The one where we redesign Monica’s bathroom

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“You know, if you move your hamper you can see the color the tile used to be!”

Joey Tribbiani from Friends may not know much, but he knows when Monica’s bathroom needs renovating.

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The original bathroom: Full view

The One With Frank Jr. is a classic Friends episode, not least for revealing a traumatic gap in Monica’s house pride: She’s let the smallest room slip. Those “dingy” bathroom tiles are glued to the floor so tightly that she never got the idea to replace them.

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The original bathroom: Top-down view

Well, redesigning your bathroom is about ideas – and about being consistent. So to help you imagine how your bathroom might look with a makeover, we’ve pictured Monica’s bathroom in six in-demand interior styles, with examples of the fixtures and fittings you can use to achieve each Friends bathroom look.

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1. Industrial Style: Comparison

Get that “upwardly mobile New Yorker” warehouse-conversion look in your bathroom by embracing an industrial style. The look first came to domestic spaces via Soho warehouse and factory developments in NYC in the 1970s. Lately, you can see the industrial style everywhere, but the look lends itself to being highly personalized.

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Full room view

Exposed brick, pipes and beams provide the founding framework for your industrial-style bathroom. Brass and chrome add weightiness, and simple, business-like shapes (such as these industrial mixer taps) create a feel that’s minimal without being sparse. Check out this adjustable pendant light that looks like it’s about to get smashed into a warehouse wall in slow-mo in a 1980s music video.

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Top-down view

Tip: Instead of covering up strange or awkward elements of your bathroom build, find what’s unique about them and make them a feature.

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2. Japanese Style: Comparison

Are you familiar with the Japanese concept of unagi? According to Ross Geller, it’s a Japanese concept meaning “state of total awareness.” According to the Japanese, unagi means “freshwater eel.” 

It’s a good lesson in Japanese design style: If you want it for your bathroom, make sure you understand the principles, not just the surface appearance!

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Full room view

These design principles include symmetry, consistency and balance. Minimal furniture and ornamentation enhance the flow of the room, but it is just as important to ensure the details you do include are in harmony together. Consider, for example, this bamboo bath bench atop this pebble bath.

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Top-down view

Tip: Borrow the scenery of your garden by enhancing the view outdoors and echoing the shapes and textures of your garden in the bathroom (this is called shakkei, which honestly isn’t a type of eel).

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3. Moroccan Style: Comparison

Moroccan interiors are inspired by the North African country and its cultures. If you dig the color and ornateness of Monica Geller’s apartment but want something more timeless, a Moroccan style bathroom might be for you. The water-resistance of stone flags and mosaic tiling mean the style is both a stylish and practical solution for your home’s smallest room.

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Full room view

Detail is everything in a Moroccan style bathroom, right down to the choice of light bulbs. This teardrop-shaped bulb embraces an evocatively Arabic geometry. Warm autumn colors, golden yellows, royal greens and sapphire blues can enhance every corner – right down to a copper-colored bathtub.

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Top-down view

Tip: If you love the shape and opulence of Moroccan design but the color feels too much, work to a stone or terracotta-themed palette.

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4. Art Deco Style: Comparison

For the glamour of the ’20s (that’s the 1920s, not eternal twentysomethings of Friends), it has to be an art deco bathroom. Art deco design was born out of the brash confidence of the jazz age, when new materials found their home and avant-garde designers took the world by storm. Art deco was unashamedly decorative, and its Hollywood-calibre form was equal to or more important than function. In other words, it’s a look.

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Full room view

Check out, for example, this chrome, bevelled ceiling light, which looks like you pinched it right out of the Waldorf Astoria. Pair it with this Imperial Empire Wall Light – so imperial they named it twice – and give yourself center-stage with this classically art deco-shaped hexagonal wall mirror.

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Top-down view

Tip: Art deco enjoyed a major revival in the 1980s, so semi-vintage pieces can be picked up at a good price from your local second-hand furniture shop.

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5. Tropical Style: Comparison

There’s always another winter around the corner. If there’s one place you want to feel toasty and relaxed, it’s the bathroom. The tropical look has been on the ascendant in recent years, and it gives the boho style a sun-bleached, paradisal makeover (sort of like Monica in The One in Barbados, only without the cultural appropriation).

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Full room view

A tropical style bathroom is all about washing your hair under a waterfall, so how about this high pressure top-down shower complete with wave water flow functionality? The key is to surround yourself with plenty of greenery (or at least plant-themed décor). You want to feel like you could just as easily reach for a fig leaf as a towel. And for this season’s industrial spin on the tropical style, pair this wall-mounted tap with a pool-shaped basin.

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Top-down view

Tip: Don’t over-clutter – instead, double down on mirrors and humidity-chomping houseplants to give yourself the feeling of being lost in paradise.

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6. Farmhouse Style: Comparison

If it weren’t for the velvet upholstery, Courtney Cox’s real-life bathroom would have a soupçon of a farmhouse about it. Her customized pendant lamps and ebonized wood finish embrace the rustic feel of upcycled ironmongery and cast-off wood. The look is brought to completion by the beam-like plank finish.

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Full room view

For Monica Geller’s farmhouse style bathroom, we’ve opted for a free-standing cast iron bathnormcore toilet, and cosy mid-century style fittings. After all, if your French doors don’t open up onto a Malibu beach (like Cox’s), you’ll probably want to avoid black for an airy, rural look.

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Top-down view

Tip: Embrace your inner Cath Kidston with a single kitsch print detail – be it patterned wallpaper or a chintzy washstand jug and bowl.

The bathroom answers the fundamental needs of your daily routine. Changing things up may be the best DIY move you can make in your home if you’re in need of a little spiritual reboot. But matching the style and detail to your tastes is essential if you want to feel comfortable in the littlest room.

No matter how you choose to decor your bathroom, you deserve to do so in any beautiful setting. 

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