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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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