Thursday, July 14, 2022

Uncramped: Renovating Ideas for Small Bathrooms


Small, stylish bathroom in white and tan.


8 Tips for Remodeling a Small Bathroom

As renovation challenges go, a small bathroom or powder room presents some interesting parameters. The smaller measurements limit your choices from selecting a vanity to picking out floor tile. A small bathroom can also be a blessing in disguise. Some of the most stunning bathroom designs out there are powder rooms.

When you know how to make a small bathroom feel bigger—both visually, and design-wise--it will transform your space for the better. Here are 7 renovating ideas for small bathrooms that pack a huge design punch.


1. Direct Focus

One of the reasons you dislike your small bathroom so much is probably because you’re focusing on the elements that make it feel small. Flip that on its head and use it to your advantage to expand the feel of the powder room. 

Put focus on the elements of the room that make it feel bigger. If you have high ceilings, paint them a contrasting color or wallpaper them. If your ceiling is pitched consider it a feature of the space rather than a limitation.

Add attention grabbing accents and place them higher up on the wall to draw the eye upward. A few flashy sconces, a painting, or a metallic accent all do the trick. Or, turn your attention downward and make the floor a statement piece of the space with a patterned tile or unique shape.


2. Maximize Storage

Small bathrooms don’t have much, if any, storage. Yet the bathroom is mostly a functional space. Where on earth are you going to put the extra toilet paper and backup bars of soap?

A medicine cabinet offers the light bouncing properties of a mirror with some hidden away storage so you get the best of both worlds. Get a vanity with a few drawers or cabinets to stow necessities. Build in a few niches to create space almost out of thin air.


Light, bright, white small bathroom.

3. Increase Lighting

Light makes a space feel bigger, especially natural light. Lighting is key in your small bathroom. There are lots of ways to introduce, and repurpose, light.

Plan for a skylight and as many windows as you can possibly add. Include all three types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent in the form of recessed lights in the ceiling, sconces around the mirror, and decorative lighting. 

Use mirrors and a lighter color palette to bounce light around the room. Eliminate anything that would absorb light or get in the way of light like big window treatments or shower curtains. 


Learn More About Lighting


4. Use Lines

The use of lines in a small bathroom design can be tricky. They can either make the space feel bigger or shrink it. For instance, a 12” tile grid floor tends to shrink the space. On the other hand, a larger tile with fewer grout lines can actually expand the space. 

Wood planking on the floor or walls act as lines of perspective and can make the space feel longer or taller if they all go in the same direction. Choose frameless shower doors and vanity cabinets to decrease the boxy feel these can create. 


5. Disguise the Vanity

We’ve talked about creating features in your small bathroom, but sometimes the right approach is to do what David Copperfield would do and make things disappear. The vanity or sink is likely the item in the bathroom that takes up the most space. Time to make it disappear.

Paint the wall behind the vanity the same color as the vanity. This works especially well with white. With the wall and the vanity blended together pushes back the wall and makes the space feel more expansive. 

 A clean lined, modern style vanity that doesn’t draw attention to itself is a best bet with this approach. Go for flat front cabinets in a frameless style for best results.


6. Scale Down

In a small bathroom sometimes it helps to make everything else small. Pick small tiles (3” or less), small sink, small toilet, small vanity, etc. All that small takes up less space literally and visually and enlarges the room. 

If you have patterns in your design, stick with smaller versions rather than larger than life florals. Modern or contemporary styling is often a great way to go to keep the scale small. It tends to keep things clean, simple, and minimal—all great approaches for the smaller bathroom.


7. Use Color

Colors can have a huge impact on whether the space feels open and large or small and cramped. White is the obvious choice. It reflects light and makes the space appear bigger. But it’s not the only option that works.

If you want some color but still want the magic of white, go with a lighter hue with plenty of white in the mix. Pale gray, barely there mint greens, coastal blues, and light beiges all do the trick nicely. 

You can also use a bright white in combination with a bolder color. Paint half the wall white and the other half a color. Paint the ceiling a bold color and keep the white walls. If you do choose to go with a bolder color, try to keep oranges and yellows out of the equation. They tend to have an enclosing feel that’s great for a cozy design, but not so great for expanding the small bathroom.


8. Leverage Mirrors

Mirrors do double duty when it comes to making a small space feel bigger: they reflect light bringing more light into the space, and they remove the feeling of finite walls that enclose the space. It's like adding another window to the room!

Consider adding a large mirror over the vanity, or better yet, span a mirror from wall to wall to fully optimize the effect. Splitting wall design between upper and lower is on trend so consider placing mirror on the upper half to open up the eye level areas.


9. Go Glossy

In a similar vein to mirrors and lighting, glossy finishes reflect light making the space feel larger and more open. 

Pick glossy paint. Opt for polished metals on the hardware. Even glossy tile is an excellent option for amplifying the small bathroom into something more. 


Equipped with some renovating ideas for small bathrooms, you can start enjoying your powder room instead of lamenting about it. Want more bathroom remodeling tips? Read on. 


Read 8 Bathroom Remodeling Don’ts