Modern styled bathrooms can be chronically chilly. For all their sleek, minimal chic and elegance, the bare-bones style and often industrial palette can end up feeling cold and inhospitable. But pairing the simple lines and geometric designs of modern decor with a subtle Asian influence can dramatically change the vibe for a much warmer, more inviting space. Trading out concrete, steel, and glass monochromes for wood, natural neutrals, and inviting pops of red and gold will immediately turn your bathroom from a sterile space into an exotic getaway. Sound like a place you’d like to soak? Here’s how to get started.
In any themed bathroom, your vanity is going to be the anchor for your style. Because ultimately most other pieces in your bathroom (with a few exceptions, of course) are going to look relatively similar, your vanity is always going to be the star of the show. In an Asian themed bathroom, many conventional modern vanities will work, especially wood ones like this Modesta from Sagehill, but for a more distinct style, opt for something more obviously Asian-inspired, like Ming Modern Vanity. The simple square-and-rectangle design is reminiscent of architecture from throughout Asia – the contrast between the dark wood and frosted glass is reminiscent of rice paper screens, and the subtle accents along the top edge reference the pagoda style. Paired with other Asian elements, this vanity will immediately suggest the exotic, while still adhering to the minimalist principles of modern design.
If you’d like something a little more lush, opt for a vanity with an antique look and feel, like this Chinese-inspired Apothecary. With a hand rubbed ebony finish and antique style handles, this vanity is reminiscent of antique Chinese medicine cabinets. Though it’s a single large cabinet rather than the traditional small drawers, the exterior design is striking and otherwise authentic, and makes an excellent base for an Asian theme. In keeping with the Chinese tradition, I’d pair this with a bold red accent wall and subtle gold detailing for a breathtaking effect – and even a little good luck!
Red and a sharp black and white contrast a little too daring? For a more traditionally Japanese style, and the most surefire way to chase the chill out of your modern decor, opt for light, natural wood vanities, like this Porcher Archive, and incorporate wood in a similar finish throughout the room, say, with shades, frames, and flooring. Live bamboo plants (as well as bamboo planks) and smooth, dark river stones will infuse the room with a natural calm. Keep it bright with warm, light neutrals, especially off whites and pale sagey greens, which will make the space seem open. The effect works especially well if you have a garden window, but if not, instead opt for bright white (not yellow or florescent) lights and a bamboo or rice paper shade for privacy.
But your Asian style bathroom decor shouldn’t just be limited to your vanities. In fact, the act of bathing is supremely important in Japanese culture, and is about much more than just getting clean. The ancient religion of Shinto, native to the islands of Japan, emphasizes the spiritual (as well as bodily) cleansing properties of water, which meant that bathing was practiced ritually and often in public. Now, while public bathing isn’t as common as it once was, the practice of keeping potentially communal water clean has stuck around in Japan’s bathing rituals, and their bathrooms are designed with this in mind. Put simply, they wash first (wet, soap, scrub, rinse) and bathe (or, really, soak in very hot water) second. That means truly Japanese style bathroom has, at most, a shower with an open layout, hand shower, and usually a stool to sit on while you wash, and the least, a stool, a bucket for hot water, and a scrubber. Then, for maximum relaxation, they have very deep, narrow, round tubs like this Japanese Soaking Tub from Barclay that allow you to sit and soak comfortably up to your shoulders or neck in 110+ degree water, which can help improve circulation, breathing, and heart health, and can help relax tense muscles and relieve achy joints.
Of course, if you like the idea of soaking in a big, deep tub of hot water, but aren’t quite on board with the whole bathing ritual thing, there are lots of Asian inspired soaking and jacuzzi tubs, like this Fuzion, that will fit the sleek, modern-yet-natural look and feel of an Asian themed bathroom. In line heating and seating for two can make sharing your bath comfortable and convenient (whether you wash first or not), just be sure to go with a soaking tub for an authentic experience (no jets!). For extra effect, opt for a tub like this one that can be set directly into the floor, preferably near a garden window if you have one, and surround it with natural materials – wood planks, stones, bamboo, or even gently flowing water – to help enhance the relaxation factor and help you unwind and feel close to nature every time you bathe.
Finally, for a truly authentic Japanese style bathroom, you need a Japanese style toilet. Now, this one might seem a little odd - a toilet, after all, is more or less a toilet no matter which way you look at it, right? Ordinarily I’d agree, but the Japanese tend to be particular about their toilets, largely because Japanese bathroom space is limited and luxuries have to be compact. So small, technology-packed, high efficiency toilets like this Neorest might not look like much, and certainly don’t take up much room, but they’re packed full of bells and whistles. From a seat warmer and self-lifting lid to a built in adjustable bidet and warm-air dryer and even an ipod dock on some models, these hybrid potties will pamper men and women alike, and make the perfect finishing touch for your modern, Asian themed bathroom.
Whether you’re just looking for a cozier modern design or out to assemble an authentic Asian experience, opting for an oriental decor is a great way to turn your bathroom into an exotic escape. Even if it’s just behind a closed door, the right decor will make your bathroom feel like a getaway. Why does an Asian style decor appeal to you? Are you looking more for authenticity or just for a general vibe? Let me know in the comments!