Whether you’re moving into a new place or redecorating your current space, it can be easy to get caught up in larger areas like the living room, bedrooms or the kitchen. One room that can be easy to bypass? The bathroom, even more so if you have a small bathroom! The less space you have to work with, the more tempting it can be to leave it as is.
However, if you really want to make a space your own, the bathroom is a great place to flex your unique style. Don’t know where to begin? Shop TODAY spoke to a few interior designers and professional organizers who shared their tips on how to make the most of your small bathroom space.
Small bathroom design ideas, according to interior designers
Carolyn Noble, founder of Georgia-based Ames Design Collective, and Kerrie Kelly, founder of her self-named Design Lab, shared similar tips for making the most of your small bathroom from having fun with paints to utilizing every surface.
Make the most of all "six walls"
Most people think there are only four walls in a room, but Kelly let us know that there are two that go unaccounted for. “We often think about our four walls but we forget about the floor...and the ceiling being the fifth and sixth walls,” Kelly told us. She called using these additional “walls” a great opportunity to make a statement.
Bathrooms typically have white or lightly-colored walls, but Noble and Kelly encourage people to have a little more fun with paint colors. “When it comes to color, keep things monochromatic for visual spaciousness but don’t hesitate for a statement ceiling to draw the eye up, using contrasting color, wall covering or textual elements,” Kelly said.
Noble also said you can achieve a level of drama in a small space by opting for a deeper, richer color with a low sheen so the walls have a less reflective look to them.
Even if you choose a neutral color for your main four walls, Noble says a dramatic pop of color on the ceiling can really elevate a space. You can choose your favorite color or more trendy colors like greens, navy blues and purples, she recommended.
Once you’ve painted (or wallpapered) your walls, Noble and Kelly propose adding some artwork to give it a personal touch! Noble recommends choosing artwork that holds personal significance to you like an image of a place you've been or want to visit.
Kelly also suggested creating sectioned areas of tiled designs like the backsplash behind your sink or behind the toilet to give the room a little extra oomph. She also suggested starting with a tile on the floor and leading it up the wall. “It could be the same tile on the surface, but you could bring that up to the walls and on the floor plane so that it’s harmonious but there’s a little bit of a statement as opposed to a plain Jane space,” she said.
Capitalize on all the the space you have available
When decorating a small bathroom, you’ll want to take advantage of all the space you can, especially since it’s not much to begin with.
One way to do that, Kelly offered, is to replace your shower curtain with clear glass doors and designing your shower with tiles. While this requires a bit of installation, by removing the shower curtain and adding color and personality inside the shower, you can make your bathroom space feel more open.
“Have [your shower] be its own interest wall that will take you visually all the way through the space instead of just stopping you at that shower curtain,” Kelly said.
Choose pieces that are both stylish and functional
When furnishing your bathroom, Kelly recommends looking for pieces that double as decor and space-saving solutions. Some of her suggestions include mounting a modern-day medicine cabinet with multiple shelves above your sink to maintain a sleek, clean aesthetic; or putting open shelves above your toilet area with your “prettiest products” facing outward so it's both chic and functional.
Another helpful tip Kelly noted is choosing a bathroom vanity with drawers to store toiletries, extra towels and cleaning supplies, and wall hooks as a catchall for towels, robes and accessories. “The more solutions you use to keep items off the floor and countertops, the less cluttered and bigger the space will look,” she noted.
Similarly, Noble emphasized being intentional about the items you choose to put in your small bathroom space. “Just because you’re in a small space doesn’t mean that it can’t feel inviting,” she said. Consider little details like having a salt scrub on your countertop instead of just soap, or a lavender-scented candle (or any other scent you like) to give the room a personal touch that will make any guest feel at home and at peace.
Design products for making the most of a small bathroom space
For that low-sheen look Noble mentioned, she recommends this line of paints from Sherwin-Williams. She called it scrubbable so you can easily clean up after kids, messes and just regular bathroom use. "You can get that level of drama without that high level of sheen and still have a really great product," she said.
Noble emphasized the importance of lighting in the bathroom, so try upgrading it with these modern brass bars. Put one vertically on each side of your mirror to amplify the light or keep it simple and hang it horizontally above the mirror. It comes in three styles and has a 4.5-star average.
These smaller, more traditional sconces are budget-friendly and highly-rated with a 4.8-star average. Shoppers raved about how easy they are to install as well as the great value for the price. These sconces come in two finishes — brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze.
If you have smaller children, Noble recommends taking them into account when designing and decorating your small bathroom. "I think it’s really helpful, too, to make sure the space is accessible to our kids whether that be a stool underneath for handwashing or just an amenity that makes even that small bath usable for everybody," she said.
Kelly mentioned updating hardware as an inexpensive and budget-friendly way to decorate your small bathroom. A sleek matte black is simple, classic and can work well with any decorative theme.
Small bathroom organization ideas, according to professional organizers
What’s the point of going through the trouble of decorating a small bathroom if it’s still going to look cluttered? That’s why we asked Julie Naylon, founder of No Wire Hangers Professional Organizing, and Amy Tokos, founder of Freshly Organized and board president for the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, for their tips on the best ways to organize a small bathroom space.
You don’t have store everything in the bathroom
When organizing a small bathroom, Naylon and Tokos shared the same first tip: Don’t store all of your items in there. Naylon recommends using a linen closet or shelf outside of the bathroom to store any extra towels, toiletries or other bathroom supplies, which can be especially helpful if you’re a bulk shopper from big box retailers like Costco or Sam’s Club.
“One of the things that you have to recognize is that every space in a small bathroom is prime real estate. You can’t have extra stuff in there. It has to be stuff that you actually need,” Tokos said.
Make the most of your space
“You really have to utilize every inch of space for what has to be in there,” Tokos said. Both she and Naylon said to see every available space as a storage opportunity, from the open space over the toilet to under the sink to the back of the door.
“They make lots of over-the-door racks that will provide you with shelving that also keeps your countertops clear in the bathroom but allows you to access everything you need,” Naylon told us. Using an over-the-door rack will help keep things neatly stowed away while still being accessible.
Tokos also said to not be afraid of using taller shelves. Preferably, you should try to take up every inch of wall space you can in order to avoid cluttering one surface or another. “Go to the ceiling [and] go to the floor so that you don’t have to have stuff stacked on your countertops,” she said.
Proper storage is the key to success
Once you’ve got your shelves organized, Naylon and Tokos suggest using baskets or containers to keep everything organized and slightly hidden from direct view. In solid baskets, you can keep your excess items like soap or shampoo inside the bathroom — which is especially helpful if you don’t have any place to store it outside — while maintaining a sleek, organized appearance.
Tokos suggests using containers not only for shelves, but for drawers, too! “In a bathroom, a lot of times we have little items — like [in] a makeup drawer. It’s just a bunch of little stuff, but getting some containers to contain things so it just doesn’t spread all over the drawer is super helpful,” she said.
Regardless of the storage system you choose, Tokos recommends choosing coordinating styles. "If you're going to go with glass or acrylic organizers, just get all matching and then it looks more appealing to the eye," she explained.
Move some activities out of the bathroom
Tokos’ final tip is one you may not have considered: Move certain aspects of your routine outside of the bathroom.
As a mom of four, her strategy for keeping the bathroom clear of clutter was to move tasks like doing her hair and makeup into another area of her home. This left the bathroom to only be used for standard activities like brushing your teeth, taking a shower and, well...actually using the bathroom.
Organization products for making the most of a small bathroom space
Tokos likes these water-resistant Command strips that can be used for hanging towels and in the shower for hanging things like loofahs or washcloths.
Naylon recommends this easy, assembly-free over-the-door rack for your bathroom. It has six baskets and comes in platinum and mesh styles.
Tokos likes drawer dividers to help keep drawers organized and this top-rated set from OXO will help get the job done. They have a 4.7-star average and almost 900 verified five-star ratings on Amazon.
"I can't give this anything less than five stars; especially because I've tried some of the alternatives and they just don't compare," one shopper raved.
An easy way to follow Tokos's advice about coordinating baskets is to buy them in a set like this one. "If you are a person with a lot of clutter like me, these are perfect for “hiding” the clutter," one five-star reviewer wrote.
The set has baskets in four sizes, so you can store everything from extra soap to washcloths. Plus, it comes in five colors.
This divided two-tier organizer can be used on shelves, under the sink or even on the counter. It has over 18,800 verified five-star ratings on Amazon. Reviewers love this organizer for its ability to hold many things and for how little space it takes up.
To keep your counter neatly uncluttered, you can't go wrong with jars for smaller items like floss picks, cotton balls and swabs. This bestselling set of four comes with four clear labels with pre-printed words and four white labels that you can customize.
Tokos likes Rev-A-Shelf for their glide-out options, which are ideal for small spaces because they maximize vertical space underneath the sink, she explained. This style is ideal for holding cleaning supplies like paper towels alongside other sprays and disinfectants.
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