13 Bold, Unique, and Truly Exceptional Bathrooms We Loved this Year

published Dec 26, 2022
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Credit: Diana Paulson

Bathrooms are a utilitarian room in the house: Much like the kitchen, a bathroom serves a clear purpose, and usually isn’t the room you spend the most time in, so it can fall by the wayside in favor of more exciting projects, like the living room or backyard. But take it from these renters and homeowners: bathrooms are the perfect place to go bold, embrace original details, and even create a lounge space. Their small square footage is the perfect opportunity to think out of the box when it comes to design, as evidenced by these incredible favorite bathrooms from house tours this year.

Credit: Erin Derby

1. A Lounge-y Brownstone Bathroom

Of her Upper West Side apartment, Jessica Rachel Williams says that the “entire brownstone is immaculately maintained. You can feel the landlord’s love and care for her property, even from the outside,” and in particular, the bathroom includes some stunning original elements. Jessica says the bathroom was likely a former kitchen due to the presence of a dumbwaiter and a fireplace. “Having a studio apartment, where practically everything takes place in one room. I overcame it by making my kitchen welcoming as a room and creating a lounge feel in my bathroom.”

Credit: Viv Yapp

2. A Spa-Like Retreat in a Big City

What was once a dated, run-down bathroom in Erin and Ben Hung’s Hong Kong apartment is now a spa-like retreat thanks to careful planning and coordination. “We found inspiration in the surroundings of our property,” Erin says, “where it is low density, quiet, and natural. We used lots of earthy colors like sage green and terracotta, working in pops of more jewel tones for interest as well as materials like reclaimed wood, rattan, linens, and bamboos for soft furnishing mixed with brass. We also loved the old world, relaxed vibe of the Spanish villa tiles, and used Zellige and vintage patterned tiles as well as slabs of terrazzo in the kitchen and bathrooms.”

3. A Playful, Geometric Shower

All of Simon and Emma’s London home is swathed in bright, bold color, but the bathroom is particularly cheeky, featuring pops of geometric tile in the shower. “We also lost one small box room to create a good size double bedroom and two bathrooms,” Emma says, so “one is en suite so the house has been considerably reconfigured up as well.” The playful tiles are by Tom Pigeon, and are hand decorated with lithographic prints.

4. A Mix of Classic and Modern

Stephen and Christina’s main goal for their Detroit, Michigan, home was to blend both their styles into a storied space, which is quite evident in the layered, earthy bathroom. “Using unique materials that told a story were very important to us when designing throughout the house,” writes Stephen. “We wanted a mix of classic and modern. Italian with Scandinavian. And Christina’s maximalism to my minimalism. Ultimately it ended in a home that reflects both of our individual styles together.” Their best advice? “Definitely find contractors you trust. Make sure you get good recommendations or pay a little extra and work with a general contractor.”

5. Luxe Wallpaper and Original Features

Hilary Schwartz says her biggest embarrassment is “the amount of times I changed my mind on bathroom designs,” in her Detroit, Michigan, home, but judging by the fact that not one but two of her bathrooms made this list, we’d say the indecision paid off in the end. This powder room features show-stopping Gucci wallpaper and olive green square tiles that coordinate perfectly with the original vintage sink.

6. Striking Marble and Simple Fixtures

Now, the primary bathroom in this Detroit, Michigan, home might be even more stunning (though we’re definitely on the fence between the two), with high contrast Calcutta marble, a vintage-inspired light fixture, and simple, clean ceramic.

7. Shimmering Zellige Shower

“I’m obsessed with the bathrooms,” says Kit Williamson of the home he shares with husband John Halbach in Yucca Valley, California, “which is amazing because they started out as the worst rooms in the house. I’ve never had a windowless bathroom before, so I was a little unsure of how to design them, but we took a big swing with bold cement floor tiles and Moroccan Zellige showers from Villa Lagoon Tile and it feels like stepping into a magical stone cave. And I’m in love with the bronze exposed pipe showers from Signature Hardware.”

8. An Outdoor Pink Bath

Given that the name of her brand is “Three Boys and a Pink Bath,” it’s no surprise that Sofie Hepworth has a pink bathtub in her Kent, UK home. But the location is a bit unusual. The outdoor pink bath was a snap decision that everyone thought was crazy at the time,” Sofie admits, “but not only is it beautiful it gets used ALL the time (no killer spiders in this country, guys).”

9. Mid-Century Madness

Lizzie Darden is living the original mid-century tiled dream, with two bathrooms in her Florida home that have original tile. “When we toured this home in person one of our favorite parts was the bathrooms — two mid-century original pastel tiled bathrooms with matching monochromatic fixtures,” she says, “like, complete with sky blue toilet and towel bars and everything. In the 1970s condo we had just moved from there was a similar style set of bathrooms, one pink and one blue just the same, but they were in rougher shape and couldn’t really be restored, so we saw this as the perfect opportunity to do it right this time and really lean into the kitschiness of the style.”

Credit: Lula poggi

10. An Arched Vanity

This Barcelona apartment is graced with an archway in every room (how lucky?!) and that includes the bathroom. “They bring an aesthetic harmony and it is the first characteristic that always strikes our guests,” says Amina Camilleri, and in the bathroom, creates a natural vanity.

11. A Very 1980s-Style Kids’ Bathroom

Have you ever seen a more exciting kids’ bathroom? This bold, bright, and made-for-kids bathroom in Emily Wassall’s Los Angeles home is a perfect example of designing for kids without sacrificing on really cool finishes. The bright yellow vanity and tiles, combined with the custom rain shower curtain, blue shower, and pink accent wall create a decidedly ’80s, Nickelodeon vibe that’s still elevated enough for adults to enjoy.

12. A Riad-Inspired London Bathroom

Believe it or not, when Hannah Drakeford moved into her London home, it was a bland, beige box with all beige everything: walls, carpet, kitchen, and bathroom. But now the bathroom — which once had beige tiles, a chrome towel rail, and faux wood laminate — is her favorite DIY. “The inspiration for this room came from a trip I took to Marrakech a few years ago. The riad we stayed in had the most amazing circle motif tiles in the bathroom and I always knew I had to try and recreate this in some form.”

13. Terrazzo Instead of Tile

Terrazzo shows no sign of slowing down, especially not when it’s used to such great effect, like in Dylan and Jess Odbert‘s guest bathroom in their San Clemente, California, home. The irregular floor and countertop perfectly coordinate with the clean lines of the vertical tile, and the final pop of a translucent shower curtain and sink basin pull the whole space together.