Mad About . . .

How to Create a Trend-proof Bathroom

18th September 2018

Fashions come and go but when it comes to interior design we don’t want to be changing things every season. And, as much as we might like to be aware of the trends, we don’t want to pick something for our homes that looks completely out of date two years later.

One way to get round that in the bathroom is to stick to the classic black and white scheme. It’s a look that you can keep for years and update by changing the colour of the walls, or even just the towels or even by adding a splash of colour with the soaps and shower gels.

It’s also worth noting that one of the trends that has emerged this year is graphic lines, which has evolved from the current adoration for all things crittal style. Which makes it a classic look that is currently on trend. Are you keeping up?

Now while brass accessories are still strong, black is coming up on the inside lane. So this post, which is part of my paid partnership with West One Bathrooms , ticks all those boxes. When I met with the company earlier this year to discuss what I would write about, they were keen to point out that this soft, industrial style is an enduring classic that is currently undergoing something of a revival. Which is in complete contrast to my earlier post for them about coloured bathrooms making a comeback.

But if coloured is a little too much for you (and judging by the comments it is for most of us) perhaps you would prefer a more enduring look in your bathroom. So, how to make it work for you?

The first thing to note is that while the shower screen will often be the most expensive part of the job, these metro tiles will be the cheapest. And, as you can see from these pictures, there are various different ways you can lay them if you have a good tiler. Black, or dark grey, grout is still not only a fashionable choice but also an immensely practical one as anyone who has struggled with those brown scudgey soap stains and white grout will attest.

If you already have a fairly classic white bathroom that you want to bring up to date and you don’t want to/don’t need to change the layout, then consider investing in a shower screen like these to bring the look up to date. Look out for one with the metal lines only on the outside so that it’s a flat piece of glass inside the shower that will be easier to clean.

And it’s good to see that you can get black towel rails now too. Mine is silver and irritates me every time I photograph the room. I wish it was matt black like these.

Earlier this year I visited the Salone de Mobile at Milan and wandering round the vast bathroom hall (about the size of an aeroplane hanger) there were miles and miles (maybe not quite literally but my feet felt like there were) of black bathroom accessories. From shower screens, to washstands and taps.

Now bearing in mind what we were talking about yesterday  – how long trends take to come – and I would suggest that that was the start of the black trend. You’ve probably got another two or three years before it hits the mainstream. Then another three while it’s here and hot. Then another two or three while people are moving on but, if you care about such things, no-one’s going to come into your bathroom and go “Euuuwww black taps. Ovah.”

Which gives you, if you’re quick off the mark, a shelf life of around 10 years. By which time you might be ready for a change anyway.

Now, once you’ve decided on a black and white bathroom, you can see from these images that it’s not just about the subway tiles, which you can lay in different patterns. Here we can see parquet floor tiles, which soften the look from industrial to something a bit warmer and rustic. Or what about patterned tiles? Again, these pictures show them in black and white and you can bring the colour in elsewhere.

If you do decide that a black and white bathroom is the dream for you then I would suggest bringing in some plants – either real or faux – to soften it and some natural wood. This can be either a stool if you have room or a wooden shelf or bathboard.

I’m also going to suggest that if you live in London, where the water is hard, don’t use black tiles in the shower. I did in the boys’ shower room and it’s now a festival of limescale. I should have thought more carefully before I did it. The floor is fine, as are the walls – it’s a tiny room – but the floor of the shower (it’s a wet room) are full of limescale that won’t come off.

We are going to have to redo that room at some point. I’m thinking that black and white would be perfect for two boys, who will also eventually leave home (*sobs wildly*) in the next few years leaving it as a guest bathroom. And black and white is the perfect scheme for a guest room, as you can dress it up to suit both male and female guests with just a few splashes of colour in the soap and towels.

And there you have it. If you’re thinking of doing up a bathroom and are worried about trends coming and going then stick to a black and white scheme and you will never go wrong.


West One Bathrooms is a one-stop shop. They sell everything from tiles to taps and all the bits in between as well as lighting. They also offer a design service for £500 which is redeemable against purchase so if you’re struggling with the design or sourcing of products, this might be one to bear in mind. 

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  • Glenda 18th September 2018 at 5:11 pm

    ‘Trend-proof’ is a good idea—you could make it a new series!

  • Alice Furlan 18th September 2018 at 2:38 pm

    I am worried for maintenance of black taps like Maya there..wouldn’t the coating come off with regular cleaning agents and the how do you get rid of the limescale? hmmm
    I am looking to renovate my bathroom so this post was very useful! I am among those considering a colorful bathroom though!

  • Julia 18th September 2018 at 10:17 am

    As you say, you can’t go wrong with a black and white bathroom, it’s such a classic. Husband has been talking about doing our bathroom, as we’ve got one done by previous owners. The tiling must have been a DIY job by someone not competent in tiling, it’s really bad. So, I’ve been getting ideas, and I’d already decided we were going to have a black and white scheme. Luckily, we have soft water here, so don’t have to worry about limescale.

    If you want a black towel rail, you could spray the one you have with matt black spray paint.

  • Ellie Hesse 18th September 2018 at 8:19 am

    Thank you so much to you and Paul for a great morning at the Chelsea design centre. The instragram talk was really interesting! So many ideas ………where do I begin?

  • Maya 18th September 2018 at 7:41 am

    Black taps in London, with our hard water: should I consider them? Or the limescale will turn them maddeningly dalmatian?

    • Irene 18th September 2018 at 1:41 pm

      I live in the Chilterns and have been going back and forth for 2 weeks now on this problem. My local bathroom supplier thinks I am crazy to even consider bt then again the limescale builds up on chrome, brass whatever so I think I should have whats my heart desires!

      • Maya 18th September 2018 at 4:20 pm

        @Irene: that is very true!

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