Stylish bathrooms to pine for: how to create warmth with wood



Natural materials remain at the forefront of interior design in 2024. We explore some stylish bathrooms that use woods to create interest and warmth

words Miriam Methuen-Jones

On the whole, we’ve moved away from a reliance on synthetic dupes and are keener than ever to invest in the real deal. Wood, though, can be tricky to incorporate into stylish bathrooms.

Elsewhere, it’s a cinch – anything from traditional panelling to oak-framed mirrors can add to the rich tapestry of your home. But if you want to put it in the wettest room, the secret is in the preparation.

Be conscious of humidity levels

Calypso Bathrooms Petra Collection in Persian Walnut cabinet - the epitome of stylish bathrooms
IMAGE | Calypso Bathrooms

If your bathroom is a generous size, with two windows easily creating a cross-breeze, you’re laughing. A petite, windowless bathroom without an extractor fan is another matter entirely. (Side note: you really should get an extractor installed.)

If you’re working with the former, you can afford to opt for wood for your larger pieces of furniture. Antique dressers can be transformed into characterful vanities, and plenty of contemporary stylish bathroom furniture deals in the grained stuff.

Consider panelling

Wood panelled bathroom with blue walls and wall lighting. This is how you create stylish bathrooms.

Panelling on the walls and ceiling can achieve a sauna-meets-chalet feel, but make sure you’re being smart about the materials used. MDF might be better than real timber in this situation, as it’s moisture-resistant and humidity doesn’t make it expand. Speak to your contractor about a bathroom-friendly sealant to minimise hiccups down the line. Wider panels will give a more retro look, whereas narrow strips will feel more contemporary.

Alternatively, companies like Cladworks (top left) produce smart systems of waterproof wall panels that achieve the look of wood without any of the headaches. They’re also grout-free and super-easy to clean.

Don’t underestimate the details

La Redoute bathroom accessories and wood panelling. You're sure-fire ticket to making stylish bathrooms.
IMAGE | La Redoute

A timber-clad bath looks glamorous and will instantly transport you to the spa, but there are easier ways to bring in wood (via shelves and shutters, for instance), adding the required texture without calling for a total overhaul.

Simpler still, swap out accessories for warmer equivalents: a bamboo bath mat, a teak towel rail, walnut hooks for towels and dressing gowns, an oak stool… The opportunities are limitless.

Balance your tones

IMAGE | Carpetright

Just be sure to keep an eye on the tones you’re using. Balance warm undertones (walnut, pine, mahogany) with cooler paint colours, and try something deeper (like forest green) or much lighter (such as plaster pink) for cooler-toned woods like birch or wicker. This is how you create stylish bathrooms.

Heed some expert advice

Linette Dai Design bathroom area with wooden panelling and white sink
IMAGE | Linette Dai Design

“I like to style traditional wooden panelling with block-printed wallpapers and lacquered trays. I particularly love a panelled bath housing a copper tub. And you can’t go wrong with awooden chair or stool in the corner of the room for spare towels and a couple of magazines.” Sarah Ross, co-founder of Addison Ross

“If you love the pared-back, timeless quality of wood but are worried about its tendency to warp in a damp environment, porcelain offers a perfect solution. Porcelain replica wood tiles can have natural-looking knots, grains and colour variation that you’d find in real wood. They’re durable and easy to maintain, and can be used over under- floor heating.” James Sirett, Fired Earth

Learn more about stylish bathrooms in our feature about the 16 best bathroom companies of 2024.

16 of the best bathroom companies 2024

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