Whenever I try a new restaurant, I closely observe everything. From the menu offerings and dish execution (obviously) to the timeliness and attitude of the service, every detail contributes to the quality of the experience. Spatial design plays a major factor, creating ambiance and vibe with light, color, and texture. So does decor—an uncomfortable chair could ruin it all.
The pivotal judgement, however, occurs away from the table. I always make a point to visit the bathroom—even before I need to—and it’s where I’ll often stay for far longer than necessary. After all, it’s where restaurants exercise their creativity the most. Once you get through a serpentine line—none a match for my enthusiasm—there’s no telling what you’ll find in there, from bright wallpaper to lush amenities, and the anticipation is half the fun.
What I can’t seem to understand, though, is why more people don’t treat their home bathrooms with the same curated frivolity. To get things going, here are seven decor details from restaurants around the country that we think you should totally steal for your home. Just don't forget to have fun while you're at it.
The rebirth of early 00s hotspot Pastis in New York City has not been a small deal at all—it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation to eat escargots and steak-frites at the nostalgia-inducing Meatpacking District bistro. Tapping into that sentimentality, restaurateur Keith McNally has designed the space to look almost identical to the original, including these vintage mirrors with a warm patina in the bathrooms and throughout the dining room.
Restaurants all over the country have turned to loud, patterned wallpaper to create an Instagrammable bathroom moment. Auction House Market, a diverse food hall in New Orleans, has done it expertly. Bright pink, purple, and red lips adorn the walls and spark joy for selfie takers and onlookers alike. If you’re not afraid to make a statement, funky wallpaper is the way to go.
The brown butter lobster roll is not the only thing at Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, ME worth eyeballing. In its bathrooms, there are stunning ceramic sinks shaped and painted like oysters crafted by local artist Alison Evans. Not only is the sink so incredibly on-brand, it’s also a work of art. Using an unconventional, creative sink as the bathroom focal point could work in any home.
Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Marin County, CA has been a bayside staple since 1920 for fresh seafood and views of the San Francisco skyline. Earlier this year, hospitality design studio ROY redesigned the space to refresh the historic restaurant. Included in the update was a bathroom with floor-to-ceiling subway tiles in glossy navy. While subway tiles are often used in homes as a backsplash, covering all four walls is bold—and totally worth copying.
From inspirational proverbs to a nice monogram, there's no limit to what you can spell out in tile. The Fed Community, an all-day restaurant and neighborhood meeting spot in Detroit, employed this idea in the form of permanent encouragement. Who doesn't want a confidence boost each time you look down on the floor?
The masterful dishes cooked in clay ovens at Maydan in Washington DC are only enhanced by these skillfully graffiti-ed bathrooms. Street art style runs wild on the walls and ceilings, which are covered in words, images, shapes, and drips all collaged together for an eye-catching visual. While a professional could probably do it better, a home DIY graffiti moment might achieve a similar effect.
At Portuguese and Spanish seafood and wine bar Cervo’s in New York City, small plates and natural wines are on offer. So is this swoony green marbled toilet seat (a Brooklyn bodega hardware store find) atop a slate blue toilet (that also matches the sink). Highlighting the toilet by mixing and matching with a colorful seat serves as a good reminder of you why you’re there in the first place—and that you should probably make your way back to the table.