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.
When renovating a building that already has plenty of character, like this 1920s Spanish Colonial home in Los Angeles, it's all about striking the balance between what you add and what you leave. “We wanted to make it feel more holistic while still honoring its heritage,” designer Steven Johanknecht says of the decision to keep the original hand-carved ceiling beams and wrought-iron chandeliers while removing mismatched materials from previous renovations.
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.
Lucky for you, there are paints to help. Rust-Oleum makes a "mold and mildew-proof" paint for about $27 a gallon that can protect those mold danger zones. You can fight those nasty germs with Sherwin-Williams' Paint Shield, which costs about $85 per gallon. Unlike other microbial paints, this formulation is EPA-certified to kill more than 99.9% of surface bacteria in less than two hours, including E. coli and staph.
If you’re an experienced DIYer, you are likely good at working around the disruptions of a house remodel. However, if you’ve hired a contractor for any part of the job, be sure to be clear about your daily routine, and work with the contractor to come up with start and end times that cause the least disruption in your family’s day. After all, no one wants to encounter tradespeople while you’re still in your bathrobe.
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.

I love your tip to talk to everyone that will be regularly using the bathroom space for ideas on what you want the remodel to look like. It would be important to make sure everyone will be happy with the remodel and that it will fulfill everyone’s needs! I’m planning on remodeling my guest bathroom, but I’ll make sure to talk to all my roommates before I call a remodeling company. Thanks!
Design can be overwhelming. People often want to know where exactly to start. For any room, I usually suggest that you begin from the ground up: Decide on the floor covering. It doesn’t matter if you want or have hardwood floors, area rugs, tile, stone or wall-to-wall carpeting. Thinking about your floor first will dictate how other pieces are layered in the space. If you select a neutral tone or natural fiber without a lot of pattern or color, you have more options with colors or upholstery. If you start with an antique rug, you can draw colors from the rug to formulate a color palette. It is important to plan these things in tandem, otherwise you end up with the circus effect: too many things going on without the space as a whole functioning in unison. Starting with a sofa or upholstered chairs limits your style immediately. There is more flexibility with something like an area rug with dozens or even hundreds of possibilities. This is where you have options and can then start to layer pieces. It is a much easier approach to make your final floor covering decision first, and then layer.
Sad kitchen irony: The room you want to be the freest from dangerous microbes is naturally prone to them. From the mold danger zones around your sink, inside cabinets, and along the walls, to all the food-borne, sneeze-borne, and spill-borne opportunities for bacteria to get out of control, your kitchen can be a wee bit scary on the microscopic level.
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My wife told me the other day how much she would like to remodel our master’s bathroom, and seeing this article, I think this will be of great help to her before she gets bathroom remodeling services. I’m thinking of doing a perimeter lighting so as to create a soft, ambient glow and useful light. Luxurious bathroom lighting will definitely give an elegant finish! Thanks for this!
The more light that bounces around in your bathroom, the larger the room will look. The most obvious place to start is with the intentionally reflective surfaces: mirrors. “Anytime you have an opportunity to put a mirror on the wall, select the largest one that will fit,” Maykut says. “It will give you the illusion that the room is bigger than it actually is.”

Allow your space to continuously change—as your life does. "Remember that your home should always be evolving, just as you are," says Kelly Framel, creative director, stylist and founder of online magazine The Glamourai. "I am constantly picking up new treasures on my travels. Your nest should always be a place of comfort and inspiration, and it's a constant work in progress."
When it comes to things like flooring, ask your subcontractor if he has odds-and-ends stock left over from other jobs. While renovating a Civil War-era bed-and-breakfast in New Jersey some years back, contractor Bill Asdal needed wood flooring. He made a few phone calls and came up with hundreds of square feet of hardwood, in various lengths and widths, that otherwise would have gone into the trash on other job sites. Just by planing it to uniform thickness, then sanding and refinishing it, he saved his client almost $9,000 in materials costs.

Allow your space to continuously change—as your life does. "Remember that your home should always be evolving, just as you are," says Kelly Framel, creative director, stylist and founder of online magazine The Glamourai. "I am constantly picking up new treasures on my travels. Your nest should always be a place of comfort and inspiration, and it's a constant work in progress."

Busting the budget is everyone's biggest fear when it comes to renovation. And with good reason. Even if you follow the essential advice we've been doling out for years—build in a 20 percent cushion to cover the nasty surprises, get contractor references and check them, banish the words "while you're at it" from your vocabulary—it's hard not to end up shelling out more than you want to, even if you want to pen a check for a million bucks.
For bathrooms, overhead lighting is very important.  As for ambient options, you can always consider the use of a sunken track lighting, frosted glass fixtures, or even rice paper. Likewise, perimeter lighting is also capable of creating both soft, ambient glow, as well as useful light. It’s also highly advisable to consider using pendant lighting. Something like this allows the scattering of light into the direction that it gives the illusion of a beautiful centerpiece ceiling.
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.
Some people have a natural eye for design, but if you're more in the camp of those who can't do anything without consulting Pinterest board upon Pinterest board before making any major changes, we feel you. We'd love to have an interior designer on speed dial before deciding exactly where and how hang to hang that sweet new wall art we bought on a whim. But until we win the lottery, we'll have to settle for trusting our guts, and taking plenty of design tips where we can get them. We've compiled some secrets straight from the pros to help you with all your decorating needs.
Brian Peppel, a homeowner in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, attends one building-supply auction each month in nearby Lancaster County. His recent finds include two pallets of concrete block for $10 and a solid-wood prehung exterior door for $65. "Their inventory is everything under the sun, a lot of scratch-and-dent, misordered custom items, or new overstock supplies," reports Peppel. He once watched the auctioneer's gavel fall on a large, custom-made triangular window with an original retail value that he pegs at several thousand dollars. The winning bid? $1.
Do-it-yourselfers can reap big savings with recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials. Habitat for Humanity operates about 400 ReStores nationwide, which offer salvaged materials at half off home-center prices. One caveat: Many contractors won't work with salvaged items, or homeowner-supplied materials in general, because they don't want to assume the liability if something goes wrong. That said, if you're doing your own work, you can find anything from prehung doors to acrylic skylights to partial bundles of insulation. (To find a ReStore near you, visit habitat.org.)
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 your home is lacking plumbing shut-off valves in the area you are working on, you may have to shut the water off at the main valve, leaving your home without access to running water. Plan ahead and place containers of water in the fridge for drinking, on the counter for cooking and have buckets of water available to flush the toilet. An easy way to do this is to fill the bathtub with water and place a bucket nearby to pour into the toilet bowl.
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