Small Bathroom Design Ideas: 15 Items to Make it Look BIGGER

Big things come in small packages, and that saying extends to your bathroom. You may not have a lot of square footage in this room, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like a broom closet. There are many ways to make it as stylish, inviting, and relaxing as much larger bathrooms.

The key is to select the right elements. Your bathroom accessories shouldn’t look like you chose them solely because they were small or slim enough to fit (although you should avoid big, bulky items that take up too much visual space). Don’t be afraid to incorporate some of the same elements you see in designer bathrooms.  (The same can be saved for creating a luxury bedroom.) In fact, we rounded up three interior designers to provide tips on renovating and decorating your cozy bathroom with a list of small bathroom design ideas.

But first, these are the 15 best items to make a small bathroom look and feel bigger.

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Big, bulky items can make your bathroom feel smaller, so Leah Tuttleman, an interior designer for Re-Bath, offers the following tip. “Instead of the storage style cabinet vanity which eats up your floor space, think about storing many of the bathroom items in another area in the house, such as an adjacent closet, laundry room or your linen closet.” She recommends keeping only the necessities in your small bathroom.

Leonard Ang, an interior designer at AQVA Bathrooms shares this view. “Avoid putting too many decorations in your bathroom, since this will lead to unnecessary clutter, leaving your bathroom feeling small.”

Vanities

When choosing a vanity, Tuttleman says console-style vanities are open and airy looking. “If you like the look of a console-style vanity, look for one with a sleek shelf below where you can set a few extra towels.” Another option is pedestal style sinks, which are making a comeback in 2020, and are available in several new designs.

“Wall-mounted sinks are a fairly inexpensive way save on space,” Tuttleman says. “Your plumbing fixtures can also be wall mounted instead of the usual deck-mount application.”

Open showers

If you’re renovating your small bathroom, one way to make it feel spacious is by having an open shower. “A shower/bath integrated space can be separated from the rest of the bathroom with a tempered clear glass wall,” explains Tuttleman. “This concept can be accomplished by eliminating the shower curb altogether, which will make the bathroom look completely open and transformed.” And Tuttleman says this is also an ADA-compliant design - as long as the shower area floor slopes toward the drain, and you use a non-porous flooring material like a matte finished tile.

Storage

Storage space is at a premium in a small bathroom. “Use wall space to store towels and you can preserve scarce cabinet, shelf, and counter space,” says Erin Davis of Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, OR.  “For very small bathrooms, hooks on the back of the door or a towel bar on your glass shower door are great space-saving solutions.”

If you’re remodeling, she recommends building recessed cubbies or larger shelves. “Small recessed cubbies can look particularly elegant when done right,” Davis says. “Built-in cubbies and shelves adjacent to the sink are a great option when counter space isn’t available.”

A recessed mirrored medicine cabinet is another idea. “They take up virtually no space on your wall and have room inside to store more than you’ll probably need,” says Tuttleman. “A great idea for your cordless LED lighted mirror is to install it inside the medicine cabinet.” You can open the medicine cabinet to pull out the lighted mirror’s swing arm.”

Large-scale wall coverings/matching colors

There’s a tendency to use small wall and floor coverings in a small bathroom. “Believe it or not, it’s better to go big, since large scale wallpaper and tile patterns can actually make your tiny bathroom feel big,” Tuttleman explains. “It’s all about an illusionary scale in tight quarters - it has the same effect if used on one wall or all four walls, just make sure you love the pattern and color.”

She also recommends installing your tile up to the ceiling. “By eliminating the break - usually located at about the shower head height - your eye is drawn up.” As a result, the ceiling appears to be higher than it really is. “Installing your tile up to the ceiling also protects the drywall from moisture – and the shower ceiling can be tiled, too.”

Here’s another tip to make your small bathroom look bigger: Davis recommends matching your walls to your tiles. “Rooms in a uniform color appear larger,” she says. “As much as you are able, be consistent in the colors you choose to cover large portions of the bathroom.”

In fact, Davis recommends painting the ceiling the color of the walls. “Painting the ceiling a different color, especially a dark color, will make it look low,” she explains. “Painting it white will stop your eye right at the ceiling line, also making the bathroom feel small.” On the other hand, when your eye can travel effortlessly, she says the space will expand visually.

Mirrors and lighting

When it comes to mirrors, bigger is better. “If you can, get a mirror installed behind your sink that goes to the ceiling,” Davis says. “This helps the ceilings look higher while expanding the square footage.”

Also, opt for a frameless mirror for maximum impact.  “Instead of framing the mirror creating a picture-like enclosure, we want to create an open ‘less is more’ story,” Tuttleman says.

And there are a lot of neat tricks you can do with a large mirror to help make the space appear larger. “Backlighting a mirror with LED tape lighting is a great way to amplify light without adding sconces and pendants,” Tuttleman says.  “Put the switch on a dimmer and you’ll have the option to create ambiance before the light is needed for task lighting.”

And check this out: If the mirror is large enough, she says you can run a single shelf through it. “Also, hanging a pendant lighting in front of the mirror will double the impact,” Tuttleman says.

And that’s not all you can do with your mirror. “Installing sconces in the vanity mirror instead of on the wall on either side of the mirror will bounce light around the room, doubling the amount of available light,” says Davis.

If you’re remodeling the small bathroom, this is an opportunity to increase natural light, according to Ang. “You can add a skylight or just more windows," he says. "Natural light just automatically makes you feel like you’re in a larger space.”

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