Transform Your Bathroom From Utilitarian to Cozy Retreat


Obviously, a bathroom is an integral part of your home. But why not consider turning a utilitarian room into an appealing, cozy retreat?

First, decide whether you want to go with wallpaper or paint.

For paint, go with a semigloss for both walls and ceiling, notes interior designer Lynn Breindel, owner of LB Interiors of Bellport and New Rochelle.

If you prefer the look of a matte finish, go with a flat paint made specifically for bathroom walls and ceilings, advises Breindel.

“It’s a little more expensive, but well worth it,” she says.


Color is all a matter of personal preference and truly anything goes – except for the ceiling, which should always be painted white, she says.

“You can go bold in a small bathroom with dark paint or wallpaper,” says Breindel. “If you want more of a dramatic effect, I tend to do that in a powder room that you don’t spend a lot of time in.”

In small bathrooms, stick to a single color palette to keep it simple, clean and soothing. In a larger room, experiment with more color in towels, mats, and artwork.

“Any color with some gray added to it makes it more peaceful, especially lighter colors,” says Breindel.

With a plethora of designs and varying degrees of texture, wallpaper gives you many options, from grass cloth to more tactile, high-resolution materials that really stand out.

Breindel recommends vinyl wallpaper for bathrooms that have showers.

“There are beautiful ones now, even ones that look like grass cloth,” she says.

For a powder room, Breindel advises any wallpaper, even paper backed, as long as you make sure it stays dry behind the sink. To protect the area behind the sink from wetness, add a 4-inch backsplash made from countertop material such as quartz or stone.


For a full bathroom, especially with enough wall space, a medicine cabinet is great for extra storage.

“My favorites now are the ones with the built-in LED lights,” says Breindel. “You can stack medicine cabinets next to each other to create a wall of mirrors with function behind it.”

Generally, you won’t have the space nor the need for a medicine cabinet in a powder room, but you’ll want a good mirror, which also can have the built-in LED lights.

“Mirrors can be used to enlarge the space and reflect other elements in the room, such as lighting or wallpaper,” explains Breindel. “I also use wall-mounted vanities to give the impression of larger space in a small bath. It’s very effective.”


As with any room in your home, a bathroom should have layered lighting.

At the sink or overhead, lighting can be either recessed or a ceiling fixture. In a large bathroom, you can have both, and always use dimmers to control brightness, advises Breindel.

Hardware is the jewelry of a bathroom and there’s so much to choose from, adds Breindel.

“Polished nickel and brass look great in bathrooms, but do tarnish over time and need maintenance,” she advises. “Polished chrome is easier to maintain.”

Tiles can reflect your taste and personality. If you have a full tiled shower, Breindel suggests adding shiplap to the walls to add texture and interest.

Besides adding color to the room, bath mats are essential to give the room a cozy feel, especially when you walk on a tiled floor, even with radiant-heated floors, notes Breindel.

“A Toto Japanese heated toilet seat is also worth every penny,” she says.