Towels are a necessity, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t overlook their aesthetic potential in our contemporary bathroom designs. However, hanging a bathroom towel to be both practical and stylish can be difficult.
When it comes to hanging up a towel after a bath or shower, probably the last thing on your mind is that it be nicely displayed. The limited space in smaller bathrooms can also make it difficult to know the best place to hang your towels.
But our towels—or more specifically, where we hang them—should be just as important in design decisions as our cabinets or tiles. “Think about the aesthetic you want to create in your bathroom,” says Jen Rhodes, founder of Tubtopia. “Straight lines and matching hardware can give the room a more elegant look, while mismatched or vintage hangers add a bit of personality.”
Depending on your space, you’ll have to choose between hooks or a rail for your towels, but how do you know which is best? We asked a few experts who know how to hang a towel so you don’t have to balance style with functionality.
1. Doubling – or pocket folds – for a hotel vibe
(Image credit: Future)
A classic way to hang your towels is with a solid metal rod. These work best in larger bathrooms where there is plenty of wall space so you can hang multiple towels over the rails for a more organized bathroom.
Aside from the practical benefit of having more floor space, a towel rail also allows you to display your towels in different ways. Michael Miller from Old Fashioned Bathrooms (opens in new tab) suggests creating a pocket with your towel. To do this, lay your towel flat and fold one of the shorter edges into the towel about a third. Next, fold in half lengthwise, then do the same on the other side to fold in thirds. Fold the towel in half again and turn it over to reveal the folded pocket.
“By creating a bag, you give your bathroom a clean, unified, and sophisticated look,” says Michael. Or an easier trick is to fold your towel in the usual way and hang your towel over it. You can then color match your towels for a complete look.”
“If you have a traditional bathroom, then a Victorian towel warmer is best,” says Michael Miller of Old Fashioned Bathrooms (opens in new tab) . “The best way to do this is to fold towels neatly and smoothly and place them over the chrome rods, as old bathrooms require a sleek and clean look.”
2. Use a freestanding towel rail
(Image credit: Garden Trading)
Sometimes your walls don’t support a solid towel rail, or maybe a small bathroom doesn’t have the free wall space to install one. A cheaper and easier alternative is a free-standing track.
“If you’re looking for a larger towel rail, you have to think about functionality. Freestanding rails could therefore be easier as they can be moved,” explains Michael.
You can keep a free standing rod and only use it in the bathroom when you have extra guests. If your bathroom doesn’t allow a rail near the bath or shower, a freestanding rail can be moved to give you easier access to your towels.
Freestanding wooden towel rails can be a particularly beautiful addition to neutral or more traditional bathrooms. However, it is important to consider the weight of your towels. “Heavier fabrics like terry require more support than lighter materials,” explains Tubtopia’s Jen (opens in new tab).
3. Hanging hooks in smaller bathrooms
(Image credit: Old Fashioned Bathrooms)
When space is an issue, wall hooks are the best choice for hanging your towels. And while they might not look like the most design-oriented way to hang a towel, a multi-hook hanger can be a great way to achieve a more rustic, beachy vibe in the bathroom.
“Our top tip for hanging towels on hooks is to buy towels with a hook in the middle of the towel, not at the end,” says Michael. “This way your towel not only dries evenly but also creates a symmetrical look that creates a much more aesthetically pleasing bathroom.” If your towels don’t have hooks, you can sew them on yourself with a small piece of fabric.
“They can also add a decorative touch to the room,” says Jen, who recommends trying mismatched hooks. “Another good option is to hang your towel on the back of the door. That way it’s within reach when needed, but doesn’t take up valuable space in the room,” she adds.
Since towels don’t dry as well on a hook as they do on a rod, it’s a good idea to place bath hooks near windows or radiators, as this will speed up the drying process.
“Hang one towel per hook,” suggests Michael. “When you hang multiple towels on a hook, moisture can get trapped between the layers no matter how neatly they are placed on the hook. As a result, they dry very slowly and have to be washed more often.”
4. For towels, use a towel ring
(Image credit: Britton Bathroom)
While hanging bath towels is important, hand towels should not be overlooked. In any case, attention should be paid to practicality.
While it may seem like a given, Michael emphasizes the importance of placing towels next to sinks and bathtubs. ‘Install towel rings near sinks to make it more convenient after washing hands.’ Not only is this more hygienic as it separates dirtier towels from your bath towels, but it also prevents unsightly and dangerous drips on your bathroom floor.
Some freestanding vanities also have special rails or towel rings that attach to the side or under the sink (keep this in mind next time you remodel your bathroom).
Which is better, hook or rail?
After learning how to hang bathroom towels, you may be wondering what is the better choice overall. While this comes down to personal preference from an aesthetic point of view, there are some practical benefits that help the rail claim the top spot.
“Drying your towels on rails allows for more airflow, so your towels last longer and dry faster between uses,” explains Michael. “Many towel rails can also be heated, making them the preferred choice for hanging your towels.”