Pull the tub away from the wall, and you gain a dramatic centerpiece. Most freestanding tubs need a little extra room for the drain and tub filler, so they work best in a larger bathroom.
Claw-foot tubs are just the start. Freestanding looks range from Zen to jaw-dropping. Here are a few of our favorites: Eleganza, Diamond Spas, custom pricing,diamondspas.com; Mermaid, Wyndham Collection, $1,375,vintagetub.com; Cathay, Barclay Products, $5,562, barclayproducts.com; Natural (in granite), Stone Forest, custom pricing, stoneforest.com.
3 of 14John Clark
Capture the sunshine
Let in natural light by any means: a skylight, sun tunnel, enclosed deck, or frosted or high windows that maintain privacy. The room will feel bigger for it. Design:Workshop AD, Seattle; workshopad.com.
4 of 14Thomas J. Story
Set up a view
Frame a tree or other natural feature with a window. The look outside can make walls seem to disappear. Design: Fung + Blatt Architects, Los Angeles;fungandblatt.com.
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Give walls a makeover
Stone, brick, and wood are taking the place of tile and paint on walls. With good ventilation, wood should be fine, but you can use a marine-grade sealant on it to be sure. Design:Studio Frank, Telluride, CO;studiofrank.com.
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Shine unexpected lighting
Skip fixtures made for the bathroom. You’ll find more options by browsing sconces meant for living rooms. Our top picks: Atlas in aged pewter, Troy Lighting, $224, troy-lighting.com; Transparence (pictured), Sonneman, $390,sonnemanawayoflight.com; Galaxy, single sconce in bronzetone, Rejuvenation, $205, rejuvenation.com.
7 of 14Thomas J. Story
Hang wallpaper in powder rooms
Powder rooms are the ideal spot for wallpaper: The cost of the paper and the installation is less for a small space, and there’s no steam, so you don’t have to worry about peeling. If you want to paper a full bathroom, it’s possible with excellent ventilation and an experienced hanger (find one at wallcoveringinstallers.org/consumers).Design:Reath Design, Los Angeles;reathdesign.com.
You’re not spending that much time in your bathroom, so take a risk on a large-scale print or one with a sense of humor. (Just remember: A dark wallpaper will change the light quality in a room the same way a dark paint color would.) We're coveting: Bruce in Captain Nemo, Abnormals Anonymous, $85/linear yd., abnormalsanonymous.com; Peonies in copper, Hygge & West, $175/roll,hyggeandwest.com; Prism in ivory, Kreme Wallpaper, $195/roll,kremelife.com.
8 of 14Thomas J. Story
Add a piece of furniture
With a comfortable chair or pouf, a bathroom becomes a retreat. Use indoor-outdoor fabric on an upholstered piece, so you don’t panic with every splash. If extra seating doesn’t make sense in your space, try a side table next to the tub for soaps or a little dresser for towel storage. Design: Cary Berstein Architect, San Francisco; cbstudio.com.
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Your faucet finish can make a subtle or dramatic impact. Interior designer Kricken Yaker rates common bathroom fixture finishes.
Copper. “It’s cost-prohibitive for sure, but when it starts to patina, it’s gorgeous.” We like: Carmel 6102-WCO in weathered copper, California Faucets, $795, calfaucets.com.
Polished chrome & satin nickel. “They’re timeless.” We like: Alteo in polished chrome, Kohler, $244,us.kohler.com.
Rose gold & brass. “The warmth and sheen remind me of jewelry, and all rooms need a little jewelry.” We like: Kallista One in unlacquered brass (pictured), Kallista, $875, kallista.com.
Matte black. “There’s nothing sexier to me than black and white. A black faucet against a white sink is just stunning.” Sotria 65351LF-BL, Brizo, $719, brizo.com.
10 of 14Joe Schmelzer
Try a dose of dark
Black faucets and sinks are trending, but we consider the color a classic. Go with glossy for a vintage look, matte for an industrial one. Design:Kishani Perera, Los Angeles; kishaniperera.com.
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Love luxe look-alikes
Carrara and Calacatta marble are pricey (as much as $200/sq. ft.), so try a printed ceramic tile or quartz (pictured). Both have improved so much recently, you can hardly tell the difference. We like: Florentine Glazed Porcelain in Carrara, from $4.75/sq. ft.,daltile.com; Calacatta Nuvo (pictured), from $100/sq. ft. (installed), caesarstoneus.com.
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Engage in reflection
Stylewise, you’ll get more out of a mirror than a medicine cabinet. So stash toiletries in the vanity and hang one of these: Albert, Made Goods, $1,300, madegoods.com; Landry Pivoting Rounded Rectangular mirror, Rejuvenation, $395, rejuvenation.com; Miss Elle (pictured), Lulu & Georgia, $1,054, luluandgeorgia.com.
13 of 14Lisa Romerein
Consider rustic wood
It’s already made the rounds in living rooms, kitchens, and exteriors; now worn, unstained wood has hit bathrooms across the West. It’s especially stunning paired with dramatically veined marble.
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Celebrate subway tile
Interior designer Kricken Yaker prefers long, skinny tiles over chunkier ones. “They’re more contemporary,” says Yaker, who stacks them linearly for cleaner lines and less grout. Looks we love: Lucian Rectangle Field in Oxygen in gloss (pictured), Ann Sacks, from $15/sq. ft., annsacks.com; 6th Avenue 4- by 12-in. field in matte white, Walker Zanger, $17/sq. ft., walkerzanger.com.