May 19, 2022

Home ideas

How to create a zen bathroom

The bathroom is part of our daily routine, a time of the day entirely given over to looking after ourselves.

We typically think of the bathroom as a place of physical well-being. However, the zen bathroom is concerned with both mental and physical health. This article looks at the different ways that you can bring Zen to your bathroom through design, layout, accessories and simple decorative choices.

Zen bathroom - Metropolitan Caliza

Metropolitan Caliza 80×80 (Available online & in-store)


What is Zen, and in what ways does it influence bathroom design?

Nowadays, Zen is a catch-all term that combines Eastern and Western cultural influences. The origins of Zen can be traced back to the Buddhist religion that emerged in China over a thousand years ago. Zen developed as a philosophy in its own right as it spread across Asia during an era that we in Europe refer to as the Dark Ages. The practise of Zen is synonymous with meditation, the pursuit of insight into both ourselves and the world around us.

With regard to how the principles of Zen affect interior design generally, and bathroom design specifically, it’s all about creating the right mood and ambience for mindfulness. Zen recognises the privacy of the bathroom experience as a way of grabbing a moment in the day for ourselves. Even 5 minutes a day dedicated to quiet inner reflection can make a difference to our mental wellbeing. The zen bathroom aims to create the ideal conditions for achieving this state of mindfulness through a series of design choices.


Zen bathroom ideas

We recommend including as many of the five senses as possible within the zen bathroom. That is sight, sound, touch, smell and taste; at least four of these should be manageable. Zen philosophy aims to achieve insight into the nature of the mind and the world around us through the practice of daily rituals. Our connection with the world around us is only perceived through our senses. It follows that by thinking about the space holistically, Zen becomes much more attainable. The most important basic considerations when creating the zen bathroom environment include the following.


#01      Zen-inspired order and storage

Zen is not the same as minimalism. It is concerned with something entirely different. However, the ambience of the zen bathroom should have an overarching sense of tidiness. There’s no need to throw away prised bathroom accessories, but their organisation is critical. De-cluttering is of course always a good idea, together with providing ample bathroom storage.


Zen Bathroom - 4

Berna Acero 45X120 / Berna Acero 59.6×59.6 / Stripe Berna Acero 45×120 (Shop online & in-store)


#02      Zen bathroom lighting

The subject of light within the zen bathroom should be approached like any other habitable room in the home. Being aware of natural and artificial light sources in the bathroom is critical to the layout of the space. The position of windows and skylights will affect where the sanitary ware is positioned.

Follow these recommendations to help create the perfect zen conditions.

  • The more natural daylight the better within the zen bathroom. Do not shy away from large windows. Install translucent glass for privacy, if that is a concern.
  • Place a freestanding or a built-in bathtub near a window or under a skylight.
  • Create separate lighting zones within the bathroom. Led technology has genuinely revolutionised how artificial lighting can sculpt space after the sun goes down.
  • The Wash Hand Basin cabinet is a great opportunity for adding a feature artificial light source. It can also provide flattering reflection.
  • Use dimmable switches and work with the architecture of the space for the best results. A more tenuous and softer light is important for setting the scene for inner reflection.


#03      Bathing rituals & the zen bathroom

The practice of daily hygiene is the practice of Zen principles. Whether we choose a bath, a quick shower or simply splash water on our face from the wash hand basin, water provides a sense of well-being. The design and layout of the zen bathroom should optimise all the sensual possibilities of water and bathing.

Any of the following fixtures and fittings will help you get into the Zen mood:

  • A freestanding bath as a central element in the bathroom layout.
  • Paired wash hand basins with a shared counter and lots of space for towels.
  • A glass-enclosed shower cubicle with a rain fixture shower head.
  • Positioning the WC in a separate enclosed area, or partitioned off from the bathroom.


Zen bathroom - Soleil bath - 1

Soleil Bath from Noken (Available in-store)


#04      Zen bathroom décor

The zen bathroom should be designed as if it were a sanctuary. To get inspiration we can look at how professional spas are organised and decorated. As a rule, these spaces are quiet, introspective, warm and comfortable. Their décor features neutral colour schemes and luxurious tactile fabrics with contemplative artworks on walls. So to decorate the zen bathroom at home it’s best to avoid anything too bright or showy. The accessories, on the other hand, can be more whimsical. And we recommend incorporating as many organic materials as possible.

The following list provides some ideas:

  • Porcelain for floor and wall tiles.
  • Stone and stoneware for finishes, accessories or as decorative installation.
  • Natural wood for furniture and shelving.
  • Metal accents for ironmongery and faucets.
  • Cotton and linen for soft furnishings and towels.
  • Add artworks with a contemplative theme to bathroom walls.


Zen bathroom - 2

Manhattan Cognac 19.3X180 / Manhattan Cognac 29.4X180 (Available in-store)


Zen bathroom design

When designing a bathroom layout, there are some simple tips to follow to create the ideal conditions for Zen. Follow these design guidelines to foment a sense of calm and connection to nature in the bathroom:

  • Place the bathtub, preferably free-standing, as the focal point of the bathroom configuration.
  • Maximise natural daylight, whether it be windows or skylights, and organise the bathroom layout around the light source.
  • Include space for a sitting area either as a built-in bench, around the bathtub or as a stand-alone piece of furniture.
  • Allow for ample storage, either within furniture elements or as shelving to help establish order.
  • For larger bathrooms organise the layout within separate zones, even the smaller bathroom space can benefit from a differentiated wet and dry zone.
  • Design planting into the bathroom layout. This will involve research into the best varieties to cope with specific conditions of light and humidity.


Zen bathroom - 3

Berna Caliza 59.6X59.6 / Nobu Arce 19.3×180 / Nobu Arce 29.4×180 (Available in-store)


Zen luxury bathroom

A Zen-style luxury bathroom can be as simple as an appealing scent, which is always very personal to each individual. Freshly laundered wrap around bathrobes and towels. A pungent flowering potted plant. Aromatherapy and scented candles in the bathroom will also help you get into the Zen zone. Although we sometimes underestimate its power our sense of smell can transport us to other worlds simply by stimulating our memory bank. This is the territory of Zen.


 Find more luxury bathroom ideas.


Is there any connection between feng shui and Zen?

Although both traditions come from ancient Chinese practices they represent very different and contrasting expressions for the search for balance and harmony.  Both can influence bathroom design. Zen is more a philosophy or a belief that is inward-looking and essentially private. While feng shui is concerned with the search for an outward expression of harmony and balance as perceived through the world around us. Both practices are related to mental well-being, one internalised while the other is externalised.

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