small bathroom before and after

Bathroom Before and After Photo by Alexik

Update: Most of the bathroom design ideas we find in home decor magazines are for spacious, airy rooms with sunken tubs and separate walk-in showers. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have room to dance around in our bathrooms! There are however many ways in which you can make a smaller bathroom work for you with some clever design solutions. Follow our tips for remodeling smaller bathrooms and you can make a compact room just as good as a larger one.

By Dan Fritschen

Remodeling small bathrooms offers unique design challenges, but the challenges are not insurmountable. With careful planning, creative design, and attention to detail, you can create a functional small bathroom that looks and feels larger than it actually is. You can also include details that even make it luxurious. Remodeling small bathrooms can actually be fun because the project offers many opportunities to do creative things to make the space work. Bathrooms are no longer understood just in terms of usefulness. Homeowners tend to want these very personal spaces to provide peace and calm, functionality, and a touch of luxury.

Ideas for remodeling small bathrooms may be categorized in terms of:

  1. maximizing space
  2. designing the room to look and feel larger
  3. creative storage solutions
  4. adding a touch of luxury

Do you want an instant cost estimate to remodel your small bathroom – try our online bathroom remodel cost calculator – just click here.

Let’s consider a few ideas in each of these categories.

    1. Maximizing space.
      • Replace the bath tub with a large shower
      • Install a wall-hung sink and toilet
      • Don’t install double sinks
      • Install a pedestal sink
      • Remove clutter
      • Don’t install a vanity or other floor-standing cabinet
      • Use wall-mounted and recessed cabinets
      • Install glass shelves
      • Put the toilet in an alcove with a shelf above it
      • Choose a small but deep tub style
      • Install pocket doors to gain space otherwise needed to open doors
      • Use a larger mirrored medicine cabinet set into the wall
      • Add a glass block window in the shower

  1. Design the room to look and feel larger
    • Add light and openness with a larger window
    • Use a glass block window to protect privacy and eliminate the need for shades or blinds
    • Use a large mirror to reflect space and make the room look larger
    • Use contrasting color tile in a diagonal pattern to add a sense of depth to the room
    • Use stained or colored glass in windows to add character
    • Place sinks near natural light to reduce the number of light fixtures
    • Use pale or soft colors to create the illusion of more space
    • Use cool colors to enhance the feeling of peacefulness
    • Accent with brighter colors — towels, accessory items, display items
    • Bring in more light to make the room seem lighter and brighter — add ceiling lights, wall sconces, multi-light fixtures over mirrors; or add skylights, larger windows or tube lights
    • Use light colored flooring or a light-colored rug over darker flooring
    • Remove all clutter
    • Allow the eye to reach all walls, including those behind showers and tubs to make the room appear larger. Use clear glass doors instead of frosted glass; use a frameless glass enclosure; use a shower curtain that can be pushed back instead of a door
    • Don’t use wallpaper; or use wallpaper with an open design on a white or neutral background color
    • Make the ceiling seem higher by accenting the top of the wall with crown molding or a wallpaper or paint border
    • Accent vertical lines that will draw the eye upward to make the ceiling appear higher — accomplish this with light or with vertical stripes
    • Brighten corners and edges of the room
    • Use larger (rather than smaller)tiles to create a sense of space
    • Match grout to tile color to minimize the color contrast
    • Limit the number of towel bars and racks
    • Use wall-mounted glass shelves
    • Paint a mural on the largest open wall or hang a picture that looks like an outdoor scene viewed through a window
    • Tile extended to the ceiling makes the room seem larger
  2. Creative storage solutions
    • Organize a near-by linen closet to make storage space for needed items
    • Create storage by installing wall-mounted glass shelves
    • Place shelves for decorative items near the ceiling with lights beneath them
    • Use wall-mounted cabinets instead of a vanity to preserve floor space
    • Use recessed cabinets
    • Inset kitchen cabinets in the wall
    • Use a large, shallow medicine cabinet with a mirror
    • Store needed items attractively arranged in baskets or other containers that can be tucked into available spaces
  3. Add a touch of luxury
    • Install a stained glass window with a minimal design
    • Install fogless mirrors
    • Install a steam shower
    • Install a body spa shower
    • Install radiant heating in the floor
    • Install a towel warmer
    • Install a ceramic tile floor or a stone tile floor
    • Add relaxing chromatherapy (running small streams of color through standing or running water)
    • Consider a soft bathtub
    • Install a hydromassage tub with in inline heater
    • Install shower seat, tub headrests, footrests and lumbar supports
    • Create ambiance with candles or tinted light bulbs
    • Install a stereo system with speakers mounted near the ceiling (perhaps with the system itself in another room)

You may have other ideas for your dream bathroom. With careful planning and design, using color and light effectively, and including appropriate luxury items, you can create a dream bathroom/spa in even a small bathroom with these ideas for remodeling small bathrooms.

Q&A Section

Should I put a vanity or a pedestal sink or something else in a small bathroom?

There are many different types of bathroom sinks available on the market, and more and more are popping up every day, which can be exciting, but can only make a buyer even more confused. The biggest decision is deciding between a pedestal sink or a vanity sink. While there are pros and cons to each style of sink, it is ultimately up to the user what will be most beneficial to their use.

Vanity Sink:

Pros:- Extra storage- Extra counter space- Added style and decorative effects

Cons:- Takes up extra space- Can potentially make a space feel smaller

Pedestal Sink:

Pros:- Allows for extra space- Can make a space feel more open

Cons: – No storage space- No counter space

While there are some good points to a pedestal sink being placed in a small bathroom to allow for more visual space, often the best choice would be the vanity sink. Typically, small bathrooms are lacking storage space; therefore this would allow you to add the extra storage that most people always seem to be lacking, while still allowing to show off your personal decorative style.  Vanities will add to your bathroom remodel cost but if gives you more storage and makes the room more useable it can be a smart investment.

There are various sizes of vanity sinks, which is helpful in finding the perfect fit for your project, along with an endless option of style choices. Users are often concerned about a vanity sink making the space feel smaller, but if they chose the correct style that suits their needs this will often become a non issue. With so many different style options, you just have to decide if you want the vanity to blend seamlessly in with the rest of the room or if you would like it to be a stylish feature piece.