Most homeowners think about lipstick and mascara when renovating or giving their bathroom a refresh. Yes, it’s important to have an aesthetically pleasing-looking bathroom, and admittedly, most find it to be the fun part. However, it’s important to remember that what’s behind the walls is as important, especially when it comes to bathrooms as it needs to be made watertight.
With the way houses are built nowadays, many homeowners don’t have the luxury of having a massive bathroom. Here are some tips to help you make your small bathroom feel bigger and more functional.
The typical bathroom size is 5 by 8 feet. Any bathroom must be at least 40 square feet in size to accommodate all the essential amenities you require, including a sink, a shower or tub, and a toilet.
The overall view of the entrance is the first thing you should consider when designing a small bathroom. Ideally, you want to see the bath/shower area, and vanity first, not the toilet. Pick a focal point and build the layout around it.
There are a number of things to consider when making your space feel bigger, like sticking to a lighter neutral palette for your colour scheme, tiles, paint, etc. Include lots of mirrors, strategic lighting fixtures, and clever storage like medicine cabinets. Another approach to make the space feel larger is to install brighter light fixtures or wall sconces surrounding the mirror.
Consider eliminating your bathtub and replacing it with a glass shower —it will create the illusion of extra space. If you are concerned about mobility issues in the future, consider adding a shower bench.
However, the general rule is if your home only has one bathroom, then you should keep your tub. It’s great for relaxing or if you have kids or pets at home. If you have the luxury of two full baths, then you have the option to eliminate one of the tubs.
And aesthetics is important, but you know me, I love using high-quality products so your bathroom renovation will last for years to come. So before I talk about the “lipstick and mascara” finishes, let’s highlight some key products that I think every homeowner should use!
For a 3-piece bathroom renovation with mid-range finishes should budget between $20 – $25K. The costs will vary depending on the size of the room, the materials and finishes used, and any structural changes or updates. Don’t forget about getting permits especially if new wiring or plumbing upgrades are in your plan. The average timeline for a refresh is 2-3 weeks and 4-5 weeks for a full renovation.
Investing in quality construction materials for your bathroom renovation is an important component of any construction project. Not only will your bathroom renovation last longer, but it will also protect your investment from rot, mold, and mildew by choosing products that provide a continuous layer of moisture protection.
If you are renovating your bathroom, I’d like you to think about your future and potential mobility issues and consider including grab bars. Grab bars are a safety feature that helps a person stay balanced, and support part of their weight while moving, or have something to hang onto in case they trip or fall. They can also help carers move a loved one from one location to another.
Grab bars must be secured to wall studs and placed in the shower or tub’s safest and most practical location. It’s an important feature to have in my opinion and easy to include in your renovation.
Stick with neutral paint colours for your small bathroom because light colours tend to make rooms appear larger. Use whites, off-whites, light blues, greens, and greys. Avoid busy patterns that can be overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to add pops of colour or bold fixtures.
Just because your bathroom is small doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. A pop of colour with paint or wallpaper can add that wow factor to complete your bathroom. Also, consider wainscotting as a nice touch too.
In a smaller bathroom, use shorter wainscoting on one-third of the wall to avoid the room seeming cramped. Stick to the rule of thirds or maintain wainscoting at least 32 inches high and go as high as 42 inches off the ground or taller than the vanity or sink.
Accent walls break up the space, making it feel bigger like an area rug does to a floor. Even darker colors that would otherwise cause a room to feel smaller will make a room feel more significant when you use them for an accent wall. Large patterned wallpaper is also a great idea that can create the illusion of a bigger space.
In my opinion, the best flooring option for any bathroom is to use ceramic or porcelain tiles. Tile flooring is affordable, durable, waterproof, and available in a wide range of colours and patterns. You can even get tiles that do a good job of mimicking marble and hardwood but without the drawbacks. However, another great option is to use luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) or vinyl rolls as they are durable, moisture-resistant, easy to clean and maintain, and warm underfoot.
Using larger tiles (16 or 18 inches) can create the illusion of a bigger space and elongate the room by creating a vertical focal point.-format tiles make floors look more streamlined because there are fewer grout lines – therefore, creating the illusion of more space.
If your budget allows, you can also consider porcelain slabs that provide a clean no grout line finish. I recently used a porcelain slab by Ciot in my bathroom renovation. It was a little more expensive but worth it for my forever bathroom!
Plain patterned tiles and lighter coloured tiles with minimal contrasting colours will make a small room appear bigger. The same goes for cream and natural-toned solid-colored tiles.
You could still have some fun with the tiles, but try avoiding patterns that are too busy as it will make your space feel smaller. We installed a busy tile pattern featuring different styles of pattern in a recent Holmes Family Rescue bathroom, concentrated in the shower area. Geometric-designed tiles used in a focused area, create a focal point and can make a room seem bigger.
One of the most important features of a bathroom is the mirror. It can make a small bathroom appear larger and brighter. Also, don’t restrict yourself to using just one mirror because mirrors have the ability to provide personality and functionality to a small room. Utilize every available space, and don’t forget about spaces like those behind doors.
When it comes to choosing your bathroom countertop, it can be quite overwhelming as there are many options available at nearly every price point. Quartz is one of the most popular, as it is stronger than granite, doesn’t require sealing, and is naturally resistant to moisture, stains, and bacteria. However, it can be a bit pricey but you’re also guaranteeing an investment that will last longer.
Another option is laminate. Laminate has come a long way, and today comes in a fantastic variety of finishes that mimic stone and wood, and in an array of colours and patterns. It’s durable, water resistant, and easy to clean. It’s also great for a renovation on a budget.
Small bathrooms often lack storage space so finding creative solutions is key to maximizing your space. Medicine cabinets with mirrors are a great solution. However, work with your contractor to ensure you have sufficient space in the wall to accommodate the cabinet.
Another great option is to install shelving or a medicine cabinet over the toilet. These cabinets are a great way to utilize an otherwise empty space and provide additional storage. They are also a great solution for rentals when you don’t want to add any permanent cabinetry.
A typical shower size is 36 X 36 inches but don’t go any smaller than 30 inches. However, widths will vary if a shower/bathtub combination is an option. Either way, you should consider adding wall niches for toiletries, like shampoo, soap, shavers, etc.
Remember, like anything you do, it needs to be installed properly. I would also always recommend building a custom one rather than using a pre-manufactured version unless you use the prefabricated shower niche from Schluter. The Schluter niche is fully sealed, quick to install, and integrates with KERDI and KERDI-BOARD shower assemblies —it’s fantastic!
If you are thinking of doing a horizontal shower niche that spans the entire shower wall, which will look fantastic, just remember that it will require additional vertical support so there is no structural compromise.
Another idea to help give your small bathroom the illusion that it is bigger is installing a frameless shower enclosure which eliminates the visual separation between the shower and the rest of the bathroom.
A curbless shower with continuous floor tiles throughout will also help create the illusion of a larger space. You can also consider a completely wet area with a floor drain instead. Another suggestion is to add a linear drain to your shower. This drain style will provide a simple, streamlined modern appearance and will help create the illusion of more space while also maximizing drainage with a single directional slope.