Hotels are always a rich resource for renovators and decorators. The designers tasked with creating these memorable, welcoming places to stay often manage to elegantly walk the line between creativity and usability, a goal for any of us shooting for a truly interesting makeover at home. Hotel bathrooms tend to be a touch more fearlessly designed than your average residential bath, which resulted in this list of ideas that all focus on don'ts that are worth doing…
• Don't play it too safe even when working with traditional materials. The example (shown above) from the Kelly Wearstler-designed Viceroy in Santa Monica is a great example of how you can take a classic (and accessible!) material, in this case, subway tile, and use it in unusual ways to add a powerful visual interest update. Aside from an unusual and handsome bottle green color choice, making it run both vertically and horizontally in the same space creates a texture and pattern that is unexpected, but not jarring.
• Don't buy into the concept that a bathroom HAS to have ultra-practical glossy washable walls and traditionally tiled floors… break some rules and bring on some unique textures and finishes! This bathroom from the Bellinter House in Ireland shows how chalky matte-finish dark walls and painted wide plank floors look just as gorgeous in the bath as they would in the rest of the house. While they would require different maintenance, it might be worth it for such an elegant look. (plus, hello! a metallic silver tiled shower stall!)
• Don't relegate the penny tile flooring to just the floors. This all-over penny tile application is fantastic on the floor, but gets even better — more graphical and impactful — as it wraps up the walls. The floor plus wall install is classic concept when done with expensive marble and stone, but it works just as well with more affordable smaller-scale tile. Another point to remember: stopping at the chair rail works well in this example from the Hotel St. Cecilia in Austin - the dark color and intense pattern is made more powerful visually by the balance of the white space.
• Don't hide the things you use everyday away. While some closed storage is essential, it takes up lots of room and can visually really close in a small space bathroom. Instead of focusing on adding lots of closed storage when planning a remodel, think about implementing attractive open storage solutions. As this example from the Hospes Maricel in Mallorca shows, it can be done well, it looks good and may ultimately be more convenient.
• Don't try and hide the bathroom's quirks — put the focus on them for a memorable room. This old-fashioned toilet style in the example from the Hotel Sigtuna Stads in Sweden , while interesting, is not the most instantly attractive plumbing to deal with; an awkward single skinny pipe running toward the ceiling isn't anyones idea of an aesthetic "plus". BUT, by actually drawing attention to it by keeping it (or making it) a dark, shiny copper while having the rest of the room white, white, white for the most part, is the genius move. It starts to become what makes the room work visually, instead of a detraction.
• Don't automatically write off what, at first, sounds like a ridiculously scary concept. Case in point is this all-black bathroom. Now, if you were planning a reno and someone suggested a black toilet and sink, you be a little worried, right? But then they say, no, no, it looks great because the floors and walls are also all black - they are done in a super shiny black tile. Eek - you'd be even more doubtful, no? But then, look at this photo of a bathroom from the Hotel on Rivington and it all makes sense. It feels amazingly clean and not at all scary 80s.
The main point of looking at these sounds-funky-on-paper ideas? The reminder that there are very few real absolutes in the world of design - keeping an open mind can net the most interesting and beautiful results!