From Basic to Bougie: 5 Ways to Make Your Bathroom a Refuge

We spend a great deal of time in our bathrooms – it’s a fact of life! Whether you’re ‘taking care of business’ or embracing your daily routines, the bathroom is often where you begin and end your waking day.

Sadly, many of us neglect this all-too-important room by keeping it purely utilitarian. I believe that this is a sorry waste of space – with all the rituals we perform in the ‘throne room,’ it ought to be a haven of elegance, peace, and beauty.

I will show you how to accomplish this feat.

It all begins with the five senses. Join me as we re-think your lavatory and take it from less-than to lovely.

The Virtues of the Visual – Keep Your Elegance in Sight.

As a young twenty-something, I tend to place my priorities in this order: affordable, accessible, aesthetic. There is nothing wrong with this – one can easily create a beautiful space on a small budget – as long as you begin with a theme.

The mistake many of us make is throwing things into our bathrooms willy-nilly, without a specific design theme in mind. This creates a cluttered and confusing space, which is shown to have a measurable impact on mood and energy levels.

The human brain is visually wired to enjoy the sight of order and symmetry. Asymmetry is disorienting to us, and this is why flow, theme, and cohesion are so important in the design field. Nowhere is this more important than in the bathroom, where we engage in many of our self-care rituals at the beginning, middle, and end of our days.

To engage the sense of sight in a positive way, there are three key principles:

  1. Choose a small, set number of accent pieces (I love to work with the number 3).
  2. Create clean, open space between accent pieces – do not overwhelm the eyes with too much activity.
  3. Keep a specific theme in mind and do not depart from it – a few examples of theme are rustic, chic, vintage, art deco, or any combination of two compatible options.

Here is a walk-through of what this might look like in practice. Let’s say I wish to have a vintage oriental theme in my bathroom. I will begin with my three accent pieces. Perhaps an oriental-themed folding stool like this one for fresh towels and washcloths, a small ginger jar or miniature vase for toothbrushes, and a shower curtain with a traditional cherry blossom print design. You can be very creative with these.

Pulling from the overall theme of the accent pieces, I will choose secondary items like linens and a toilet seat cover that complement them – these simple items will be the ‘anchor points‘ for the rest of the design. You might end up with more than three anchors or accent pieces, and this is fine. Simply keep them at a level where they do not compete with one another for your attention.

The other key to keeping a theme is to eliminate clutter and ensure that there is storage for all of the items in your bathroom. This is good practice for any room, but with things like shampoos, perfumes, makeup, and more kept in what is often a small space, there is a heightened risk for disorganization and mess in bathrooms.

As shown by my previous examples, accent pieces can be very affordable. Since you only have a small number of them, you can focus most of your budget on these pieces and save on the others, which should be fairly neutral and complementary.

I love to find on-brand decor at flea markets and antique shops, and thinking creatively about the possible uses for unusual items makes it an engaging and fun experience.

More Than a Feeling – Including Touch in Your Design.

The tactile or touch sense is often sorely neglected by modern decorators. Our sense of touch is very developed, and the way a space feels to our bodies has a powerful influence on our mental state.

Positive sensations such as warmth, softness, smoothness, and variable texture should be a natural part of your home design strategy. In the bathroom this will largely focus on the use of fabrics and, perhaps surprisingly, temperature.

Imagine that you are aiming for a rustic chic bathroom. One element that will add to the tactile feel of the room would be a faux sheepskin rug such as this one, placed in front of the toilet, shower, or sink. When you or a guest steps onto this soft, warm surface, you will immediately feel more relaxed – soft textures have been shown to create pleasant associations in the brain.

Choosing a cushioned toilet seat rather than one made of hard plastic, or selecting one made out of an interesting but comfortable material such as distressed wood, is another option… After all, if you plan to sit somewhere for a while, it ought to be comfortable!

Adding a shower mat made out of a textured material such as teak or river stone is also a creative way to add tactile value to a room.

One or two touch-based elements should be enough, and there are many affordable options such as the examples above.

Using Your Good Scents – Integrating (Pleasant) Aromas Into Your Design.

The sense of smell is especially important when it comes to your bathroom… I’m sure I don’t need to provide an explanation for this one, really.

This may also be the easiest element to include in your overall design, as you can find candles, incense, diffusers, and sprays available in a multitude of scents and price points.

The key is not to overdo it when it comes to fragrances. If you have too many competing scents, it will be overwhelming and probably unpleasant.

Our sense of smell has a well-researched link to both mood and memory. The science of aromatherapy is effective in treating mood disorders and other psychological ailments, and scent has been used for this purpose for millennia across the globe. The way we define scents is telling.

There are ‘active’ aromas such as citrus or mint, ‘stimulating’ or ‘focused’ scents like eucalyptus or cinnamon, or relaxing odors like lavender and vanilla. You can use aphrodisiac scents such as rose flower or ylang ylang to enhance a romantic theme, or up the feeling of ‘freshness’ with the light essence of lemongrass.

Choose the scent category before you purchase anything, and stick to one or two scent-based items within it. Some incense and a spray, for example, or one oil diffuser on the back of the toilet and a DIY shower steamer for the bathtub.

Make sure that the scents you choose do not clash with your overall visual theme, and consider having a different scent profile for mornings and evenings. This is an area in which your creativity can be put to great use! There are many ways to make your own scented products, if you don’t wish to spend much – or any – money.

The Sweetness of Sound – Where Auditory Meets Lavatory.

This is likely an unexpected category for you to consider when it comes to your en suite, but Mindful Aestheticism is the motto here. That means integrating all of your senses when designing the home.

The simplest way to add sound to your bathroom is to invest in a waterproof speaker to keep somewhere unobtrusive, such as on the floor near the toilet or in the corner of your bathtub/shower stall. Music’s impact on our energy levels and mood cannot be overstated.

Sound is a powerful tool, even when it is merely background noise. Adding features such as bells or chimes to your design is a lovely way to incorporate sound into your theme.

A small water feature such as an indoor fountain is also effective. These options can be made yourself (Pinterest and DIY blogs such as Centsational Style are wonderful places to start) or purchased based on your budget.

One feature will suffice in this arena, as competing sounds are almost always irritating and off-putting.

Elegant Taste – Yes, Even This Sense Can Be Included in A Bathroom!

You may feel a bit shocked that I am including taste in a post about bathrooms, but please, reserve your judgments for a moment.

It’s true that this is a subtle area of design, but my philosophy is that any space has the potential to involve all five senses. I’ll admit that taste is more optional in the bathroom than in many other spaces, but it’s still worth considering.

If you do wish to give my eccentricity a chance, read on! There are a few ways to incorporate taste into your ‘john’ without it being uncouth.

For example: have you ever been in the restroom of a five star resort or spa? A well-placed, covered jar of mints can add a touch of class when placed near the sink. I myself prefer lavender or rose-flavored candies, which are surprisingly easy to make yourself if you’ve a mind to do so.

Candies are small, long-lasting, and come in a huge variety of flavors, from violet to lemon to cinnamon. A decorative jar full of candy is a lovely feature in and of itself, and a sweet, luxurious treat is an unexpected pleasure during a shower or bath.

Another option is a small, closed pitcher of lemon or other fruit-infused water, placed on a stand in an unobtrusive corner. Keeping things covered and closed is obviously important for sanitary reasons.

By incorporating the gustatory (taste) sense into such an intimate space, you up the overall elegance and luxury of your home.

In Conclusion…

Mindful Aestheticism is a philosophy rooted in the five senses. Engaging each in pleasurable and beautiful ways is the path to a joyful and balanced life, even when that path takes us in a direction not often associated with the beautiful or the pleasant.

As it is, we spend many hours in our bathrooms – they ought to be a refuge to us on as many levels as possible!

I hope you have enjoyed this post and the suggestions offered in it – if you have any ideas or advice on the topic, please start a conversation in the comments! Thank you, darlings, and I hope your week is lovely <3

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