7 Bathroom Design Mistakes & How to Easily Solve Them

by Bai-Xu

I stare at a lot of bathrooms. As an architect with a passion for home interiors and years of experience in residential projects, I have found myself in countless bathrooms analyzing every single detail–both good and bad.

I’m going to talk about the seven biggest bathroom design mistakes I see people make again and again. You’ll be able to create the space of your dreams once you know these bathroom design mistakes to avoid.

Toilet in front of the door
Different types of toilets

1. Placing the toilet in direct view of the door

This setup can make the toilet the first thing someone sees when they enter the space.

Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much a toilet costs–whether it’s $200 or $20,000, it’s still a place people sit on to poop so it’s not going to look that nice.

Secondly, when you’re sitting on the toilet in direct view of the door, it can make anyone feel a tad uncomfortable. After all, it’s a very vulnerable position to be in.

Toilet in front of the door vs bathtub or sink
Instead, consider a more elegant solution by placing a beautiful vanity as the first thing you see when you open the door. It’s much more pleasant on the eyes and more comforting for your use.

Shower niche in the shower

2. Not planning a shower niche

Shower niches are essentially built-in shelves or cutouts in your shower wall. These niches are not just there for looks. They are a complete game-changer because they provide a sleek and uncluttered way of storing your shower essentials.

Shower niche

These niches are also very practical. They make it easier to access your shower essentials from a more comfortable position as you are showering, too.

Cluttered shower space

If you don’t add a shower niche in your bathroom, you will inevitably end up populating your shower floor or edge of your bathtub with all of these products.

Bathroom products along the side of the tub

Or, you’ll end up with one of these wobbly wire baskets in the shower and you’re never quite sure if your shampoo bottle is going to fall off.

Gray bathroom

3. Using only solid colors and finishes

When it comes to decorating your bathroom in different colors and finishes, it’s very common for people to decorate with colors like blue, gray, turquoise, and stainless steel finishes because they are associated with water.

Stainless steel bathroom

By default, the bathroom is already filled with harsh, hard surfaces so if we introduce too many cold, sterile materials like super white tiles, and stainless steel along with cold-toned colors, the room can end up feeling very unwelcoming and unfriendly.

Blue bathroom
Cozy bathroom design

As human beings, we naturally gravitate towards warm and cozy spaces. This is true even with bathrooms where everything is supposed to get wet.

Cooler and warmer bathroom

So let me explain. Here is a plain white bathroom. One side is furnished with a lot of cold colors, like blues, grays, whites, and tiles and stones. The other side is different. It is filled with warmer tones. Note the wooden floor, creamy wall tiles, and brass fittings.

Now, ask yourself honestly, which bathroom design do you prefer? If you are like most people, you probably gravitate towards the warmer, cozier, and softer space.

Unnecessary asymmetry in bathroom design

4. Creating unnecessary asymmetry

Why isn’t the flush panel above the toilet? It is not aligned with the toilet.

Asymmetry in a bathroom
Why isn’t the tile aligning with the toilet or other fixtures?

Misaligned bathroom design
Cabinets lined up

Why shouldn’t the cabinets line up?

Radiator in line with the door
Why is the radiator not in line with the door?

Impractical sink

5. Having an impractical sink

You may see lots of impractical sinks in fancy hotels and design magazines. For example, the vessel sink is undeniably beautiful but so impractical.

Cluttered sink

The surface around the sink becomes a magnet for clutter.

Impractical sinks can lead to drips of water

Water often drips down the sides of the vessel and collects underneath the sink.

Creating places that are difficult to clean

Sometimes there’s a tiny little gap between the sink and countertop where it’s really difficult to reach in and clean.

Vanity unit with an undermount sink example 1
Vanity unit with an undermount sink example 2
Vanity unit with an undermount sink example 3

In my opinion, an equally beautiful but way more practical option would be a vanity unit with an undermount sink. These sinks are seamlessly integrated into the storage unit, giving you an easy-to-clean sink and extra counter space for all your stuff.

Dark and dingy bathroom

6. Insufficient and inadequate lighting

Poorly placed lighting leaves the bathroom feeling dark, dingy, and depressing. You are pooping, not in prison! When planning the lighting setup, make sure you have an overhead light so you can see everything, but also add a lot of task and ambient lighting.

For example, add task lighting next to the vanity so you can see yourself when brushing your teeth and ambient lighting on a dimmer to create more of an atmosphere.

Light temperature

Consider the color temperature of your light. If you choose a light that’s too yellow, it will not give you enough clarity to your face. But if you choose a light that’s too bright and white, you end up feeling like you’re in the hospital about to get dissected.

Bathroom storage behind a mirror

7. Insufficient storage

When you focus too much on the aesthetic and not enough on storage for your products, it all leads to clutter. A bathroom cluttered with stuff becomes really ugly. All of the products are a mishmash of colors and shapes and often very bright bottles, so avoid that.

Cabinet behind a mirror

Consider maximizing your bathroom storage with a cabinet behind the mirror

Cabinet under the sink example 1
Cabinet under the sink example 2

…and use cabinets and drawers underneath the sink.

Sinks with exposed pipes

Never have just a sink on its own with exposed pipes. So much of that space is wasted.

Shelf above the toilet
Shelves above the toilet

Also, install shelves above the toilet to maximize vertical storage.

Bathroom design mistakes

I hope exposing the worst bathroom design mistakes was helpful to you. Did any of these ideas keep you from a bathroom design disaster? Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever made or avoided any of these bathroom design mistakes.

Join the conversation
2 of 14 comments
  • Darlene Duncan Darlene Duncan on Apr 24, 2024
    Another feature people need to add when designing bath/show areas, is the built out seat feature in a corner, or across the far end of the tub/shower, from the faucet end.. The reverse of the built in tiled shelves..It's nice to have a place to sit, while showing or even bathing, to do your legs safely without slipping. The population is aging, and a built out sitting spot in the tub/shower zone, even a wall mounted flip down seat, is nicer esthetically, than a removable seat from a medical supply store that takes more space in the bathroom, when not in use.. https://www.woodmasterkitchens.com/new-blog/2019/5/31/add-seating-to-a-bath-design
  • Darlene Duncan Darlene Duncan on Apr 24, 2024
    The "Cabinet under the sink example 2", looks weird, with the cabinet so low below the bottom of the sink.. Soapy water from hand washing, can easily splash onto toothbrushes & holder, also reaching down, for the liquid hand-soap pump, just doesn't seem natural with soap drips from the pump, messing up the cabinet surface....