9 Tips for Bathroom Accents that Bring Beauty, Not Clutter

Learn how to use décor accents to beautify your bathroom without cluttering it up.

By Ande Waggener

 

Interior design in bathrooms is not generally heavily focused on room accents. The bulk of bathroom ideas are about the fixtures and materials for floors and walls and shower enclosures, not about what you’re going to put in the room after everything is installed.

 

Perhaps because what you put in a bathroom has more to do with its usability than its beauty, bathroom accents often get ignored. They’re sort of, “Oh yeah, I should put something here,” like a footnote to the story. This is unfortunate because bathroom accents can either ruin the story or enhance the story. They deserve to be more like an engaging subplot than a footnote.

 

Bathrooms, of course, are functional rooms, and there are certain things you must have in them. However, you don’t need to strew what you need all over your beautiful space. No matter how neatly you might line up your necessities, they’re still going to look like clutter if they’re dominating the counter.

 

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To get the optimal balance of function and style in your bathroom, you must be purposeful about what you’re going to display. Here are nine interior design ideas to help you make good bathroom accent choices.

 

1. Contain

One of the easiest ways to turn what you need into attractive home décor is to display everything in some type of container. Use trays, baskets, and decorative bottles to hold your necessities.

 

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As you can see in the photo above, you can even use a slab of wood as a “stage” for items you need.

 

Larger items, like small appliances, are another matter. As a rule, they should never be used as an “accent.” For one thing, they’re never attractive. For another, they’re too large to tuck into a small basket.

 

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For these types of items, the best solution is to choose a vanity that has cabinets or drawers.

 

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If you can’t do that, place a large basket under your sink and keep your unsightly appliances stored out of sight.

 

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If you have a lot of self-care appliances and potions in your bathroom, you can combine both a cabinet and baskets to create a pretty bathroom vignette.

 

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2. Minimize

Even if you do contain your bathroom helpers and even if you have pretty things to display, you can still ruin the look of your bathroom if you go too far.

 

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Although nothing around the sink above is unattractive, the totality of the accents ends up looking like a crowded muddle.

 

When you weed out your décor and carefully choose just a few items, you have a cleaner, more attractive look.

 

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3. Homogenize

Although contrast is important in all home décor (and I talk about it in more detail later in this article), bathrooms often have plenty of contrast just in the materials themselves. When that’s the case, adding more contrast in accents creates chaos instead of calm.

 

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When you have a strong contrast between your sink and a surrounding element like cabinetry or the wall, the best accents are those that have the same look as either the sink or one of those elements.

 

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Notice how the accents above echo the color and shape of the sink itself. Because of the stark contrast between the sink and its surroundings, having homogenous accents keeps the area open and pleasing to the eye.

 

4. Monotonize

Although a monotone can be boring, it can also be soothing. In the case of color, monotony (as in having a limited range) is needed if the surroundings already have a couple colors or patterns.

 

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In the bathroom above, the area around the sink has two patterns: stripes and circles. It also has three colors, white and dark gray and light tray. Adding accents in different colors would have created a hodgepodge of hues. Keeping the accents all white allows the existing patterns to play well together without distractions.

 

5. Duplicate

When you have double sinks, one of the best ways to accessorize is with duplicate items, one set for each sink. Doing this keeps the area in balance.

 

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The matched accents above create a pleasing symmetry that pairs well with the sinks.

 

6. Stack and Cluster   

If you have open shelving, the most effective way to display your accents is to bring them together. Either stack them or put them in pyramids or tight groupings.

 

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Stacks and clusters tighten up smaller items, effectively turning them into one larger accent instead of a bunch of small ones.

 

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The bathroom above would actually be better accented by monochromatic pieces, as discussed in Tip #4 above, but because the accents are tightly grouped, and their colors blend with those in the tile, they still work.

 

7. Texturize

All the smooth surfaces in a bathroom often need some balance in the form of texture. Towels usually do double duty as necessities and texture, but an especially plain bathroom can still be left looking flat. In these cases, choose an accent that is highly textural.

 

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The tree branch above adds much-needed rustic texture to an otherwise sleekly modern space.

 

You can, however, go overboard with this technique.

 

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8. Contrast

As discussed in Section Three, most bathrooms have contrast built into the materials. Some, however, don’t. When your bathroom is already homogenized, use an accent to add color and interest. You can do this with something as simple as fresh flowers.

 

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Or you could introduce the contrast via the vase for the flowers or some other sculptural piece.

 

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9. Scale It

As with any home décor accents, objects that are out of balance with their surroundings will be distracting and off-putting. In a bathroom, don’t choose an accent that will overpower your sink or other fixtures like mirrors.

 

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Instead, choose an object that fits the space. A good rule of thumb is to choose accents that are no more than 40 percent of the size of the sink or other nearby fixture.

 

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As the examples you’ve seen here show, no matter how lovely your bathroom fixtures are, you can turn lovely into littered if you don’t organize your necessities and choose your décor accents wisely. The above nine room styling ideas should give you some help in organizing and optimizing the function and charm of your bathroom.

 

Do you have any great bathroom accent ideas? Please share them in the comments below!

 

And don't forget, you can always try out your bathroom design ideas without fear of making a mistake in House Tipster's Virtual Rooms before you make them reality! 

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com

Next: Understanding the Importance of Bathroom Color Palettes