Design Ideas for Small Bathrooms

A small, modern bathroom.

Small bathrooms are often cramped, unpleasant spaces, but this doesn't have to be so. Use some of these purposeful design elements to make your small bathroom look and feel bigger.

Sink and Vanity

The sink and vanity are the monstrous duos that shove you into a corner every time you enter your tiny bathroom. While there are many small bathrooms, the choices for vanities and sinks are limited - they must be large enough to be functional, but this often means they take up most of the space in your half bath or bath with a standing shower.

Where possible, try a corner sink basin and vanity. If the placement of the existing plumbing makes this impossible, go with a simple pedestal sink, chosen for ideal depth and width, and place a shallow, mirrored cabinet overhead. Corner caddies or over-the-toilet space savers can make up for space lost after you remove bulky vanity cabinetry.

Standing Shower

Standing showers can be useful and convenient, but they sure can take up a lot of space. The best standing showers for small bathrooms are ones that tuck into a corner and are made of a clear material. Showers that have opaque sides only serve to make the space smaller; glass doors allow the shower space to be visually included in the bathroom area.

Round showers are also great for small bathrooms. Purchased as complete units, they are similar to rectangular standing showers. It's possible to build up a tile base, install a curtain rod that's round, and create a round shower without any solid sides. This is both an attractive and ingenious way to make the best of small bathroom spaces.

Colors, Styles, and Materials

Use light, pleasant colors throughout your small bathroom, accenting with small touches of a darker, complementary color. Use high-quality fixtures that are useful as well as streamlined. Keep frills to a minimum and shoot for a contemporary look—this reduces clutter and keeps the space open.

Tiled walls and floors keep a small bathroom clean-looking. Mirrors add the illusion of extended space. A small plant, real or artificial, as well as a candle, soft towels hanging on a towel ring, or a fuzzy mat will keep the bathroom from looking too sterile.

Try different design elements. For small items such as hardware, you can always purchase with the intent to return the item if you find that it is not what you want once you get it home. For vanities, sinks, and showers, be sure to measure everything carefully and bring the tape measure to your local home improvement store or furniture gallery. In addition, a simple, gridded floor plan is always useful for putting items in their place.

With a little forethought, your small bathroom can be a cozy, welcoming space. It may not be any larger, but it sure can feel that way!