Sure, it’s easy to create a clean and clutter-free bathroom for a photo shoot. But in reality, bathrooms inevitably get taken over by toothbrushes, towels and more. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re aiming to get your bathroom looking great, whether it’s for houseguests, home resale or just to enjoy a well-designed space every day, here are a few designer secrets to creating beauty and function — even off camera.
Eliminate unwanted blemishes.
It’s easier said than done, but getting rid of unnecessary items from your arsenal of products and gadgets is the most important step to keeping your bathroom sleek and stylish. That free sample of face mask you keep meaning to use? Hoarding it isn’t helping anyone. Instead, toss items that don’t get used, and move those that are used only rarely to a nearby closet with more free space. Also, if possible (and with the appropriate safety precautions), route electrical to inside a cabinet so that electric toothbrushes, hair dryers, and curling irons aren’t on display.
The next step to boutique bathroom bliss is to cover up product packaging. Using a refillable soap dispenser and a tissue box cover may take an extra moment, but it’s worth the effort to enjoy a streamlined look. Plus, you can often buy products like liquid soap in bulk to save money and avoid wasteful packaging.
Once you’ve got your surfaces down to the essentials, don’t forget to include decorative pieces to keep the space from feeling purely functional. Try unexpected items like a clock, a framed picture or a jewelry box (even if it really holds cotton balls). When in doubt, fresh flowers always add life to a bathroom. Use a few humble blossoms in a small vase, or add something that thrives in moisture, such as an orchid.
Aim for at least a quarter of the pieces on display to be decorative rather than functional, and the look will feel “styled.” If it’s hard to reach this ratio, you probably have too many pieces.
Consider your style.
When deciding on how many products and artistic objects to feature, consider the overall style of your bathroom. If you like an eclectic or Shabby Chic look, a bit of clutter can become part of the style.
If you like a clean spa-like feel, however, don’t lie to yourself that a plethora of piled-up soaps is adding to the image.
Many products such as face creams and toothpaste contain the same ingredients, so you can consider buying those that have the same color packaging to get a coordinated hotel-like palette. Mix in a stylish hand soap, vase or even towels in the same hue, and those products become part of the decor scheme.
Bring in baskets.
Open baskets are terrific for storing often-used items, especially small things like makeup, because you can pull the basket out and put it on the counter while you hunt for something, then tuck the entire assortment back into place after you’re done.
Put the items you use on a daily basis in one basket, rather than separating everything strictly by type. The less work it is to find essential products, the less likely you are to make a mess on the counter.
Keep in mind that open baskets don’t actually make clutter magically invisible unless you tuck the basket away. Open baskets are best for products that are still attractive, like sea sponges or a slick skin-care line. An open basket with toilet paper spilling out is still a messy sight.
I like mixing different types of grassy woven baskets in similar but not matching tones to add natural variety without anything clashing. Use baskets without lids for items like fresh towels, and a few with lids for toilet paper, used towels, or garbage.
Keep a low profile.
As for pieces that you want within easy reach but that don’t readily fit in baskets or bins (like a back scrubber), consider keeping them on low shelves rather than on the vanity or floating shelves. This open-front vanity lets it all hangout, but the pieces aren’t right in your line of sight, so the room doesn’t feel cluttered.
Wash and fold.
Storing towels, especially clean white or solid colors, is one of the best uses for open shelves. They look hotel-chic when stacked perfectly, but they still appear stylish even when piled loosely or rolled up spa-style. Open shelving in an en-suite bathroom can also be a good place for extra sheets and other bedding.
Hand towels and washcloths look great stacked on a floating shelf or right on top of the vanity. For more interest, roll some and tuck them in a floppy basket to add casualness and texture.
Add a niche.
Items set in a niche automatically feel tidier and more like a gallery display than loose items on an open surface, so consider adding a niche to an empty wall space to allow for quick access to products (especially those for the bath or shower).
Let your eyes betray you.
The human eye automatically reads items that are tucked together as being a group, which makes them feel like one thing instead of a mess of many items.
This is a scientific way of pointing out that placing a few items on a tray (rather than directly on the vanity counter) makes them appear much more neatly organized, even if you have the same number of pieces taking up the same space. Try a vintage serving tray for traditional flair, or match your tray to your other products for a modern look.
Do the unusual.
Sometimes doing something a little out of the ordinary can make all the difference. For example, any bathroom can have bath soaps perched on the counter or the edge of the tub, but gathering such items on a charming stool suddenly turns them into a fun and stylish vignette.
Also, don’t forget one of the biggest surfaces in your bathroom: the floor! A colorful rug (as opposed to a typical bath mat) draws attention without getting in your way.
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