Small Bathroom Ideas: Contemporary-Style Baths

Tour these compact bathrooms and find sleek, modern bathroom design ideas for your small bath.


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Small Bathroom 1: Natural Light

    Soaring toward the sun, this modern bath is part of a glass-and-steel home with an ocean view. Although it may sound like paradise, year-round sun exposure can be too much of a good thing. This small guest bath takes advantage of the abundant sunshine in Malibu, California, without the glare, heat, and lack of privacy common to glass-walled houses. A sloping roof composed of fiberglass panels set in a steel grid filters the intense rays.

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Small Bathroom 1: Vanity Area

    A granite countertop provides a traditional contrast to the futuristic design of the room. A small countertop mirror sits on the vanity because the steep roof slope does not lend itself to a mounted mirror.

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Small Bathroom 2: Salvaged Hospital Cabinet

    Space-expanding design and a tongue-in-cheek medical motif provide a big shot in the arm to a compact bath. Inspired by the homeowner's medical career, the compact bath injects serious function with a dose of hospital humor. A vintage steel hospital cabinet came from a supply house that provides period pieces for films. Wall-mount faucets and squared-off white sinks add to the doctor's-office feel.

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Small Bathroom 2: Walk-In Shower

    Tweaking existing space in the compact bath healed a fractured layout. A glass enclosure visually opened the shower, which helped achieve a wider-looking space. Designer Sy Iverson chose surfaces based on the owner's talk of apothecary, medical, and hospital elements, which included concrete, metal, and glass.

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Small Bathroom 2: Clever Details

    Perky shades of blue lift the spirits of the mosaic tile that frames the glass shower enclosure.

    X-ray light boxes are quirky cures for the common bath. For a convenient finishing touch, a handheld showerhead augments the rain-style unit mounted to the ceiling. The clever mix of serious and silly proves that a roomful of humor helps the medicine go down -- in a most delightful way.

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Small Bathroom 3: Blue Glass Tile

    A splash of translucent, sea-blue glass tile adds style to a formerly dull bath. To update the bath's appearance, the homeowners set fun afloat with a mix of glass, decorative painting, and chrome accents.

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Small Bathroom 3: Hidden Laundry Area

    As this bathroom with a laundry center proves, wash-day convenience needn't hang great looks out to dry.

    Because the homeowner's children drip water back and forth from the outdoor pool to this bathroom, they needed a floor that was not slippery. They decided on 6-inch concrete tile squares speckled with sea glass. They also replaced a translucent shower door with one made from clear glass and enlarged the shower stall to bring it flush with the bifold doors that hide the washer and dryer.

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Small Bathroom 4: Narrow Guest Bath

    Straight-line thinking turns a slice of urban dwelling space into a refreshingly simple guest bath.

    This designer was challenged to create a comfortable, stylish guest bath out of a narrow connecting room on the second floor of a historical Philadelphia townhouse. He lined up the vanity, tub-shower combination, and toilet along one wall, leaving the opposite wall free for movement from one end of the bath to the other.

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Small Bathroom 4: Space-Maximizing Choices

    Using marble tiles everywhere lends color consistency to a small guest bath, expanding the space visually instead of chopping it up. Glass panels help contain shower spray and make the narrow space feel less confined.

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Small Bathroom 5: Master Bathroom Vanity

    Space-enhancing design opens a master bath to a fresh, clean look -- tempered by tradition.

    The homeowners envisioned an open, clean-lined master bath for their midcentury modern home. They used a double vanity inspired by a 1940s dresser. Its curves and classic charm fulfill the homeowners' wish for a timeless look.

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Small Bathroom 5: Wet Room

    A wet room combines the shower and tub behind glass, creating a sense of openness. A light color palette further expands the room. Carrying the tiles over the entire floor and up the back wall of the wet room creates the illusion of more space.

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Small Bathroom 6: Light and Openness

    Top kitchen designer Mick de Giulio applies his touch to a master bath and transforms it with transparency. The mirror, lit from above and below, appears to float on the wall. Open shelves convey the same weightless feeling. A limited, light color palette simplifies the bath and sets off accessories with a natural mix of glass, stone, and wood.

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Small Bathroom 6: Shower Room

    The owners' willingness to sacrifice a whirlpool tub created new possibilities. "It opened us up to doing a larger, more luxurious shower, and opened the door to a clean, wide-open design," designer Mick de Giulio says. The doors of the frameless, glass-enclosed shower swing both ways for better ventilation, safety, and ease of use.

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Small Bathroom 7: Spa Retreat

    When an oversize closet and an undersize bathroom trade tasks, a master suite becomes a calm and delightful retreat.

    To make more room for a master bath, the homeowners switched the functions of the master bath and its adjoining walk-in closet. The contemporary, streamlined look achieves a peaceful, Zen-like atmosphere.

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Small Bathroom 7: Streamlined Sink

    The open space under the counter offsets the weight of the concrete. It feels less massive, more linear. The golden-tinted surface seems to float over the open storage. The homeowner sometimes keeps her hair dryer in the space, which is equipped with electrical sockets.

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Small Bathroom 7: Large Shower

    Opting for a large shower instead of a tub in the small bath, the homeowners also decided that multiple showerheads were appropriate. A built-in bench is another handy feature for a bathroom the whole family can use.

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Small Bathroom 8: Open Shower Area

    In this kind of bath, it's OK to get water all over the place.

    Because they already had a traditional bath, the homeowners decided to make their new one completely different. They wanted it to be open and airy, like something one might see on vacation. Designers call it a wet room. The shower -- without a door or enclosure -- sprays toward the middle of the room, where there's a sloped floor and a drain.

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Small Bathroom 8: Blue Tile

    A sliding door to a private deck creates an airiness that helps the small bath seem larger. Above, a 4x4-foot skylight adds to the open feel. The tile, which resembles beach glass, is a low-maintenance surface, and the epoxy-base grout resists stains.

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Small Bathroom 8: Minimalist Style

    The homeowners prefer the clean lines of midcentury modern design, and their small bath reflects that minimalism. A small vanity -- made entirely of stainless steel -- stands in one corner and the toilet in another. A love of simplicity also led the couple to contemporary choices, such as a sleek wall-mount faucet and a perimeter channel for the sink.

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Small Bathroom 9: Bright Space

    This once-outdated bath couldn't be enlarged, but it begged for better space allocation as well as a sophisticated new look.

    Flanking bedrooms prevented the homeowners from expanding their small bath or adding windows. Adding a skylight and recessed light fixtures brightened the room. On the floor, black and white ceramic tiles and taupe travertine tiles provide visual texture.

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Small Bathroom 9: Walk-In Shower

    Removing a ledge next to the bath's original tub-shower unit freed space for a larger shower stall. A recessed niche keeps towel bars from jutting into the room. The walk-in, clear-glass shower stall opens the room. For a dose of extra luxury, the homeowners added a radiant-heat floor in the shower stall so it would always be warm.

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