For such a small space, bathroom planning can be really complicated. After plotting in the essentials, you’re often left with niches and corners left unfilled – with no clear solution for how to put them properly to use.
Luckily, we’ve seen enough brilliant modern bathroom ideas to know that there are ways to make more of these spaces, creating functional and stylish areas that can actually make using your bathroom a nicer experience. They might be a little extra, but think of it like a hotel suite – it's the finishing touches and extra elements that make those spaces so special, and that's something you can achieve in your bathroom at home, too.
Below, we’ve gathered some of our favorite ways to make use of awkward corners and empty space in the bathroom – so whether you need a quick fix or have a little more time to plan something special, there’s something here for everyone.
1. Create a separate vanity space
Even a small niche in a bathroom can be the perfect candidate for a dressing table. It might sound indulgent – but if you’ve always fancied yourself a dressing room but don’t have the space, this is a small-space-friendly alternative that suits most bathrooms.
‘I love a vanity/dressing table, either built-in or as a piece of furniture, to create a separate zone to do your morning routine’ says Maplewood, New Jersey-based interior designer Sarah Storms of Styled by Storms. ‘I think it’s from years of apartment living in NYC, where typically there was only one small bathroom and you needed to figure out somewhere to get ready [that isn’t] over the sink.’
‘I love the idea of using an awkward leftover corner of the bathroom for a little skirted dressing table,’ agrees Susan Klimala, owner and creative director of TKS Design Group based out of Florida and Illinois. ‘The skirt creates an easy spot to tuck away a blower dryer and brush. I would add a petite but comfortable upholstered chair or stool and a vintage makeup mirror for a pretty place to perch while getting ready in the morning.’
Material: Acacia hardwood, birch plywood, burl veneer finish, brass hardware
2. Add some handy storage
Be it for toiletries or linens, an extra bit of bathroom storage never goes amiss – and if you go bespoke, you can create a handy cupboard or set of drawers for literally any space. A tall, narrow cabinet is a great option for super small corners as they allow enough room to store towels – perfect if the only storage you have so far is taken up by lotions and potions.
Alternatively, if you have a little more space, a bigger cupboard or wardrobe could be the perfect way to add character to your bathroom – and if you source second-hand (often the best option for these kinds of pieces as you can score a proper bargain), you can give a beautiful piece a new lease of life with paint, varnish, new handles and even bespoke marquetry if you so desire.
3. Fill it with a chair or stool
There’s something incredibly luxurious about having a chair or stool in a bathroom – it takes the space from a purely functional one to somewhere in which you can actually imagine relaxing. ‘One of my favorite ways to fill an empty space in the bathroom is with a chair or a bench,’ says Allison Garrison of San Diego, CA-based design firm Allito Spaces. ‘Adding furniture that wouldn't usually be found in a bathroom makes the space feel interesting and cozy.’
These pieces can be a great addition to a walk-in shower with room to spare – or they can offer an extra surface for styling, always a bonus in a bathroom. ‘Chairs are great for stacking towels or to throw some clothes over the back,’ Allison adds. ‘I also love placing a stack of books with a plant on top on the seat of a chair – plants bring life to any space. And if you’re like me, sometimes you need a space to hide from the rest of your family – a chair in the bathroom might just be the perfect spot!’
4. Lift the space with an indoor tree
We’re fully on board with the trend for indoor trees – they contribute to a healthy environment, can be fairly low-maintenance, and bring in a nod to nature that never goes amiss in a scheme. In a bathroom, they can also be the perfect addition to an awkward corner – especially if you’re looking for a quick fix – as they’ll instantly elevate the space.
Of course, one drawback of this idea is if your bathroom has little or no natural light – in which case, you’ll have to go faux. If you don’t mind a fake plant, there are more good-looking options than ever on the market at the moment – look for those made from recycled and recyclable plastic for a more responsible buy. Alternatively, if you want to avoid plastic, opt for an oversized vase on the floor filled with dried foliage – twisty hazel branches are a good option.
Material: Mixed reclaimed wood
5. Extend your countertop space
Of course, this option is no good for those looking to fill a space that already exists – but if you’re working on a bathroom layout and are anticipating that you’ll be left with an awkward corner, extending the countertop of your vanity unit is an easy way to tackle this. A wall-to-wall counter in a stand-out stone or porcelain design is an instant statement-maker, and it’s practical, too: the side of the counter not taken up by a sink can be used as a makeshift vanity (see above), or a space to display pottery, plants and your favorite candles.
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Ellen is deputy editor of Livingetc magazine. She cut her teeth working for sister publication Real Homes, starting as features editor before becoming deputy editor. There, she enjoyed taking a peek inside beautiful homes and discovered a love for design and architecture that eventually led her here. She has also written for other titles including Homes & Gardens and Gardeningetc. While she gets ready to buy a house of her own, she takes inspiration from the works of some of her favourite architects and tastemakers. She has a particular passion for green design and enjoys shopping small, local and second-hand where she can.
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