Aug 24, 2023
Got a Windowless Bathroom? Try These 5 Design Tips for a Loo You'll Love
We’ve all seen it and maybe winced a little: the one-bathroom home listing. Most homeowners shudder at the thought of fighting over a single bathroom; but before World War II, it was the standard in
We’ve all seen it and maybe winced a little: the one-bathroom home listing.
Most homeowners shudder at the thought of fighting over a single bathroom; but before World War II, it was the standard in most homes. Fortunately, that one bathroom typically had a window to let in light and fresh air.
Then, people started moving to the suburbs in droves, and bathrooms multiplied. Modern HVAC systems circulate air to all spaces in a home, so it’s not unusual these days for at least one bathroom to be windowless.
Having a loo with a view might not be a priority for homebuyers more concerned with having enough bathrooms. In fact, the desire for added privacy compels some homeowners to eliminate the window when they renovate a bathroom.
As long as the ventilation and lighting are good, few people will miss a window. But a bathroom can sometimes lack visual focus without one. So to help upgrade your bathroom from basic to bodacious, we asked our expert pals for tips on how to amp up a windowless bathroom.
When architects design floor plans, they want to make the most efficient use of space, so they tend to place kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms on exterior walls with windows. Meanwhile, bathrooms (and closets) get grouped in the middle of the floor plan.
And so often, the most significant design challenge of a windowless bathroom is ensuring there’s enough light.
“The key lies in balancing different types of lighting—ceiling, task, and accent—to add depth and a cozy feel to the space,” says Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, an interior design studio based in New York City.
So give your window-free bathroom a nice glow by adding a bright ceiling fixture along with some type of task lighting around the mirror, such as a pair of sconces. And if your shower enclosure is dark, you’ll want to light it up with a recessed flush mount.
Pro tip: Additional accent lighting can add drama and doesn’t have to be expensive. A simple strip of LEDs under the vanity will add romance and dimension to the room.
“LEDs are a smart choice given their longevity and energy-saving features,” says Kropovinsky. “Lights that imitate daylight can lend a more organic feel to the space.”
Tile is one of the most important design choices for a bathroom.
If your bathroom is the average 6-by-10-foot box, you can make it seem larger by using big, light tiles with few grout lines.
“I personally like large-scale square tile on the walls and on the floors,” says New York interior designer Vicente Wolf. “It helps to increase, visually, the size of a room.”
So give the busy patterned tiles a pass in a windowless bathroom.
“Less pattern in a small room will make it feel bigger,” adds Wolf.
Pro tip: Note that light doesn’t have to mean white. If your heart is set on a darker tile, such as navy, choose a glossy finish. It will help bounce light about the room.
“Light-reflecting tiles with a glossy or semiglossy finish are great for brightening a space, and they’re moisture-resistant, too—an ideal choice for a bathroom,” says Kropovinsky.
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When you want a bathroom to feel bright and open, the last thing you need is a shower curtain bisecting the space.
The best choice for a dark room is a frameless glass shower enclosure.
“Glass allows the space to feel more expansive, and it gives the room a custom, spalike quality,” says Wolf.
Clear glass will also show off that showstopping, new tile you chose.
Pro tip: “If privacy is a concern, frosted or textured glass can be an intriguing alternative,” suggests Kropovinsky.
When it comes to flooring, it’s all about “safety first,” according to Kropovinsky. “So always opt for nonslip surfaces.”
Whether you go light or dark is up to your personal preference.
“While light-colored tiles can add brightness, darker tiles can create an alluring contrast,” Kropovinsky adds.
But both design experts prefer solids instead of patterns in a light-challenged space.
Pro tip: To make a room feel bigger, use the same tile on the floors as the wall.
“When the material of the walls wraps onto the floor, it expands the space visually by cutting up the room less,” says Wolf.
When it comes to keeping a bathroom light and bright, the metal fixtures and accessories you choose can also reflect light.
“The right accessories in a bathroom can help to make the room a real wow experience,” says Wolf.
And metals don’t have to be matchy-matchy. For example, your door hardware could be black, while your faucets can be a luminous, aged brass.
Pro tip: “Pay attention to the shape and the finish, and don’t be afraid of mixing finishes like satin finishes and polished towel bars,” says Wolf.
And while it’s not part of the design, the ever-essential room fan is crucial in your windowless bathroom.
“A potent yet quiet fan is vital for circulating air and tackling humidity,” says Kropovinsky.
Sally Jones writes about home buying, decorating, and renovating. Her work has been published by Realtor.com, Family Handyman, ConsumerAffairs, Reader's Digest, Brit + Co, and MSN. See her kitchen and bath designs come to life on her blog, Renov8or.
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