Even if your bathroom is limited in terms of the room you have available, you can still do a lot to make good use of that space. Many houses built over the last century allowed only a small space for the bathroom, so designing for small bathrooms has become something of an art in itself. What you’ll be able to accomplish will depend in part on how much you’re willing to spend. You don’t have to sacrifice your life savings to achieve a beautiful bathroom though; even small changes can make a difference to the way you use space. Here is a range of tips designed to enhance the way space is seen in your bathroom.
Decide what you need
If you are in the planning stages or you’re looking to spend a little money to make a change, take stock of what you need from your bathroom. For instance: is a bath necessary? A bath will add resale value to your home, but if you’re going to be there for the next ten years or more and you only ever have showers, why take up all that room with something you won’t use? If you do decide on a bath, integrating a shower into it will also remove the need for a standalone shower stall.
Use corners and recesses
Wherever you can, recess things such as soap dishes, shelving, storage and fittings into the walls. Anything protruding into the usable space will make your bathroom smaller. If you're installing a shower stall, the best place for it is likely to be in a corner - and if you're really limited for space you might consider using a curved shower stall, or even doing away completely with a shower stall and setting your bathroom up as a wet room.
Many small bathrooms suffer from a cramped feel because of the amount of space taken up on shelves and other surfaces by unnecessary items. Whether decorative or practical, in a small bathroom anything that is left out will increase the amount of space you see. Be thorough in disposing of old tubes and bottles, and relocate anything that doesn't need to be there (including things like scales and laundry hampers).
Continuing on with the idea of removing clutter, you should limit your storage space in the bathroom and plan it carefully. A few shelves should be enough to contain everything you need for the bathroom. Everything else can be kept in cupboards outside - for example, you can keep your towels in the linen closet or toilet paper in a hall closet. Wherever possible, clear out anything that is not absolutely necessary and store it elsewhere.
If you do want to install shelves or storage, try and make the most of dead space around larger bathroom fixtures. You might consider installing a shelf above a toilet cistern, or a storage box under a floating vanity unit.
Light colour palette
Light colours help to give the impression of space, so you should choose a light colour palette for your bathroom. You can accentuate and highlight with bold or dark colours, but making these the predominant colour in the room will give it a closed-in feel. Whites and off-whites will always be the most popular colours for bathrooms, but light blues and greens are trendy at the moment too. A white ceiling will help you to make the most of available light.
Extra light and natural light
Adding a second or third light fitting into a small bathroom can change the perception of space. Better still, installing a skylight or roof window will help you introduce some daylight, which is considerably brighter and more effective. Windows can be added or increased in size, but this is harder to do as you’ll need to rethink the wall frame and may require council authorisation.
Something as simple as relocating your bathroom mirror, adding another mirror or replacing the existing mirror with a larger one can drastically change the look of a small bathroom. A large mirror that reflects a lot of light can give the illusion of a much larger and more 'open' bathroom.
There are a many more tricks and techniques you can employ to make the most of a small bathroom. You really don't need a lot of space - you just need to know how to use it properly!
Looking for some visual inspiration? Browse through some of Australia's most beautiful bathrooms in our bathroom ideas gallery.