Until a few decades ago, all bathrooms were small—most were no larger than 5 feet by 8 feet, providing just enough room for a tub/shower combination, vanity, and toilet. You might think that the smaller the bathroom, the more challenging the remodeling, because how can you create openness and space without tearing out any existing walls? Luckily, homeowners who plan to work with what they’ve got may find that smart choices in colors, fixtures, and amenities can make a small bathroom look and feel larger than its actual square footage. We asked Joe Maykut, a product manager for Sears Home Services, to share with us the design tactics that work best for homeowners stuck with small bathrooms—and boy, did he deliver. If you’re itching to remodel your bathroom, the following eight tips will help you make the most of your small space.
If you can reorganize and equip your kitchen for maximum utility, you may not need to blow out the walls to gain square footage. Start by replacing space-hogging shelves with cabinet-height pullout drawers 8 inches wide, containing racks for canned goods and other items. "You're getting three or more horizontal planes where you might otherwise get only one," says Louis Smith Jr., an architect with Meier Group, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You could easily shell out a few thousand to outfit cabinets with upgrades like dividers, pull-out pot trays, and lazy Susans, but you'll save many times that amount by skipping the addition you thought you needed.
Knocking down may not be as costly as rebuilding, but you can still shave dollars by doing some of the demolition yourself—as long as you proceed with care. "If a homeowner wants to demo a deck, well, I am sure they can handle that," says Michael Winn, owner of Winn Design, in Virginia. "But when it comes to interior spaces, I would dissuade them from doing it unless they have done it before." The reason: A reckless wrecker might unwittingly take out a load-bearing wall or, worse still, plunge a reciprocating saw into live wiring or pressurized plumbing. (For tips on how to do demo right, see our October 2005 feature, "Before You Construct, You Have to Destruct.")

If your walls are in such rough shape that it would take a painting contractor days of filling and sanding to make them ready for the roller, consider using materials such as Texturglas, from Deerfield Beach, Florida— based company Roos International. A breathable, nontoxic wall covering made of fine glass filaments, Texturglas has a similar look and feel to the fiberglass matting used in auto-body work. It's available in a variety of surface patterns, takes paint readily, and is designed to be installed right on top of existing surfaces, adding strength while covering up dings.
If Chip and Joanna Gaines have convinced you that your abode needs shiplap, you're usually best off installing the boards horizontally rather than vertically. "It can really expand a space, making it feel larger than vertical boards can," says Jason Arnold. "Horizontal boards also feel more contemporary." Vertical boards, however, can be ideal for rooms with high ceilings.
For those who are thinking of putting their home up for sale five years from now, then it’s important to ensure that the value of your property would increase over time, consider having your home renovated for that purpose. On the other hand, if you’re planning to live in your home for a couple of years, it’s very important to ensure that the design of your bathroom is something you would really love and fit with your style and preferences.
It’s important to look beyond the space of the bathroom. Think about the entire look of your house. What kind of layout would best match the design? Does your preferred bathroom layout blend well with the rest of your home? Keep in mind that not everything has to be matched perfectly for it to blend well with your home. Not every door handle has to be bronze, for example. But if you choose a contrasting design, such as silver with bronze, it can be too distracting. If your bathroom is a part of your master bedroom, it is critical to blend the design. Don’t choose a stark bright color to distract from the theme of the main room. Instead, make it an extension of the room that flows well without taking away from the grandeur of the bedroom. A common adage is “add, not change.”There is also a matter of “functional zoning.” This is a good way for you to plan your bathroom layout around the idea of what’s functional. Instead of remodeling from a design perspective, instead think of things from a use perspective. Planning an effective space has everything to do with your lifestyle and how you best use the space. Make sure you incorporate this in your bathroom remodeling.
If you have limited budget and need to keep the same footprint. Don’t worry, you can still give the impression that the space is a little bigger through the use of some tricks specifically made for that purpose. For instance, pedestal sinks are best known for making the room look more spacious, then clear glass shower doors are more preferable than the shower curtains on tubs as this would block the light and make it seem more enclosed. Likewise, you can also consider using a big mirror as an alternative to a small medicine cabinet mirror. Doing something like this could visually double the space around your vanity area.
While installing one does require reframing the wall to create a slim space into which the door can slide, this change doesn’t take away more than a few inches of space from the adjoining room. If you’re remodeling a master bathroom, you also have the option of installing a pocket door with a frosted privacy glass panel, which will visually open up the area even more.
Looking beyond the traditional with wallcoverings can create a truly standout design presence. "I do think I might have scared [architect Ken Linsteadt] a little bit when I announced I was planning to install two levels of green floral fabric on the walls of the grand salon," says Ken Fulk of his Sonoma Valley lakeside retreat, yet the fabric gives the high walls a richness that wallpaper alone might not have achieved.
High-gloss or semi-gloss paint is ideal for any spots that might get splattered, sprayed, or spilled on, like above (or in lieu of) your backsplash, behind your trash can, or everywhere if you love bringing spaghetti sauce to a rolling boil. Glossier finishes also protect your walls from water and grease, which will "bubble up and not absorb into the paint" upon contact, says Specker. "Wipe it off, and you won't have any leftover stains."

It's time to start thinking of transitioning your decor from Christmas to winter. Winter is such a peaceful, quiet and beautiful time of year. It's about snuggling in warm blankets, drinking hot cocoa around a fire in the hearth, enjoying time with family and friends. Just because the holidays will soon be over, doesn't mean that the fun has to stop. Grab a mug and listen in.
By sticking to the lightest shades within a single color family for paint and furniture, you’ll avoid the strong contrasting hues that can make a small room seem even smaller. Matching your choice of floor tile to the wall color can also be a good idea—this will make the corners of the room disappear, creating a feeling of more space. Avoid putting any color on the ceiling, though; a basic white is the best choice here.
Many homeowners consider obtaining a building permit as an unnecessary headache which can slow down the renovation process, but permits are a necessary part of the process in most cases, which can come back to haunt you if not obtained in the first place. Building permits are necessary to ensure your house remodel meets structural and fire safety requirements and code inspectors in most jurisdictions can make you rip out non-conforming work if not up to snuff. This can create a very expensive headache when looking to sell your home down the road. It’s always advisable to think ahead and ensure the permit process is followed. Check out our DIY home improvement rules for more tips.
As different trends in home decor evolve, we have found that unique bathrooms are always a popular choice. Wet rooms might not function well with every bathroom design, but when you have space and resources for one, it can add a lot of value to the home. Most wet rooms include a shower and a toilet, without anything separating them. The uniqueness of wet rooms really comes into play when choosing flooring.The most important thing to remember when building a wet room is that everything must be able to resist moisture. Waterproofing your cabinets, flooring, and appliances is mandatory in order to have a well-functioning room.Flooring is one of the key features that distinguishes a wet room from other types of bathrooms. The flooring of the shower extends to the rest of the room, so it’s important to think about the fact that there is no separation happening there. This bathroom consists of open space with no steps or raised areas, giving you more flexibility to design something you wouldn’t be able to in other rooms.
Rather than art, a high-impact wallpaper can give a subdued room some wow-factor. The 19th century wallcovering from this luxe Milan apartment was purchased at auction in France and adapted to the room. “We created the missing parts, the plinth and the ceiling frame, to depict an Italian capriccio, a fantastical and bucolic landscape with architectural features,” Laura Sartori Rimini of Studio Peregalli says.
Some imitations just make sense: Lumber giant Weyerhaeuser sells a fast-growing natural eucalyptus hybrid under the brand name Lyptus. Sustainably harvested in plantations in Brazil, the clear-grained hardwood looks and feels remarkably like mahogany. It's sold as toungue-and-groove flooring and in planks and sheets for cabinetry and millwork. (Visit Lyptus.com to find a distributor near you.)
Look at your countertops next. “Limited counter space is always problematic in tiny bathrooms,” Maykut says. Often, you're left with nowhere to set a cup of tea or lay down your curling iron. One creative solution for gaining space is choosing a custom countertop. While most bathroom configurations place the vanity next to the commode, Maykut suggests “extending a narrow ledge of countertop along the wall behind the toilet.” This otherwise wasted space is just right for a supply of tissues or an assortment of toiletries.
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