Transforming a dull, nondescript bathroom into an inviting space inspired by Asian design principles can seem daunting. However, with careful planning and strategic design choices, it is possible to completely re-energize even the plainest washroom into a serene and elegant oasis. Incorporating elements like natural materials, clean lines, and purposeful accents based on Asian aesthetics allows you to create a bathroom that soothes the senses and promotes tranquility. This article explores ideas for taking a bland, generic bathroom from boring to beautiful while infusing an authentic Asian-inspired aesthetic.

Evaluate the Existing Features and Layout

Before undertaking a major bathroom renovation, take stock of what you currently have to work with. Carefully study the existing footprint and layout to identify potential issues and opportunities.

  • What are the room’s dimensions? Is the space narrow or open? This will impact choices like tub versus shower and single versus double vanities.
  • Note plumbing locations and whether moving fixtures like toilets or drains is feasible.
  • Look at natural and artificial lighting. Are there windows? Where are they located? Will additional lighting be needed?
  • Examine the current color scheme. Is it cool, warm, neutral? This provides a jumping off point for a new palette.
  • Identify areas that need improvement. Old surfaces like tile, cabinets, or countertops that need replacement? Is storage lacking?

Once you understand the fundamentals of the space, you can start making plans to optimize and enhance it.

Select Interior Finishes that Align with Asian Design Traits

Many fundamental elements of Asian interior design can be incorporated into a bathroom renovation to evoke a sense of harmony and tranquility.

Natural Materials

Wood, stone, bamboo and other organic materials are staples of Asian decor. Consider using:

  • Richly grained woods like teak or bamboo for cabinetry, shelving or decorative accents
  • Natural stone slabs or tiles for countertops, backsplashes, tub surrounds or flooring
  • Woven bamboo, grasscloth or shoji screens as artistic focal points

Warm, textured and earthy materials impart a grounded, zen-like feel.

Neutral Color Palette

Asian design typically utilizes a serene, pared-down color scheme centered around ivories, browns, taupes and natural hues.

  • Avoid bold primaries and go for muted neutrals to establish a peaceful backdrop
  • Layer in subtle sage, mossy or slate greens and gentle sky blues as accents
  • Use variation in tone and texture rather than color to add interest

A quiet, neutral color palette promotes relaxation.

Clean Lines and Minimal Ornamentation

Focus on simplicity and minimalism. Asian bathrooms favor straight lines, rectangular forms and an absence of clutter.

  • Select unfussy fixtures and hardware with straight, sleek silhouettes
  • Skip elaborate moldings or trims and let natural materials shine
  • Limit decorative embellishments to a few handpicked accents

Restraint and thoughtful, sparing details create tranquility.

Carefully Choose Fixtures and Features

Each element selected for an Asian-inspired bath should complement the overall zen aesthetic.


For soaking, select durable tubs with clean angles. Options like:

  • Rectangular mortar basins
  • Freestanding stone vessels
  • Minimalist concrete soaking tubs

Pass on ornate clawfoot or heavily embellished tubs.


Frameless glass showers align well with Asian style. Features like:

  • Rainfall showerheads
  • Handheld body sprays
  • Built-in teak benches

Promote a spa-like experience.

Toilets and Bidets

Even the most functional fixtures should fit the pared-back theme. Look for:

  • Wall-hung or partially concealed tanks
  • Geometric angles rather than curvaceous lines
  • Neutral white finishes

Vanities and Cabinets

Vanities should be fashioned from wood, especially warm bamboo. Consider:

  • Floating, wall-mounted vanities for a light look
  • Matte black drawer pulls and hardware
  • Open shelving instead of closed cabinets

Set the Mood with Impactful Accents

While overall ornamentation should be sparse, a few significant accent pieces create harmony.


Live green plants give an organic vibe. Display in natural baskets or pots.


Add interest with neutral linen or cotton towels, rugs and shower curtains.


Select tranquil Asian art, scrolls or decorative screens to adorn walls.


Strategic lighting transforms the atmosphere. Incorporate:

  • Candle wall sconces
  • Hanging paper lanterns
  • Dimmer switches on overhead lights

With touches that align with and enhance the Asian concept, you can fashion a truly zen bathroom retreat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some key differences between Western bathroom design and Asian bathroom design?

Some notable differences include:

  • Asian design emphasizes natural materials while Western design often utilizes more synthetics
  • Asian style favors neutral, earthy color schemes with Western style embracing bold colors
  • Asian bathrooms feature more minimalist, clean lines versus ornate detailing in Western bathrooms
  • Plant life and nature elements are integral in Asian bathrooms but less common in Western

So in summary, Asian style is more pared back, serene and connected to nature.

What lighting works best for an Asian-style bathroom?

For an authentic zen ambiance, incorporate:

  • Candle wall scones
  • Hanging paper lanterns
  • Indirect ceiling lights on dimmers
  • Natural light from windows if available

Avoid harsh overhead lighting. Seek to create a soothing, spa-like glow.

What type of bathtub works best for this look?

For harmony with the Asian design aesthetic, select:

  • Freestanding tubs with clean, geometric lines
  • Stone soaking tubs or mortar basins
  • Minimalist rectangular tubs without embellishment

Avoid ornate clawfoot tubs or heavily embellished Jacuzzi-style tubs.

Should I use a shower or tub in my Asian bathroom?

This depends on personal preferences and space. Some ideas:

  • Smaller baths often suit showers better than tubs
  • Opt for frameless glass showers with spa-like features
  • Larger baths can incorporate elegant freestanding soaking tubs
  • Custom mortar basins can act as both shower and tub

Evaluate your needs and space and choose the best option.

What type of vanity works for this aesthetic?

Minimalist, clean-lined vanities align well, like:

  • Floating wall-mounted vanities
  • Bamboo or wood slab vanities on simple legs
  • Pedestal sinks for a lightweight look

Avoid heavily ornamented vanities. Seek out warm, organic materials.

Should I use closed cabinets or open shelving?

Again this depends on preferences, but sometips:

  • Open shelving promotes serenity and visually opens smaller spaces
  • Closed cabinets can hide clutter and create a calmer scene
  • Incorporate cabinetry with clean lines and matte pulls

Evaluate your storage needs and style goals. You can also do a combination.


Creating a bathroom with authentic Asian flair requires fusing simplicity, nature and purposeful accents. Utilize natural materials like bamboo, stone and wood. Adopt a muted, neutral color palette. Select fixtures with clean lines and minimal ornamentation. Incorporate living plants and thoughtful lighting, textiles and artwork. With strategic and mindful design choices guided by Asian principles, it is possible to transform even the most basic bathroom into an inspiring zen retreat. Evaluating your existing layout, being intentional about material and finish selections, and limiting decorative embellishments avoids a hodgepodge look. Focus on a serene, uncomplicated aesthetic to fashion a distinctive Asian-inspired bath.