How to Design a Japanese Bathroom


The bathroom has become more than just a pit stop. It is now a place to relax and detox from the stress of everyday life. The key to a Japanese style bathroom is to use natural elements, such as stone and wood, with earth tone colors to create a soothing and relaxing space. Whether you are starting from scratch or just want to add certain elements and finishes to your existing bathroom, the following tips will help to create the perfect Zen space.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor tile
  • Wall tile
  • Sink
  • Vanity cabinet
  • River rock
  • Paint
  • Towels
  • Cedar
  • Choose a finish that will be the basis for the rest of the fixtures and finishes in the bathroom. This is usually the largest area of the room, such as floor or wall tile. Start by visiting floor and tiling experts and choosing two or three favorites. Take them home and see how well they will coordinate with the rest of your home. While the bathroom is separate and will have its own finishes, there should be a flow from the rest of the home to the new bathroom, especially if you are redoing an attached bathroom.

  • Look for the shower and tub surround tile. If you have space in your new bath, have separate tub and shower areas. This will increase your home's value and allow you to be creative with the fixtures, adding details such as a steam shower. You can use the same tile on the shower surround as on the floor, but choosing a contrasting tile will add visual interest and give the room that designer touch. Pull out a coordinating color from the floor tile and use that color to choose a wall tile. If your floor tile has a large pattern, choose a wall tile with less pattern or none at all. You can also try using a tile with multiple hues of the same color.

  • Select a pattern for the floor and wall tile. Square tile can be laid straight or on a diagonal; a straight pattern makes the room seem longer, while a diagonal or 45-degree pattern can make a room seem wider. Choose wisely, as once the tile is laid, changing it is another remodel project. Instead of using a towel mat, inset a cedar wood mat into the floor design outside of your shower. The cedar will give off a wonderful fragrance when wet.

  • Choose cabinetry and sink fixtures. The cabinetry should be simple without ornate or carved details. A Japanese bathroom would also use darker wood tones. As for the sink, vessel, undermount or even infinity sinks will be compatible with a Japanese style bathroom.

  • Pick general lighting for the entire bathroom, but include task lighting around the vanity and shower areas to allow ease of makeup application and shaving. Lighting fixtures within a shower surround should be waterproof fixtures, so make sure the recessed lighting fixtures are made for that application. As with the rest of the design, the lighting fixtures should be simple in design.

  • Select paint and other accessories. Again, go for soothing, earthy colors in warm tones. Accent the bathroom with rocks in vases with green leaves and thick, plush towels. Be careful, however, not to overdo it. The key to Japanese design will be the minimalist details.

Tips & Warnings

  • Designing a bathroom is not especially easy if you are doing demolition. Seek the advice of a professional for proper installation and any prep work required for installation.

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