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6 Tips for Smart Small Bathroom Design

Expert tips for smart small bathroom design during a bathroom makeover or home remodeling project. Includes where to position fixtures, choices in cabinets, and more.

Small bathroom design may seem simple—the options usually are few—but a small space is much more difficult to design well than a large one, because it is unforgiving. A poorly-placed fixture can make the area almost unusable. The keys to small bathroom design are using space efficiently and making the spaces feel open and non-confining.

small bathroom design ideas

Fixture placement is the key to smart small bathroom design. If a base cabinet isn’t necessary, opt for a pedestal sink to maximize space.

Small Bathroom Design Tips

During the 1950s and 60s, millions of American homes were built with 5-by-7 foot bathrooms, a size that is ample for basic fixtures but leaves little room for any conveniences. During a remodel, the challenge is often to make these small rooms feel bigger.

You can make the standard 5-by-7-foot bathroom feel—and function—larger in a few ways:

1Set the toilet and sink along one wall of the bathroom. Doing this leaves a clear corridor of space. Ideally, position the toilet so it isn’t the first thing you see when you walk into the room.

2Consider opting for a pedestal sinkinstead of a more conventional cabinet-mounted sink. The standard vanity base cabinet can be a real space gobbler. If you need storage, however, a vanity cabinet may be necessary—just keep it small.

3Raise cabinetry off the floor. Wall-mounted cabinets open up the area visually and allow for more floor space.

4Install a large mirror behind the sink area. A mirror never fails to make a small room feel significantly bigger.

5Locate the bathtub or tub/shower combination across the width along the far wall so it doesn’t become an obstacle. If there is a window on that wall, all the better. This will allow the eye a space-enlarging view to the outdoors.

6Opt for a shower curtain instead of sliding shower doors. A curtain can be a decorative, cozy addition and, when drawn back, feels less confining.

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Bathroom Designer

About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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