Make Better Use of a Small Bathroom

Make Better Use of a Small Bathroom

As a family grows, the bathroom seems to shrink. A small bathroom can easily become cluttered and untidy, and finding a home to store toiletries, towels and other accessories can become a challenge. When space is limited, some creative thinking is needed to make a bathroom both aesthetically pleasing and functional. It is possible to make the bath area seem much bigger by making simple changes in design and storage options.

Visual Appeal

Making the bathroom look bigger is easier than building onto it, especially in an older home. Try the following ideas to create the illusion of more space:

  • Survey the bath, and remove objects that can be used in other places or are just creating clutter.
  • Paint all of the walls, doors, and cabinets in similar shades, the lighter the better.
  • Add mirrors, or mirrored tiles, in several places to reflect opposite walls.
  • Add extra light sources in shadowy corners.
  • Install metallic tiles running horizontally around the room so that the eye is almost following an arrow.
  • Inset tiles in a diamond pattern to make the ceiling seem higher.
  • Consider a slender pedestal sink or a hanging vanity.
  • Think about installing lighting strips under the toe-kick areas of the cabinets in the bathroom to serve as a night light and to give the illusion of more room.

Storage Surprises

Even if a complete bath renovation is not possible in the next few years, space in the bathroom needs to be used as efficiently as possible. Creative storage solutions can make a real difference in the usability of a bath, and the following are all excellent ideas:

  • Use the spaces between the wall studs to make recessed shelving to store bath linens or toiletries. Recessed medicine cabinets will not take usable area from the rest of the room.
  • Consider tossing the clothes hamper and building a laundry chute into the wall.
  • Either hang the bathroom door so that it opens into the hallway or bedroom or use a pocket door instead.
  • Add several hooks on the back side of the bathroom door and on the wall behind the door.
  • Roll towels and wash cloths so that they fit into a smaller storage area.
  • Build storage units in any useful corner or stack baskets for storage.
  • Use the space above the toilet by adding shelving or a floor to ceiling storage unit.
  • Install wire shelving in convenient places near the tub or shower to hold razors, shampoo, and cleansers.
  • Insert drawer dividers to keep hair clips, cotton swabs, or cosmetics neat and orderly.
  • Replace a standard tub with the corner variety to gain additional space.
  • Make a wall of towel bars and display all of the prettiest designs as a form of artwork.

Some of these ideas are quick and easy to implement; others may require a professional. All of them will improve the cosmetic appeal and usability of a tiny bathroom. Because it is one of the most frequented rooms in the home, changes made in the bathroom is will be appreciated by the entire family.


This bathroom was constrained by bedrooms on either side, so it wasn't possible to increase square footage. To make the space feel roomier, white marble tile and several mirrored surfaces wrap the room. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets add height, while a glass shower wall eliminates the visual barrier of a shower curtain or doors. Rich wood tones add warmth and create balance.


This teeny, tiny full bath features a wall-hung toilet; the tank is hidden inside the 2x6 stud wall, allowing for 9 inches of extra space in the center of the room. Clear glass shower doors eliminate visual barriers and a skylight floods the space with natural light.


This homeowner wanted a nostalgic style with a contemporary twist. Trumpet-shaped sconces flank an oval mirror that conceals a medicine cabinet. A frameless shower door extends the visual expanse of the space, while allowing unobstructed views of oversized subway and amber glass tilework.


A freestanding vanity with elongated fixtures, a custom bamboo mirror, and ladder towel rack create the illusion of vertical space in this small guest bath. A soft color palette, accented with dark woods, balances the space. Artistic relief panels add visual interest without completely walling off light.