People are returning to commercial spaces — shops, hotels, restaurants, and offices — after more than a year of diminished use.
Is your commercial restroom ready for company?
Commercial interior design is about more than pretty finishes and color schemes — it tells the story of your brand, communicates your values, and creates the first (and sometimes most important) impression on your customers.
It might be tempting to overlook a utilitarian space like a restroom, but it’s actually one of the most crucial spaces to get right in your commercial space design.
And it doesn’t always require a massive budget or huge renovation to get the commercial bathroom upgrade you need. Today, we’re sharing high-impact updates for your restrooms at every budget.
Why should you update your commercial bathroom?
Picture the last upscale restaurant or hotel you visited — the decor, the lighting, the atmosphere, the way you felt in that space…Feels good, right?
Now imagine getting up to use their restroom, opening the door and suddenly being transported to a dark, dingy rest-stop bathroom with stale, smelly air, overflowing garbage cans, and flickering fluorescent lights.
Do you still want to sleep in that hotel room or eat in that restaurant? You probably don’t even want to wash your hands at that sink.
When a commercial bathroom isn’t maintained and updated regularly, it speaks volumes about the establishment as a whole. Conversely, a comfortable, well-lit, fresh and clean restroom shows clients and employees you value them and their wellbeing. And that you take care of what’s yours.
It’s easy to overlook, but your commercial restroom design might be the thing that sticks in your clients’ minds after their visit…for better or for worse.
So what are some simple ways to provide thoughtful upgrades?
Make It Feel Less ‘Commercial’
Commercial office spaces as a whole are moving away from the traditional office feel. That extends to restroom design, too.
In the same way some residential design elements scream “builder grade”, there are certain commercial bathroom design elements that always give an institutional feel.
See how you can soften your designs by adding some less-commercial touches:
- Use artwork or wallcoverings to bring color into the space and break up plain walls
- Choose statement tiles, or install traditional tile in an unexpected pattern, for visual interest
- Highlight the sink area with a bold wallpaper or paint color, and break up the wall-to-wall commercial mirror. Instead hang individual mirrors above each sink, separated by sconces for a spa-like feel.
These smaller details make a big impact in your commercial restroom design.
Upgrade the Products
Commercial restrooms are notorious for poor-quality products — namely cheap, 1-ply toilet paper and harsh hand soap.
Give your customers and employees a much-needed upgrade. And consider adding complimentary feminine hygiene products as well.
It seems insignificant, and not worth the uptick in monthly costs, but your restroom users will notice.
Consider the Functionality of Your Bathroom Layout
Design that looks pretty but doesn’t function well just isn’t good design. That’s why we rely on our in-house interior designers to ensure form and function are optimized in each and every project.
In high-traffic areas like restrooms, function is doubly important, though it’s easy to overlook key details.
For example — hand driers located far away from the sink means water drips across the floor as users travel from one location to the next. Not only does this create a slippery safety issue, but the water can damage surfaces over time.
Another common commercial bathroom design flaw is too-small wastebaskets. An overflowing bin immediately communicates a lack of care and cleanliness, no matter how spotless other surfaces may be. Consider the average daily use of your commercial bathroom and select your waste bins accordingly.
Commercial bathroom renovations and updates for every budget
Like every commercial project, the scope and design plans depend on your budget and priorities. But to help guide you, our interior designer Steph Morris has a few design ideas at a range of price points.
Inexpensive Commercial Bathroom Updates
It’s possible to implement big design changes without a renovation, which is great news for smaller budgets.
For starters, take a look at your commercial restroom walls:
- Can you add color or pattern with wallpaper or tile?
- Can you swap out a builder-grade mirror for one that’s more unique?
- Where can you add artwork or hang a small shelf with space for plants and a few decorative accessories?
Even something as simple as swapping out dated switches and outlets with sleeker, modern ones can make a difference in your space.
Look at all the details — wastebaskets, towel dispensers, and wall lights. Consider how you can thoughtfully upgrade them for a cohesive look that feels less commercial and shows more personality.
Mid-Range Commercial Bathroom Updates
If you’ve got some budget to work with, swap out bigger elements for a more substantial upgrade.
- Touchless fixtures — After a year of incessant hand washing and an increased awareness of shared surfaces, touchless tech in faucets, toilets, hand dryers, and soap and towel dispensers has seen a major surge.
Plus, updated low-flow faucets and water-efficient toilets mean your investment upfront will pay off down the line.
- Better lighting — Old school fluorescents that flicker and hum make a space feel dingy and dated. And you’d be surprised how the lighting temperature (measured in Kelvins) can dramatically alter your space.
Consider how you might be able to swap out existing light fixtures in your commercial bathroom — or how some added task lighting and statement sconces by the doorway and sink will elevate the user experience.
Lastly, if you’re in a smaller office or retail space with less restroom traffic, consider upgrading your traditional light switches to motion sensors. This means you only use overhead lights when you need them, instead of leaving them on for 12+ hours a day.
- Update the surfaces — From flooring and wall tiles to countertops and sinks, there are countless ways to add functionality and character to your commercial restroom. And don’t forget about ceiling tiles. Discoloration from age and water stains immediately make a restroom feel unclean.
As you upgrade the look and feel of your restroom, be sure to use products designed for commercial use. They’re highly-durable and typically easier to clean, for minimal maintenance over time.
High-Impact Commercial Bathroom Upgrades
If your office bathroom is in need of a complete renovation, there are lots of commercial restroom design options that will wow your clients and employees alike.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas for high-impact commercial restroom updates:
- Solid wall partitions instead of standard stalls. This creates a luxe feel and adds privacy in a communal restroom.
- Be fitness-friendly. Encourage corporate health and wellness with some good design. Add in a shower and locker area for those who bike to work or like to squeeze in a midday workout.
- Make a statement. Go bold with a geometric tiled wall behind the sinks. Upgrade to floating, backlit mirrors. Select bathroom stall doors with a beautiful wood grain that doubles as art.
Just because a bathroom is utilitarian doesn’t mean it has to be predictable or boring. Partner with a design team to create a restroom space that’s comfortable, functional, and beautiful — and that shows employees and customers alike that you care.
Now’s a great time to tackle a commercial remodel. Choose a skilled contractor to help you develop a clear design and construction plan that works with your budget and timeline — and minimizes disruptions to your workday as they transform your space.