroom, but don't go crazy. Bulky furniture is often a bad idea, as it makes the room feel cramped.

There is something about the vulnerability we feel in the bathroom that makes bulky furniture overbearing and stressful in the space. It can also make it hard to maneuver, which is the last thing you want when a bathroom emergency arises.

Upholstered furniture

Bulky furniture is not ideal, but plush and soft furniture might be even worse. Don't put any upholstery furniture in your bathroom, as it will likely get wet and can start to grow mold and mildew.

This bathroom rule is in the same vein as our no-carpet rule. Fabrics are hotbeds for bacteria growth when exposed to excessive moisture. Tossing a bath mat in the laundry is one thing, but washing an upholstered chair is a whole other challenge.

Small or handheld mirrors

We're not trying to be too nitpicky, but handheld and small mirrors are not suitable for bathrooms. A small mirror on the wall or over the sink is simply silly – treat yourself to an ample-sized mirror so you can actually see yourself.

Handheld or small stand mirrors are also not cute in the bathroom. They look like clutter. It's okay if you have and use these, but don't store them out in the open. Either put them away or keep them in another room.

Fluorescent lighting

We are launching a direct attack at anyone who has ever put fluorescent lighting in a bathroom (or dressing room, for that matter). Fluorescents might seem perfect, as they're extra bright, so you can completely see yourself.

However, they are by far the most unflattering lighting. They show every flaw on your skin, distort your body, and generally make you feel bad about yourself. Plus, they're aggressive and not soothing at all. Instead, opt for natural light or warm lighting.

Direct overhead lighting

Overhead lighting isn't as awful as fluorescent bulbs, but it's close. Like fluorescents, overhead lights can be overwhelming and aggressive in a bathroom. It's also an unflattering angle for lighting.

Lights on the wall over the sink, or stand-alone lamps on the floor or a table, work well. Try to keep lighting around eye level or lower. This low-placed lighting is more relaxing.

Plastic bathroom accessories

Plastic storage is a no-go, and so are plastic accessories. Bathroom accessories include soap dispensers, soap bar holders, toothbrush holders, tissue box covers, counter trays, and other small items that permanently live in your bathroom.

Plastic is cheap and durable but not as appealing as other materials. Resin, glass, ceramic, metal, clay, and stone are all better options. Even wood and rattan are better than plastic.

Too much white

We said no dark walls, but that doesn't mean every inch of your bathroom should be stark white. All-white bathrooms were definitely a 2000s trend, but they desperately need to go extinct.

White bathrooms feel painfully sterile, and we want our bathrooms to be cozy and inviting. Finding the line between a medical office vibe and Dracula's lair can be tough, but avoiding leaning too heavily on white or black is a great place to start.

Too much metal

Too much metal can create the same sterile feeling of an all-white room. As mentioned, metal storage solutions, furniture, and bathroom accessories can be acceptable, but you need to use restraint.

It's best to use metal for only one of the elements mentioned above. For example, if you want all-metal bathroom accessories, then do not use metal storage or furniture. We recommend reserving your metal elements for plumbing hardware and light fixtures.

Dark-colored plumbing fixtures

Speaking of hardware and fixtures, please don't get dark-colored bathroom fixtures. When we say "fixtures," we mean toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks. Sure, a black toilet might seem chic and contemporary, but it's actually gross.

How can you tell when a black toilet needs to be cleaned? How do you know if your black bathtub has ring stains? There's a reason 90% of bathroom fixtures are white, and it's because they're easier to keep clean. You don't have to get white, but stay away from dark colors.

Unprotected wallpaper

We need to start off by saying we adore wallpaper and are eagerly awaiting for it to come back in style. Paint is boring. However, the bathroom is not the ideal place for plain or standard wallpaper.

If you want to wallpaper your bathroom (and we hope that you do), make sure you choose bathroom-appropriate paper. Moisture-resistant or waterproof wallpapers are ideal, but you can also coat normal wallpaper with Decorator's Varnish to protect it from moisture.

Unprotected wood

Unprotected wood in the bathroom is also a recipe for disaster. When certain types of wood absorb moisture, they expand and can crack or warp. They'll look ugly, possibly need replacing, and begin to smell.

Ideally, you should use hard, heavy wood that is naturally moisture-resistant, like walnut, wenge, spruce, and larch. Otherwise, you can seal any wood with certain oils, sealants, and stains to protect it.

Matching towels

Most rules here are for your own good, but matching towels are innocuous, so if you really want them, go for it. However, they create an outdated and uncreative vibe. All your towels should go together but not necessarily match perfectly.

We encourage you to buy towels in different colors or materials but tie them into your bathroom. For example, if your floor tile is blue and your shower curtain is green, get blue hand towels and green bath towels. Towels shouldn't clash, but they also shouldn't be identical and monotonous.

Matching accessories

Matching accessories can also be repetitive and uninspired. The same rule for your towels applies to your accessories. They should look cohesive beside one another but don't need to use the exact same colors and textures.

A clear glass soap dispenser can look stylish beside a white marble toothbrush holder. You can also buy accessories that match different parts of your bathroom.

Overwhelming tile

This rule is tough because, of course, tile is excellent in bathrooms. However, there is such a thing as too much tile. Designers say to avoid floor-to-ceiling tile -- tiles that cover the floors and walls.

Similar to dark-colored walls, being surrounded by the same tiles like this can feel suffocating. It can also make your bathroom look boring and awkward. Restrict tile to only your floor or certain wall areas, like the shower.

Loose counter clutter

Everything in your home should have a specific place to live when not in use. This means every item should have its own "home." That home should never be your sink countertop or the back of your toilet.

Don't leave clutter out in your bathroom, as it will immediately ruin your aesthetic. Make sure all creams, cleansers, serums, brushes, floss, Q-tips, hair tools, and other bathroom items are neatly hidden out of sight. We even suggest finding a spot in your cabinet for your toothbrush and toothpaste, if possible.

Monochrome design

All-white is a big no-no, but any monochrome bathroom will create an uneasy feeling. It truly doesn't matter what color -- every color will look weird when you're engulfed in it.

This is another reason matching towels and accessories are bad. They create a strange matchy-matchy aesthetic that can feel awkward. Try to have at least three colors in your bathroom palette.

Trendy materials

It's best to stay away from home decor trends and current fads when designing your bathroom. Some 2000s trends to look out for are subway tiles, marble slabs, matte black metal, and concrete.

If you really love a trend, it's okay to go for it, but the risk is that it will look tacky in just a few years. Bathrooms are not cheap to renovate, so we recommend opting for timeless styles that have been fashionable for decades.

Delicate decor

Don't put anything particularly delicate in your bathroom, especially if it's an important item to you. For example, a vintage poster or priceless paper art does not belong in the humid bathroom environment.

Odds are, after enough showers, those delicate items will be compromised. Even framing these types of items can't fully protect them. So, keep the sentimental and valuable decor out of the bathroom and opt for copies of your art or more durable pieces.

Busy designs and decor

We want you to have fun when designing your bathroom, but it's still important to have some sort of vision and aesthetic to stick to. If you don't settle on one, your bathroom can end up looking hectic and messy.

Make sure you have only one focal point or statement piece. Settle on a color palette; we recommend three colors. Play with textures and materials, but don't exceed three kinds, or it will clash. Just because something could go in your bathroom doesn't mean it should.

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