Designing a new bathroom is an exciting project for most homeowners. It’s a chance to rectify a dated design, add more light, or enlarge a cramped interior. However, remodeling a bathroom is also challenging, and it’s all too easy to make expensive design mistakes that can lead to negative consequences.

Whether upgrading an existing space or creating a new bathroom from scratch, this article looks at ten bathroom design mistakes to avoid so you can create a relaxing sanctuary that is beautiful, comfortable, and practical for the long term.

1. Ignoring Layout and Flow

A well-planned layout and flow are essential if your bathroom is to be functional and feel aligned with your lifestyle and relaxation needs. Consider how you typically use the bathroom. Ensure there’s optimized traffic flow and enough space around fixtures for ease of movement. Remember to avoid placing doors where they will obstruct critical areas.

The placement of sinks, showers, storage, and other elements is also important to the look of the space. It’s essential there’s a visual balance. Additionally, consider the location of plumbing and electrical points to avoid expensive adjustments later.

2. Neglecting Accessibility

Neglecting accessibility can be a significant oversight in bathroom design. Planning for the future is key, especially if you intend to age in place or accommodate family members with mobility issues.

Consider incorporating accessibility features such as a walk-in shower, bench seats, and grab bars to enhance safety and provide a more convenient way for the whole family to use the bathroom.

Ensure that light switches, towel racks, and other fixtures are within easy reach. Likewise, wider doorways help people of all abilities, while barrier-free access allows everyone to access the bathroom.


3. Not Using the Correct Materials

Due to the high moisture environment, choosing suitable materials for your bathroom is crucial. Moisture-resistant materials such as porcelain or ceramic tiles are sensible choices that will prevent expensive damage and the need for regular maintenance

Avoid materials that warp in damp conditions or deteriorate when exposed to humidity. Solid wood is an unsuitable material for a bathroom.

The right finishes, paints, and sealants are also essential. Choose finishes that can withstand frequent cleaning and are water-resistant. Additionally, consider using materials with fewer grout lines to minimize mold and mildew growth.

4. Insufficient Storage/Counter Space

Good storage is vital to an organized, safe, and attractive bathroom. Built-in storage solutions, such as cabinets, shelves, and recessed niches, are a standard feature in well-designed bathrooms. Proper storage ensures toiletries, towels, and other essentials are easily accessible while keeping surfaces clutter-free.

Elsewhere in the bathroom, consider vanity units with drawers and compartments to maximize space and enhance functionality. Think also of incorporating vertical storage options to use wall space as effectively as possible.

Ample bathroom storage ensures everything has its place and keeps the general interior tidy, clean, and welcoming.

Blue and White Vanity, Condo Bathroom

5. Forgetting About Ventilation

The bathroom is one room in the home where you don’t want to forget about ventilation. It’s crucial so as to prevent damage caused by mold, mildew, and humidity. Without adequate ventilation, moisture can accumulate, leading to long-term issues with your walls, floors, ceilings, and fixtures.

Install a high-quality exhaust fan to effectively remove moisture and odors from the air. Ensure this fan is appropriately sized for your bathroom and vented to the outside. Adding a timer or humidity sensor lets you automatically control the fan’s operation.

Incorporate windows that can be opened to provide natural ventilation, which will help maintain a healthier bathroom environment.

6. Neglecting Proper Lighting

Lighting is important for any interior, but as with ventilation, it’s particularly crucial for a bathroom. Good lighting enhances a bathroom’s functionality, ambiance, and, most importantly, safety.

Layered lighting is vital for this important room. Incorporate light layers, including ambient lighting for overall illumination, task lighting around mirrors for detailed activities, and accent lighting to highlight architectural features or decor.

Incorporating dimmers to adjust the lighting based on the time of day and mood helps you control how your bathroom looks and feels at any given moment. Natural light sources are also important. Carefully consider during the design process how skylights and window placements and sizes can enhance your bathroom further.

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7. Inadequate Waterproofing

As mentioned, inadequate waterproofing can lead to severe damage in your bathroom. Proper waterproofing is essential to protecting against water leaks, mold, and structural damage.

Key areas requiring waterproofing include all wet areas, such as showers, bathtubs, and sinks, which must be thoroughly sealed with high-quality waterproof membranes and sealants. Pay special attention to joints, corners, and edges where water is most likely to seep through.

Standard practice is to use water-resistant backer boards behind tiles and to apply waterproof coatings to walls and floors. Sweeney Design Remodel uses Schluter product membrane and performs a water test before the installation of the tile. It’s worth investing in good waterproofing, which will ensure you enjoy a durable, safe, and moisture-free bathroom environment.

8. Incorrect Placement of Fixtures

Shower Remodel with Rolling Door, 10 Common Bathroom Design Mistakes to Avoid for Your Madison Bathroom RemodelPoor fixture placement can negatively impact the functionality, flow, and ambiance of your bathroom. To avoid this problem, take time to carefully plan where to position key elements like the toilet, shower, and sink.

As a rule, avoid placing the toilet as the first thing visible when the door opens. Consider positioning your toilet and shower in separate areas so as to create a hygienic divide between the different ways we use our bathrooms.

Ensure that fixtures are easily accessible and that there’s adequate space around them for comfortable use. Working with a qualified design-build firm to strategically place plumbing lines and fixtures according to your design preferences will help minimize the need for costly adjustments in future years.

9. Using Solid Wood Flooring

Although an attractive feature in many rooms, solid wood flooring is less practical in a bathroom. It’s highly susceptible to water damage and warping, which can reduce its appearance and, in time, become a hazard.

Instead, look for water-resistant alternatives like porcelain or ceramic tiles, luxury vinyl planks, or wood-look tiles that offer the aesthetic of wood without the associated risks. These materials are durable, easy to maintain, and can withstand the high-moisture environment of a home bathroom.

10. Choosing Hard-to-Clean Finishes

In the excitement of choosing beautiful tiles, paints, and finishes, it can be easy to forget how important an easy-to-clean surface is in a bathroom. You want materials and finishes that are simple to wipe down regularly with minimal effort.

Avoid materials that quickly show water spots, soap scum, or grime. Opt for durable options like porcelain tiles, quartz countertops, and moisture-resistant paints that are simple to wipe clean and require little to no maintenance. Avoid surfaces with excessive grout lines or intricate textures that are hard to clean.

Easy-to-wipe surfaces ensure your bathroom remains hygienic and looks fresh without the hassle of constant cleaning.

Your trusted design-build professionals will help you identify the best finishes and materials for your bathroom.

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Work with a Design-Build Remodeling Specialist in Madison, WI

At Sweeney Design Remodel of Madison, WI, we’ve been helping homeowners create the homes of their dreams since 1954.

As one of the most trusted names in remodeling, we ensure fantastic results for every project we complete. Our 4-step design-build methodology seamlessly integrates both the design and build elements of a project.

Our experienced and friendly team guides homeowners through a proprietary design-build process where customers remain informed, engaged, and 100% satisfied. We can do the same with you.

Take a look at our special approach to home remodels, sign up for our newsletter, and reach out to us directly. We look forward to discussing how we can help you achieve the perfect home.