How to Use Plants to Decorate Your Bathroom

Modern bathrooms are a place of peace and relaxation, not just of getting clean. Plants can make a big contribution to this – but which ones are best suited?

It has to be admitted that bathrooms tend to be pretty functional places, designed primarily to cater for personal hygiene. However, the dreary wet and mouldy cells of yesteryear are increasingly becoming a thing of the past, and their furnishings have changed considerably in recent years.

“The bathroom has long since ceased to be merely a place for basic  functions,” says interior design expert Jan Kurth, who works with Germany’s Furniture Industry Association.

“They’re now expected to create a cosy ambience with lifestyle character.” And nature – in the form of houseplants – is playing an important role in making the modern bathroom a place of peace and relaxation.

If you have enough space in your bathroom, you can choose plants that grow quite tall. However, this also requires sufficient daylight.

Fortifying, not just functional

“Used correctly, plants can transform a bathroom into an oasis of well-being, especially in the dark winter months,” says Christian Engelke, a specialist in hydroponics and indoor plants.

Many homeowners fear that houseplants cannot cope with the extreme differences in temperature or the large amount of water vapour that are typical of bathrooms. But Engelke says these concerns are groundless.

“If you are lucky enough to have a large bathroom window that allows in a lot of light you can put almost any plant in the bathroom – apart from cacti.”

So plant lovers can really let off steam in bright, warm and damp rooms and combine different plants. “Ferns like Nephrolepis or the Staghorn fern work particularly well in the bathroom,” Engelke says. The tropical plant is appealing because of its long fronds, which, when used lavishly, create a jungle feeling.

This also applies to marantas, whose elongated oval leaves grow to around 20 centimetres. Palm trees, orchids or aloe also feel at home in light, humid rooms.

Most plants cope well with the high humidity in the bathroom. However, they’ll need daylight to grow.

Light is important, but not everything

If you only have a small bathroom window that doesn’t let in much light, you’ll need to think a bit more carefully about which plants to choose. “But there are plants that like less light”, says Engelke.

Some varieties of dracaena trees, for example, will do well in these conditions. “Members of the spathiphyllum family, such as the peace lily, are quite robust and looks fantastic in the bathroom,” says Christian Engelke.

Philodendron and Monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant) are also recommended. Another option is Zamioculcas, which can thrive in very little light.

If you have less space, simply drape the smaller plant pots between the bathroom utensils on shelves or use the edge of the bathtub. Tillandsias are particularly space-saving.

These small, herbaceous plants do not need a nutrient medium, but simply an object to which they can hold on to. They draw water and nutrients from the air and can be simply tied to a branch or stone, put in a small plant pot, or allowed to hang from the ceiling.

Even small succulents become eye-catching when there are several of them in a plant pot or hanging from the bathroom ceiling in pots or planters. If you have an empty wall, you could mount several wall vases and fill them with Tillandsias, succulents or small hanging ferns.

To save space, you hang certain kinds of plants on the wall or from the ceiling.


House Tour: Step Inside an Architectural Oasis on the Island of Mallorca

Poised on a rocky promontory overlooking the sparkling blue sea sits this family home with panoramic views and stunning architecture that combine to highlight its spectacular location. 

The owners of this remarkable home on the island of Mallorca needed plenty of patience during their search for the perfect holiday property: it took three years of careful hunting to find the place they were looking for. At last they discovered the right house– built in the late 1950s by a renowned Mallorcan architect, Pere Garau, and situated on a rocky clifftop on the outskirts of Santa Ponsa in the Calvià district of the island.

The property’s location is nothing less than spectacular. Set on a peninsula-like site, it overlooks two separate bays, with views of the ocean on the horizon in one direction, and the small port town of Santa Ponsa in the other. This made it the perfect choice for the new owners, who have a large extended family and wanted a holiday epicentre at which everyone could gather from far-flung corners of the world and spend time together. While it is currently a secondary home, it’s envisaged that the house will progressively become a primary residence as the older members of the family retire.

Having been renovated by its previous owners sometime in the 1990s, the current owners inherited some unfortunate elements, including ugly aluminium windows that had been added to the façade, and a rather ‘cold’ interior that featured high-shine marble floors. The design-conscious owners determined right away on a substantial renovation, and called in Mallorca-based architecture and design practice Moredesign to work on the project.

Attracted by the practice’s minimalist and contemporary approach, which also features historic and location-appropriate rustic elements, the owners’ brief included a request to use the right raw materials to create simplicity and serenity in the space. Designer Manuel Villanueva says, “We wanted to create a place where people felt comfortable, where anyone would want to read a book, fall asleep, have an intimate conversation. And we wanted the house to fit gently into its surroundings while making the best use of both the morning and afternoon light.”

The renovation began in 2016 and included significant structural interventions to the pre-existing house. New staircases and passageways were added to connect the different areas of the home more organically, and it now features eight bedrooms, most of which are en suite, as well as substantial interior and outdoor living areas, a large kitchen, a separate laundry and a wine cellar.

Key to the overall success of the design is the way the house is orientated to the outdoor landscape that surrounds and envelops it. With its natural stone-clad façade and gently curving roof, the structure blends seamlessly into its rocky, cliffside site. The unsightly aluminium window frames have been replaced with a system in which the windows appear to have no frames at all. They are “almost voids”, says Villanueva, “which can be opened fully so that the house feels like part of the landscape.”

The design also reflects the influence of more naturalistic– and especially Brazilian – strains of mid-20th century architecture. “We are huge fans of [Brazilian architect] Lina BoBardi,” says Moredesign’s Oro del Negro, which comes through in “the use of stone cladding, the elongated roof overhangs, the massive openings, the open floor plan and the infusion of landscape [into the interior]”.

Overall, he adds, the design is all about “functional, pragmatic living”. This ‘blurring of borders’ between the interior and exterior, achieved via the huge windows and doors as well as by the fact that the floors of the immediate outdoor terraces are finished in the same way as those in the interior spaces, is precisely what the magic of coastal landscapes is all about, says Villanueva.

Also key to the success of this aspect of the architecture are the wide overhangs created by the home’s undulating roof structure. These generous eaves are “one of the greatest architecture elements in the Mediterranean”, says Villanueva, adding that these have been “forgotten” in recent times. “They protect from rain and especially from sun,” he says. “Being so far south means that the sun in summer is very direct, and these overhang permitted us to use the large glass windows without inundating the interior with sunlight that is too bright and hot.” Instead, there is a gentle, diffused softness to the natural light that floods the interiors.

The colour palette for the interior design is made up of soft beiges, bone white and warm greys. Microcement floors and pared-back soft furnishings, set off by contemporary artworks carefully chosen by the owners, create a minimalist yet welcoming interior. Natural textures and materials are employed throughout, including signature Moredesign elements such as untreated wood, hand-carved stone and locally manufactured encaustic tiles.

Cleverly balancing indoor and outdoor space, softness with sharp, clean lines, and the contemporary with the organic, this house epitomises all that is most special about coastal living. Its exceptional design fits perfectly with its breathtaking location, and the result is a home in which its owners can enjoy a great deal of sun-drenched, relaxed and restorative time.

Photography Greg Cox · Words Noreen Johnson · Styling Tille Del Negro