Modern bathroom design is in in a big way, but not necessarily in the way you think. When you see a magazine spread or a photo shoot, “modern” often means chrome and glass and concrete – industrial, untouchable, and often a little grey. But it’s not the Calvin Klein model version of modern design that’s hitting it big with homeowners: it’s a more natural style, made up of earth tones and minimalist lines to create a relaxed, zen-like spa vibe. Asian inspired bathrooms are a great example of this working well, combining a connectedness with nature with simple, minimal design. If you love the look, Asian inspired bathroom vanities are a good place to start.
Now, before any feathers get ruffled, I’d like to say that Asian inspired bathrooms and bathroom vanities have almost nothing to do with anything you’d find in an actual bathroom in any part of Asia. Japanese bathing rituals, for example, result in a very different kind of bathroom design from what we have here in the Western world. Rather, it’s a design inspired more generally by Asian architecture and design (and, of course the Western concept of the ‘orient’). That said, one of the most prevalent Asian inspired bathroom vanities is the pagoda style vanity. Many manufacturers offer variations on this design, with a rice paper screen-style wood and frosted glass door and brushstroke-style edges that overlap to evoke a Chinese or Japanese character. These are great for an zen-style bathroom because they immediately evoke a sense of eastern simplicity and set a tone for the rest of your bathroom design.
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Similarly, you can find even more minimalist bathroom vanities like this Ka vanity that skip all that pesky detailing and go right for the brush strokes. Designed specifically to mimic the brushstrokes of a Japanese painting, this vanity offers the simple, stark lines you expect from modern design, but with softened, rounded edges that create a gentler, more natural elegance. Here, the vanity is paired with dark clay reds, but it would work equally well with soft, sandy beiges, pale greens, and river stones to create a relaxing zen spa.
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Less Overtly “Asian”
Of course, Asian inspired bathroom vanities don’t have to be quite so stereotypically “oriental” to help build a soothing, zen-like bathroom. I’m a particular fan of this Solis pedestal vanity, which is made with gently frosted glass panes and dark wood framing to distantly resemble a rice paper shade. But what’s really stunning about it is how unique the design is despite its simplicity – the glass walls combine privacy and display, while the slim profile and decorative vessel sink create a lovely silhouette. The perfect backdrop for a relaxed, spa style bathroom!
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Chinese architecture and furniture are known for their detailed woodwork, often with elaborate cutouts, carving, and elegant raised surfaces in repeating patterns. This Florence vanity is a relatively simple example of something with a less overtly Asian flair, reminiscent of Chinese medicine cabinets and decorative doors without directly referencing them. Adding texture is a great way to add visual interest while maintaining a minimalist style. If you’re interested in a more detailed piece, there are also Asian inspired bathroom vanities out there more expressly designed after those many-drawered cabinets, or even hand painted to mimic antique Chinese furniture (though these might be a little busy for a minimalist spa styled bathroom).
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Work Your Feng Shui
I’ll be honest, I’m not an expert in Feng Shui. In fact, to my understanding it takes years of education to master the intricacies of this ancient Chinese art form. But there are a few simple things to be learned from this practice of organizing space to promote positive energy. Especially in a modern Asian inspired bathroom, you want to pay attention to the little things you put in your bathroom as much as the larger furnishings. In terms of Feng Shui, that means adding mirrors, fresh cut or living plants, a water feature (easy in a bathroom), and focusing on roundness and curves rather than sharp, hard angles. This Wave vanity has a minimalist style and an eye-catching texture, but what makes it truly lovely is the simple curve of the vessel sink and the spare visual balance of a little bit of plant life and the bar of soap with the beautiful vessel faucet between them.
If All Else Fails, Bamboo
Of course, building bathroom that abides by a complicated set of rules – whether it’s a design book or actual Feng Shui – isn’t exactly easy. But even if you don’t have much of an eye for design, you aren’t entirely out of luck. As you might have noticed, an Asian inspired bathroom is mostly about combining simplicity with natural colors and materials. If all else fails, incorporating bamboo wood – an iconic material of the East – into your bathroom (and bathroom vanity) is a great way to start building up that Asian flair. This Bambu vanity is a little more on the formal side, using whole bamboo pieces as an accent rather than the main material. But bamboo has become a very popular building material in eco-friendly bathroom design as it’s fast growing, strong, water resistant, and very durable. In most iterations, it offers a light straw or honey color that’s a great way to bring warmth and light into a relaxing modern bathroom.
Do you like a strongly Asian inspired bathroom, or are you just looking for a way to warm up your modern bathroom decor?
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