A bathroom design can make or break the functionality and aesthetics of your home. While bathrooms are one of the most used spaces in a house, they are often overlooked during home renovations or new constructions. The smallest details like layout, fixtures, lighting, and storage can hugely impact how your bathroom looks and functions on a daily basis.

To help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls, we’ve outlined the top 5 bathroom design mistakes along with tips on how to get your bathroom design right. Paying attention to these details will ensure you have a bathroom that is beautiful, functional, and built to last for years to come.

Choosing the Wrong Layout

One of the biggest mistakes when designing a bathroom is not considering how the space will be used and by whom. Bathrooms serve multiple needs from bathing to grooming so the layout should accommodate all these activities comfortably while allowing for multiple occupants.

Some things to keep in mind when planning your layout:

Consider Traffic Flow

A common layout blunder is placing doors and fixtures in a way that disrupts natural traffic flow. For example, avoiding placing the door right in front of the toilet or shower. Optimizing traffic flow ensures safe navigation and accessibility for all users.

Allow Adequate Clearances

Allow ample clearance around fixtures and doors so that there is enough room for maneuvering wheelchairs, walkers or strollers if needed. At minimum, leave 30-36 inches clearance and ensure there is enough space to open doors fully without blocking anything.

Separate Wet and Dry Zones

Design your layout to separate plumbing fixtures like the shower, tub and toilet in one zone and leave grooming stations like the vanity outside this area. This prevents water splashes from reaching grooming areas.

Accommodate Multiple Users

If it’s a heavily used family bathroom, ensure your layout has provisions for multiple occupants. For example, double sinks and sufficient counter space around each station.

With some forethought, you can design a layout tailored to your unique needs while avoiding common frustrations.

Selecting the Wrong Size of Fixtures

Bathroom fixtures that are too small or too large can make your bathroom highly inconvenient and cramped for use. When choosing fixtures, ensure they are sized appropriately for the physical space as well as activities that will take place.

Some tips on choosing sized right fixtures:


Avoid cramming a large soaking tub in a small bathroom. It will dominate the space making it difficult to access. Instead opt for a bathtub sized proportionately to your bathroom’s dimensions. Corner tubs can help save space in smaller bathrooms.


Vessel sinks have gained popularity in recent years but may be impractical in bathrooms used frequently. The shallow basin requires splashing water outside while washing hands or brushing teeth. Undermount or vanity sinks often work better for family bathrooms.


Toilets come in different heights and sizes. Measure the space and choose one that doesn’t encroach on walkways or hamper opening doors. If you have anyone tall or with mobility issues, consider comfort height toilets.

Take Measurements

Always take measurements of your bathroom and note any plumbing or electrical constraints before selecting fixtures. This will help avoid issues with fit later on.

Choosing the most appropriately sized fixtures will prevent your bathroom from feeling too cramped or disproportionate.

Choosing the Wrong Materials

Bathrooms involve a lot of moisture. From high humidity levels to water splashes, fixtures and finishes take a beating. Choosing materials that can withstand the humid environment is crucial for durability and easy maintenance.

Some tips on selecting suitable materials:

Avoid High-Maintenance Finishes

Finishes that require extensive upkeep like lacquered cabinets or wood floors are impractical in bathrooms. The constant moisture will damage the finish leading to peeling and warping over time. Opt for low-maintenance materials like ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, metals and glass.

Choose Water-Resistant Materials

Wood, paper and steel are susceptible to water damage. Instead use moisture-resistant materials like solid surface counters, stone tiles and waterproof grout. Also, utilize water-sealing treatments on surfaces like natural wood to prevent warping.

Look for Mold/Mildew Resistant Finishes

Regular moisture makes bathrooms prone to mold and mildew growth. Select finishes like ceramic tiles or solid surface counters that have built-in mold resistance properties. Also, avoid porous materials like untreated grout that absorb moisture and attract mold easily.

Don’t Skimp on Quality

While bathrooms are generally on the smaller side, don’t compromise on material quality to save on budget. Poor quality materials deteriorate faster from exposure to moisture. Spend on good quality materials like solid brass fixtures instead of chrome plated to ensure longevity.

Choosing the right materials that can endure bathroom conditions is key to avoid damage and frequent renovations down the road.

Ignoring Lighting Needs

Proper lighting serves both functional and aesthetic needs in a bathroom space. Many bathrooms are designed without considering lighting requirements for tasks performed in the space. Ensure your lighting plan serves all needs:

Include Layers of Lighting

A common mistake is relying solely on an overhead fixture to light the entire bathroom. Include layers of lighting like overhead, task and accent lighting tailored to specific areas:

  • Overhead lighting floods the entire space for general illumination.
  • Task lighting like undercabinet fixtures illuminate specific zones like grooming stations.
  • Accent lighting like wall sconces create mood or highlight architectural details.

Plan for Task Lighting

Ensure adequate lighting over key areas like the shower, tub and vanity. Undercabinet lighting or recessed cans help illuminate tasks without casting shadows. Lighting on dimmers allows adjusting brightness as needed.

Choose Warm White Bulbs

Cool LEDs emit a stark white light that accentuates imperfections. Opt for bulbs in the 3000K range for a soft warm glow that is comfortable and flattering. Also, install dimmers to adjust brightness.

Don’t Forget the Shower

Shower lighting is essential for safety and visibility. Install recessed cans or showerheads with built-in lighting. Avoid fixtures right outside the shower that can electrocute if hands are wet.

Consider Circadian Needs

Harsh overhead lighting at night interferes with sleep cycles. Include fixtures like night lights, wall sconces or vanity lighting for a softer illumination at night.

With careful planning for task, ambient and accent lighting, your bathroom can be functional, safe and visually appealing at all times of the day.

Neglecting Storage

Storage is a crucial but often overlooked aspect of bathroom design. Without adequate storage, bathrooms end up cluttered with products crowding counters and floor space. Here are some tips for including smart storage solutions:

Maximize Under Sink Space

This prime real estate is ideal for organizing bathroom essentials. Include pull-out cabinets or add accessories like trays, bins and hooks to hold items neatly. Consider open shelving for easy access to frequently used products.

Use Wall Space

Wall mounted cabinets, shelving and medicine cabinets create storage without taking up floor space. Take advantage of wall space above and around the toilet.

Include Drawers

Opt for vanities with large drawers to stash away bathroom linen, first aid and cleaning supplies. Drawers keep items organized and out of sight.

Hang On Back of Door

Utilize the usually neglected door space by hanging over the door storage organizers. Use them to store spare towels and toiletries.

Built-In Niches & Cubbies

Take advantage of niche spaces by designing built-ins like shelving between studs, corner cabinets etc. Every bit of space can be transformed into storage.

With a well-planned mix of open and closed storage options, it is easy to keep bathrooms organized and free of clutter.

Common Bathroom Design Mistakes to Avoid – FAQs

Here are some common questions people have about avoiding mistakes when designing their bathrooms:

What is the most common bathroom design mistake?

One of the most common mistakes is choosing a poor layout that doesn’t consider traffic flow or user needs. This leads to an inefficient, cramped bathroom that is frustrating to use and navigate. Ensuring your layout accommodates all user needs while optimizing space is crucial.

How do I avoid choosing the wrong size fixtures?

Always take detailed measurements of your existing bathroom along with noting any plumbing or electric constraints before selecting fixtures. Choose fixtures scaled appropriately to your bathroom’s dimensions. Avoid cramping small spaces with oversized tubs or losing functionality with tiny vessel sinks.

Should I avoid certain materials in the bathroom?

Yes, some materials like lacquered furniture, laminate counters and hardwood floors are susceptible to water damage and mold growth. Opt for durable and water-resistant choices like solid surfaces, natural stone, glass, and metal. Also, avoid porous grout and utilize mold-resistant caulk.

Why is lighting important in a bathroom design?

Bathrooms involve many tasks like grooming and bathing that require good lighting. Adequate lighting prevents injuries and makes the space comfortably usable at all times of the day. Ensure layers of light like overhead ambient, task lighting and accent lighting.

How can I include more bathroom storage?

Maximize every inch of existing and potential storage space in the bathroom. Vanity drawers, under sink cabinets, built-in wall niches, over the door organizers and even area rugs with waterproof bottoms can provide storage solutions.


Avoiding common design mistakes can help you create a bathroom that is beautiful, highly functional and durable for the long run. Pay special attention to choosing an efficient layout suited for all users, appropriately sized fixtures, suitable materials, adequate lighting and storage solutions. With careful planning that considers your unique needs, you can enjoy a bathroom designed for convenience, safety and style for years to come.