How to Make a Small Bathroom Feel Bigger and Brighter- Houzz Article

Article by Laura Wheat 3 January 2019 Houzz UK Contributor. Freelance journalist and interiors obsessive, renovating a Victorian semi one super-slow project at a time. One day I will have a spacious hallway.

A big bathroom may be considered a luxury, but a small wash space can be just as good. After all, it’s a room you mostly use alone, and beyond basic sanitary ware requirements, there isn’t a need to accommodate much more.


Invest time in planning at the beginning of the process: first and foremost, a small bathroom must be efficient and practical. This means considering every possible configuration for your toilet, bath, basin and shower, as well as how best to conceal plumbing and where you can squeeze in storage. 

Sometimes, counter-intuitive steps, such as building out a wall in order to install a hidden-cistern toilet, can create more useful space and a better layout. These 10 tips should help you design a stylish and usable bathroom that feels bigger than it really is.

Re-frame your space 

If you’re trying to fit a separate shower and bath into a bathroom, it’s important to consider how these will impact on the overall feel of the space. By choosing a ‘frame-less’ shower enclosure, light is able to pass freely through the glass and the cubicle itself seems far less imposing.

Light the way

Lighting may not be at the forefront of your mind when designing a new bathroom, but it plays a crucial role in creating an effective scheme. Think about combining different types of lights; for example, spotlights for the ceiling and any recessed areas (such as the back wall of this bathroom) and decorative pendants above the basin. Have a separate dimmer switch controls for each to enable you to create ambiance for quiet baths, but full illumination for shaving or putting on make-up.

Clear the floor

When floor space is at a premium, a wall-hung basin makes an unobtrusive addition to a bijou bathroom. As well as being a dream to clean and stylish, too, keeping the floor clear will create the illusion of a larger room. You’ll also leave space for additional storage, bathroom steps or a bin underneath.

Photo by COSYMore cloakroom photos

Build in better storage

Although you might think a small bathroom doesn’t afford the luxury of built-in cupboards, a clever layout will squeeze in subtle storage. In this compact washroom, the linear arrangement of the toilet and basin means plumbing is hidden and a small cabinet is created under the basin. 
The depth of space required for the cistern and fixings on a wall-hung toilet is often less than for their close-coupled counterparts, meaning they are especially useful for small bathrooms. Installing fitted cupboards also allows products to be stowed neatly away, avoiding clutter. 

Install a skylight

Light-filled spaces feel bigger, so adding a skylight – where feasible – will make a huge difference to a cramped bathroom. Make maximum use of all that lovely light by choosing pale finishes, but with a pleasing tactile quality to prevent any potential sterility.

Photo by Peter Landers PhotographyMore bathroom photos

Work in a wet room

In small bathrooms, waterproofing the entire space to create a wet room can give you the freedom to use a layout that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. In this chic wash space, a super-slim sliver of glass is all that separates the shower and basin. The shower itself sits snugly in the corner, in an arrangement where a normal shower tray would look cramped.

Switch your shower tray

If creating a wet room isn’t an option, a good alternative is a slimline shower tray. There are lots available, and their low profile makes a sleek addition to a contemporary bathroom. It may also be possible to recess a tray slightly into the floor of the bathroom, for a totally seamless finish.

Stick to one colour

Wall-to-wall white tiles and soft lighting give this bathroom a surprisingly cosy feel. By choosing wall-hung sanitary ware, a recessed shower tray, frame-less glass and one colour throughout, the small space is free from visual interruptions.

Choose the right bath

If you’re yearning to incorporate a freestanding bath, choose a style with fairly straight sides that will sit as flat as possible against the wall and won’t require space around it. 

Photo by Perfect StaysMore bathroom photos

Upgrade your finishes

One advantage of overhauling a small room is that you need fewer materials, meaning you may manage to invest in upgrading your finishes. Although this narrow bathroom is short on space, the Lefroy Brooks shower and marble tiles make a big statement about the room’s premium credentials.