Looking for small bathroom ideas that will make the whole space seem bigger? So is most of Manhattan. The lack of square footage, limited natural light, and number of fixtures to squeeze in make a small bathroom one of the more challenging spaces to decorate. But done right, the whole room can seem brighter and more spacious. And no, you won’t have to spend a zillion dollars to carve a window into the wall (or call on something retro, like glass bricks).
These small bathroom ideas go beyond making the most of the available space and prove that bold design elements can be right at home in even the tiniest rooms. Here are the best ways to turn powder rooms, half-baths, and just little tiny (sometimes windowless) bathrooms into less cramped, more enjoyable situations. Your small bath may just be your next favorite room.
1. Keep Your Colors Light and Bright
A wood floor and vanity give this city bathroom a warm and serene feeling. A soft mint-green hue reflects natural light from the window. The space surrounding the freestanding tub makes the room feel more open, as does the lightweight curtain fabric, which allows maximum light to enter.
2. Or Double Down on Dark Color
Wait, what? “Oftentimes I like to paint small bathrooms [typically windowless rooms] a dark color, like black. It gives depth and creates an illusion of a larger space,” says Jenny Wolf of Jenny Wolf Interiors. “Go with a high-gloss in a super dark color,” advises Fleming James of Oliver Street Designs. The hue will simultaneously impart a big-night-sky effect and also bounce the little light you have around the space. (Doing so will also draw attention to the light fixtures, she points out, so you’ll need to choose them thoughtfully—bulbs that bring in plenty of light, shapes you don’t mind being pretty pronounced.)
3. Mirror a Wall
Rather than just hanging one above the vanity, consider mirroring a whole wall of your tiny bathroom. The reflection of light and pattern (and, sometimes, that open door) will do the same good work a window does.
4. Or Incorporate Multiple Mirrors
If mirroring an entire wall won’t work in your space, you can just add multiple mirrors to one wall.
5. Opt for a Glass Shower Door
If you’re starting your small bathroom design from scratch, consider scrapping the curtain entirely. “I also recommend glass shower doors in a small bath, as it will help to open up the space,” Wolf says.
6. Or Remove Your Shower Door Completely
The slightly more adventurous might even consider no shower door at all (a good drain is wise in that case).
7. Backlight the Mirror
“This can be a chic and modern way to amplify light,” James says, “if you do not have room for sconces or simply want a more minimalistic look.”
8. Take On Tile
Tile is a durable way to add impact and can be used from floor to ceiling. “For smaller bathroom walls, we like to specify ceramic tiles that are small,” says Suzanne McGrath of the design firm McGrath II. The designer is a fan of using one-by-four and two-by-six floor tiles—which are also less expensive—on bathroom walls.
9. Give the Curtain a Lift
If you have the luxury of choosing where your shower curtain goes, James says to “take the fabric all the way up” past the usual height of the tub. “Extending the curtain nearly to the ceiling will certainly elongate the walls,” she says, adding that the taller your ceiling in the bathroom, the more this will help.
10. Install a Pocket Door
Though this trick is a little more labor-intensive, replacing your door with a pocket door that tucks away into the wall can open up room for additional storage. You’ll just need to find another spot to hang your towels.
11. Keep the Floor Clear
Covering the floor with a vanity or storage containers can create a cramped space, not to mention tripping hazards. A pedestal or floating sink keeps the floor clear, and installing floating storage will help keep everything you need at arm’s length.
12. Try a Large-Scale Wall Covering
You might think you need to go for a petite motif, but it’s actually better to go big. “Medium- and large-scale wallpapers and tile patterns can actually make a space feel larger,” James explains. Whether you choose big tiles or an even bigger pattern is up to you; she says they’ll both “give an illusionary scale in tight quarters.”
13. Use High-Gloss Paint to Reflect Light and Amplify the Space
Designers Casey Kenyon and Jonathan Beck’s Brooklyn bathroom feels decidedly airy thanks to light-reflecting high-gloss paint.
14. Extend Bathroom Tile Into the Shower
Unbroken lines give any space more depth. Use this concept in your bathroom by installing the same tile on your floor and shower. The effect is an unbroken surface that makes the entire room seem larger.
15. Opt for a Patterned Floor
Believe it or not, this bathroom is windowless. Tall mirrored medicine cabinets and a glass shower amplify light from the interior fixtures, brightening up the space. Wolf used built-in cabinets to save floor space. A herringbone wood floor gives the illusion of a larger and warmer bath.
16. Install a Shelf in the Shower
Some of the best small bathroom ideas
are all about creating space for storage, including your soaps and bottles. If you shower lacks space, you can install a shelf in about 20 minutes.
17. Add a Shower Niche
Another major space saver? A shower niche. If you’re designing a small bathroom, make sure to include a shower niche in your plans.
18. Use a Ledge to Create Space
A narrow ledge along the entire length of this bathroom is the perfect perch for a mirror, toothbrush, and other essentials.
19. Move Your Towel Bar
In a West Village powder room by designer Ashley Darryl, a towel bar is fastened to the side of the floating sink.
20. Upgrade Your Bathroom Accessories
Patterned towels, vintage rugs, and sophisticated lighting also add pops of personality. “Lighting and bath fixtures are like the jewelry of the room. Use them to bring a little glamour into the space,” says Los Angeles–based interior designer Sarah Samuel.
21. Rethink Your Sink
If you’re designing your tiny bathroom from scratch (or remodeling), consider a tiny corner sink. There’s no rule that says you have to have a full-size standard sink. A corner sink gets the job done just as well—plus it gives you plenty of space and less to clean.
22. Choose Compact Pieces
Hulking vanities and blocky tubs may look at home in a larger bathroom, but they can make a small bathroom feel claustrophobic. Install compact toilets and sinks or consider floating versions to open up the space. If a tub is a must, consider a Japanese soaking tub to add serenity without taking up square footage.
23. Use Closed Storage to Stay Organized
Bottles and tubes scattered on the countertops are guaranteed to distract from even the most gorgeous bath. Samuel suggests closed storage, such as a linen closet or vanity with drawers and doors, to keep things tucked away. “Display only your favorite and most frequently used, well-designed products.”
24. Get Your Cabinets in Order
Don’t forget about what’s inside the cabinets too. Compartmentalize your cabinets with specific storage sites for tools and toiletries. Large baskets keep hair dryers, flat irons, and brushes from becoming a tangled mess, while smaller trays are great for holding makeup and beauty products.
25. Curve Some Surfaces
Reclaim some of your space with a curved sink or shower. It might not seem like much, but it can make a difference, especially in a tiny space where real estate matters.
26. Add Stylish Shelving
Molena 3-Tier Display Wall Shelf
Forget anything basic. Opt for a sleek shelf that fits your decor and gives you extra space (a precious commodity in a small bathroom).
27. Choose a Wall-Mounted Faucet
Not only is a wall-mounted faucet a real space saver, it’s also stylish, modern, and easy to clean.
28. Use a Bathtub Caddy
Expandable Bathtub Caddy
$25.00, West Elm
Whether or not you find yourself with a small bathroom, you just might find yourself with a small bathtub ledge. When bathtubs are made to fit compact spaces, designers may opt to shave off the width of the edges—and if you don’t have a shower niche or corner shelf, you’re out of luck. The solution? A bathtub tray. Sure, it’s made for relaxing in a bathtub with a book and a glass of wine, but it doubles as a place to set your toiletries.
29. Get Creative With Storage
In cramped rooms, any open space is an opportunity. Take the area underneath the sink in this Carnemark-designed bath, which is just the right size for a stack of artfully rolled towels.
30. Add a Ladder for Towels
We love this country-chic small bathroom that gets creative with a ladder. It can hang more towels than a bar, and it gives the bathroom a unique feel. If you don’t have enough space for a ladder that stands alone, choose one that is made to sit above a toilet.
31. Pare Down Your Bottles
Let’s be honest: We usually don’t need all those toiletry bottles. Streamlining your grooming products will give you more space, so do a Marie Kondo and pare down your shampoo collection. Or, at the very least, store the products you don’t use daily somewhere other than your counters or bathtub ledges. Getting rid of any clutter will make your small bathroom seem much bigger.
32. Go for Custom Toiletry Bottles
Custom Toiletry Bottles
You can take this a step further and actually get custom toiletry bottles, which come in a variety of styles and sizes. In a small space, every design choice matters—so even this seemingly small upgrade can really streamline your surfaces and make everything look organized and clean.
33. Install a Skylight
This is one of the more ambitious small bathroom ideas, but it will make a major impact. Installing a skylight will open up your entire bathroom and significantly brighten the space.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest