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Making your Bathroom Safer with Light and Colour

Making your Bathroom Safer with Light and Colour

A bathroom can be a sanctuary, a place of peace away from the hustle bustle of everyday life.

By choosing lighting and colour, a bathroom can be personalised.

Lighting and colour affect the senses and give off vibes which affect how you feel, personally.

In later years, the sense of sight can change and so tailoring a bathroom to support such changes is a wise move.

As with blue for the cold water tap and red for the hot, using colour can have a positive effect on safety elements in the bathroom.


To most of us, colours have meaning. This meaning can come in the form of a memory, sadness, comfort, or a feel good factor.

Using a colour which makes you feel good can make the bathroom a calming place to be.

The Psychology of Colour

Colour has been associated with eye strain, mood, blood pressure and emotions. It has a real effect on how we respond and react to things we see.

Colour can create the vibe that says who you are, including:

  • brown - natural, organic and trustworthy
  • black - strong, bold and sophisticated
  • white - fresh, open and bright
  • grey - mature, stable and relatable
  • blue - tranquil, passionate and calm
  • green and yellow - uplift, vitality and optimism
  • purple and pink - fun, youthful and invigorating.

Colour interprets how we relate to and feel about things around us. Enhancing your bathroom with satisfying colours helps you to relax and can also uplift your day.

Colour can also enhance the safety in the room.

Getting the Bathroom Right

The decor for bathroom walls, bathroom furniture and flooring has a somewhat permanence about it. Choose a colour which allows a mixture of other colours to be teamed with it in the form of soft furnishings.

Elements such as lighting, flooring and soft furnishings, can be changed easily, giving the bathroom a new feel at a moment's notice.

Lighting and Flooring

- Lighting

Directional lighting will make a bathroom a safer place. Choose warm colours for lighting as opposed to bright ones, to allow eyes to work comfortably.

Light coming from the ceiling rather than from walls will prove better for people who are disturbed by bright lights shining directly into their eyes.

Lights directed to key areas will help individuals with vision changes (e.g. macular degeneration and a clouding of vision due to cataracts) to operate safely and comfortably in that room.

- Flooring

When choosing floor tiles, matt finish tiles are much safer than shiny finishes.

Rough stone is a good choice for floor tiles, as stone absorbs water and so reduces the chances of slipping.

Soft Furnishings

The ambience of the bathroom can be changed, simply by changing the colour of its soft furnishings.

Soft furnishings can be in different textures and in a wealth of colours, making a statement as to a room's overall feel.

- Towels

Coloured towels add character to a bathroom and liven up what can quite often be a colour neutral space.

For individuals with vision changes, colour can act as an identification point, creating contrast with other objects and allowing the individual to move around with relative ease.

- Bath Mats and Bath Rugs

Bath mats and bath rugs serve different needs.

Bath mats are functional, whereas bath rugs give an element of luxury.

A bath mat is a safety item, designed to save you from slipping on a wet floor by soaking up any spillages.

A bath mat stands directly in front of the bath or shower, ready for you to stand on and dry yourself off. It will be made of extra absorbent materials and will have an anti-slip backing to keep it in place.

A bath mat can prevent mould, mildew and the build up of bacteria.

Bath mats may be made from cotton, memory foam, microfibre, or even bamboo or teak.

  • Cotton is super absorbent and washes very well.
  • Memory foam is exceptional in both water absorbency and comfort.
  • Microfibre offers a cushioned feel, is super warm and also offers the 'dry quickly' feature.
  • Bamboo and teak both offer a solid surface and are resistant to water penetration, making them almost indestructible. These hard surfaces can be treated with anti-mould and anti-mildew varnish, making them last for years.

A bath rug is a cosmetic item, designed to make your bathroom look attractive and cosy.

Think of a bath rug as being more of a room rug, as it can be used anywhere in the bathroom and not limited to placing only near the bath for spillages.

Bath rugs do absorb water but are more of a luxury than purposeful accessory.

Bath rugs aren't as thick as bath mats, as they are mainly for decoration and ambience.

As they are decorative instead of purposeful, rugs may not have an anti-slip backing.

Bath rugs need a little more maintenance than a bath mat, so always check if the rug you are going to purchase can be washed, or if it should be dry-cleaned.

Bath rugs may be made from cotton, wool, chenille, or nylon.

  • Cotton is super absorbent and dries very quickly.
  • Wool offers a thicker rug, extra absorbency and air circulation keeps the rug fresher for longer.
  • Chenille is made up of water resistant fibres, which makes it a desired choice. Chenille is also hard wearing.
  • Nylon is strong, moisture repellent and also stain resistant, making it an excellent choice for durability.

- Sizes

Bath mats and bath rugs come in a range of sizes, from 17 inches by 24 inches (42.5 cms. by 60 cms.) to 27 inches by 45 inches (67.5 cms. by 112.5 cms.). The important point is that the size fits well in your bathroom space. Too big a size could lead to the item not lying flat and it may become a tripping hazard. Too small a size would lead to the rug being inoperative.

Bath Mats for Inside the Bath or Shower

Bath mats can be used inside the bath or shower, for safety purposes. With suction cups on the underside of the bath mat, it is firmly secured to the bath or shower base, making it safer to get in and out of the bath, or to stand safely in the shower.

Quality rubber grip bath mats will have a textured top side, to prevent slipping, as well as holes to allow water to pass through the bath mat when not in use, rather than gather on the surface. This drainage feature helps reduce the build up of bacteria.

Rubber bath mats can quite often be machine-washable, allowing the removal of any built up residue or bacteria.

Bath mats come in different colours, allowing the user with vision changes to see exactly where it is on the bath or shower base.

A long bath mat which stretches the whole length of the bath base will prove extra protective for users who want to feel safe from sliding under whilst in the bath.

The Added Safety of Grab Rails

Ageing has an effect on eyesight but also affects one's balance and mobility. Grab rails are a real must in an elderly person's bathroom, as they aid moving around independently and so support wellbeing.

Grab rails should be placed close enough together that an individual with balance and / or mobility difficulties can keep their balance whilst moving around. The individual with vision changes will also benefit from the security of having something to hold onto whilst negotiating moving forward.

Grab rails can be placed inside a shower, as well as on the wall side of the bath, giving something to hold onto when getting in to bathe. Grab rails in a shower can also support the individual who enjoys standing whilst showering.


When choosing a bath mat or bath rug, make sure that it is absorbent and non-slip.

Any stagnant water in a bathroom can become a breeding ground for bacteria and will make the bathroom both unsanitary and smelly.

The lining on bath mats may be rubber, silicone or latex and will make the floor safer for use.

With both bath mats and bath rugs, make sure that the colour doesn't run, before adding them to a mixed wash.

For hygiene purposes, it is best to wash a bath mat at least once a week.

Microfibre can sometimes cause skin allergies, though there are hypoallergenic options now available.

Get into the habit of always lifting and hanging up the non-slip mat from the bath or shower base, to allow it to drip dry over the bath or shower. This will reduce any chances of the build up of soap products or bacteria.

It is now possible to buy eco-friendly bath mats and bath rugs, with information as to being eco-friendly displayed on the product label and in the product description.

Please note that grab rails can be installed in any room in the house, building confidence and maintaining independence for the individual is no longer fully steady on his or her feet.

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Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

Sally Madeley-Carr, OT

Sally qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1996 and is a well-respected professional in the field of rehabilitation equipment and living aids. She has worked in private practice and within the NHS, developing a broad experience with adults and children. Click here for Sally's registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. The HCPC regulates health, psychological and social work professionals in the UK.

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