How To Make A Small Bathroom Feel Luxe — 'The Secret Lies In The Colors' Reveal Designers

Small bathrooms do not mean small ideas. Pay attention to these elements to get a high-end look even in pocket-sized spaces

A small bathroom with beige exterior walls and dark green interiors
(Image credit: Germán Saiz. Studio credit Estudio Recente)

How often do we, as home decorators, tend to throw in the towel (pardon the pun) when it comes to small bathroom design? Tiny, cramped spaces can feel limiting, and it feels hard to know how to make a splash (sorry again). 

Whether you’re working with an ensuite, a small bathroom or powder room, creating luxury can be easy if you focus on certain key elements of the room. Or even just one. Take a look at these examples and get designing.

1. Choose colorful tiles

A small bathroom with white and blue tiles

(Image credit: Estudio Recente)

Don't allow this space to be plain and boring — give it a big endorphin hit with small bathroom tile ideas that instantly bring a smile to your face. Think creative patterns, colors and designs. Not only will these small beauties transform the room's vibe, they will also distract from its small proportions.

'In this project, we wanted to give the small bathroom a big personality with a fun element,' says Carlos Tomás, founder of Estudio Reciente. 'In this case, we chose bright tiles from HUGUET Mallorca by Sybilla. The geometric patterns and colors interact very well. In the entire home, this bathroom stands out as the most refreshing space.'

Note: if you don't have the budget for a flooring reno, you could opt for peel-and-stick tiles.

2. Inject personality with paints

A small bathroom with beige outer walls and dark green interiors

(Image credit: Germán Saiz. Studio credit Estudio Recente)

Tiles can feel a bit heavy on the pocket which is why paints are always an easy solution. Include contrasting tones in your small bathroom color ideas, and don't withhold on using bold hues.

'For this guest bathroom, we decided to create different combinations using materials and tones,' says Carlos. 'This dark green shade stands out when the door is opened, and you can see the lovely metal accessories shine within. The dark green tone interacts with the light beige and the terracotta outside, giving this room a jewel box-type of vibe.'

3. Add a spa-like vibe with a bathtub

A small bathroom with a fitted bathtub

(Image credit: Christopher Stark photography. Studio credit Noz Design)

A bathroom with a dreamy bathtub sounds instantly relaxing but does that idea fit into a small bathroom? This may sound counterintuitive, but it does. In a tiny space, you're not dealing with a lot of square footage or wall space, and that can be an advantage since a diminutive room allows a bathtub to be the star. Go for a custom, fit-to-size piece that takes over a corner or wall, so you can indulge in a deep soak within a small but private and cozy oasis.

'For this bathroom, we took inspiration from Japanese design and chose earthy materials,' says Noz Nozawa, founder of Noz Design. 'We finished the walls in wood and created a Cypress cold plunge in the bathroom that is reminiscent of a spa.'

4. Consider earthy materials for a calm space

A small bathroom with micro cement walls

(Image credit: Studio Periphery-EARTHY PROJECT. Studio credit Studio Metanoia)

'The deliberate choice to forgo traditional tiles in favor of microcement finishes on both floors and walls is a distinctive feature of this cave-like bathroom design,' says Cher Lin, creative director, at Studio Metanoia. 'The absence of grout lines not only streamlines the aesthetic but also contributes to a heightened sense of spaciousness, particularly accentuated when the color palette of both floors and walls remains consistent. Leveraging the versatility of microcement, the walls, and shampoo niches have been skillfully molded and curved at the edges, imparting a soft, unfinished aesthetic that mimics what we observe in nature.'

Micro cement or limewash finishes aside, consider materials such as tumbled-stone, pebble tiles, slate floors, and oyster-shell light fixtures that too can contribute to a natural bathroom.

5. Choose statement lights

A small bathroom with pendant light next to the mirror

(Image credit: Lauren Pressey. Studio credit SUBU Design Architecture)

One of the easiest elements to swap out or introduce to a space to instantly lift its look is lighting. Small bathroom lighting, when chosen carefully can do double duty: that of spreading illumination and adding to the aesthetics.

'In my experience, the careful selection of lighting plays a pivotal role in transforming a small bathroom,' says Cher. 'Incorporating a combination of soft ambient lighting and targeted task lighting, such as sophisticated wall sconces or a pendant light, can significantly enhance the overall ambiance.'

'Also, I've learned that investing in high-quality fixtures is paramount to elevating the sophistication of a small bathroom,' says Cher. 'Whether it's chic faucets, a designer showerhead, or a statement bathtub, these elements can bring a palpable sense of luxury to the space.'

3 products to make a small bathroom feel luxe

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.