Space-Savvy Tips for Small Bathroom Remodels

If you have a tiny bathroom in your house, you’re no stranger to clutter, bad lighting and hard-to-clean nooks and crannies. Small bathrooms can be a major downer, even in a home you adore.

Luckily, there are thousands of free resources available on how to remodel small bathrooms right. To make sure your bathroom redesign is both functional and tasteful, consider these space-savvy bathroom remodel tips.

Choose Colors and Design Elements Wisely

When making wallpaper and paint decisions, many people worry about making small bathrooms look too busy. If you’re feeling this way and you want to keep things simple, Greg Natale suggests going with grays and whites to achieve a soft and inviting feel. “Monochromes are always a great way to build your base in a smaller space where you don't want to dominate.”

Since whites and grays can appear sterile fast, keep things interesting by combining colors with different surfaces and textures. If you’re going with tile, for example, Centura Tile says that combining glossy and matte finished tile is an easy way to create variation.

Small bathrooms are the perfect place to test bold colors and patterns too. Back Construction points out that since small bathrooms have minimal wall space, intricate patterns stay balanced and can add freshness and cheer. If wallpaper isn’t your style, consider ceramic wall tiles with mosaics, wavy lines, damask and horizontal stripes. My Design Home + Remodeling explains that textured tile can create an illusion of space.

Keep in mind that too much contrast between elements can create a claustrophobic effect. To avoid this, Pennsylvania-based company Home Climates Inc. recommends creating harmony and cohesiveness across patterns, colors and designs in a bathroom.

Minimize Clutter

Large furniture and unnecessary wall accessories attract the eye, making a room look small and busy. That’s why small bathroom remodels require you to think strategically and minimally. “It’s like putting a puzzle together: each piece has its place and purpose,” MyDomaine editorial director Sacha Strebe points out. “You just have to be very selective about what those pieces are.”

The first step in arranging your bathroom puzzle is stripping it down to the bare minimum. Lauren Flanagan, writer and digital marketing manager at the McGillivray Group, recommends removing all towel hooks, shelves and racks.

Then, you can add essential wall accessories back in--but only if they add to the functionality of the space without shrinking it.

When shopping for new shelves, racks and other organizational accessories, Popular Mechanics writer and DIY enthusiast Timothy Dahl says it’s okay to think outside the box. He suggests using a spice rack, kitchen cart, or plant stand to solve your bathroom’s unique space and storage needs.

Use a Multi-Purpose Mirror

Mirrors are one of the easiest ways to reflect natural light and make a small room look larger. All it takes is a few designer tips and tricks to help you choose the mirror that maximizes the space in your bathroom.

According to designer Brett Valenstein, tall, slim mirrors work best for accentuating a small space. The height of a tall mirror helps extend the space of the room, while the narrow width fits well with existing sinks or vanities.

Another helpful aspect of mirrors is that they can double as storage. If you normally hang hair tools on towel racks and around the sink, for example, Go Downsize suggests getting a deep mirror cabinet with shelves. Cabinet doors can be outfitted with hooks and hangers to keep your tools organized, upright and out of sight.

Step Up Your Lighting

Strategically-placed lighting can trick your eye into making a room seem larger. Cherie Barber of Renovating for Profit says to consider spotlights in darker corners, as well as layered or accent lighting. Wall sconces that direct lighting up or down the wall can elongate a room’s apparent height.

To produce bright, flattering light without the extra wall accessories, YLighting recommends buying a lighted mirror. These mirrors have either a light across the top, lights along the right and left sides only, or a halo of light bordering the mirror. These mirrors are a practical, space-savvy way to brighten up any bathroom.

If you’re lucky enough to have a natural light source in your bathroom, don’t clutter your windowsill with knick knacks or bottles. London Design Collective adds that you should also ditch the window curtain for sleek blinds, and opt for clear glass over frosted glass.

Revamp Your Shower With Tile

Is your old shower or bathtub taking up too much space? Consider a walk-in or curbless shower. Curbless showers eliminate the barrier between the shower and the rest of the bathroom floor, creating a continuous and open floor plan throughout your bathroom.

Tabitha Sukhai of This Old Housesays that this continuity is enhanced by large floor tile, which creates horizontal lines leading from the doorway to the shower. Larger tiles are also less likely to collect grime and mold that tends to hide in grout lines. So in addition to looking sleek and feeling spa-like, QNS says that walk-in showers are easier to clean and maintain.

Another benefit of large tiles is that they create the illusion of a larger space. As Budget Dumpster points out, the grout lines with smaller tiles further breaks up space and creates the illusion of a busy, small room.

Opt for Streamlined Sinks and Vanities

When you don’t have a lot of space to work with, every piece of furniture counts. That’s why in a small bathroom remodel, you always have to rethink your sink.

When you’re interested in a modern look and your plumbing allows for it, you might consider a wall mounted sink. Designer Anne Ellard says that floating sinks create more visible floor area, which make a bathroom feel larger. If your bathroom won’t accommodate a floating sink, you can also create more space by adding tall cabinets beneath the sink. Handyman Matters explains that tall, skinny cabinets draw the eye upward, adding height to the room and making it feel more spacious.

If counter space is important to you, there are space-savvy ways to incorporate a vanity in your small bathroom. For example, DIY blogger Messy Kennedy turned a vintage dresser into a functioning vanity by outfitting it with a vessel sink. Since the dresser has so many drawers and options for storage, it eliminates the need for towel racks, shelves and other visible storage solutions that may clutter a bathroom.

images by: midascode, Gregory Butler