The idea of interior design is to make our homes more useful and functional, not just pretty.  Nowhere is this more important than in the tiny space of an apartment bathroom.

It should be comfortable and attractive, of course, but it must also be tidy and easy to clean.  Here are some tips to help make it more so.

Decorative details are an unnecessary luxury.  Instead of tchotchkes that collect dust and slow down the cleanup, use color and texture as your decoration.  Accentuate the differences between matte and shiny, between rough and smooth.  The contrasts of different materials, whether granite, wood, tile or glass create interesting surfaces.  To get a more functional look use block shapes that will contrast with the usual curves of a toilet or tub.

This is a great opportunity to experiment with bold colors since the areas to be covered are small and visited only for short periods.  Another choice is to keep all surfaces cool and smooth and let small pools of color be introduced through the towels and accessories

Eliminating the unnecessary is the secret to a quicker cleanup.  For instance, consider frosted glass on the window instead of the usual curtains or blinds.  Frosted glass is available as milky white, reeded or other effects. For a laundry basket, get a sturdy one that can double as a stool.

Walls are best either tiled or painted in a flat vinyl latex or eggshell finish.  For a more industrial look, you can cover the doors in galvanized tin or aluminum.  Metallic paints will give you same effect.

For the floor, linoleum or vinyl are probably most common, but tile can add some interesting textures and is just as easy to clean. This may be your opportunity to experiment with unusual colors like lilac or lemon. Consider tough rubber studded flooring which is available in a variety of colors. Granite, slate, marble or sandstone floors will give a nice contrast to the gleaming steel of the fixtures and your soft fluffy towels or a short-pile cotton bathmat.

Recessed lighting will give a neater look and the fixtures won’t be taking up space and needing regular cleaning.  You’ll want much brighter lighting than you would in your other living spaces, so consider halogen lights. If you can spare the space of giving up a medicine cabinet, a simple unadorned mirror will add sleekness to the room.

One of the nicer things about our modern age is that there is an ever increasing variety of designs and materials available.  In one of our bathrooms, we went with a glass raised sink rather than the usual inset porcelain.  It adds color and texture and allowed us to minimize the space taken up by the countertop.

It is a truism that if it looks clean, it is clean.  So using chrome or satin steel for the towel bars, toilet roll and toothbrush holders will help give the room a cleaner look and feel.  Satin finishes, of course, don’t show the fingerprints of traditional chrome.  Personally, I also like the bright colors available in porcelain accessories.

If you’re trying to create the Look, a bathroom is a great space to play around in.  It is easy to eliminate the dysfunctional and, unless you’re like me, nobody goes there just to sit around and read.