Having more space is always a big factor when it comes to buying and renovating homes. Despite this, not everyone is fortunate to be able to find a home that has a large amount of space in all areas. So how do you make a small bathroom bigger? From the floor to the walls, we’ll explore the areas and features of the bathroom to add or create the illusion of more space.
Bathroom suites have historically been one of the smallest rooms in the house – 5ft x 8ft being the common size - creating more space for larger living areas and bedrooms. With the societal shift on the importance of health and wellbeing now being stronger than ever, the bathroom is the location a lot of people invest in to create more space and make it a haven of indulgence, luxury and relaxation. In this guide, we have looked into 16 different areas to explore when looking to make your small bathroom bigger:
- Minimalise the bathroom space
- Go wall hung with fixtures and fittings
- Use the height of your bathroom
- Accessorise over bathroom furniture
- Go compact in fixtures and fittings
- Use more open or hidden storage
- Get a well-positioned, large bathroom mirror
- Replace your bath with a shower
- Get a walk-in shower over a shower cubicle
- Get bifold shower doors over hinged
- Ditch shower curtains and go solo
- Add extra light with LED bathroom mirrors
- Choose the right type of flooring
- Larger and brighter bathroom floor and wall tiles
- Paint your bathroom lighter with colour/darker tones sparingly
- Remodel the room layouts in your home
When you think of luxury, you think of expensive, and being minimalistic seems to counter that. But minimalism doesn’t mean compromising on quality or luxury, it means keeping things simple. Hone in on the true needs for your bathroom and don’t add extras for the sake of it. This could be as simple as removing extra features or combining them together, for example, with a countertop basin and vanity unit, or a slimline toilet unit.
Declutter the space and remove everything unnecessary, condense down in size and simplify the designs wherever possible.
Traditionally, when thinking of bathrooms, a lot of space is taken up by having fixtures and fittings floor-mounted or freestanding. However, many features - from the toilet and basin to accessories like toilet roll holders and toilet brushes – now come in wall-mounted styles. Lifting everything up off the ground provides extra space and extends your floor outwards, making it look bigger.
One commonly missed area is how people can make the most of their wall space. For example, many bathrooms have radiators traditionally plumbed into the floor. However, investing in a more practical towel radiator could provide extra space at ground level, removing the need for separate radiators and towel rails, and increase warmth by increasing the size of the heated unit.
Additionally, conveniently placed shelving – such as bath and shower shelves - can lift items normally at a ground level higher up, decluttering your floor space
Aside from the main fixtures and fittings (bath, shower, toilet, basin), furniture usually takes up a lot of space. This is a double-edged sword, as there’s a clear benefit when it comes to storage. The solution to this is investing in more bathroom storage accessories around existing areas. This could be as simple as:
- More corner-baskets - Adding three-tiered corner baskets to both corners of your shower bath/shower unit. As they are wall-mounted, you could even use them in other areas if required.
- Add a bath tray – These bath trays are hugely popular at the moment, providing storage for sponges, flannels, and even a glass of wine.
- Wall-mounted towel rack – A towel rack doesn’t have to be placed at a low level but higher up giving more open-plan storage for towels, flannels and bath/shower mats
- Wall-mounted toothbrush holders or tumbler holders - Perfect for storing little items such as combs, scissors, nail clippers and razors alongside toothbrushes and toothpaste, a toothbrush holder or tumbler holder is a simple addition
- Use storage boxes – Adding storage boxes will take up floor space, but their portability means they can be placed in a convenient location and moved to free up space.
Find more storage ideas in our guide on storage ideas for small bathrooms.
You could also look at reducing down your toilet, bath and basin into more compact versions, specifically designed to fit smaller bathrooms. Cloakroom basins are generally anything less than 700mm in size, compared to standard basins. Baths vary in size with the largest being up to 2 metres/6.5ft long but you can get smaller baths, if you’ve got a cramped space. Compact toilets also come in a variety of styles including wall-hung and back to wall, providing flexibility in design and fixing.
This Bathroom Origins Dockside Bathroom Mirror with open, hidden storage space is a perfect example of this. Something like this could remove the need for furniture at a ground level and bring it higher up without cluttering your bathroom.
Another open-storage solution is a washstand with a basin. These provide a conventional basin but either wall-mounted or with individual legs. While it still takes up space, it doesn’t have the same protruding effect furniture or standard ceramic basins would.
Treat your bathroom mirror like a window and make it a focal point of the room. Placing your mirror so it reflects light from windows can help brighten up your room, but a larger mirror can also make the room feel less closed in. Many people suggest making an entire mirrored wall but this isn’t always practical. There are many larger bathroom mirrors that can really enhance your space without taking over.
When it comes to luxury, we automatically think of a relaxing soak with candles, a good book, music, maybe even a glass of wine. But a bath takes up a huge chunk of space (for smaller bathrooms this could be around a third of the available floorspace). Removing the bath and installing a shower enclosure is a practical solution to immediately generate more bathroom space, ideal for extra storage, a toilet or a basin.
You will have to weigh up the pros and cons of this from a personal perspective, as baths are great for family households and those with dogs too. The other consideration is that if you’re renovating to sell the home, a bath is a potential buying benefit.
If you’re looking to just have a shower in your space, consider a walk-in. The fact they are built for easier accessibility makes them advantageous when it comes to extending the room so it looks bigger, compared to a standard shower enclosure, which blocks out an area of the room.
Some people choose to build their walk-in shower using the same flooring as the rest of the bathroom, which provides a continuous pattern or style. If this isn’t possible or not to your taste, shower trays for walk in enclosures create the illusion of more space with the entire bathroom floor being on a similar level. The almost-near ground level glass also allows the entire bathroom to be visible.
Bifold shower doors work by opening inwards into the enclosure meaning they can be positioned open when not in use, extending the space. This is an advantage compared to pivot or hinged shower doors, which open outwards, meaning they are shut constantly or can be a health and safety issue when left open. They are also better than sliding shower doors in terms of spatial benefits because there is no glass obstructing the view either.
Shower curtains may seem like a cheaper and more practical solution to adding extra space in your bathroom. However, they can impact space more than you’d think. The main purposes of shower curtains are to help keep moisture and steam in the area and to maintain privacy. It could be argued that the curtain will only be shut when in use but in reality, even when open if they are coloured or darker, they can be a distraction. If you keep it shut when not in use, then it becomes another barrier, increasing the sense of claustrophobia. You could ditch the shower curtain, install a door lock and open the window to let air in for moisture to escape and maintain visibility to all walls of the bathroom. If you’re certain on having some protection against spillages while the shower is in use, then installing a clear, see through shower screen is a sturdier compromise without closing off the entire bath area.
Light is important to bringing out the best of your bathroom, if you’re limited in terms of natural light – or don’t have a window at all – then enhance your space by bringing in more lights. This doesn’t have to be more wall lights or ceiling lights, but investing in something like an illuminated bathroom mirror or LED bathroom mirror, can really improve the ambience of the space.
As touched upon above, blocking out the bathroom into different colours, styles, or creating dividing lines can condense the bathroom space. When it comes to bathroom flooring, make sure it is consistent in colour and style. Lighter flooring choices are always better when it comes to small bathroom because it enhances natural light and makes the room airier. Darker tones can absorb light, making the room cosier.
In terms of flooring, it really depends on the look you’re going for. Luxury Vinyl Tiled (LVT) flooring is more durable than traditional vinyl flooring and comes in many natural wooden or stone looks. As it is also fitted like laminate flooring, it allows the bathroom to have one continuous tone throughout and doesn’t create the same rigid patterns that tiles do.
If you prefer tiled flooring, make sure to go larger over smaller tiles and aim again for lighter colours, or lighter patterned tiles. Discover more about bathroom flooring in our guide and find out which flooring is best for you.
One of the most common questions asked is whether using big tiles can help make a small bathroom look bigger. Unbroken lines are key when it comes to bathrooms, so make sure any tiles are larger as they will provide less lines.
This is similar for wall tiles where larger, lighter tiles will also work best. However, there is less of an effect on size when it comes to the size of the tiles and some effects with smaller tiles can work without impacting on the space. It’s also recommended that if you are tiling, to make sure this goes from floor to ceiling.
A common question asked when it comes to bathroom size is: what colours can I paint my bathroom to make it appear bigger? The simple answer is light or neutral colours work best. The reason for this is that smaller bathrooms tend to either have small windows, or no window at all, restricting natural light. Dark colours absorb light, as opposed to reflecting it, which means it can make your space feel more enclosed if used excessively. Therefore, it isn’t a case of a plain bathroom but simply using colours sparingly, whether that is in the furniture, décor or on a single wall. Avoid using matt paints in bathrooms since this provides a finish that is rougher and reflects less light. Instead use a gloss or silk emulsion paint.
If you have exhausted all practical options for space or you’re looking for something more than just the illusion of space, the consider altering the room layout. This is expensive of course, but it could be advantageous if it is advantageous to do so to increase house value or will have long term use of the bathroom. Many people decide that they don’t need as much space in spare bedrooms and extend their bathroom into it to create a bigger space. However, always consult your local council about planning guidance and seek expert help from a builder before pursuing this as an option.
These are just some of the ways you can make your bathroom look bigger and each bathroom will bring its own unique challenges. However, with some subtle changes you can really enhance your bathroom space.
Do you have a bathroom tip on how to make a small bathroom larger? Have you tried something yourself that you would recommend? Get in touch with us through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or our contact page and we’ll add it to our guide