Bathtub Wall PanelsBathtub Wall Panels

Shower enclosure. Barring a door mount a tiled half wall may be the next best thing. You'll barely have to open the door to access your towel. In this particular shower the shower head and drain are far enough from the exit that you won't have to drench your floors to reach for that towel.

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Alcove BathtubAlcove Bathtub

When white feels right. For many people white is the only color they'll ever consider in a bathroom and it's not hard to see why — it can look so clean and fresh. But there are ways to make your white stand out from the rest. Here hints of black in the dark grout and fixtures are points of difference. Subtle but lovely features can inject enough difference into an all-white room to make it interesting: a signature circular mirror well-cared-for plants and a designer wood stool in this case. Textured tiles also bring depth to an all-white palette.

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Bathtub Faucet ExtenderBathtub Faucet Extender

Shower doors. Keep your towel mount integral to the shower enclosure itself. If you're lucky all the heat and steam against the glass may warm your towel in the process. Here a pivoting door swings on a hinge so the bather can access a towel without having to leave the steamy environs and without dripping any water outside the shower room. Naturally this type of hinged door works best when you have room to spare since its radius projects into the stall.

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Clawfoot BathtubClawfoot Bathtub

Feature wall. Most of the previous solutions are optimal in bathrooms lacking in wall space. If you do have a free surface you could easily incorporate your towel racks as part of a feature wall. Here a wood-paneled alcove features five towel bars that the bather can easily reach from the tub.

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French NightstandFrench Nightstand

Some desks are just larger and wider versions of a night table. The flat surface of a desk can house a lamp books and other nighttime necessities. If you have enough space add a chair to create a dual-duty nightstand that also serves as a workspace. Tip: If your bed is placed in the middle of the wall and you add a desk on one side be sure to put another piece of furniture that's at least the height of the mattress on the other side. And use lamps of the same height — they don't need to be the same style — on both pieces of furniture. These things will prevent the room from looking too furniture-heavy on one side.

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Black NightstandBlack Nightstand

Warm modern. Keep a clean minimalist look from being too cold with a stroke of fiery red or orange. Here a wide striped bedcover echoes the color in an oversize painting. If a painting of this magnitude is beyond your current budget consider stretching a length of bold fabric on stretchers meant for canvas (find them in art stores). Choose a simple platform-style bed and slim task lamps then fill out the room with a healthy potted plant and a vase of flowers.

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Vintage NightstandsVintage Nightstands

Simple circulation. Try to keep your circulation on one side of the room. Hotels do a great job of this. There's a reason 90 percent of hotels have the same floor plan: because it's simple and it works. Circulation plans become a little more challenging with en suite rooms (bedrooms with bathrooms attached) or bedrooms that have doors to the outside. To save on space pay attention to where you locate the bathroom and closet in your bedroom. Rooms that have bathroom or closet access before the sleeping area require a longer hall (see the left-hand plan). If you organize the circulation so the bathroom and closet are accessed through the sleeping area (right-hand plan) you don't need a separate hall and you can add the circulation space into the room to make it feel larger too.

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Matching NightstandsMatching Nightstands

Take your time. Great design takes a while and usually requires refining before you come up with the perfect plan for your lifestyle. Don't rush through the design — it's worth taking a little extra time up front to make sure you have a more efficient and functional plan in the end. The truth is great design doesn't necessarily mean a space that's overly complex and expensive to build. A space that functions better costs less to build is more efficient to run and is easier to maintain can be an outstanding example of great design.

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