When it comes to design, less is often more. Never is this as true as in your bathroom, one of the most heavily utilized — and often cluttered — spaces in your home. It’s why minimalistic design has become increasingly more popular over the past few years, both in defiance to insatiable consumerism, but also because living with less tends to make life more streamlined and potentially more chic.
While smallest when it comes to square footage, the bathroom can often be one of the most expensive rooms to renovate and decorate. This is because almost everything in the bathroom has to be specialized. Only rivaled perhaps by the kitchen, everything in the bathroom not only needs to be specific, it also has to be durable. A simple repainted wall isn’t going to be enough in a bathroom that requires tile and other features that can withstand consistent exposure to moisture.
It’s yet another reason why a minimalistic bathroom design becomes more appealing. Inspired in no small part by the increasing popularity of the blog and documentary The Minimalists, or even Marie Kondo’s trend of “tidying up,” a minimalistic space can be a sophisticated, relaxing, potentially less expensive and more functional option for your bathroom design.
What Is Minimalism?
Minimalism is often incorrectly defined as the pursuit of having as little as possible. Though some people practice it this way, this is not realistic nor sustainable for most people. The more common and realistic way to practice minimalism is to focus on only having what you need and what you enjoy. This will pare down the belongings in your home to only what is useful or adds sentimental value for you. If this means that your shelves are not totally bare save for a single plant or two? So be it. The point of minimalism is not that you have to follow anyone else’s strict guidelines about how many things you are allowed to have. The point is that you do not waste time, space, and money on all of the belongings you don’t need and probably don’t care about either way.
If you’re interested in decluttering your space before you begin your minimalistic design, you can start by first going through with a garbage bag and attempting to throw out 25 items. It might seem like a lot, but you probably have at least that many sitting around that are simply trash. From there, you’ll want to organize your belongings into “essentials” (what you’d pack if you had to move out and could only take one bag) and what’s non-essential. Then you can see if there’s anything viable to donate or give to a friend or family member. Try your best to avoid being wasteful.
Another great trick to start decluttering is to pack up everything that is not one of your “essentials” into a box or bag and place it in storage. See if you ever have to go into it to retrieve an item. You most likely will not, and in a month or two, you will probably not even remember what’s in the box. If you want to be extra careful, wait six months or an entire year. It’s safe to say that if after a year you do not need anything from the box — nor can you even recall what’s in it — you can toss it. At this point, you probably should just keep it closed altogether, because it’s only when we start looking at items individually that we justify why we should keep them, though we don’t really want them, nor will ever use them.
This is a strategy you can employ in every room in your house, but especially the bathroom. To make a minimalistic design successful, you will need a super streamlined approach to everything from your soaps to your toiletries. A minimalistic design is great, but clutter will make it unsuccessful.
What Makes A Bathroom Minimalist?
A minimalist bathroom is defined by straight lines, neutral colors, and the least detail possible. Altogether, this can create a very relaxing and appealing appearance. Here are some of the most important elements to consider.
Bring it back to basics
Yes, you might love your shelf with a picture frame, extra mason jar of flowers on the countertop, or even rustic, farmhouse-inspired signage, but if it isn’t essential — or doesn’t bring you some kind of overwhelming joy to the point that you deem it a requirement — it should go.
No superfluous furniture
Stick to the basics. This is easier than normal in a bathroom, which typically only utilizes a toilet, tub, and so on. However, if you’re tempted to add any more big pieces, hold off and see if you can come up with a more streamlined solution.
Stay neat & organized
Minimalistic spaces — especially bathrooms — are extremely organized. This will apply to everything from items in your shower to what’s happening under the sink. You can use replacement jars with labels for your shampoo, conditioners, and soaps, and consider getting products that are usable for everyone to reduce the number of mismatched plastic bottles in the shower. For storage, you can do something similar. Other items you can organize and coordinate are towels, hand towels, or even storage containers for items such as your makeup.
Invest in fewer, higher-quality pieces
One of minimalism’s fundamental tenets is that you spend less money on many lower-quality items and invest in better pieces that will last you a long time. This means that your minimalist rooms should not include anything that’s cheap or cheap-looking. You can achieve this by buying things made out of natural elements such as wood and stone.
Why Does Simplifying Matter?
Other than being an aesthetic preference, a minimalistic space can also make your life cleaner, healthier, and easier to manage.
Easier to clean
A minimalistic space makes your daily pickups, weekly scrubs, and monthly deep cleans so much easier to achieve. With only a few items to keep organized and mostly straight lines and clean spaces, it’s a lot quicker to wash surfaces and put everything away at the end of the day.
Minimalism is calming and is often touted as a great solution for people who struggle with anxiety, tension, and stress. You’ll recognize that the most relaxing spaces — such as in a spa — are often very streamlined in their design. Too much clutter is overwhelming, and a more minimalistic bathroom space can help you start and end the day feeling a lot better.
Easier to function
Last, but perhaps most important, is that a minimalistic design makes your bathroom more functional. When you know where everything belongs and you don’t have to spend time sifting through cumbersome products and junk, everything from washing your hands to your face to retrieving a cleaning product or feminine care item becomes that much easier.
Planning Your Minimalist Bathroom
Aside from the obvious — which is that you’ll want to select products and materials that are neutral, clean, streamlined, and simplistic — creating a minimalist bathroom often requires more planning than that.
Pick your “statement” piece
Let’s say you want to go with white penny tile floors, white subway tile in the bathtub, a granite countertop, and white walls. All of this is very minimalistic, but you will still need something to “pop” to bring it all together. This can be the incorporation of gold or copper hardware, plants or flora, or even a unique mirror.
Set your “rules”
If you want minimalism to be successful long-term, set your own “rules” for how your bathroom is run. Decide what is allowed in there, how the items are organized and managed, and so on.
Live by “use it or lose it”
If you’re unsure as to whether or not you can stand to get rid of a certain product or item, “use it or lose it” is a good motto. If you use the item or will use the item within a reasonable period of time, you probably need it. Otherwise, it’s likely fine to let it go.
Just as the extra-large, family-style shampoo in a separate labeled container makes showering much cheaper, streamlined, and aesthetically appealing, you should find other ways for items in your bathroom to serve more than one purpose.
Decide what you can do yourself
When it comes to bathroom redesign, there’s a lot that you can accomplish on your own. You can likely handle painting, or even the replacement of a mirror. However, depending on your skill level, you might want to outsource for improvements such as lighting, tiling, or anything to do with plumbing.
Pick your motif
Everything you select for a minimalistic bathroom should meet three requirements: neutral colors, straight lines, and durable materials. Find items that fit within these guidelines and also “go” together nicely as well. For example, if you’re using a lot of white, make them uniform so that one is not more yellow (and looks older, or dirty) in comparison to a more stark white used somewhere else.
Minimalist Bathroom Ideas & Inspiration
This bathroom uses thick black lines to give the space lots of contrast and depth. A lot of minimalistic designs can often come off as too light or cold, and this addresses that problem nicely. With white subway tiles (which are as affordable as they are sturdy and attractive), extra-large black octagonal floor tiles, a shower that’s built right into the floor, and clean black lines everywhere else, this space combines easygoing minimalism with style and a little bit of edge.
If you really want to go for an extreme look in your home, consider an all-cement wall, ceiling, and floor combination. The appearance is strikingly minimal. This often looks best when it is done next to a large window space, as natural lighting is essential to making the concrete look elegant but not cold.
This space combines minimalist design principles with modern style and a little bit of farmhouse chic. The ceiling is done uniquely, with shiplap, the hardware is a bright copper color, and there’s an open shower concept with a clawfoot tub for soaking. This bathroom combines the best of all worlds and makes for a gorgeous fusion.
This bathroom is a great example that minimalistic design does not have to mean “as little as possible.” We see this through the products placed on the stool next to the tub and the items organized on the shelves. The products here are super streamlined — a curved soaking tub, black straight lines, simple black shaded globes for a light fixture — and the focus remains on the open windows and natural landscape right outside. Whether it is through bringing greens into the space or making the outdoors a focal point via an oversized window, minimalist design uses nature a lot.
More attainable for a typical family home, this bathroom utilizes a variety of neturals (tans, beiges, and wood colors in addition to white) as well as a simple soaking tub, silver faucet, and a few white towels hanging on the wall. This bathroom plays with color and shape in a great but easy way. By using greys and woods — another popular option is to lime-wash — the room becomes less stark and more inviting and sophisticated. The tub is situated near the window, offering natural light, and the flooring is laid in a chevron pattern, giving the room a touch of flair.