Bathroom accessories buying guide

Bathroom accessories buying guide

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Bathroom accessories are essential for everyday use. Whether made from wood, plastic or stainless steel, they come in a range of styles and serve different purposes. From inexpensive accessories up to the most stylish options, here's our guide to choosing the best accessories for your bathroom.

Important features

  • Sink and wash basin accessories
  • Shower and bathtub accessories
  • Toilet accessories
  • Style
  • Material
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Different types of bathroom accessories

Bathroom accessories can serve a range of purposes and can be designed for use by the sink, on a bathroom countertop, in the shower, bathtub or for the toilet. They should be chosen according to your needs, as well as the style of your bathroom. These accessories, from the most basic soap holder to a magnifying bathroom mirror, come in two different types: ones you simply place on the counter and ones that require some installation.

Free-standing bathroom accessories 

Free-standing bathroom accessories can be placed on any surface in the bathroom. They are practical as they can be moved around and do not require the use of any tools. Soap holders, tumblers, toothbrush holders, bathroom waste bins, non-slip mats, laundry baskets, soap dispensers, bath mats, cotton storage boxes and broom holders are all examples of free-standing accessories. They are available in various sizes and styles according to the number of people in your household and the style and colour scheme of your bathroom. These accessories can easily be replaced and can make up an integral part of your decor. As they take up space (on the floor, on the toilet, etc.) they are not recommended for small bathrooms. They will also require more regular cleaning.

Fitted bathroom accessories

Some accessories require fittings, such as some types of soap holders, soap dispensers or toothbrush holders. Other accessories, such as toilet roll holders, towel rails and shelves, almost always require wall fixings. This type of bathroom accessory is more practical and offers a longer service life as it is subject to less wear. The materials used to make these accessories can also vary. Bathroom and shower shelves can be made of plastic, glass, aluminium and stainless steel, to name a few. In order to fit these accessories, you will generally need a drill as you will often have to drill into bathroom tiles. You'll also have to make sure to choose the proper wall plugs. Some bathroom accessories can be fixed via suction pads (towel hooks, soap holders or sponge holders); others can be hung – although it is not recommended to hang anything too heavy.

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Bathroom accessories: materials and styles

Broadly speaking, there are as many styles of bathroom accessories as there are types of bathroom decor. To make sure your bathroom accessories match the overall ambiance you're going for, you'll have to choose the right style and materials.

Bathroom accessory styles

The style of bathroom accessories is determined by their shape and the type of  materials used to make them.

  • Contemporary or modern: accessories generally made of plastic, ceramic, glass, resin or stainless steel; simple and streamlined designs.

  • Classic or zen style: ceramic, wood or stone; simple, round or rounded shapes.

  • Vintage or romantic style: glass, iron, porcelain, enamelled steel; structured shapes with details and trims, or a combination of materials.

Materials of bathroom accessories

The materials used are often determined by the style of the accessory. It is, for example, quite difficult to find a vintage-style bathroom accessory made of plastic. Bathroom accessories can be made of:

  • Ceramic, glass or porcelain in which case they are fragile but easy to maintain;

  • Wood or stone: stronger but more difficult to clean;

  • Iron or steel enamel: resistant and easy to clean.

No matter which material you go for, it is crucial to use a suitable cleaning product. Your cleaning products should not harm the surface of the material but should be strong enough to disinfect your accessories.

Bathroom accessory sets

Soap and toothbrush holder sets

Bathroom accessories can be sold individually or in sets. It is common to find sets comprising the following accessories:

  • Liquid soap dispensers;

  • Toothbrush holders;

  • Tumblers or cup holders;

  • Soap dishes.

Hooks, towel rails, shelves, baskets and storage boxes are generally installed around the sink or bathtub while bathroom bins are kept next to the toilet. Magnifying mirrors can be hand-held or fitted, in which case they are adjustable and can even be telescopic.

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Magnifying mirrors

Shower accessories

Shower shelves and curtains

Shower accessories are designed to make your products more accessible and to generally improve comfort. These include:

  • Shower curtains: usually made of polyester or a polyethylene / EVA blend, shower curtains can be plain or patterned, and must be waterproof;

  • Bath and shower mats: these non-slip mats can be made of PVC or rubber and can be equipped with suction pads. They offer grip to reduce the risk of falling and can be made of wood;

  • Shelves and shower caddies: used to store shower products, shelving can be installed using screws or suction pads. They are often made of plastic, chromed-plated steel, aluminium or stainless steel;

  • Soap/shower gel/shampoo dispensers: wall mounted or free-standing, soap dispensers are generally made of plastic, chrome, aluminium or stainless steel.

Towel rails and hooks

Towel rails and hooks should be installed wherever you exit the shower. Whether made of chrome-plated steel or stainless steel, towel rails allow you to hang your towels and can also be used as storage if equipped with a shelf. Towel rails can be free-standing or fixed and come in a range of designs from rings to mobile or stationary arm brackets.

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Shower curtains

Toilet accessories

Toilet roll and brush holders and waste bins

Toilet accessories can be free-standing or fixed to a surface. The most common toilet accessories are as follows:

  • A toilet brush and brush holder: generally made of plastic, some brush holders are made of wood or steel and come with a plastic-lined container to hold the brush;

  • A toilet roll holder: also known as a toilet roll dispenser, these holders are most commonly fixed to a wall. Ranging from basic to elaborate in terms of design, they come in all sorts of different materials (plastic, wood, aluminium, stainless steel etc.) and can sometimes feature a lid;

  • Toilet seat: made of plastic, wood or composite materials, toilet seats can be plain or patterned;

  • The bathroom waste bin: with various materials and sizes to choose from, bathroom bins are usually operated using a pedal;

  • Toilet mat: whether plain or patterned, toilet mats are made of cotton, polyester or microfibre.

Like all bathroom accessories, the colours and materials of your toilet accessories should match your overall decor.

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Toilet seats

Materials, price ranges and quality

  • Low-end bathroom accessories tend to be made of plastic and usually sold in kits. These are generally free-standing accessories designed to be placed around bathtubs, sinks or toilets. Aluminium or stainless steel accessories are more resistant and have a longer service life, making them more expensive to buy.

More information

Follow the links below for related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

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Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

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