Article by: Robert Bollinger

small bathroom

A small bathroom doesn’t have to be cramped or uncomfortable. A well-designed bathroom remodeling project can create a space that feels big on space and on luxury.

Think beyond the usual

A traditional vanity and double sink can be beautiful in a big bathroom, but even a scaled-down version can overwhelm a room that has a much smaller footprint.  Consider options like these, which will look great without taking up too much space:

  • A pedestal sink in a classic or contemporary style.
  • A wood vanity with a rounded front that takes up less space than a typical square or rectangular box.
  • A sink and vanity that fit snugly into a corner that would otherwise be wasted.
  • A wall-mounted sink with a wall-mounted faucet.
  • A porcelain sink on chrome legs with an open shelf underneath.

Take advantage of the hidden spaces.

You may not be able to knock out walls or open up a closet to create a bigger bathroom, but don’t overlook the valuable spaces behind the drywall.

  • Eliminate a hinged door that opens inward and add a pocket door that disappears behind the walls.
  • Replace a toilet that sits on the floor with a wall-mounted version. The tank and the plumbing are tucked away between the wall studs.
  • Choose a recessed vanity. You’ll get the space that you need for toiletries without having an object protruding into the room.
  • Create storage shelves for towels, toiletries and cleaning supplies in the spaces between studs. Use glass or Plexiglas for shelving for a light, airy look.

Color it beautiful

There are a few ways you can go when choosing the color scheme for your bathroom remodel. One approach is to choose a soothing, neutral color—think natural stone colors of beige and cream—and carry that throughout the entire space with slight variations in tone or with a specific accent, like a row of beautiful handmade tiles.

If you prefer a bolder approach, look for wallpaper with a big, airy print. Large, open geometric prints area a popular choice.

You can also create the illusion of more space by adding horizontal lines, such as two or three rows of accent tiles, around the perimeter of the room.  If the ceiling feels like it’s closing in, consider adding floor-to-ceiling shelving or storage (it doesn’t have to be very wide) or adding a pop of color at the top of the wall to draw the eye upwards.

Add an interesting focal point—an unusual mirror, a shelf with a candle and a picture of your favorite beach retreat—to draw attention away from the small size of the room.

Keep it bright and simple

Clutter can make even large rooms look smaller. Stow the toothpaste, the makeup and the mouthwash someplace off the counter.

The right lighting brightens the dark corners, making a room look larger.  If your window is small, consider installing a skylight or Solatube. If that’s not an option, try adding wall sconces or even a small chandelier to typical bathroom lighting.

If your bathtub and shower are dingy and dull, and replacement is out of your budget, consider a system that lines your current tub and shower surround to make them look like new. Choose clear glass shower doors or a shower curtain that can be moved to one side so that the space within the shower enclosure adds to the space in the room.

Careful placement of mirrors will reflect light and the walls in the room, adding to the illusion of space.

Splurge a little

If you were remodeling a big bathroom you might not be able to afford radiant floor heating or beautiful glass tiles around the perimeter of the room. Since you need a smaller quantity of such materials in a small bathroom—and since their installation cost is much less than it would be in a larger space—those luxuries may now be within your budget.

When you treat yourself to something that you really want in a small bathroom, you’ll appreciate it every day—and you’ll find that you wouldn’t trade your small bathroom for a bigger space.

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