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Beyond the Boring Bathroom Rug

Restrain the urge to buy just another standard, fuzzy rug set and consider more eclectic and colorful possibilities for your bathroom.

Popular bathroom designs are all over the board these days: serene and neutral spa style, quaint and country, sleek and modern, artsy and eclectic. So why do so many bathrooms still feature a solid-color rug that came with a matching toilet seat cover?

It doesn't have to be that way, you know. Any number of retailers are selling bath rugs bursting with personality, ready to stand alone in an ordinary bathroom or, in most cases, available as part of an accessory ensemble, like Jenny & Jeff's "Dog Parade," that will link the whole bathroom with a single theme.

Keep in mind, too, that a washable bathroom rug is a great way to disguise less-than-desirable linoleum or tile without ripping up floors or resorting to the bathroom carpeting so unpopular with allergists. If you have a lot of floor to cover, many bathroom rugs come in larger-than-average sizes or you can use more than one or display a couple on top of an oversize sisal rug.

In the "tranquil but arty" category are Ikea's 100-percent cotton "Ethel Rand," with its rectangles of turquoise and gray cross-hatched with irregular stripes, and the polyacrylic "Diora Flower Pattern ," bathroom rug by Vita Futurist, with its wavy lines and a silhouette of what could be a calla lily off to one side.

The latter comes in azure, flame or caramel shades and the makers boast about its exceptionally durable and unique non-slip backing, achieved by applying latex to the fibers used in weaving the backing.

As for "vibrant but arty," Linens 'n Things' "Chelsea " bath rug fits the bill. It's a square mat with a bold bloom that looks like a cross between Georgia O'Keefe and Marimekko.

For the guys, there's Vita Futurist's polyacrylic "Bilbao" rug, lush and thick but not shaggy, with compelling stripes of different browns and beiges throughout.

In keeping with the design of an Asian-theme or spa-style bathroom, there are rugs that aren't rugs at all: Burmese teak and cedar bath mats. The big ones are intended for use inside the tub, but the smaller mats are every bit as mold- and mildew-resistant and can rest beside the shower or bath so you can stand on them to towel off. No need for an underlay, either, since the idea is for the water from your feet to drain through the slats and evaporate.

Or maybe you're looking for something a bit funkier? The aforementioned Dog Parade bath rug is whimsical without being cutesy, 100-percent cotton and two-sided for double the wear between machine washings.

Another hip option: the yarn-dyed southwestern "Kokopelli" bath rug (adorned with little figures of Kokopelli, the ancient Indian god of fertility).

There is also the deep pink Deco Dots Bath Rug.

And for sheer vibrant craziness, an unexpected entry from JC Penney of all places: the washable jersey Party Plaid Bath Rug. It looks like a marriage of confetti, golf pants and a '70s shag rug — very colorful and fun as the one loud point in a plain bath, or go over the top with the matching plaid shower curtain.

Not ready to get that far from tradition? The plush, pill-resistant Ripple Bath Mat is white and plain, but the deeply rippled ribs save it from being boring — and it can be coordinated with similarly grooved towels, shower curtains and bath mats.


Dog Parade Bath Rug

Ethel Rand bath rug

Diora Flower Pattern and Bilbao striped bath rug
Vita Futura

Teak mat

Deco Dots and Chelsea Bath Rugs
Linens 'n Things

Kokopelli Bath Rug
Santa Fe Decor, Inc.

Party Plaid Bath Rug
JC Penney

Ripple Bath Mat
Crate and Barrel

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