How to avoid a clinical bathroom

We glean the advice of some bathroom professionals, including Martin Carroll from Duravit, on how to bring a warmer feel to your bathroom

Warm wood bathroom redesign

Whether it’s the lighting or tiling making your current bathroom feel cold and unwelcoming, we’ve put together a list of suggestions for a warmer redesign, including panelling and wood-effect tiles.

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Circular hotel luxury bathroom with panoramic window view



Furniture in lighter colours

“Warm, welcoming colour combinations enhance the sense of space within the room and give a light, harmonious impression,” says Martin Carroll, managing director of Duravit UK.

“Furniture in lighter colours, such as Stone Grey, Satin Matt or with the Linen décor finish,” he says, “are ideal options for creating a pleasant atmosphere in the bathroom.”

Warm bronze bathroom furniture
Bathroom is Duravit’s XSquare

He adds: “Highlights can be created by single, intense splashes of colour, such as a console made from real walnut wood.

“This creates order in the room and at the same time provides space for decorative accessories in broken white and soft natural tones.”



“Boiserie is an all-encompassing name for decorative wooden panelling,” says interior designer Luke Arthur Wells.

He says: “When properly treated and adhered to the walls, panelling, whether that’s wood or just MDF, can be durable enough to stand up to the job, and packs impact on a budget.

“It also delivers on the warmth and texture that a bathroom can often lack in using stark white fixtures and fittings.

Bathroom boiserie panelling
Photo from HomeStyle

“When using more traditionally shaped and finished elements, such as a cast iron bathtub or a decorative basin vanity, it will add to the period feel, but you can also look to modern versions of panelling and cladding which will complement a more contemporary scheme.”

Bathroom warm wood panelling
Photo from Roper Rhodes

Ways with wood

“If you are worried about a bathroom feeling cold and clinical, the most obvious material to incorporate is wood – naturally warm, patterned and textured, it’s an easy option that will complement almost any scheme,” says interior designer Luke Arthur Wells.

“The key for any kind of wood in the bathroom is to keep an eye on the top coat,” he says.

He adds: “Dark walnut lends richness and grandeur, while something like a cedar or pine will help you achieve a Scandi-inspired look.

Wood theme bathroom with high beams and antique furniture

“Teak is a particularly good choice, as the oils in the wood naturally resist water and rot, and they can be used to create bathroom elements which have a real architectural quality to them.

“Cedar is another type that works well in the bathroom as it will release a natural scent when in an environment with heat and moisture, delivering that true spa-like feel to a home’s bathroom.”

Wood bathroom theme with steps and parquet wall

Or wood-effect material

“When I first told people, I was going to mix marble with wood-effect tiles, I got a very mixed response – when people saw the results, however, the reaction was completely different and entirely positive,” says owner Jenny Kakoudakis. In this deliciously light, airy haven wood-effect porcelain tiles warm up the wall that holds the shower mixer and shower head. To further complement the space, black brassware adds a sophisticated, modern finish, with the colour extending to details including the towel shelf, bathrobe hooks and even the mirror.

Wood shower bath screen


Dark and broody tones and warm metallics

“The client was drawn to natural materials and inclined towards a modern, industrial style,” says designer Roselind Wilson. “We welcomed the opportunity of bringing warmth and cosiness to what is often a traditionally hard, neutral space,” she says, “especially as it allowed us the opportunity to specify materials such as silver honed travertine, Pietra d’Avola limestone, oak, walnut and aged brass.”

Warm metallic bathroom
Photo from Roselind Wilson Design
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Warm tones, deep texture and endless natural materials keep the finished look smooth and sleek, with an industrial aesthetic over-arching the whole space.