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How to Create a Zen Bathroom

Updated on October 26, 2015

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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 If
This 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 | Source

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

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

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 | Source
Zen Bathroom with Duckboards and Little Rocks
Zen Bathroom with Duckboards and Little Rocks | Source
  • 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.


Submit a Comment
  • Steve Haney profile image

    Steve Haney 

    11 months ago from Alma, Ontario, Canada

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

  • Lisabean2202 profile image

    Lisa Bean 

    12 months ago from Nevada

    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 profile image

    Kristen Howe 

    4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

    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 profile image

    Alex Aconner 

    5 years ago from NY

    Great article brilliant inspiring design

  • surveyequipment profile image

    Rich Sale 

    6 years ago from Sandy

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    6 years ago

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

  • Katharella profile image


    6 years ago from Lost in America

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

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

  • Ruby H Rose profile image

    Maree Michael Martin 

    7 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

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

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

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

  • CassyLu1981 profile image


    7 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Maralexa. Glad you enjoyed reading this.

  • Maralexa profile image

    Marilyn Alexander 

    7 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

    Superb ideas for making a bathroom beautifully serene!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

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

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    7 years ago from San Francisco

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

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

  • lindacee profile image

    Linda Chechar 

    7 years ago from Arizona

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @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 profile image


    7 years ago

    Very nice und useful. Love it!

    Keep going to post.

  • Riverfish24 profile image


    7 years ago from United States

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

  • Suzie HQ profile image

    Suzanne Ridgeway 

    7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    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 Sriram profile image


    7 years ago from Singapore, Singapore

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

  • Natashalh profile image


    7 years ago from Hawaii

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

  • bridalletter profile image

    Brenda Kyle 

    7 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

    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 W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

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

  • leahlefler profile image

    Leah Lefler 

    7 years ago from Western New York

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @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 profile image

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    7 years ago from Virginia, USA

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


  • leahlefler profile image

    Leah Lefler 

    7 years ago from Western New York

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @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. :)

  • SidKemp profile image

    Sid Kemp 

    7 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

    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 profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @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 profile image


    7 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

    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.

  • profile image

    Arlene V. Poma 

    7 years ago

    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.

  • jpcmc profile image

    JP Carlos 

    7 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

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

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    7 years ago from The Beautiful South

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

  • pinkdaisy profile image


    7 years ago from Canada

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


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