5 design tips for your windowless bathroom - how to fake a light and bright look

A lack of natural light doesn't have to be a design flaw

Pink downstairs bathroom with wallpaper
(Image credit: Future)

Natural light is an essential part of any home, but the reality is that windowless bathrooms are a feature that many of us have to grapple with. Whether it's a downstairs cloakroom or an en-suite, design tips for your windowless bathroom can turn these dark, dreary spaces into welcoming and relaxing rooms.

It all comes down to clever designs which act as optical illusions to make a windowless bathroom feel bigger. You might have to make some carefully considered decisions, especially in a small bathroom, but the result can be just as stunning as in a room filled with natural light.

5 design tips for a windowless bathroom

Windowless bathrooms are a tricky feature in your home to work with and unless you're undertaking a hefty home renovation, it's not easy or affordable to change where windows are located.

However, great power lies in clever use of colour, lighting and tiles. Your bathroom might not be a light-filled sanctuary but what you can create is a detailed design filled with texture and colour, creating a cosy corner in your home.

1. Embrace darkness

Green bathroom with tiles and bath

(Image credit: Future)

The simplest way to decorate a windowless bathroom is to just lean into the dark ambience. If you can't beat them, join them!

While lighter walls can help to make a small bathroom feel bigger, there's something inviting about creating a cosy scheme with walls drenched in dark hues. Navy is a great choice for a more high-end touch whereas dark green evokes nature, creating a calming environment.

'If you are looking to decorate a bathroom that doesn’t have any natural light, this doesn’t mean you have to shy away from bold colours or boring products,' adds Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs.

'In fact, white ideally needs natural light to look its best so stay clear. Colour can add depth and draw your eye into interesting pieces in the room, perhaps to a freestanding bath that sits within a halo of colour.'

2. Drench the room in colour and pattern

Pink downstairs bathroom with wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

Adding brightness to a design doesn't just have to be through neutral walls and accessories. Going for a bold design with bright colours that take over the room will make it feel energised and inspiring.

More is more with this idea, so don't be afraid to mix your favourite bathroom wallpaper idea with paint in a featured colour so that it pops even more.

'If you are wanting to use more than one pattern, consider wainscoting to provide a breaker between the two so that each shine in their own light, whether that is through tiles alone or wallpaper,' adds Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca' Pietra.

3. Focus on lighting

Downstairs bathroom with dark wallpaper and panelling

(Image credit: Future/Soho Management)

A singular ceiling light isn't enough in a windowless bathroom. Not only is bathroom lighting essential for making sure you can use the toilet in the middle of the night, it also has a huge impact on the overall ambience.

Bathrooms are also spaces to relax and unwind, so flanking a mirror with wall lights and adding multiple spotlights with dimmers will illuminate the room for practicality purposes and also create a cosy aura.

4. Play with texture

Bathroom with dark walls and green tiled wall

(Image credit: Future)

In a windowless bathroom it's essential to get creative with ways to bounce light that don't involve using natural sunlight.

Texture is a simple way to achieve this - as well as adding interest to the design, artificial light will bounce off gloss bathroom tile ideas and mirrored surfaces to create a brighter space.

'Tiles play an important role in the design of windowless bathrooms as they bring a visual texture and interest. Don’t be scared of pattern either, even in small windowless spaces, as it can be just what is needed to create a bathroom with impact,' adds Grazzie.

5. Flood the room in colour

Downstairs bathroom in red

(Image credit: Future)

Colour drenching is a trend we can't get enough of and it's perfectly placed in a small dark room. By painting walls, woodwork and the ceiling in the same shade it intentionally draws the room inwards to create a snug feel. So, attention will be on the dramatic colour choice instead of the lack of windows.

If you're going down the colour drenching route then adding a bathroom wall panelling idea to the look will create more depth and is a great opportunity to experiment with a tonal scheme.


How to make a small bathroom feel bigger

We all want spacious bathrooms to soak and relax in but for many of us that isn't quite the reality, so we have to work with what we've got. Dreary colours that are neither bright nor cosy will quickly make a bathroom feel drab, so steer away from earthy tones that instead work best in naturally larger spaces.

Focus on designs that extend the eye upwards to the height of the room or horizontally to make a space feel wider, such as wallpaper patterns, tile layouts and wall panelling.

Wainscoting is a nifty feature that will allow you to get creative with wallpaper and panelling and pulls attention to the ceiling height - perfect if you're blessed with a Victorian property.

So don't be disillusioned if you have a bathroom (or two) without windows - there are so many ways to make it a delightful design feature to be proud of!

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).