Of all the rooms in your house, your bathroom is the one that’s most likely to be uncomfortably small. Making a room physically larger is complicated and expensive; but don’t worry — there are plenty of lighting and décor tricks you can use to create the illusion of expansive space in your tiny bath. Bright lights, tall and narrow or visually open cabinetry, mirrors, wallpaper, recessed storage and use of color can all come together to make your small bath look much bigger than it is.
Use an Airy Color Scheme
Dark or bright colors can make even a large bath look small and cramped, but a light, airy color scheme opens up the space. White fixtures and finishes are an excellent choice for a small bath, but any soft, light color will help the room feel spacious, especially if combined with a white floor.
Use a few contrasting tiles to add splashes of color to a white tile wall or shower stall, or decorate one wall in a contrasting color or pattern. A single wall done in glass tiles can add depth and sophistication to your bathroom; a single wall done in a contrasting wallpaper has the same effect.
Vertical stripes on your bathroom wall can make the ceiling seem higher and the room larger. Just make sure to use light, subdued colors, since a bright, busy pattern of stripes will have the opposite effect. Lead the eye upward with decorative touches near the ceiling. Matching the décor of your bathroom with the décor of its adjacent room or hall can also make it look bigger by making it seem like part of the larger space.
Light Up the Space
Bright bathroom lighting combined with an airy color scheme can make your miniscule bathroom look huge. Many bathrooms don’t have a lot of natural light, which causes them look and feel crowded. Add light fixtures, like wall sconces, to those parts of your bathroom that feel shadowy. Make sure your bathroom vanity is well-lit from above and from the sides with natural-light emitting bulbs. Consider installing pot lights, backlit mirrors or recessed lights to further illuminate the space.
If your bathroom does have a window that lets in natural light, dress that window in such a way as to maximize the amount of light it lets in. Of course, you don’t want to sacrifice privacy in your bath, but consider using mini-blinds, a Roman curtain, matchstick blinds or a curtain made from sheer fabric that lets in lots of light while still protecting your bathroom and its occupants from prying eyes.
Change Up Your Storage Space
Wide, chunky cabinets and vanities take up unnecessary space in a small bathroom. Replace them with tall, narrow cabinets; open shelves help preserve the illusion of space in the room. If you’re handy, install recessed shelves between the studs in your bathroom walls to increase storage space in your small bathroom without adding clutter. Keep your bathroom storage sleek, streamlined and flush with the bathroom walls whenever possible.
A pedestal sink can really open up the space in a small bathroom. If you need your under-sink storage, you could use an open cabinet or mount your sink basins in a tabletop. Use baskets under the sink for storage; if you want to hide your personal items from view, hide the under-sink area behind a curtain. A sink skirt on a pedestal sink hides the plumbing and creates under-sink storage.
Banish the Clutter
Small bathrooms don’t have room for clutter. Minimize knickknacks and remove things you don’t use. Everything that’s in your bathroom should have a reason for being there. Consider some organizational tricks that give your useful bathroom accoutrements a decorative twist. Roll up your towels and store the rolls upright in a basket or stack them in an open shelf. Tie your shower curtain back when it’s dry to make the room appear larger. Use baskets and glass canisters on open shelves to store cotton swabs, soap and other personal items.
Mirrors can make any space seem bigger if they’re used properly. If you have an exterior window in your bath, try to place a mirror opposite it to create the illusion of increased space. Set mirrors up so that they reflect your bathroom’s ambient light to make the room look even bigger and brighter.
Small bathrooms don’t have to look and feel uncomfortably cramped. With the right lighting and décor, your small bathroom can look and feel generously roomy. Keep things light, bright and streamlined for a look that helps your small bathroom realize its full potential.
About the Author: Contributing blogger Kate Hamilton is a licensed interior designer who transforms private living spaces in the San Francisco Bay area. She enjoys the outdoors and prefers to spend her free time hiking.