How to add character to a bathroom – 10 easy ways to inject individual style

Our top tips will lend even the blandest of bathrooms bags of personality

bathroom wallpaper with sink
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Understanding how to add character to a bathroom is one of the biggest challenges faced by homeowners who often find it can be something of a juggling act to introduce personality and warmth into a space which does, after all, serve primarily a practical role in the home. That said, there is no reason why bathroom ideas should be solely focussed on functionality – this is a room that has the potential to relax and restore given the right treatment.

In order to do this, the bathroom should feel like somewhere inviting, warm and tailored to you – so forget the age-old myth that bathrooms should be all-white, sterile spaces.

'The general advice for bathroom renovating is to decorate with white to create a bright, airy and timeless feel,' explains Ruth Foster, interior design expert at Victoria Plum 'However, let’s face it – while a white bathroom has long been considered a classic choice, its reign has run its course, and it’s high time to explore alternative options.'

How to add character to a bathroom

Whether you want to make a modern bathroom idea less sterile or you want to align your bathroom decor to the rest of your home, adding character will transform it into a welcoming space you want to start each day in.

Here, we take a look at the best ways to pull plenty of character into the bathroom, whether you are working with a brand-new space or a slightly shabby one in need of an update.

1. Inject personality through your bathroom hardware

a neutral bathroom with marble floor and wall tiles and a shower area with brass fittings

(Image credit: Alexander James)

As is so often the case when it comes to interior design, it is the small details in bathrooms, such as basin taps, that can make all the difference to the way it looks and feels.

'One of the most effective strategies to infuse character into bathroom spaces is to focus on the finer details,' confirms Jorge Hernandez, head of design at Crosswater. 'Consider incorporating unique fixtures and fittings that showcase craftsmanship and attention to detail. For example, opting for vintage-inspired taps or statement basins can instantly elevate the aesthetic of a bathroom and inject personality.'

'Adding character to your bathroom through the hardware is a great way to infuse style and personality into a space,' agrees Jeevan Seth, CEO at JTP. 'Try upgrading your bathroom taps, shower heads, radiators and other fixtures to create a statement. Bold colour choices like brushed brass, brushed bronze or matt black will help to add a touch of sophistication and elegance.'

The GoodHome Akita Satin Brass Basin Mixer Tap from B&Q is a great cost-effective option.

2. Add touches of nature

Light wooden bathroom sink cabinets, hanging round mirror and pendant lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Natural materials, particularly those in their stripped back, raw state, instantly add a soothing warmth to all kinds of spaces, but seem to work particularly well in bathrooms, which should feel like a spot to take time to restore.

'Don't underestimate the power of texture and high-quality materials,' advises Jorge Hernandez. 'Introducing natural elements such as wood or stone accents can add warmth and depth to the space, while also creating a sense of serenity.'

Whether that is a timber work surface or a bold stone basin, there are plenty of ways to pull in aspects of nature – and those using neutral bathroom ideas should pay attention here as this is one look that can really benefit from the introduction of natural elements.

'Using understated, neutral tones as a backdrop, pair soft colours with natural materials like wood, fresh foliage and timeless design elements for a clean, sophisticated aesthetic that boasts plenty of character,' suggests Sam Tamlyn, managing director at California Shutters.

The Fulton Pine Effect Bathroom Undersink Unit from Dunelm offers not only a good storage solution but also a warm, rustic vibe.

3. Be brave with colour and pattern

bathroom wallpaper with sink

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Wondering whether wallpaper in a bathroom is oudated? The good news is that it's had a modern refresh. If you want to add character, now is not the time to be timid with your choice of bathroom colour schemes, textures and patterns.

'Don't be afraid to experiment with colour and pattern. Bold wallpaper or vibrant tiles can make a striking statement and transform a bland bathroom into a stylish sanctuary,' says Jorge Hernandez. 'By carefully curating these elements, homeowners can create bathrooms that not only serve a practical purpose but also reflect their unique style and personality.'

If you feel a little wary of going down the colour drenching route or papering your entire bathroom in a strongly patterned wallpaper, consider focussing on just one wall or section of tiles – perhaps the area behind the basin – instead.

4. Take a mix-and-match approach

green panelled bathroom with tiled floor

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

While there is most certainly a place for smart, cohesive interiors, if it's lots of character you are after, a more eclectic, relaxed approach tends to be a better option.

This might mean mixing old and new, or bringing together several different textures for added interest – some of the most stylish schemes are the result of combining classic bathroom ideas with some ultra-modern fittings. The Mode Tate black basin mixer tap from Victoria Plum would look fantastic within an otherwise rustic setting.

'Mixing materials, textures, and finishes can add depth and character to your space,' agrees Ruth Foster. 'It's all about creating visual interest and balance. Don't be afraid to experiment with contrasting elements for a truly unique design. For instance, pairing a rustic wooden vanity with contemporary chrome fittings can create a striking juxtaposition that adds visual intrigue.'

5. Don't underestimate the power of good lighting

Bathroom with maroon wood panelled walls, grey and white marbled floor, handbasin in wooden chest of drawers vanity unit

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

There is so much more to getting bathroom lighting ideas right than just thinking in practical terms – your choice of light fittings has the power to completely transform the overall ambience of the room, taking it from clinical to super cosy.

'Downlights are a practical consideration for general bathroom light, but forget the concept of a grid of lighting,' warns Sally Storey, creative director at John Cullen Lighting. 'Instead, highlight the finishes by locating LEDs close to a tiled or stone wall, providing streaks of light almost like running water. Position another light to direct towards the basin and another above the WC or towel rail and it will provide the perfect balance.'

'Why not add another layer of lighting for more drama and interest into your bathroom?' continues Sally. 'Consider the addition of lit niches either in the shower or above the bath.'

6. Use bathroom walls to display artworks

Bathroom with yellow cabinet and art print on wall.

(Image credit: Future/James French Photography)

For some reason, many homeowners often miss out on the bathroom when displaying prized artwork around the house – but in doing this they really are missing a trick. Hanging your favourite pieces of art as bathroom wall decor is the perfect way to express your style and personality and will instantly give it a character boost.

'I love putting art in a bathroom,' says interior designer Serena Dugan. 'Particularly small-scale artwork, because small-scale artwork feels unprecious. It adds curiosity as it feels like it has a story. Bathrooms are generally quite sterile and odd art pulls personality in.'

'Bathrooms are very personal spaces so consider using accessories and artwork to create a bespoke feel,' suggests Shamila Iqbal, director at Bathroom Mountain. 'Hanging framed prints, photos, or even a small gallery wall using water-resistant frames can add character to your walls.'

Check out Ink & Drop's range of bathroom prints.

7. Create a strong focal point

bathroom with dark blue panel wall and bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore)

A strong focal point will add character into any room scheme, bathroom included and is also the ideal way to introduce colour or pattern without it overwhelming the space.

'Do you love a particular bold colour, but you're hesitant to commit to painting the entire bathroom? Consider adding an accent wall,' suggests bathroom design expert, Sam Waring, at 'Choose one wall, ideally the one opposite the entrance, to create a focal point and add a pop of colour. Introduce a pop of colour like sunshine yellow, a calming lavender, or a trendy blush pink.'

'For the truly adventurous, explore richer options like a deep teal or a terracotta that adds warmth,' continues Sam. 'Consider even more daring choices like a rich eggplant purple or a charcoal grey for a truly unique look (Brinjal by Farrow & Ball is a sophisticated aubergine-inspired shade that would work brilliantly). An accent wall allows you to incorporate bolder colours while maintaining a sense of balance for those after small bathroom colour ideas too.'

8. Don't be too quick to discount a shower curtain

Traditional blue abthroom with tiled shower

(Image credit: Future PLC)

There is no denying the many advantages of opting for a glass shower screen rather than a shower curtain – they are easy to clean, help to encourage a good flow of natural light and won't stick to you while you are showering as some curtains have the tendency to do.

However, there is still very much a place for shower curtain ideas in modern bathrooms and one of the reasons for this is the way they can add a little charm and softness to the space. The Pasadena Polyester Shower Curtain Set from Wayfair features a whimsical floral pattern perfect for injecting charm.

'Shower curtains are a brilliant way to soften a sterile bathroom,' says Serena Dugan. 'They’re rare these days, but it’s always nice to see some softer pattern in these spaces.'

Serena Dugan
Serena Dugan

With an education in both psychology and fine art, Serena has spend the past 20 years developing her imprint as a painter and designer – first as chief officer at Serena & Lily, the home and lifestyle brand she launched 15 years ago and now at the helm of her namesake brand.

9. Upgrade your walls with panelling

Downstairs bathroom with wall panelling and wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Using wall panelling ideas in the bathroom is a brilliant and speedy way to add character and a new dimension to any kind of space.

Panelling comes in so many designs and is easy to fix on a DIY basis too meaning it is a great option for those aiming to keep costs low. Take your pick from classic Shaker designs, to fresh, tongue-and-groove layouts that would be perfect for anyone aiming for a coastal look.

And if you still aren't convinced, bear in mind that some wall panels come with acoustic properties that can help out anyone wondering how to soundproof a bathroom.

The Cheshire Mouldings medium-density fibreboard wall panelling kit from B&Q comes ready to paint in any colour you choose.

10. Shun standard fittings

Bathroom with pink shower area and wooden ribbed storage cabinet.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One sure-fire way to add an individual feel to your bathroom is to stay away from off-the-shelf, standard items.

'Step away from the standard builder-grade vanity and embark on a treasure hunt!' says David Cruz at 'Look for a piece with a one-of-a-kind shape, interesting hardware, or a countertop that elevates the space. Imagine a vanity made from reclaimed wood boasting a weathered texture that tells a story. Or perhaps a sleek, modern vanity with a vessel sink made from coloured glass adds a touch of artistic flair. Don't be afraid to explore different materials like marble or soapstone for a luxurious feel.'


How do you update a bathroom withou renovating?

There is no need for a total rip-out-and-replace in order to update your bathroom – there are plenty of easy bathroom decorating ideas that will result in some of the most impactful changes.

'It's possible to achieve a stunning bathroom transformation without overspending,' says Ruth Foster, interior design expert at Victoria Plum. 'From budget-friendly fixtures to DIY-friendly upgrades, there are numerous cost-effective options available.'

'A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in revitalising your bathroom,' she suggests. 'It will brighten up the space and provide a timeless backdrop for various design elements.'

'Simple changes such as new soap dispensers, towel rails or toilet roll holders can go a long way in transforming the aesthetic of your bathroom,' continues Ruth. 'Not only do bathroom accessories help create a comfortable environment, but they also give you a chance to express your personal style.'

Ruth Foster
Ruth Foster

Ruth Foster is Victoria Plum’s resident interior designer. She is passionate about home-related trends and loves light, airy interiors shaped by organic forms and colours. With a background in textiles for interiors, she has recently received her master’s in interior design.

How can you make a small bathroom feel luxurious?

Even budget small bathroom ideas can boost the opulence of your bathroom.

'Designing for smaller spaces shouldn’t mean sacrificing performance or compromising on style,' says Ruth Foster. 'No matter how small the space may be, there is always room for a stylish makeover – you just have to choose the right items.'

'Keep your eye out for space-saving fixtures such as compact corner toilets, wall-mounted sinks, and shower-bath combos to make the most of the available space,' continues Ruth. 'For example, if your space lacks depth, a combination toilet and basin unit may be the right way to go.'

Having said that, there is no reason why owners of smaller bathrooms should shun darker, more sultry shades.

'Feel free to embrace the unexpected. Dark, saturated colours like emerald green or navy blue can work wonders in small bathrooms with enough natural light,' says Sam Waring. 'These dramatic colours create a luxurious, jewel-box feel, especially when paired with good lighting and metallic accents. Think of luxurious hotel bathrooms for some inspiration. Dark colours can add a touch of sophistication and glamour to a small bathroom, making it feel unique and intimate.'

Which small ways are you going to inject character into your family bathroom or WC?