Mismatched towels are great — only if you’re going for the student-dorm look. Otherwise, they’re a big decor no-no, according to the pros at Arresting Design.


Mismatched towels in the bathroom? Argghhh! Before you become a design crime statistic, take action.

We can’t stand a motley collection of towels in a bathroom! While we sympathize with busy families who end up with all manner of towels hung (and often strewn) about the bathroom, we cannot condone this practice.

Before your towels take control of you, take control of the towels. Impose order! Stick to coordinated sets of towels, and make sure to coordinate your bathroom sets with colours or themes.

For example, if your shower curtain includes blue, grey and black whales on a clear plastic shower curtain, you can use towel sets in a matching shade of blue. If your tiles are coral-coloured, and your shower curtains feature starfish patterns, you may want to go with brightly coloured Caribbean-themed towels, in hibiscus, lime green, or turquoise blue.

Do not allow beach towels to be hung, willy-nilly, with the bathroom towels. The look is pure student dormitory, and it’s most certainly a design crime!

In terms of colour, solid shades are always practical and good-looking. But we love some of the new patterns that are starting to appear on towels. For example, we adore the new "retro" towel sets with bold geometric patterns, such as a series of circles in browns, olive green and baby blue against a plain white background.

Another interesting look is a subtle hound’s-tooth pattern, which looks classy in a more formal bathroom. Towels with texture, such as a raised pinstripe, also add interest.

In more traditional times, women would routinely embroider patterns or monograms, or sew a border onto the ends of towels or on the flat strip adjacent to the towel ends to make their towels look seasonal or personalized.

This look is becoming popular again, but the aesthetic is much less homespun. For example, you can buy or make towels with a fancy border which can be removed before washing.

This allows you to use interesting and stylish borders with buttons, silk, macramé, beadwork or fringes and even leather.

Finally, to get your towel situation under control once and for all, you must tackle your towel cupboard. You should have three to four sets of towels for each bathroom, one hung out, one or two for backup in the closet, and one in the laundry.

To avoid stuffing your towels into your closet, cull those extras as well as single or odd towels. If you need to buy new ones, insist on good-quality thick and fuzzy towels. The higher cost of buying quality towels will be offset by their exceptionally long lives — we promise!

As for what is required, a powder room only needs hand towels, while a washroom with a bath or shower needs a full set of towels. This usually means a bath towel or sheet, a hand towel, a fingertip towel, a washcloth and a tub mat. The fingertip towel is not an absolute necessity in all bathrooms, but is advisable especially at this time of the year when you may be having a lot of guests.

In addition, if you live with other people, especially with teenagers, your bath towel situation may become overwhelming. Next week’s column will tackle towel overload and how to avoid draping the bathroom in wet towels, another heinous design crime. In the meantime, keep those towels coordinated!

  • Catch Arresting Design every Thursday at 10 p.m. on W Network.


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