master bath

Photo by Life Begins At Thirty, Right?

Whether you are adding a small bathroom or remodeling one, storage and organization in small bathroom design are very important. Careful planning and design for storage and organizing the storage spaces you have will allow you to keep your addition small and save money when you remodel your small bath or plan a bathroom addition. The way you handle surfaces in your small bathroom will also be important in how large the room looks and feels. It will also be a factor in how easy it is to keep the room clean.


The design of any small bathroom remodel or addition should place great attention on storage – not only providing storage areas, but providing appropriate secure storage areas and keeping things organized. Nothing makes a small bathroom look smaller than clutter on all surfaces. There are several traditional options for storage. The most common storage areas are in a
> Vanity, where you might have cabinet space or a combination of drawers and cabinets;
> Medicine Cabinet
> Closet, which can be very difficult in a small bathroom
> Shelves
In a small bathroom, less is always more. If you include a vanity, you will probably need to choose a very small unit. Choose the style (cabinet, drawers, or a combination) that is most suited to your needs. Recessed medicine cabinets (set into the wall, with an unframed mirror) are ideal in small bathrooms.
Most remodelers tend to think of a single medicine cabinet over the sink. But with a little creativity, you can use additional medicine cabinets in other places in the small bathroom to provide both space and the light-reflecting property of the mirror to make the room look larger. For example, a larger medicine cabinet placed in a wall at one end of or behind a tub is a great place to store soaps, lotions, bubble bath, wash cloths and even towels. All the items needed for the bath can be in close proximity, yet out of sight.
Some people like the idea of dividing even a small vanity with cabinet on one side and drawers on the other. Larger items can be stored in the cabinet and small items can be organized in the drawers. If you have small children, you can also place locks on the drawers used to store potentially dangerous items and cleaning substances.
If you are planning shelves for storage in your new bathroom, consider building shelves that are recessed into the wall. These shelves can be either framed with trim or left unframed. Or you can add doors to keep things on the shelves dust free. In a small bathroom, doors with glass or frosted glass doors will make the room appear more spacious than solid wood doors (and frosting creates enough blurring that you don’t need to be quite as neat). You can use the shelves strictly for storage or you can mix storage and display of decorative items. If you cannot or do not want to build recessed shelves, you might consider installing glass shelves. Because they are clear and reflect light, they do not make the room look smaller, as wood shelves might do.
Organization is very important in a small bathroom. Creative use of nooks and crannies and recessing shelves and cabinets can conserve space, make the most of available space, and keep items close to where they will be used. There are many kinds of organizing units for drawers and for cabinets. If you are planning a custom vanity or shelves, you can insert whatever you wish in terms of dividers and such.
Walls, floors, tub and shower surrounds, light fixtures and ceiling treatment are all important in designing a small bathroom that is easy to clean and does not feel cramped. Here are a few things to consider about walls, floors, surrounds and ceilings:
  • Tile is very easy to clean and it can be used on floors, walls, and surrounds.
  • The time to install radiant floor or wall heating is before floor covering is installed. This can be a wonderful addition to any bathroom and an unexpected luxury in a small bath.
  • Mirrors and glass will reflect light and make the room look and feel larger
  • Installing sound board behind drywall, under floor covering and in ceilings is a nice addition to any bathroom.
  • If you are a do-it-yourselfer, be sure to use cement backer board around tubs and showers and either green board or blue board for your bathroom drywall (it doesn’t absorb moisture and is less likely to mold).
  • Wallpaper can be a great idea in any bathroom. You might want to use a vinyl paper because it will be easier to clean and will not absorb moisture and mold or mildew; using fabric can be an invitation to trouble in any full-function bathroom.
  • Vertical stripes in wallpaper or paint will tend to make the room look larger.
  • Keeping color choices to no more than two different colors will also make the room look both larger and more peaceful
  • Many remodelers prefer using a semi-gloss or gloss enamel paint in bathrooms because it is less likely to be affected by moisture, steam or frequent cleaning.
  • Choosing recessed medicine cabinets and shelving will make the room look larger
With a little creativity and imagination, you can create the perfect place for everything you want in your small bathroom without creating clutter. As you plan, just remember the importance of storage, organization and surfaces in small bathroom design. Keep in mind also that the choices you make about walls, ceilings and floors can help you make the room seem larger than it actually is. These choices can also make your small bathroom easier to clean.