Home

The 3 design tricks that can make a small bathroom feel bigger

Don’t give up on your small bathroom just yet. By employing a few designer tricks, you can squeeze out some extra inches to physically and visually expand your space. These three baths show you how.

1. Inset sink niche

Designer: Allison Lavigne

Location: St. Louis

Size: 42 square feet (3.9 square meters)

Homeowners’ request: A bright, airy, spa-like and efficient bathroom for guests and post-workout showers, near a basement exercising area and future in-law suite.

Space-saving elements: A compact wall-hung sink nests against a wall outfitted in white marble subway tile; the wall is inset as far as possible under the stairs on the other side while still maintaining ceiling height. Niches above the sink and in the shower add storage, as does a tall and narrow medicine cabinet.

Light fixtures in the ceiling and above the medicine cabinet add to the natural light filtering in through privacy glass above the towel bar. A light and neutral paint color and reflective elements, such as the tile, shower glass, mirror and chrome fixtures, keep the room looking bright and open.

Designer secret: “Space was an issue, as the homeowners needed to keep room for a large family room and play room, office and storage, so using space under the basement stairs helped maximize space in the bathroom while not pulling from the other living areas,” designer Allison Lavigne says.

Also on the team: Frederick W. Hill (architect); Four Seasons Concrete & Construction; Alise O’Brien Photography

RELATED: Key measurements to design your dream bathroom

2. Wallpaper galore

Designer: Sandra FoxLocation: Los Angeles

Homeowner’s request: Turn a small, dark powder room off a writer’s home office into something not so boring without doing anything to the structure.

Space-saving elements: Pattern-heavy wallpaper covers the walls and the awkwardly angled ceiling. “This way you feel truly enveloped in the pattern and it de-emphasizes the fact that the room just gets smaller and smaller,” designer Sandra Fox says. A substantial sink makes the space feel large and adequate without coming off as too heavy.

Other special features: Open-storage vanity. “Because it is off of an office, as opposed to a guest bedroom, we didn’t feel we needed any concealed storage,” Fox says. Mixed metal finishes fit the eclectic vibe.

Why the design works: “This client’s tastes are eclectic, [and he has] an extensive collection of books, art and vintage flea market finds,” Fox says. “It was my job to help harness some of the tchotchkes and make the space feel less cluttered but still uniquely his. The foreign framed poster was already in his collection and played really well against the wallpaper and the rest of the design.”

“Uh-oh” moment: “At first we had sticker shock when it came to wallpapering the room, but ultimately we decided that the print was so powerful and gorgeous that it was worth skimping in other areas — for example, not replacing the toilet.”

RELATED: Shop for a sink small enough for even the tiniest bathroom

3. Wall-hung toilet

Designer: Beth Dotolo and Carolina V. Gentry of Pulp Design Studios

Location: Palm Springs, California

Client’s request: A Palm Springs midcentury-inspired bathroom

Space-saving elements: Wall-mount toilet frees up floor space and makes it easier to clean. Partitions give each space a purpose. Floor-to-ceiling wallpaper emphasizes the room’s height rather than its width.

Why the design works: “We played with angles and textures throughout the space, allowing fixtures that might otherwise fade into the background, like white walls and plumbing features, to stand on their own as luxurious pieces of the room,” designer Carolina Gentry says. “By layering contrasting design elements — stark, luxe whites contrasted against bold patterns and dynamic lighting fixtures — the space feels simultaneously fresh, bright and relaxing.”

Designer secret: “Usually, plumbing features might be the last pieces to be chosen for a bathroom,” Gentry says. “By starting with them, we were able to make them stand out. We were able to turn the mounted toilet in the powder room area into a gallery piece in its own right by choosing a printed wall covering and a partition that makes the toilet itself stand out.”

Also on the team: DXV (construction); Earl Kendall (photographer); Modenus (project manager)

RELATED: Brighten your bathroom with wallpaper

TOP