Large scale bathroom renovations are the hottest thing in home design these days. But it can be hard to dream big when your bathroom is small. Much of the conventional advice that goes into building a dream bathroom simply doesn’t translate well when your space is limited. Even so, you don’t have to be doomed to a generic space just because you have a small bathroom. In fact, even though your selection is a little limited (whirlpool tubs and walk in showers are probably out!), small bathrooms are actually easier to remodel, because the smaller space can be done faster and for less money – you just have to know how to spend it!
The first piece of remodeling advice anyone will give you is to repaint. Changing the color of your walls is the fastest, easiest, and least expensive way to make a dramatic change in your decor, and this is especially true whet the space you’re painting is on the small side to start with. Small bathrooms can be especially challenging, though – many current color trends lean towards bright, bold, or dark colors, which can overwhelm a small bathroom. Rusty reds work for a low-lit ambiance and old world style, which can be striking in a guest bathroom. But for one that’s used frequently, opt for a neutral or pastel to keep the space from feeling oppressive. Exterior windows help lighten any color (meaning you can go a little darker if you dare), but lighter tones can really open up the space.
White is probably the best color for making a small space seem light, bright, clean, and larger than it really is. But white painted walls are as boring as boring gets, and probably exactly the look you’re trying to get rid of. To get the same bright effect without the boring style, opt to tile one or more of your walls with white porcelain or ceramic tile. Subway tile on the walls and hex tile on the floors is very traditional, and gives you a slightly glossy finish that will reflect even more light, especially if your small bathroom has a window. To add a simple accent, glass tile mosaic backsplashes are hugely popular, simple to install, and can add a little splash of color (instead of or in addition to white wall tile) that can easily dress up your space.
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One of the best things to improve the value of your bathroom, no matter how big or small, is to upgrade from linoleum flooring to ceramic or, better yet, stone tile. Small bathrooms have the huge advantage of not having all that much floor to install, meaning that you have room to splurge for some truly nice tile because you won’t have to pay for more than a few square feet. Likely the tile will be more trouble to cut to size since you’ll have a few tight spaces to work around, but overall this is probably the one luxury upgrade that’s actually easier to pull off in a small bathroom.
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In terms of the Big Stuff in your bathroom, chances are you’re stuck with a pretty generic shower/tub combo and a small or smaller bathroom vanity. But you might be surprised to find that you can get a decorative toilet. Wall mounted toilets are a little more difficult to install, but take up significantly less space (making your bathroom functionally just that much bigger) and have a sleek, streamlined appearance that’s great for a modern decor. Or, if you prefer, decorative modern toilets, with smooth sheath exteriors and interestingly shaped tanks and bases add a little visual flair to your space. For a real splurge, opt for a high tech toilet or high tech toilet seat, which is one of the best ways to add luxury to your bathroom without taking up any extra space.
I’ll admit, when you have a small bathroom, there isn’t always a whole lot of choice when it comes to picking a bathroom vanity. Your taste is probably going to be constrained by your need for storage (or vice versa) and depending on just how small your bathroom is, you’ll probably be limited in size to 36″, 30″, or even smaller. That said, there are a whole lot of storage smart bathroom vanities out there for a bathroom that’s used often. For a small guest bathroom or powder room where you don’t need a lot of extra storage, opting for a pedestal sink or wall mounted sink is a great way to squeeze a little more space out of your bathroom, and get a lovely traditional design, especially paired with subway and hex tiles.
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In a small bathroom, you almost definitely won’t have space for a separate bathtub and shower, which are more or less the holy grails of the dream bathroom. But just because you probably won’t end up with a decorative tub doesn’t mean you can’t dress up what you’ve got. Changing your shower curtain rod, shower rings, and shower curtain is a fast and easy way to alter the look of your bathroom, and swapping from a shower curtain to a glass shower door is an even better way to freshen up your decor. Either way, it breathes new life into an otherwise fairly generic fixture, which is exactly what you want when space is limited.
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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten about remodeling a small bathroom?