Small bathroom ideas – 19 clever ways to boost space, light and style

Use our small bathroom ideas to pack a punch in this tiny yet important space

A small bathroom with a red vanity and a small bathtub
(Image credit: JL Studio. Photo by Egor Piaskovsky)

Our small bathroom ideas will help you transform the tiniest area of your home into one packed with personality and bold ideas. Of course, adding style and more functionality to a small bathroom may already seem like an uphill task, but with just a few clever tricks, you can make this room practical and usable.

Our bathroom ideas will guide you on choosing the right paint colors, etching out more storage, and implementing ways to create an illusion of space. Take a look at our favorite small bathroom ideas to try.

19 small bathroom ideas that'll squeeze the most from every inch

1. Use oversized tiles for an illusion of space

A small bathroom with large marble tiles on the wall

(Image credit: Baldiwala Edge)

You'll be surprised at how clever bathroom tile ideas can change the dimensions of a space. By installing large-scale tiles on the floor and walls, you can create the feeling of a larger room. That's because big tiles mean lesser grout lines so there are lesser visual breaks as one surveys the area.

'We recommend matching oversized, large scale tiles on the floor with smaller, simple subway tiles on the walls in a powder room,' says Jennifer Morris, interior designer and founder of JMorris Design (opens in new tab). 'We feel this makes the bathroom appear larger and more luxurious as the eye perceives the floor to be large and uniform.  Choosing whites for the wall tile, paint, vanity and lighting opens it all up.'

2. Paint saturated tones to create drama

A small bathroom painted green

(Image credit: Kevin Sawyers. Photo by Ansel Olson)

No rule says that a small bathroom cannot be bold and daring with color. Add a big boost of personality to this small cloakroom and make it one of the central features of the home.

'For smaller spaces like bathrooms we love combining paint that is playful and bold with undertones that can work on a multitude of hardware finishes and classic, subtle tile selections for more flexibility down the road,' say  Alice Arterberry and Barrett Cooke, founders of Arterberry Cooke (opens in new tab). 'A playful choice for bathroom walls is hushed, light corals. This happy choice looks sophisticated when paired with natural materials like terracotta or terrazzo and against the richness of oak cabinetry and furniture. When partnered with crisp whites it looks fresh and perky. We love Benjamin Moore's Peach Melba (opens in new tab), Apricot Beige (opens in new tab), or Hathaway Peach (opens in new tab).'

While trending and earthy colors could transform the look of the space, you could also choose saturated hues for an eye-catching look.  

'I love saturated, moody greens like Rosemary 6187by Sherwin William (opens in new tab) or bold emeralds like Ripe Olive 6209 by Sherwin William (opens in new tab) that impart drama to a bathroom, which can bring life to a smaller powder room that would otherwise feel dark or drab,' says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams (opens in new tab)

3. Bring in a bathtub to instil a feeling of luxury

A small bathroom with a small bathtub

(Image credit: Lisa le Duc Design. Photo by Seth & Kendra Smoot)

As opposed to the popular opinion of keeping a small bathroom humble with downsized elements, we suggest you think differently. A compact bathtub could add a luxurious touch to the space and make it feel like a spa bathroom.

'In this project, the bathtub appears small, but the experience of a deep soak while being seated is like no other,' says interior designer Lisa le Duc (opens in new tab). 'Wall-hung fixtures eliminate the fuss, keeping the area sleek and cleaner.'

4. Add a bold wallpaper

A small bathroom fully wallpapered

(Image credit: Shannon Murray. Photo by Kyle Caldwell)

To hide the small dimensions of the room, cover up the walls! Use a bathroom wallpaper on all four walls and offer a design dose to anyone who is looking around. Pretty prints can distract the eye and create a pleasant experience.

'In a small bathroom, create a splash, and use a bold wallpaper. Also, paint the trim to match. It's like a little explosive surprise when you open the door,' says Shannon Murray of Shannon Murray Interiors (opens in new tab).

5. Install a large mirror above the vanity

A small bathroom with a wallpaper and a large mirror

(Image credit: Ali Budd Interiors)

In the tightest bathrooms or powder rooms, have a bathroom mirror stretch across the wall or along with the vanity. This will not only create an illusion of more space but also enable two people to use the room at once. In less-than-ideal space conditions, every inch helps.

'Proper space planning is always incredibly important, especially when working with smaller spaces,' says Ali Budd, creative director of Ali Budd Interiors (opens in new tab). 'In small bathrooms, you want to ensure you’re maximizing storage and optimizing flow as much as possible. A big (properly sized) mirror above your vanity is a clever technique for creating the illusion of more space.'

6. Opt for a glass shower door

A small bathroom with a glass partition door

(Image credit: Design by Elizabeth Baird Architecture & Shademaker. Photo Studio Purveyor Design)

A frameless glass bathroom shower enclosure can fit into any style and appeals to modern tastes. It is an elegant and classic look. The door does not break up visuals and makes the bathroom seem like one large, seamless space. Plus, it disallows the water from reaching other parts of the bathroom and helps keep the space clean and dry.

'If you’re starting your small bathroom design from scratch, consider scrapping the curtain entirely,'  say Mitul and Mehul Shah, principal architects at Studio Yamini (opens in new tab). 'Glass shower doors in a small bath will help open up the space. Light doesn’t only apply to walls and tiles but also t furniture and bathroom fixtures.'

7. Incorporate multiple mirrors

A small bathroom with multiple mirrors in colorful frames

(Image credit: Studio Yamini)

Mirrors aren't simply for checking your reflection; these serve several purposes. Mirrors help expand light, create an illusion of extended space and also make a room seem endless. If you're looking for small bathroom storage ideas, a clever solution is to hide it behind the mirror to give the room a neat look.

'Rather than just hanging one above the vanity, consider mirroring a whole wall of your tiny bathroom,' say Mitul and Mehul. 'The reflection of light and pattern (and, sometimes, that open door) will do the same good work a window does. If mirroring an entire wall won’t work in your space, you can just add multiple mirrors to one wall.'

8. Add style, storage and hide plumbing 

East London modern house with pink plaster walls throughout

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Adding a stud wall to a small bathroom may appear to go against 'making most of the space', but if you have plumbing that you want to hide, say if you have a floating sink with wall-mounted taps as seen here, chances are you'll have to build a forward wall to hide the plumbing. And while it may slightly eat into the square footage, it does create a very minimalist too with zero ugly pipes and very handy shallow bathroom shelving – perfect for storage and decor.

A design like this that's simple, sleek and doesn't break up the room works perfectly. Keep the look really seamless by tiling floor to ceiling, not just the stud wall to keep that continuity. 

9. Create useful space around a bathroom sink

a small bathroom vanity with an undermount sink

(Image credit: Vivian Johnson. Design: Nash Design Group)

When you don't have room for a double-sized vanity or stretches of endless countertop space, you need to make your bathroom sink ideas work harder for your design. 

In this design by California-based Nash Design Group (opens in new tab), a smaller, undermounted sink has been used, allowing designer Kendra Nash to create a wider countertop surround that makes the space much more practical. 

Not only does this create more useable countertop space, but it also looks more streamlined, reducing the clutter on the countertop compared to if a surface-mounted sink had been chosen. This is important for making a small bathroom feel less cramped. 

However, by choosing an undermount sink, you do forfeit some storage in your bathroom vanity – ask yourself the question, is this worth the trade-off when it comes to your requirements for the space?

10. Save space with wall-mounted faucets

A small bathroom with a wooden door and printed tiles

(Image credit: Essajees Atelier)

Another simple space-saving trick is to incorporate wall-mounted faucets into your small bathroom design. 

'We use them in all our small bathrooms,' says Kevin Sawyers, the San Francisco-based designer behind Sawyers Design (opens in new tab). 'Not only do they increase space, but the backsplash makes a perfect a base for a mirror, which all goes to visually expanding a countertop.' 

When choosing a bathroom backsplash idea, consider a pattern or color that can flow over to the floors, so that the visual looks neat, unified and seamless. 

11. Mix materials to add depth and interest

Small rustic bathroom with marble bath and persian rug

(Image credit: Lauren Moore )

We all too often are told to play it safe in a small space, and don't worry we are not advocates of breaking that rule, however sometimes in a small bathroom a neutral color palette does work best. Simple, timeless and adaptable to so many styles, sticking with whites, creams, greys and blacks can be a sure-fire way to make a small bathroom feel bigger.

And neutral doesn't have to mean boring, as this gorgeous rustic bathroom designed by Jamie Haller (opens in new tab) proves. The key is to add interest in ways other than bold colors – mixing different materials, shapes and textures to give a bathroom depth. Particularly consider your small bathroom tile ideas. Here there are so many different finishes going on from the gloss white subway tiles to the matte black bathroom floor tiles. 

'The simplicity of black and white elevated with the sophistication of the marble bath surround and set against the antique wood window felt like the perfect timeless look for this 1905 Craftsman bathroom.' explains Jamie. 'The antique porcelain light shades were sourced from local garage sales of this historic neighborhood and paired with antique replica bases in a warm brass for the perfect mix of old and new.'

12. Switch a traditional layout for a wet room design

a wet room with a screen over the window

(Image credit: West One Bathrooms)

Wet room ideas can work so well in small spaces as they don't break up the room with separate shower trays or full enclosures. Light can flow around freely and the eye can move around the room without obstruction. 

'When it comes to showers, a separate shower can often be considered a luxury if space is tight,' explains Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs (opens in new tab). 'However, there are a couple of clever ways around it including wet rooms and folding shower screens that take up much less room than a typical shower. Wet rooms tend to not need enclosures or bulky shower trays and can blend into the aesthetics of the rest of the room.' 

'We’re seeing a growing trend for folding shower screens. These can easily be folded back when the shower isn’t used, helping to create a sense of space as well as the ability to easily use the bath when bathing children.'

13. Choose a wall-mounted vanity to make the floor look larger

Pink and blue checkerboard print

(Image credit: James Merrell)

In a similar vein of not adding too much visual bulk to a room, wall-mounted units that float above ground keep floor space free, again creating the allusion of a larger room. So ditch the 'legs' on vanities, WCs and any other bathroom furniture. 

'To make a small bathroom look bigger, choose a wall-hung bathroom vanity idea or one with slim legs,' recommends Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co (opens in new tab). Creating more visible floor space opens up a room and gives the illusion of more space. For the same reason, I would also always recommend a wall-hung WC for a small bathroom.' 

14. Go even bolder with a wall mural in a small bathroom

a small bathroom with a bold blue wall mural

(Image credit: Christopher Stark. Design: Holly A Kapman)

You might think wall mural ideas are best suited to a large, expansive room in the home, but they can actually work incredibly well in very small spaces, such as compact bathrooms. It creates a magical moment, a hidden wonder for guests to discover and, most importantly, you won't spend all day looking at it, so it's sure to stay in your favor for longer. 

'The powder room can be a departure from the rest of the house and is the perfect place to take chances,' says Holly A Kopman (opens in new tab), an interior designer from Mill Valley, California. 'This custom wall painting by Caroline Lizarraga here transforms this small powder room into an experience. The asymmetrical layout of the vanity is unexpected and allows the bronze sink and the Crystal sconce each a place to shine.' 

15. Create an alcove nook for handy storage

shower room with fluted glass

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

Small shower storage ideas might not be the most exciting aspect of bathroom design, but it's one of the most important. And recessed shelving is a chic way to add storage without protruding into the room and adding too much visual bulk.

'Avoid a floor of toiletries or an overcrowded caddy by installing a recessed shower shelf,' explains Interior Fox's Jen and Mar. 'It’s a practical and streamlined way to add storage space, without taking away elbow room. Make a feature out of the area by using a colored trim that contrasts against the wall tiles.'

Interior designer Irene Gunter agrees. 'Clutter can make a small bathroom look even smaller,' she says. 'Keep yours organized by incorporating a recessed shower niche into your design. It’s a good way to add  storage that doesn’t take up elbow room in the shower. Make a feature of the niche with tiles that strike a contrast with your wall tiles.'

16. Allude to height with wall panelling 

Small green panelled bathroom

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Bathroom wall paneling ideas can be a really easy way to create height – they can draw the eye upwards and add an elegant airy feel. This small bathroom has relatively low ceilings, hence squeezing in a compact tub rather than going for a shower, but the vertical lines of the subtle paneling allude to there being more height. 

And if paneling isn't an option for your bathroom, a striped wallpaper or something with a vertical print will have a similar effect. It's the oldest trick in the interior design book for a reason, it works. 

Sam Bramley, a color specialist at Lick Paints, also suggests 'tiling or paneling your walls to dado height and then wallpapering above. This adds a sense of space and draws the eyes up to your wallpaper. It also allows the wallpaper to stand back from the hardworking areas, taking center stage.'

17. Light a small bathroom effectively 

Small stone bathroom designed by General Assembly

(Image credit: General Assembly )

Small bathroom lighting is key to making the space feel inviting, making sure it functions efficiently and doesn't feel tiny or boxy. As with any good lighting scheme we'd suggest covering the three main types – accent, ambient, and task. You want something stronger like spotlights or wall lights around the vanity area, and then keep it soft and diffused throughout the rest of the room. And get decorative – lighting can double up as decor in a small bathroom so consider bathroom pendant lighting or statement wall lights that add more than function to the room.

'Bathrooms are now as much relaxation spaces as practical spaces, so consider your lighting at the planning stage to maximize opportunities.' says Peter Bowles, Founder of Original BTC (opens in new tab). 'Asking your electrician to install several circuits means you’ll be able to introduce texture and depth, which is particularly useful in smaller bathrooms where there is often little natural light. Most bathrooms will benefit from a central lighting source in the form of a ceiling light and a combination of practical, space-saving wall lights and spotlights – wall lights are a great choice for bathrooms, especially if you have low ceilings.'

Natural light can be a game-changer in a small space so really maximize that by keeping your window treatments simple and window ledges free from clutter. 'There’s nothing like natural light to make a space lighter, brighter, and give the feeling of more space. If your small bathroom doesn’t have wall space for a window, install a skylight instead.' suggests Irene Gunter.

18. Expand space with stripes

Small bathroom with bold stripes

(Image credit: Olga Hanono)

How fabulous is this powder room designed by Olga Hanono (opens in new tab)? So bold and intriguing for such a small space – we have always thought that powder rooms are spaces that should surprise and feel decidedly different from the decor throughout the rest of the home. And of course, stripes are doing what they were made to and making this small space feel so much larger.

'Bathrooms are a great space to experiment with pattern and color. I love to bold patterned walls that surprise and delight you every time you walk into the room.' says Damla Turgut, founder and creative director of Otto Tiles (opens in new tab).

'Whilst most people will tend to opt for whites, neutrals, and lighter tones on bathroom walls, using bold, bright, or dark colors and patterns can add a real sense of luxury to bathroom space. We love to use striped tiles, they’re somewhat of a signature for us and can really add a fun element to the bathroom wall.'

'As a design, they also create the illusion of a much larger space tricking the eye to add length or width to a space which makes them a good choice for smaller spaces.'

19. Keep things simple with clean lines

Small bathroom with dark blue bathroom vanity

(Image credit: David Hartz)

There's a lot to be said for simplicity in a small bathroom, as this space designed by J.Patryce Design (opens in new tab) demonstrates. The clean lines of the room – from the vanity and mirror, right down to the chic matte black taps and the stipes of the floor tiles. The whole space feels bright, lighting, and calming thanks to this small bathroom flooring idea.

'For this project, we were aiming for clean, simple, and somewhat budget-friendly,' explains Joan Enger founder of J.Patryce Design. 'We splurged on the custom vanity painted in a deep, matte finish and used economical floor tile installed in a clever pattern to make it less ordinary. The end result… a chic, timeless look.' 

What is the best color for a small bathroom?

A small bathroom in wood and black tile

(Image credit: Design by Blaine Architects, Marshall Interiors. Photo by Jean Bai )

If you want to play it safe, the best colors for a small bathroom tend to be light, neutral tones like white, cream, grey, and beige. These hues will bounce more light around the space and can have space-expanding qualities. 

However, that's not to say dark colors should be avoided. As some of these gorgeous small bathroom ideas have proved, sometimes being bold and going for a more dramatic color scheme can pay off. Either the bold color scheme totally distracts from the dimensions of the room or if you opt for something really dark like black, navy blue, or forest green, the dimensions of the room can become blurred and in fact feel bigger. 

'Keep it light and bright,' suggests Aaron Markwell of COAT Paints (opens in new tab). 'It may be tempting, but you don’t have to reach for a pure white paint to lighten up your space. Opt for a light green or pale pink to create an airy bathroom, a pastel shade can soften the room, creating a peaceful retreat and spa-like space.'

'We’re often told that bold and dark colors should be avoided in smaller rooms, that’s not always the case. Deep, inky colors create an elegant and contemporary feel.'

'Whatever color you pick, think about painting your walls, ceilings, and doors the same color, this elongates the room, making the space seem higher and creates a cocooning effect. Alternatively use a stronger, darker color on the lower part of your wall to stretch the wall height and trick the eye with paneling or a half-half color divide.'

How can you make small bathroom look luxurious?

The key to making a small bathroom feel more luxurious often comes down to tile choice, since this is what takes up the majority of walls and floors. Marble bathrooms of course always feel very luxurious, so choose large marble tiles (or marble-look) and run them over the walls and floors. Mixing simple metro tiles with a fun, whimsical wallpaper can add a very hotel-like feel to a small bathroom too, especially if you pick a dark prink and pair it with an equally dark, glossy tile. 

Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.

With contributions from