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How to Create a Zen Bathroom

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Have you ever been in a bathroom that looks so peaceful it inspires you to just close your eyes and enter a meditative mode? If your daily life is quite hectic, you may need a bathroom like that. You should have a place to pamper yourself a little, to unwind, and to recharge your energy for another frenzied day. A Zen-style bathroom can grant you all that. With this bathroom theme, it's also easy to go in various directions. You may choose to make it look very traditional and oriental-inspired. You may want to keep it simple and contemporary. Or you may prefer a more elegant version with a modern twist. No matter what design you select, always remember these three words: natural, calm and unpretentious. These are the most fundamental characteristics of a Zen bathroom.

To Go Zen or Not?

This Style is Perfect for You IfThis Style is NOT Right for You If

You like earthy colors

You prefer splashes of bright colors

You favor airy spaces and minimalism

You love cozy interiors and a "lived-in" look

You have a medium-size or spacious bathroom

Your bathroom is very small

Your bathroom has plenty of natural light

Your bathroom has no windows or receives limited natural light

It is easy for you to keep the bathroom neat and clean

You have very little time to tidy your bathroom and/or have to share the bathroom with little children

A Contemporary Zen Bathroom with Wooden Tub

A Contemporary Zen Bathroom with Wooden Tub

Zen Up Your Bathroom with Wood Fixtures

It doesn't matter whether you're into retro décor or modernism, you can go either way with the Zen theme. The important thing is you should incorporate wood into some of your bathroom fixtures. A wood bathtub, whether it is an old clawfoot model or a sleek-looking whirlpool version, can lend the room a natural and unpretentious feel. For those who have a large bathroom and big budget, a wood platform with a sunken bath might be an excellent choice. It can make your bathing area a stunning focal point, and if you decorate it with some live plants and pebbles, it may evoke a calming image of a pond. For those of you who can't afford to remodel your bathtub at the moment, think about more budget-friendly ways to upgrade other bathroom fixtures. For example, you may switch from a boring white sink to a wood model, which usually costs around $100 - $300. If you have a vanity cabinet that has been painted too bright, consider repainting it with a wood tone. You can also install a wood toilet seat; it won't be difficult at all to find one under $30.

Aim for a Streamlined and Minimalistic Look

A Modern Zen Bathroom with a Minimalistic Feel

A Modern Zen Bathroom with a Minimalistic Feel

A Neat and Sleek-Looking Shelving Unit, Perfect for a Zen Bathroom

A Neat and Sleek-Looking Shelving Unit, Perfect for a Zen Bathroom

A Zen bathroom is supposed to be a realm of simple joy and solitude that helps you clear your mind. Think about a Zen rock garden and its minimalism in design. Your bathroom should convey a sense of calmness and harmony through simplicity the same way a rock garden does. The first step you must take is to de-clutter your bathroom. Never overstock your wall shelves and shelving units, rather keep them as organized and airy as possible. If you have a huge collection of towels but not enough cabinet space, you might want to keep some of them outside of the bathroom. Or if you have nowhere else to store them, put them in wicker baskets with lids, and neatly stack the baskets up on one another or on a shelving unit.

As for window coverings, rattan roller shades, bamboo blinds and wood shutters are great options, since they reinforce the streamlined look as well as the earthy color scheme of the room. Lighting fixtures are another important element to consider. Recessed lighting goes perfectly with the minimalistic theme, whereas some simple yet stylish ceiling fixtures (such as the ones in the picture below) may create more visual interest. It is up to you to decide whether you want to hide your lighting fixtures or use them as a decorative element. As long as they don't appear too colorful or showy, they should fit into your Zen bathroom just fine.

A Contemporary Zen bathroom with Wood Flooring and Eye-Catching Lighting Fixtures

A Contemporary Zen bathroom with Wood Flooring and Eye-Catching Lighting Fixtures

Modern Zen Bathroom with Wood Flooring and Painted Walls with Stone Effect

Modern Zen Bathroom with Wood Flooring and Painted Walls with Stone Effect

Wood-Graining Painting Technique

Choose the Right Color Tones and Materials

The color scheme of your Zen bathroom should contain neutral shades, such as white, beige, tan, brown and gray. You may use more cheerful shades, such as green or pink, as accent colors, but make sure they're not too bright or creating too much contrast with the overall color scheme. When it comes to flooring, wood panelling provides a sense of nature and ease, whereas stone flooring, like marble and granite, is more elegant and can equally enhance the natural theme of the room. Clay tiles, although not as spiffy-looking as wood and stone, also have many plus points, including their durability, slip resistance and rustic appeal. If none of these eco-friendly materials work for your budget, opt for vinyl tiles with faux wood or stone effect instead. These synthetic tiles cost a lot less than natural flooring while imitating the real materials pretty nicely. Keep in mind, though, that they also tend to be less durable and lower in overall quality than the authentic stuff.

Similarly, choose wall covering materials according to your budget and the style of your bathroom. Wood or bamboo panelling is a lovely choice if you're inspired to create a traditional-looking Zen bathroom. It is not cheap but not too expensive, either. Wall tiles can go with any style but are also pretty pricey. Choose ceramic or porcelain tiles if you're looking for something on the lower end of the price spectrum. If you want to give your Zen bathroom a modern and luxurious touch, consider glass or mosaic tiles. These decorative tiles can really spruce up the whole room, yet they cost a fortune and can be pretty high-maintenance. For budget-challenged home owners, wall paints are the cheapest option. If you're confident in your painting skills, you may want to try some challenging techniques, such as marbling or wood graining, to create natural appeal. Last but not least, wallpaper with faux wood or stone texture is another affordable choice. Not all wallpaper is created equal, however. So make sure the one you pick is moisture resistant and appropriate for bathroom use.

Must-Have Items for Zen Bathroom Decor

All-Natural Toiletries on a Bamboo Bathrack

All-Natural Toiletries on a Bamboo Bathrack

Zen Bathroom with Duckboards and Little Rocks

Zen Bathroom with Duckboards and Little Rocks

  • Plants - The earthy color scheme of a Zen bathroom may offer a calming effect, yet it could make the space appear boring as well. Green plants and colorful flowers will give the room a touch of warmth and liveliness. Choose live plants if you think you can manage to take care of it. If not, go with artificial ones.
  • Rocks or Pebbles - Zen decoration wouldn't be complete without rocks and pebbles, a little token of the ancient Zen landscaping. Fill a sunken floor panel with mixed stones and pebbles along with some potted plants, if you want to create a mini indoor garden. If you don't have such luxury of space, put the stones in glass jars and display them on a shelf, or neatly arrange them on the floor or around the tub.
  • Duckboard - A duckboard is definitely a better choice for a Zen bathroom than a bathmat. It's a very humble yet stylish element that can render a spa-like appeal to the room. Plus, you can choose from a variety of wood finishes, sizes and designs. Or you can even make one yourself with bamboo or wooden slats.
  • All-Natural Toiletries - To complement the natural theme of the room, load your bathrack with all-natural toiletries, such as beautiful bottles of essential oils, bath salt, loofahs, cotton towels and boar-bristle brushes. These pampering devices are little extra factors that make a minimalistic bathroom look a lot more cozy.

Comments

Steve Haney from Alma, Ontario, Canada on February 10, 2019:

Great ideas, great pictures. I think I will go have a bath and plan my reno. Well done.

Lisa Bean from Nevada on January 21, 2019:

I like the ideas you have presented here. It's great to have a relaxing bath in a comfortable atmosphere after a long day!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on May 20, 2015:

Om, great ideas. I would love to have a zen bathroom with some of those ideas you've mentioned. Voted up for useful!

Alex Aconner from NY on December 04, 2014:

Great article brilliant inspiring design

Rich Sale from Sandy on August 25, 2013:

Great and informative hub.

Be fantastic if we could replicate some of these ideas in our commercial washroom designs.

Will add a link to this on one of my washroom related hubs.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on March 25, 2013:

@Katharella - I'm glad you like these Zen bathroom tips, Katharella. Have fun with your bathroom redecorating project!

Katharella from Lost in America on March 25, 2013:

Hi Om! :) I've just returned home and after using others bathrooms I've decided mine needs a major overhaul lol! I wish I had more natural lighting! Love this hub thanks for the great ideas! Goodbye giant towel rack! lol

Om Paramapoonya (author) on September 23, 2012:

@Ruby H Rose - You're very welcome, Ruby. Glad you like these zen décor ideas :)

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on September 22, 2012:

Zen bathroom, what a soothing idea. Thanks for a wonderful hub on the topic!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on August 09, 2012:

@CassyLu - Haha. Yeah, I agree a Zen bathroom just looks so relaxing one could easily spend a whole afternoon in it.

CassyLu1981 from Spring Lake, NC on August 08, 2012:

WOW! That's the type of bathroom I want in my house! I could definitely stay in the bath for hours with a place like that :) Excellent hub, voted up, shared, and pinned!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on August 01, 2012:

Thanks, Maralexa. Glad you enjoyed reading this.

Marilyn Alexander from Vancouver, Canada on August 01, 2012:

Superb ideas for making a bathroom beautifully serene!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 26, 2012:

@Simone - Glad you like these ideas. Maybe your bathroom needs to be "Zenned up" a little! =D

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 26, 2012:

I would never have expected to see the words "zen" and "bathroom" together, but I love the aesthetic and love how it can be applied to this (admittedly highly-trafficked) part of the house.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 25, 2012:

Thanks for checking out this hub, lindacee! I like hotels with Zen bathrooms, too. So luxurious in an unpretentious way.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 23, 2012:

Exquisite images. Makes we want a Zen bathroom in my life. I always get inspired when I check into a hotel with a Zen bathroom. Wonderful Hub with practical suggestions and advice!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 22, 2012:

@Peggy W - Thanks for your kind words and votes, Peggy. I agree a Zen bathroom is so restful I sometimes feel like I could just sleep in it!

@bridalletter - You're very welcome. Have fun with your bathroom remedeling project.

@Natashalh - Haha yeah, the table capsule is very useful. Don't forget about it! Glad you like the chart.

@Sharda Sriram - You're welcome! Thanks so much for your comments and votes.

@Suzie HQ - Yep, you can have it both ways and go retro Zen. Thanks for commenting, voting and spreading the word!

@Riverfish - Hehehe glad to hear my hub has a calming effect. Thanks for dropping by, fellow hubaholic!

@violetta - I will! Thanks a lot.

violetta77 on July 22, 2012:

Very nice und useful. Love it!

Keep going to post.

Riverfish24 from United States on July 21, 2012:

Oh gosh, reading about it itself is SO relaxing..great job Om! Shared and Voted up!

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on July 21, 2012:

Love this! Your retro bathroom hub was also great, glad to see I could combine the two! Really loved the duckboard photo and use of the stones, think I will be having fun as a few bathrooms all different sizes and obstacles lie ahead! Thanks so much, another really interesting and informative piece - voted lots and sharing this for sure! :)

SHARDA from Singapore, Singapore on July 21, 2012:

simply WOW.. Zen effect..Votep up. Thanks for sharing such interesting stuff.

Natasha from Hawaii on July 21, 2012:

I love your chart! I never remember that capsule exists, but you used it to great effect. Thanks for putting this together!

Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on July 21, 2012:

I just love the look and décor ideas of all the bathrooms. I am working on complete organization at home, this will help me with my bathrooms! thank you.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2012:

Oh my gosh...I could move right in to that Zen bathroom with the palm tree and large shaded window. Loved all of the photos and suggestions. Great job with this hub. Voted up and beautiful + sharing.

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 20, 2012:

@leahlefler - Ah, so as long as there's a tub for them, you can go as Zen as you want, eh? Nice! :)

Leah Lefler from Western New York on July 20, 2012:

As long as there is a tub for water, my kids are happy. It's the only bathroom big enough to accommodate the look, and I really love the clean lines of the Zen style. It is very peaceful!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 20, 2012:

@leahlefler - Thanks for dropping by, Leah! Glad to hear you enjoyed the hub and thought you might try to Zen up your kid's bathroom a bit. I usually assume this style might seem boring for most kids, but hey, children are different. Your son might like it. So why not?

@Tracy Lynn Conway - Thanks, Tracy! Glad you found these Zen decoration ideas helpful and inspiring.

Tracy Lynn Conway from Virginia, USA on July 20, 2012:

Great ideas here to bring some peace to an otherwise boring bathroom space. I am inspired, thank you!

Tracy

Leah Lefler from Western New York on July 20, 2012:

Oh, I LOVE the look of the zen bathroom! I don't think it would work in our tiny master bathroom, but it would be wonderful in our kid's bathroom! I love the minimalist look, and the duckboard is a very cool alternative to a bath mat!

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 20, 2012:

@Sidkemp - Ah, yes! That's a great idea, SidKemp. I usually use scented candles but incense is certainly a nice alternative. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips. :)

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on July 20, 2012:

A truly beautiful set of bathroom ideas. Unfortunately, I can't make them happen, as I live in a small home with a tiny, cramped bathroom. But there is one thing I can do, and can add to your recommendations - incense! Put a small incense holder with a mild, sweet incense (rose is good), and light incense each time you use the bathroom. Activating the sense of smell in a pleasant way brings peace. (The other advantages are obvious! :) )

Om Paramapoonya (author) on July 20, 2012:

@pinkdaisy - You're very welcome!

@Jacky Lynnley - Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

@jpcmc - Yep, the ambiance is very calming, almost like having a spa at home. It's the kind of bathroom that makes you want to take very long baths

@Arlene - Thanks for your lovely comments, Arlene! And yes, you could certainly do it. A 70s Zen bathroom should look quite interesting!

@MazioCreate - Thanks for commenting and spreading the word, MazioCreate. I'm glad you found this hub inspiring!

MazioCreate from Brisbane Queensland Australia on July 19, 2012:

Great hub and love the photos. They alone made me want to change the décor in my main bathroom. You have started me thinking about aspects that I can change to create a Zen bathroom. Liked and shared with my followers.

Arlene V. Poma on July 19, 2012:

UP+++ and everything else! So many wonderful tips, Om! Your article and photographs are an inspiration to any homeowner in search of peace and serenity. Who knows? I could do this with my own 70s bathroom if I put my mind to it.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on July 19, 2012:

Simple and clean works for me. Plus the relaxing ambiance is just welcoming. This will make me enjoy baths more.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 19, 2012:

Beautiful pictures, fantastic ideas. I love a nice bathroom!

pinkdaisy from Canada on July 19, 2012:

Now I want a Zen bathroom! Thanks for the inspiration. Voted Up!