VR Bathroom Designer

// virtual reality user experience design

To solve the problem of helping people who are not design professionals visualize their home renovations and make more confident decisions, we created a virtual reality experience that allowed people to play with different products and materials. Because most users would be experiencing VR for the first time we needed to design a user experience that were both immersive and intuitive to learn, in a brand new 3-dimensional medium with few precedents.

virtual reality bathroom

Client. Valencia Home

Timeframe. 5 months


  • Lead UX designer and researcher
  • Designed, prototyped and tested user experience
  • Produced all 3D assets
  • Collaborated with software engineer for go to market production

The process

The initial user research consisted of studying the user side of home renovations and the technical aspects of a VR interface. The findings were used to identify a problem and conceptualize a solution. Low-fidelity paper and digital prototypes were designed for user testing and then iterated to a high resolution, look and feel prototype

Diagram for UX workflow


We conducted interviews with people who had done home renovations but were not professional designers and compared that process with professional designers and my own experience in architecture, to identify and understand the pain points of a home renovation.

What did we want to find out?

  • What is the process people go through to make decisions about product selections during a home renovation?
  • What prevents or allows a person to pull the trigger on a final decision?
  • What are the most significant pain points that cause indecision and anxiety in the renovation process?
  • How is the process different for professional designers?

Research methods

  • Stakeholder interviews with store owners and design professionals
  • User interviews with people who have recently done home renovations
  • Comparative analysis of other virtual reality interfaces
  • Wizard of Oz paper prototype to ideate VR interfaces

"I'm not a visual person. I had to see it in like every different possible combination. I would harp on it for hours of my day and like forget to feed my child."

Sharon, kitchen renovation

Woman with two kids

"Once I saw part of the floor installed I realized 'Oh crap, I made a mistake.' It was hard to tell from the little sample. I had them tear it out. It cost a lot of money."

Liel, bathroom renovation

A young family

Research insights

People who are not design professionals have trouble visualizing how all the different products and materials will look together.

The decisions are permanent and expensive. The high stakes of the decisions cause stress and anxiety for the home renovator.

The pain point is the final selection. Because the user can't visualize the final product, they are making big decisions with imperfect information.

Wall with multiple paint samplesDifferent types of tile samplesHand holding a fabric swatch to compare it to different paint samples
Hacks and workarounds people currently use to approximately visualize their design decisions.


To solve the problem of allowing non-design professionals to visualize their designs, we conceptualized a VR experience that would enable users to play with different materials and products to see how they would all fit together

Design Constraints

  • Exciting. You should feel the joy of being a design wizard
  • Immersive. The user should get lost in the process of design
  • Quickly learnable. Most people will be using VR for the first time and the inability to learn the interface will hurt immersion.
  • Not just a gimmick. Virtual reality had to be a tool that adds value and solves a real human problem.
Sketch of a woman changing something in VRSketch of a pointer and pallet VR interfaceGoogle Tilt Brush mixed reality image

Prototype 1

We conducted interviews with people who had done home renovations but were not professional designers and compared that process with professional designers and my own experience in architecture, to identify and understand the pain points of a home renovation.

What are we testing?

  • A minimum viable product to gauge interest and get input and feedback from the client and potential users.
  • A prototype to perform user testing to gain insight and study virtual reality and immersive interfaces.

What did we learn?

  • The clients were interested because it help differentiate their business and provided an added service to their clients.
  • People enjoyed the ability to try different options to design their bathroom.
  • The pallet grew too large with many so many options making it awkward to point to and difficult to interact with.
  • Different users had different ideas about how to change the materials.
  • Better onboarding was required because users were lost for the first few minutes if the interface wasn't explained.

Prototype 2

We used what we learned from user testing the first prototype as well feedback from the client to create a high-fidelity digital prototype to test the look and feel of the VR experience.

VR Interface Design Concepts

Based on what we learned from user testing, we developed several UX design concepts for VR which we implemented and iterated in the second prototype.

Onboarding. The transition into VR must be designed to allow the user to acclimate and learn the possibilities and rules of their new digital environment.

Video of onboarding (1:52)
VR interface sketch for onboarding
VR interface sketch of onboarding

Touch interactions vs Point interactions. In user testing we found having the menu attached to the hand to be cumbersome. Therefore, the interactions were broken up into two types depending on what the user was interacting with.

VR interface sketch of the touch menu
VR interface sketch menu location dimensions
VR interface sketch touch menu and pointer diagram
VR interface sketch touch menu area and environment pointer

Touch Interactions for the menus

  • used to interact with menu elements close to the user
  • menu is static and placed at a comfortable distance to reach and push

Laser pointer interactions for the environment

  • used to interact with objects in the environment
  • laser to point at different elements in the environment and push the trigger button make selections

New flow for changing materials. We found that different users had different mental models for changing the material and fixture options. Some chose the material first and then applied it, and others chose the surface then tried different materials. The user flow of changing the materials was updated to allow for the different preferences.

Diagram sketch of the interaction flows of how to change materials

Select a wall & try different materials

  • long press the trigger to lock the surface
  • press the different menu buttons to try different materials

Select a material and try it on different walls

  • press button to select material
  • point and shoot material to apply it to different surfaces

Changing fixtures

  • Select a fixtureto open the menu
  • Press the buttons to change the tub or try different material
Animated GIF of lock and pick VR interactionAnimated GIF for point and shoot VR interactionAnimated GIF of VR interaction changing a bathtub

Feedback and affordance. Because VR interfaces are unfamiliar to most users, we found that providing affordance and feedback thru micro animations, sound & haptics helped the user learn and understand the interface.

Video of micro-interaction animations (0:23)
VR interface sketch of animation feedback assignment to the wall or selecting the tub
VR interface sketch of animations to push button or eject material

Role & Use Case Storyboard

Through our research of people dealing with home renovations as well as what we learned from user testing the virtual reality prototypes, we created a use case story that reimagined what home renovations might look like in the future using virtual reality

User journey storyboard for VR use case in home renovations

What I learned.

VR is a great tool for spatial design. Because of the number of permanent interrelated decisions of fixtures and materials, we used a bathroom as a test case, but the positive feedback from user testing has convinced us that this concept can be scaled up to allow users to design any space.

UX design for VR. The process of designing, user testing, and iterating VR prototypes has given me a greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t work when designing a 3-dimensional user experience.

Test smaller, earlier, and more often. When designing in a brand new 3-dimensional medium with few precedents, it’s best to test small interactions to establish that they were learnable and natural to the user, and then design an overall system using these validated interactions as building blocks.

The UX of a VR product goes beyond the headset. Product designers for VR experiences must understand what works and doesn’t work better in VR and design a cohesive ecosystem that integrates with smartphones and computers to create the best user experience.


Tools Used

unreal engine icon3DMax  iconMaya iconPhotoshop iconicon illustrator