Decorating a Small Bath

With a few decorating tips and tricks you can transform your small bath into a stylish retreat.

Maximize Your Mirror

Install the largest mirror your space can accommodate above your sink or vanity to increase visual space and bounce light around the room. Elevate the style quotient of a plate glass mirror by adding a decorative molding frame with double-sided mounting tape or by hanging a smaller mirror, large enough to reflect your head and shoulders, directly on a plate glass wall mirror for a glitzy, formal look.

Think about Flooring

Keep flooring light in a small bath. Even with a small budget you can make a big impact with a new floor, and in a little space it doesn't take long to do it yourself. Opt for stone or tile, or check out some of the great-looking vinyls on the market for a budget-friendly alternative. If you can't replace the floor, lay a light-color rug over your existing floor. In this bath, hexagonal mosaic floor tile brightens the room and provides a distinctive foundation for the vintage look.

Choose a Leggy Look

Instead of a bulky vanity, opt for a console-style sink. They take up less precious real estate and expand the bath visually. Keep in mind that removing the vanity will likely mean significant floor repair. A pretty, textural woven basket underneath replaces some of the storage space lost with the traditional cabinetry.

Get Luxury in a Small Footprint

A small shower gets all the bells and whistles with body jets, a rain showerhead, and a handheld wand. Less square footage to eat up a tile budget allows for these luxurious add-ons.

Hang Them High

Use your shower curtain to create the illusion of height in your bathroom and infuse your shower with a touch of luxury. Hang your curtain rod near the ceiling for more drama -- just make sure the curtain brushes the floor. You can use a curtain panel instead of a traditional shower curtain or make one yourself from all-weather fabric. Try a curved shower curtain bar to make an enclosed shower interior feel larger, and look for washable curtain liners in 84-inch length to accommodate the increased height.

Add Softness with Fabrics

Smooth the hard lines of a bathroom with fabric. Use a pretty print or bold color that coordinates with your shower curtain to enliven the window (or windows) with shades or valances. Add a matching cushion to a vanity chair or stool. Bring in towels that play off the colors in your fabrics.

Make Over Your Vanity

A vanity is often the focal point of a bathroom but that can be a problem if the color or finish isn't what you want. Fortunately, there's an easy fix: You can completely alter the look of the cabinetry with smart shopping and elbow grease. Here an end table from a garage sale is transformed with paint and then topped with a piece of granite from the "bone pile" at a stone yard. Complete the facelift with a vessel-style sink and new hardware.

Mix Types of Tile

In a small space, you can splurge -- just a little. A strip of beautiful glass tile is added to plain field tiles on the shower wall and the floor, creating a high-end look for less.

Let in the Light

A window over a tub can be a problem because removing the window can be costly and diminishes light in the bathroom. If the window must stay, consider a waterproof curtain that protects the wood trim during showers. Add artificial task lighting above or around the vanity mirror and overhead lighting on a dimmer switch to adjust light levels to suit your mood or the time of day. Keep artificial lighting on the warm end of the spectrum, as it is the most flattering light for skin tones.

Clear Out the Clutter

There's a certain charm to a tiny, private bath, but there's also the aggravation of managing clutter. Give your small bath a fresh start by taking everything out until it looks like you just moved in. Then sort through everything, throwing away anything that you haven't used in the last year or has expired. Keep only what you really need and store it attractively. Add pretty bins or baskets to shelving to keep small things from getting lost.

Built-In Storage

Minimize the clutter and maximize the coziness. Look for underused areas such as over the door and window and above the toilet to install open shelves. For a built-in look, carve out wall space between wall studs to create storage niches or a shallow wall cabinet between the studs of an interior wall. Keep the cabinet open for display or add doors for concealed storage.

Fresh and Fuss-Free

A clean and tidy bathroom always looks larger than a fussy over-accessorized one. In this pretty little bath, nothing is out of place and the warm colors make the space very inviting. Wall decals enliven the cheery yellow walls.

Opt for Transparency

Instead of a shower curtain or opaque door, go for a transparent barrier. By using the see-through materials, you create the optical illusion that anything beyond the barrier is farther away. The eye travels all the way to the wall rather than stopping at the interim enclosure, making a tiny bathroom appear more spacious.

Use Reflective Surfaces

Reflected space and light creates a more open feeling even in a small room like this. Add reflective surfaces throughout your bath, such as glossy or metallic paint, glass cabinet hardware, and gilded furnishingsl. If you're in the market for a new vanity, consider one with a mirrored surface. Use a large framed mirror or grouping of small mirrors on a wall, or stand an oversized framed mirror against a wall.

Choose a Light Color

Soft, light colors make any space feel more open and airy so they are perfect for a small bath. Ideal choices include pale yellows that recall morning sunshine, light blues reminiscent of water and sky, and cool greens that suggest the serenity of nature. Pair colors with crisp white or other tones in the same color family for a clean and restful palette.

Raise the Ceiling

Visually, that is. A wall of color above shoulder-height tile draws the eye upward, increasing the perceived space. Create the illusion of more space overhead by installing crown molding at the ceiling and painting it the same color -- one that is a lighter shade or color than your walls.

Insert Colorful Tiles

If you have a wall of plain white tiles, add color and interest with contrasting tiles. Remove the grout around selected white tiles in a random pattern around the wall. Wearing safety glasses, break the tiles and pry off the pieces with a scraper or five-in-one tool (this is easier than it sounds!). Insert colorful glass mosaic tiles or patterned ceramic tiles in the space, securing with mastic. When the mastic has dried, grout the tiles to match the existing grout, wipe with a damp cloth, and allow to dry.

Furnish a Fab Bath

Soften the feel of a small bathroom with accents. Find underused items in your own home or seek pieces at tag sales and flea markets that can be repurposed. Look for decorative shelves and hooks, which will add function and style. Hang framed artwork on the walls. Banish the boring shower curtain and hang one that carries out your bath's color scheme.

Add Classic Details

Use timeless materials with simple lines for a classic small bath. Chrome or nickel fittings, a trimmed-out medicine cabinet, and beaded board create a look that will endure. 

Style With Stripes

Instead of one airy pant color, expand a small bath with tonal stripes. Choose colors one or two steps apart on a paint chip and tape off the stripes with painter's tape and a laser level. It will take patience, but the end result is worth it.

Store to the Ceiling

If you don't have a large bathroom, make the most of the room's height with storage to the ceiling. A tall cabinet above the toilet is the perfect place to keep bathroom necessities out of sight.

Do It with Details

A pretty glass floating shelf, oval mirror, beaded board, and bright chrome accents make this small bath feel special. The high-contrast color palette of navy and white continue the sophisticated decor.

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