Rustic bathroom ideas – 10 design secrets to help you relax in rural comfort

Rustic bathroom ideas – 10 design secrets to help you relax in rural comfort

When you're looking for rustic bathroom ideas, take your design inspiration from the property and its setting. For rural and period homes, that can mean considering any architectural quirks and unusual proportions into account when planning the layout of the bathroom. 

The best country bathroom ideas incorporate materials and textures that reflect the construction of the building, and also the rural views outside the window. So while you'll find luxe finishes and hotel-style fittings, wood, stone, plaster and paneling are all key features of a rustic bathroom or cottage bathroom.

We've put together tips and style advice to cover all bathroom ideas, from tiles and tubs to basins, showers and bathroom color schemes, from interior designers and experts to help you pin down the best look and layout for your country bathroom.

With a nod to the past, but firmly rooted in the present, these rustic bathroom ideas offer a simple way to achieve a timeless aesthetic.

Naturally aged and distressed, reclaimed floorboards bring rustic charm to walls and can prove surprisingly resilient in the bathroom. The floorboards used here came from a local salvage yard. 

‘They have just been cleaned up and given a clear wax finish to protect from moisture,’ explains Emily Girling, project manager, Mark Lewis Interior Design (opens in new tab). Leaving the old saw blade marks and nail holes intact retains a reassuring sense of history.

In this Twenties chalet in the French Alps, interior design studio Todhunter Earle (opens in new tab) used grey oak on the floors and the bath panel. The timber is a textural counterpoint to iridescent zellige tiles from Emery et Cie. 

‘This bathroom needed to be hard wearing, practical and not too smart, so we used fumed oak to bring warmth and texture to the room,’ says interior designer Kate Earle. 'The pine ceiling and structural beams have been painted white for a more contemporary feel.'

Not all rustic bathrooms need to look particularly countryfied. Modern interpretations are just as beautiful. This serene space was designed by Alexis Soof with tiles from Clé. 

‘Perfectly imperfect handcrafted tiles have a richness and character,’ says Clé (opens in new tab) senior creative director Sarah Lonsdale. ‘This shower is a winning combination of our Belgian reproduction terracotta with glamorous Weathered White zellige.’

Large bathrooms can often leave you feeling cold and exposed, even if the space is well heated. Here, clever color-blocking techniques demonstrate how you can break up a large or predominantly neutral room, put the shower area in the spotlight and add a much-needed dose of visual warmth. 

Red tones promote coziness in rustic spaces – the color here is Silestone’s earthy Mediterranean shade Arcilla Red – and also work well with textural materials, such as wood accessories and woven bathroom storage. 

‘Silestone surfaces come in a great range of colors and large format slabs so there will be minimal grouting to clean,’ adds Ross Stewart, general manager, Cosentino (opens in new tab).

Catchpole & Rye’s Nickel bateau bath with painted charcoal exterior is the focal point in this master bathroom in a Grade II-listed property in Kent. The architecture is Tudor, and the family were keen to be sensitive to this legacy while introducing modern functionality and design. The bath is set against marble surfaces on floors and walls and the effect is wonderfully elegant, striking a contemporary classic note. 

‘A bateau bath makes a statement in any setting, especially with a reflecting interior,’ says Catchpole & Rye’s Rita Rendo-Castro. ‘Its luminary effect is both inviting and striking.'

A stone basin with raw edges combined with the irregular surfaces of the wall tiles, creates an organic, rustic feel. 

‘Cleverly designed to recreate the authentic look and feel of handmade pieces, and with a simplistic beauty to them, Lapicida’s Qualis Rice porcelain tiles add a sense of serenity to rustic bathroom interiors,’ says Jason Cherrington, director of Lapicida (opens in new tab).

Some conversations are just better addressed when lying in a bath so, when space allows, bring a bath into a rustic bedroom for the ultimate ensuite bathroom luxury. Along with a pitched ceiling, rustic wooden floorboards and antique furnishings, a beautiful weathered copper bateau bath by Catchpole & Rye takes center stage

In this rustic bathroom by interior designer Beata Heuman (opens in new tab), carrying the same colour tones over multiple surfaces helps to blur out awkward angles and sloped ceiling lines. 

‘All the walls and the bath are clad in Béton Ciré, which is a micro concrete paste and totally waterproof,’ explains Beata. ‘The idea here was to make the space feel warm and earthy, unlike most modern bathrooms. The rustic wooden floor continues in from the bedroom, which connects the suite of rooms and also makes it feel more spacious.’ 

The characterful vanity, made from a rustic antique table, cuts a strong silhouette against the plastered walls.

Hygienic, seamless and extremely beautiful, polished plaster is a popular choice right now. In rustic bathrooms and wet rooms, polished plaster’s waterproof prowess and elimination of moisture-seeping joints is the big story. 

Venetian plaster requires waxing to seal out water, but most microcements and tadelakt plasters are inherently waterproof, as well as stain-resistant, UV-stable and easy to clean. 

The polished plaster look can be sleek and contemporary, or more rustic for an earthy effect. Adding pigments allows customizable color, and most types of polished plaster are suitable for use on floors, walls, ceilings and even furniture.

Bathroom flooring ideas deserve special attention. The material of course must be durable, able to withstand frequent splashes of water, anti-slip underfoot and preferably easy to clean. 

Here, terracotta tiles on a bathroom floor evoke a warmth and rustic charm that blends beautifully with a country-house aesthetic. Look for patina not uniformity to create the right result, as with these reclaimed antique terracotta tiles from Maitland & Poate (opens in new tab).

The best way to make your bathroom look more rustic is through hard materials. Natural stone, ceramic and terracotta offer endless design possibilities with their color, texture and striking patterns.

There’s a lot to like about using tiles as a floor covering, whether cut natural stone or moulded, kiln-fired clay. They can create a rustic or contemporary feel; be understated or inject a touch of fun. Stone has a natural beauty that looks even better as it acquires the patina of age. However, it can be expensive and does require sealing and prompt action when there are spills to keep it looking its best. Reclaimed stone is increasingly popular. Adding a dash of history does bring an additional cost, but there are also plenty of new stones that have been antiqued to give the same effect at a fraction of the price. 

For ease of care, porcelain and ceramic tiles cannot be beaten. Good copies can be found for all types of natural stone, but many exciting original designs are also available. Of course, these rustic bathroom flooring materials can feel chilly underfoot in the depths of winter so, if you’re fitting a new floor, it’s worth considering underfloor heating. Most stone and tiles are suitable for this; check with your supplier before buying.

Another element to consider is your fixtures and fittings. 'When opting for a traditional pieces for a rustic bathroom, such as a free-standing roll-top bath, the choice of taps can make all the difference,' advises Rita Rendo-Castro, marketing director, Catchpole & Rye. 'Selecting concealed wall-mounted designs brings an air of minimalism to the space.'

'Use the same type of finish on all the metal fittings, from bath taps to door handles to lighting. This helps to create a cohesive feel. Nickel and brass designs always look classic as opposed to chrome ones, which will add a more.'

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