Posted Nov 17, 2015

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom

Decorating a small bathroom can be a serious challenge. It’s arguably the most function-driven room in your entire apartment, and it’s important to keep that in mind.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom

When there’s not a lot of space to begin with, this can seriously limit your decorating options. On top of that, poor design decisions can make the bathroom feel even smaller. Here are eight ways you can bring a small bathroom to life:

1. Lots of Light

The first rule of small spaces is bringing in plenty of light. If your bathroom has windows, take advantage of the outdoor light as much as possible– hang light-colored curtains, and keep them open when you can. Obviously you’ll want to close them sometimes, for privacy’s sake, but otherwise let in the sunshine.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Lots of Light

If you don’t have windows, or your windows aren’t facing toward the light, then bring in extra light yourself. There are a few ways you can do this– if there’s room on the counter, you can bring in a small lamp. If there’s no surface that can hold extra lighting, you can also switch out your bulbs for a brighter option. Check with your management before you do this– there may be limits on what kind of bulbs your lights are wired to use.

2. Mirrors

Reflective surfaces create the illusion of extra space. Mirrors are an easy and natural addition to bathrooms, since you need them in there anyway!

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Mirrors

Add a large mirror to an empty wall to extend the visual feel of the bathroom. You can take this a step further and install mirrors that can swing out– these will be particularly useful when you’re getting ready.

3. Cool Colors

When it comes to color schemes, blues, purples, and greens work perfectly for bathrooms. For small rooms, you’re going to want to stick to lighter shades, using darker colors only for small accents. The reason for this is simple– bright colors reflect more light, which makes rooms feel bigger.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Cool Colors

If your lease allows you to paint the walls, consider painting an accent wall light blue or purple. Base the colors of your rugs, shower curtain, and other accessories on the shade you choose.

4. Keep it Simple

Another way to make a room look bigger is to decorate as sparsely as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to leave your small bathroom bare: This style just involves decorating the features that are already there. For example, pick colorful towels that will serve both form and function.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Keep it Simple

The idea is to avoid over-decorating and making the room feel more cramped– too many wall hangings or knick-knacks in one space can easily overwhelm a small room.

5. Focal Points

If your style lends itself to eye-catching pieces, come up with a single focal point to unify the room. This has to be done carefully– when you’re working with limited space, you can only afford one focal point, and it needs to suit the overall decor.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Focal Points

Don’t use anything too big that takes up a lot of area in the room. Interesting wall hangings that aren’t too three-dimensional make great accents, as do plants and decorative mirrors.

6. Crystal Clear

Glass and other transparent surfaces open up a room. If you already have glass doors on your shower, you’re set. If you don’t, consider using a transparent or sheer shower curtain.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Crystal Clear

Although it won’t look exactly like a glass door would, it will still open the room up considerably.

7. Declutter

Nothing makes a small space feel even smaller as easily as clutter. Unfortunately, bathrooms tend to hold a lot of stuff– depending on hygiene and beauty routines, most people have a plethora of items they keep on their bathroom counter or in their shower.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Declutter

Simply put, the solution is organization. As is often the case, this is easier said than done. Take a hard look at the storage that already exists in your bathroom, and see if there are ways to make better use of the space. For example, you might want to install pullout shelves in the cabinet under your sink, or use small baskets to separate little items like cotton balls and ear swabs.

Find a place for everything, and do your best to avoid keeping items on your bathroom counter. Even if these items are neatly organized, it only takes one rushed morning to leave the entire vanity a mess. Storing as little as possible here will also make cleaning a breeze.

8. Shelving

If your bathroom doesn’t already have plenty of shelving, check with your lease to see if you can install your own shelves. One of the easiest ways to make the best use of a small room is to take advantage of vertical space.

8 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom - Shelving

If you’re allowed to, add a shelf above your doorway to hold extra toilet paper, spare shower curtains, and other bathroom items you don’t regularly use. The use of decorative baskets makes this option a stylish way to keep these items out of sight.

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Eight Ways to Make the Most of a Small Bathroom

Michelle Brandstetter


Michelle Brandstetter graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Journalism. She enjoys cat gifs, photography, and thinking about jogging. Her true calling in life is to pet as many wild animals as she (safely) can: So far she's touched lemurs, manatees, and bears, and has tentative plans to play with penguins.

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