How to Design a Small Bathroom for Maximum Space

The perfect small bathroom should contain all the great elements of a large bath-only in much less space, which is why planning a new bathroom or even remodeling your existing bath can be a challenge. When planning or designing a bathroom you must think about appearance, fixtures, storage and function within the amount of space you have to work with as well as your overall budget for your project. Your bathroom will require at least a five foot space in one direction in order to accommodate a bathtub and you really need a minimum of 36 to 40 square ft. overall. Building codes require 32 x 32 inches for a shower, although if you have the space, larger is definitely better. Do your best to make sure the shower is large enough to enable family members to comfortably raise their arms when washing hair, or to bend over to pick something up.

Ways to Stretch Your Space

Once you have determined the amount of space you have to work with, there are many ways to make it look bigger, such as using a pocket door rather than a hinged door. You will be surprised at the amount of usable space you gain by eliminating a regular hinged door. Install the largest mirror available, as this will create the illusion of space. Clear glass shower doors will stretch your space visually, and if you have a window in your bathroom, keep your window treatment simple. Unify your bath by using the same finish for all the trims and hardware; in a small bathroom, simple is much better. Walls should be light-colored, ideally, to enhance the illusion of space. Wallpaper tends to make your bathroom look too "busy" if it is already small to begin with.

Storage Space

Because your space will be at a premium in your smaller bathroom, consider recessing a bath cabinet above the vanity. Make sure your vanity has drawers or bins, or add decorative, yet functional, organizers for all your toiletries and cleaning supplies. These units are easy to find, and you will be able to stretch your storage without taking up too much valuable space. Over the toilet shelving can be found, turning typically unusable space into constructive storage. Avoid pedestal sinks in your smaller bath as they don't provide any storage, so, although they look attractive they are impractical.

Skylights and Lighting

If you have the extra money, allowing natural light to stream in through a skylight, etched glass, or glass block is an effective way to create the illusion of space without actually taking up space. You can maintain privacy yet your bath will have an open, airy feeling to it. Adequate lighting is necessary in any size bathroom, for all the tasks you typically perform such as shaving, applying makeup and other grooming tasks. Make sure your bathroom has both task-specific as well as ambient lighting. Multiple recessed ceiling fixtures are nearly invisible and will eliminate the locker-room effect of a single mounted fixture. If possible, install a light fixture above the tub or shower, and install decorative scones on either side of the vanity.

There are many more tips for maximizing space in the smaller bathroom while making it look fabulous, but basically remember to keep things simple for maximum space utilization.