The Best Design Tricks to Maximize and Upgrade Your Small Space
Tight quarters can be tough to navigate at home, whether your space is actually small in terms of square footage or it just appears to be small (e.g. crowded powder rooms, teeny shower tiles instead of big tiles that create the illusion of space, odd bathroom layouts, etc.). Thankfully, you don’t need a pro interior designer to put some of the best small bathroom ideas to work and breathe new life into your limited space.
Get serious about bathroom organization and storage space
Not only does too much clutter create a loss of physical space, but it can have an unhealthy impact on your mental health too. So to create more space, consider clearing the mess to uncover new, creative, aesthetically-pleasing places….
Get rid of excess clutter in your tiny bathroom
Marie Kondo knows what she’s talking about! If you have to walk around objects in your path, it makes sense your small bathroom will feel crowded and seem even tinier than it is. But even if those items are only on your counter space, they can still create the impression of a too-cramped space. Just think about how you feel walking through overpacked aisles in a grocery store or how small your car’s interior feels when it’s loaded with shopping bags.
Set a monthly reminder to give away products you don’t use to friends and family and to toss anything that has expired. Recycle what you can and save the best-looking, sturdiest packaging to reuse them for other personal products or decorative purposes. Use the same rule of thumb for excess items you know you’ll never use, like an extra blow dryer or straightener. Since these are not open personal care products, you can safely give them away to charitable organizations to help people in need.
Stock up on space-saving storage containers
- Store space-saving organization bins beneath your pedestal sink, your corner sink or tucked away inside your bathroom cabinets (perfect for hiding personal care products and toilet paper). Look for reusable bins made from eco-friendly materials so you can keep them for years and use them for long-term storage.
- Even if your containers are clear, think about labeling them for easy access to everything from everyday essentials to beauty products.
- Before you buy any new storage solutions, jot down the exact measurements of every intended storage space. This will help you maximize every bit of space you have. When your bathroom is small, every square inch counts!
- Insert organizational dividers into your bathroom drawers. It’ll be easier to find everything you need and help you resist the temptation to overstuff your drawers with things you don’t need. Look for dividers made of high quality, chip-resistant materials that will last a long time.
- For those items you’d like to keep out on display (hello, cool or pretty packaging!), place them on counters or arrange them in a few stylish rattan baskets or wire baskets. This is a storage space trick that doubles as attractive decor.
Make the best with what you already have
- Move unnecessary countertop objects into your medicine cabinet, drawers or other spaces hidden from view that you might have in your bathroom or even in your hallway or linen closets.
- If you have a shower niche, fill it with shower products first to free up extra space elsewhere.
- Tidy your bathroom every day– towels strewn over furniture will only make your bathroom look tinier.
Use vertical space and floating storage
If you still need more room, just look up. Vertical space is amazing for extra storage because it doesn’t crowd your counters or floor space – and you can use it to add to the aesthetics of your narrow bathroom or powder room. Consider installing a floating shelf above your toilet. But if floating shelves aren’t your thing, check out wall-mounted, floating vanity designs. Bonus: lots of floating solutions are easy to install!
Take advantage of empty corners
There are neat corner shelves and corner-style caddies you can place inside or outside of your shower. They look attractive, but they barely take up space. If you do decide to go with corner shelves, look for designs with spacious, open shelves so they won’t create the illusion of taking up more space.
Upgrade your small space with a big design statement
Give your small bathroom a little makeover to feel better about the space and to refresh its aesthetic. Bonus: these easy, DIY tips are also design tricks to make your bathroom look bigger.
Add visual interest to your bathroom walls
- Accent wallpaper can add lots of style to a tiny bathroom – cover every single wall or just use one wall to make a statement. And just like hai smart showerheads, you don’t need to rely on a professional for installation. There are lots of accessible, attractive, DIY wallpaper options on the market designed for homeowners and renters alike!
- If you go for new wallpaper, opt for lighter colors. And if you choose a style with patterns, bigger patterns can actually help your smaller bathroom seem larger.
- Hang a light-colored painting or two to liven up your entire wall space if wallpaper just isn’t your thing. Who says you can’t make a mini gallery wall in a small space?
Pro Tip: Avoid dark color palettes, or they’ll only make your entire bathroom feel smaller – but don’t forget to think about your own personal aesthetic. For example, if you love eclectic artwork, be sure to put some on display! Reference all of these small bathroom design tips as guides, but never sacrifice your personal style in the process.
…though there is one exception to the rule. If you use a very dark color palette all throughout your small bathroom, it can create the illusion of having more depth. But you have to commit to extremely dark colors with a very high gloss.
Consider your choice of curtains and window treatments
Consider repositioning your window curtains, shower curtains and any window treatments so that they hang from right below your ceiling. It’s an effect that draws the eyes down to make the walls appear more extended than they actually are.
What color is your shower curtain? It’s best to choose light-colored, minimal shower curtains over patterned, busy or darker-hued styles – whether you have a bathtub, a tub-and-shower combination or a freestanding shower stall. Simple patterns and lighter colors create more space, in terms of visual real estate.
Pro Tip: If you have a great-looking, sparkling clean shower and a nice shower head, don’t be afraid to leave the shower curtains open when you entertain guests. It sounds like a small detail, but it could make a world of difference for someone who isn’t comfortable with small spaces.
Choose the center of attention
Walk to your bathroom and take a quick look. What’s the first thing to draw your attention? That’s the focal point of the room. If you really can’t tell what’s drawing your attention first, the issue might be a lack of organization. Why? If too many objects are placed in a disorganized fashion, it creates a busy or overwhelming effect.
Your bathroom’s focal point could be the wallpaper, or a specific lighting fixture, or your sink…. Decide what the main focus of your bathroom should be, then edit the objects in your compact bathroom accordingly.
Have fun styling your bathroom accessories
Choose high quality bathroom accessories you’ll love so you’ll keep them around for a long time. If you get bored seeing the same objects or design elements all the time, just buy a few extra sets to swap them out seasonally. Small touches in small spaces – like fashionable hand soap dispensers and bathroom accessories made from natural materials like bamboo, can go a long way.
Be sure to check out second-hand stores, thrift stores, vintage stores and other rooms at home. You might be able to find amazing rugs, design objects and home accessories that weren’t originally intended for bathrooms but that can bring a lot of personality to the space.
Buy a new bathroom shower head
Unfortunately, most bathrooms are home to unsightly shower heads. Especially rentals. Not only is that a pain, aesthetically, but gross shower heads are unhygienic and can even mess with how much water flow you can get!
If it’s time for a new shower head, choose a high quality, efficient model that reduces water and energy consumption while still offering an experience that feels great. Do a little research to find out which brands use safe materials and easy-to-clean materials and have the smallest carbon footprints.
Speaking of eco-efficient shower heads to love….
Buy a smart hai shower head
When you’re ready to upgrade your small bathroom with an attractive and easy-to-clean shower head, think about getting a hai. hai looks the part! It’s made from high-quality materials, including stainless steel, to last for a long time and to give your shower’s look a lift. It comes in fun, optimistic colors too. Choose from six shower face hues for a pleasing pop of color: charcoal, moon, surf, citron, persimmon or rose quartz.
There are two hai models: a 1.8-gallons-per-minute (GPM) design and a 2.5-GPM design. 2.5 GPM is the highest standard rate of water flow per minute allowed in the U.S. Most people can buy this model, though some states have lower water flow-rate allowances to save even more water and energy. Those states have 2.0 and 1.8-GPM limits, including Hawaii, Vermont, California, Colorado, New York and Washington – with more states on the way! If you’re worried about the feel of your shower, there’s no need to worry. hai’s 1.8-GPM model was designed to closely mimic the feel of the 2.5-GPM hai shower head. They both give more coverage than the average shower head, and they have handheld spa control sliders that let you shift to any setting between steady streams of water to a fine, dreamy mist.
hai makes it simple to install it yourself (hurray for DIY!) and it’s not just good for you – it’s good for the planet. It has a Bluetooth-powered base that gets powered by your shower’s water to communicate with the hai app. You can see how much water and energy you use per shower, set and track water goals, find out when the water is warm to hop in and more! Talk about eco-friendly goodness.
Pro Tip: The 1.8-GPM hai shower head isn’t just for people in states with stricter water restrictions. You can buy one if you just want to use even less water and energy every time you shower. It’s also the better choice for you if you have low water pressure coming through your shower because it can seriously improve the feel of your showers! Learn how to find out the difference between the water pressure of your shower and the water pressure of your shower head here.
Swap out the lighting throughout your whole space
There’s a reason why lighting is such a critical factor in everything from movie production and photoshoots to retail store design and live shows. Lighting has a major impact on our moods, our energy levels, how we perceive and interact with our surroundings, how colors and textures are interpreted by the eye and so much more.
Use lighting to make your tiny bathroom seem bigger….
Banish the darkness
Dark corners can create the optical illusion that they’re cut off from the rest of your tiny space. Your best bet is to choose lighting that gives equal illumination to every corner of your bathroom. It will open the entire space, in a visual sense. Natural light works best, but if your bathroom doesn’t get much sun, opt for artificial light that looks as close to the real deal as possible.
Be selective about your light fixtures
- Avoid big, visually-heavy light fixtures. They’ll only make a small bathroom seem as if it has even less usable space.
- Choose light-colored light fixtures.
- If you need brighter light in the bathroom, go for cool white LED light bulbs. If your bathroom is more for self-care than makeup application, warm white LED light bulbs will probably be your best bet.
Create the illusion of more space
There’s clearly a lot you can do to transform your compact spaces– small bathrooms included! But here are a few final tips to create the sensation of a bigger room….
- Display lighter-colored towels, curtains and rugs throughout the entire room. A brighter hue reflects light.
- Only store small objects on your open shelves. Tiny objects won’t take up too much visual space.
- Hang a mirror or two. It might seem counterintuitive, but your best is to go for medium or large styles – though make sure their frames are thin. Mirrors work wonders because reflective surfaces can help a small room feel bigger.
- Even your tiny mirrored medicine cabinet offers some of the same effect, but if you’re thinking of hanging new mirrored cabinets, opt for longer styles to help elongate your bathroom’s appearance.
- Or get the most out of reflective glass by mirroring an entire wall of your tiny space!
- If you have a glass shower door without curtains, that can create the illusion of a much larger space. It’s the same principle as the mirror effect. Glass is see-through and it can reflect light.
- If you’re a little handier than the average DIY projects require, consider replacing your bathroom doors with pocket doors. Pocket doors take up less space than swinging doors and traditional interior door styles. Whenever your bathroom door is open, it slides neatly into a recess in the wall, tucked away from view. This frees up precious space on the wall that would otherwise be blocked by a traditional bathroom door and frees up space on your floors too.
Phew. There are so many tips and tricks for smaller bathrooms – from creating optical illusions to saving space with hidden storage and open shelves. It’s clear you don’t have to be a homeowner or need to direct a full on renovation to get the most out of your tiny square footage.
Have fun making those little adjustments and get the bathroom upgrade you crave! You, your sanctuary (and tiny bathrooms) deserve nothing less.