Is there any room more essential to our everyday lives than the bathroom? We think not. Sure, kitchens and living rooms might get all the love. But the lowly bathroom is where most of us spend the first and last few minutes of our day—and many important minutes in between. It’s important to make the most of the place.
To set up your bathroom to serve as both function and sanctuary, you need to stock it with some key essentials. Whether you want to spiffy up your guest bathroom or just deck your own out to feel a bit more luxe, here are a few things we think all bathrooms need.
1. Plush bath towels
Plush bath towels add a sense of luxuriousness to any bathroom, says Tracy Turco, interior designer and founder of T&T Design in New York. She suggests mixing and matching colors, rolling them to display in a basket or on a shelf.
The Better Homes & Gardens line of towels comes in a variety of colors and are affordable ($1 to $24.99, walmart.com).
Sarah Barnard, a WELL- and LEED-accredited professional and interior designer, prefers natural fibers over synthetic blends, for a “resortlike bath experience.” Natural cotton towels are “soft, absorbent, and endure over time,” she says.
2. Portable storage cart
One thing most bathrooms could use more of: storage, according to Stephanie Purcell, creator and owner of Redesigned Classics.
A portable cart with shelves ($69.22, wayfair.com) is “truly ideal,” she says. “It’s stylish, easy to use, and has wheels that make it even more versatile.”
Barnard suggests using it to store towels, accessories, products, or houseplants.
Janet Lorusso, owner and principal designer at Boston-based JRL Interiors, says the cart would be perfectly placed next to a deep, free-standing soaking tub to hold your bath essentials.
3. Stylish accessories
“Having a cohesive design to your bath collection set can go a long way to bringing the entire bathroom together,” says Allen Michael, founder and editor of HomeViable.com.
The porcelain Raffia Bath Collection, featuring a tissue holder, soap dish, lotion dispenser, tumbler, and canister ($16 to $50, anthropologie.com), brings the right balance of style and simplicity with understated details, he says.
Barnard adds that the “cool gray lines (and) their imperfections” enhance the design appeal, and “everyone needs a stylish hideaway for cotton balls, tissue boxes, and other utilitarian objects.”
4. Electric towel warmer
On a cold morning, there are few things more luxurious than stepping out of the shower and grabbing a warm towel. You can create that experience in your own bathroom with a free-standing electric towel warmer ($139.99, wayfair.com).
“This is one of those smaller, achievable items that will make you or any houseguest feel truly pampered,” Purcell says.
Along with the coziness, the towel warmer will also reduce mold and mildew growth, says Cristina Miguelez, a Wilmington, DE–based remodeling specialist at home remodeling information site FIXR. It will also dry towels quickly, she says, meaning you can wash them less often, which will offset the cost of the added electricity.
5. Soft, nonslip rug
Rugs in the bathroom “add a level of warmth and cozy to a generally cool space,” says Sherri Monte, a Seattle-based interior designer, home organizer, and co-owner of Elegant Simplicity. She prefers rugs that add texture, color, or pattern underfoot.
Stepping onto a plush chenille rug ($23.99, wayfair.com) after your shower or bath feels great on your bare feet, Lorusso says. Plus, it features nonskid backing to keep you from slipping.
A deep, plush rug also absorbs water, so you don’t leave puddles or wet footprints on your bathroom floor—and, they usually dry quickly, Miguelez says.
6. Stylish and functional toilet brush
A sparkling clean bathroom is like having a luxury spa right in your home. But, whether to keep the cleaning tools in plain sight is up for debate in the design world, Michael says.
This stylish toilet bowl brush and holder ($7.12, walmart.com) is not only functional, but it also has a minimalist look that will mesh with your other decor.
Purcell says she has this toilet brush in her own home: “It is a staple that any bathroom has to have, and this one is supercompact, cheap, and fits perfectly under my sink,” she says.
7. Cotton waffle shower curtain
“To die for” is how Monte describes this organic Turkish cotton waffle shower curtain by Coyuchi ($98, anthropologie.com).
“It’s modern textural pattern and monochromatic look gives all those spalike feels,” she says, adding that the best part is that it’s machine-washable.
The classic design works well in traditional and contemporary spaces and is a “beautiful basic,” Barnard says.
8. Shower caddy
If you love to try out new bath and shower products, it’s easy to run out of space for them all. Adding an in-shower tension pole caddy ($87.98, walmart.com) increases storage space without requiring any permanent changes to your bathroom, Miguelez says.
“The more shelving I can get in the shower, the better,” Purcell says. She likes this unit for its rust-free aluminum, which means it will look fresh after repeated water exposure, and the bamboo accents offer a sophisticated look.
9. Rain shower head
There’s nothing like a refreshing shower to get your day off to a good start, and a good shower head makes it happen. This rain shower head by Moen ($64.99, wayfair.com) will attach to your existing shower arm.
Monte says the Moen brand is a “standard setter,” which provides high-quality products that really “class up the joint.”
This shower head is also EPA WaterSense–certified and uses about 20% less water than the federal standard. Miguelez, also a Moen fan, says even with the commitment to water conservation, the shower head still offers a full spray so you don’t feel deprived.
10. Motion-sensor trash can
A trash can is a bathroom essential.
“Having one with a cover that you don’t have to come in contact with is definitely a perk for the germophobes among us,” Lorusso says.
This water-resistant, motion-sensor trash can ($22, walmart.com) features a lid that opens with the wave of your hand. Plus, the slim design makes it blend into your bathroom decor, or it could fit in a cabinet or closet, Purcell says.
The motion sensor is an “added bonus,” she says, “so when your hands are full, you can easily open and close the lid without getting it messy.”
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