There’s a world of difference between a bathroom that could stand to be a little bigger and one that’s really not big enough – and you know it when you see it. But even the smallest bathrooms can be made usable with the right tools and a little TLC. Now, a lot of small bathrooms feature pedestal or wall mounted sinks in place of bathroom vanities, but I think this is a mistake. While they’re lean, mean, clean, and take up very little space, they also lack any kind of built-in storage, or even often much surface space. Well-designed small bathroom vanities, on the other hand, make the most of every bit of space they take up so you can get a little more mileage out of your bathroom.
Scaled Down Vanities
An average “small” sized bathroom vanity is about 24″-30″ wide, with enough room for a sink and faucet, a little counter space, and a basic open cabinet underneath. But for a really small bathroom, you need to scale down further – to somewhere closer to 16″ wide. Now, this will mean sacrificing a little counter space, but on vanities this small, the storage is often much better designed – higher quality despite the loss of quantity. A smaller cabinet that’s raised up off the floor is easier to access, less likely to have wasted space near the top, and leaves enough room for a storage drawer underneath, so all the space the cabinet takes up can be used to its fullest.
Upgrade To A Vessel Sink
Another simple trick – and a feature that you’ll see on lots of small bathroom vanities – is to use vessel sinks instead of drop-in or undermount sinks. It’s a small change, but one that can make a big difference when your space is limited. Moving the sink to the top of the cabinet means more space inside the cabinet, both because the sink itself won’t be taking up space inside, and because the plumbing gets raised up with it. Vessel sinks also create a little more surface space, letting you set some basic toiletries on the “counter” at the base of the sink, where in a more conventional setup the sink itself would be occupying that space.
The Elusive Corner Vanities
Corner mounted bathroom vanities are something of a rarity. Most brands don’t carry them at all, and the ones that do, it’s rarely more than a few. But if you’re really hurting for space, these can be a great option if you can find them. As the name implies, corner vanities fit in the extreme corners of your bathroom, and are wedge shaped so they take up about half the space even of really compact small bathroom vanities. Because they’re oriented on an angle, you’ll feel a little less crowded when using them, and because they’re so much narrower, your other fixtures will feel less crowded, too.
Flexible Wall Mount Vanities
Lots of small bathroom vanities are wall mounted, because a wall-hung installation compounds many of the benefits of other common design tricks: they’re visually smaller and easier to work and walk around, that little extra lift off the ground makes items easier to reach and keeps your cabinets more efficient, and the fact that they can be mounted at any height makes it easy to get a setup that’s comfortable with a vessel sink of any size or shape. Again, it’ll mean sacrificing a little total storage, but with the right design, you won’t miss it, and it means having that much more space in your bathroom itself.
Some small bathroom vanities take this paring down to the extreme, not just trimming to be narrower and shorter, but also to sit flatter and closer to the wall. This is about as minimalist and utilitarian as a vanity can get and still be considered a vanity, with a rectangular sink so small the faucet has to be offset to the side and a cabinet just big enough for the basics. But with somewhere in the neighborhood of a 9-inch clearance, these vanities can fit just about anywhere, giving you the full function of a vanity in the bare minimum amount of space – ideal for a bathroom where you don’t have a lot to spare.
Storage Sets For Small Bathrooms
On the flip side, if you have a little bit more space to work with, it can be worthwhile to extend some of the philosophies of good small bathroom vanity design to your supplemental storage. Small, wall-mounted cabinets and shelves that sit close to the wall are a great way to get a little more storage and surface space without sacrificing floor space or blocking movement through the bathroom. Open shelves can keep your toiletries accessible without cramping your space the way a medicine cabinet can, and a well-placed side cabinet can help make up for the counter space you’re lacking without taking up nearly as much space as a standard-width vanity.
Small bathrooms can certainly be a challenge to work with, but more than ever there are viable solutions out there for making a cramped space work well – you just have to know what to look for!