Don't fear the chevron.

If you read “subtle zigzag” and immediately saw an oxymoron, you’re only half right. Yes, zig-zag—or chevron, if you want to be all fancy about it—hinges on contrast, which by nature isn’t subtle. But while zig-zag tends to skew modern, it’s making a nice home for itself in transitional spaces, namely bathrooms whose smaller square footage benefits from conspicuous pattern. More serious than polka dots, yet less stoic than stripes, chevron done with restraint gives a bathroom visual interest and a blip of playfulness; the repetitive diagonals grab your eye in a very good way. Consider giving your bath a little serrated love in these five spots.

1. On the shower curtain

Pulling the pattern all the way to the shower ceiling draws the eye up, making the stall look larger.

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2. In a frame

Wall space is precious in the bathroom, but it’s easy to forget to fill what’s there. Creatively Living’s smart DIY solution: a pop of pattern just above the towel bar.

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3. Around the bath

An entire zig-zag bath surround sounds severe, but smart color strategy—white to match the tub, brown to match the wood—and coordinating right angles keep the look cohesive.

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4. On the floor

Porcelain strips in gray and silver anchor this transitional Texas bath by designer Lori Toups-Fenton. Wood and detailed wallpaper soften the space and keep it from feeling cold.

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5. On a bath mat

Don’t want a long-term pattern commitment? Lay down a chevron bath mat, then roll it up when you’re ready to move on.

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