Though not immediately visible, untapped potential and promising possibilities abound in even the smallest of bathrooms. Look beyond a diminutive lavatory's existing fixtures and layout to devise a remodeling plan that stylishly stretches a small bathroom's utility up to and beyond its physical limits. Here are a few tried-and-true tactics and smart design ideas for transforming cramped quarters into small but mighty handsome, hardworking bathrooms.
Alter entryways. Consider moving a doorway to the right, left, or center to see if that creates more usable wall and/or floor space within the bathroom. Or, switch out swinging doors with pocket doors that reside inside a wall until needed.
Rethink windows. Replace too-tall casements with skylights or transom windows to invite in light and promote privacy while keeping lower walls open for housing sinks, vanities, furniture, or a bathtub. Or, conversely, replace tiny windows with larger versions and set vanities or pedestal sinks in front of the windows; optimize getting-ready routines by suspending mirrors over the windows.
Flaunt more floor. Uninterrupted stretches of flooring make rooms appear more spacious. Mount sinks, toilets, and floating vanities on walls or opt for tablelike vanities that don't fragment low-lying views. Install corner sinks, showers, and bathtubs that take up minimal floor space, or bring in a claw-foot tub that stands high off the floor. Set floor tiles on the diagonal or in patterns that draw the eye into the bathroom and direct attention to focal-point fittings; creating long sight lines visually elongates small bathrooms.
Make every inch count. Install tall, slim cabinets atop each end of a vanity countertop or flank a pedestal sink with narrow storage towers. Equip a sink-side cabinet with a hinged door that drops down to double as a vanity countertop. Skirt a sink for hidden below-deck storage. Hang glass display shelves or a vintage cabinet on the wall above a toilet to hold necessities.
Edit wisely. When decorating small bathrooms, less is more. Limiting the number of materials, surfaces, accessories, and patterns fashions cohesive designs that won't jar the eye, which in turn conjures larger-than-life illusions. Consider using seamless glass shower doors that nearly disappear; white ceramic subway or marble tiles to brighten the space; and polished metal finishes and sizeable mirrors that reflect and amplify natural light.