Clever Half Bath Design Ideas to Make the Most of Your Spaces

Help your half bathroom live up to its full design potential with these ideas for creating a stylish and functional space.

blue patterned teardrop-shaped wallpaper in bath
Photo: Nicole LaMotte

Half baths are an asset because they are often located on the ground floor or near the main living core of a home—perfectly accessible for guests and family members alike. Sometimes called a powder room, a half bath contains a toilet and a sink—just what is needed for the necessities and freshening up. Typically small, these bathrooms are the perfect space to try something a little different and employ fun materials that might be too costly to use in larger spaces. Although these small rooms lack a shower or tub, they are still worthy of thoughtful bathroom floor plans, chic powder room ideas, and considerate storage.

Powder Room Layouts and Floor Plans

rustic bath with tree-inspired decor and wallpaper

If you're remodeling an existing space, the first thing you'll need to consider is your bathroom dimensions and the recommended measurements for doorways, walkways, and clearance space for fixtures. Every inch counts in a small bathroom layout and you'll want to ensure you get yours right. Look at other spaces for bathroom layout ideas and inspiration, and keep regulations and code requirements in mind. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) sets guidelines for bathroom dimensions. A certified designer will be well-versed in putting together powder room layouts and, if you are remodeling or building new, he or she can advise on how to best use your space and put together bathroom floor plans that check all the requirement boxes and be functional and comfortable. Keep in mind that rearranging the floor plan of an existing bathroom may require moving plumbing lines, which will add to the cost of your project.

Half Bathroom Ideas for Storage

contemporary neutral half bath with tile

Because a half bath isn't used as a primary bathroom, you can get by with less storage. But a few smart storage spots are an asset. Utilize baskets to store extra hand towels and rolls of toilet paper. Fill the wall above the toilet with open shelves to house extras and accessories. A small shelf beneath a mirror gives a pedestal sink a substitute counter and is perfect for corralling soaps and lotions.

Half Bathroom Lighting

neutral half bathroom with black accents

Lighting is important, especially in a small space. Think outside the box and hang an unexpected fixture like an ornate chandelier or a pendant with a sleek drum shade in a half bath. If the room doesn't have a window, consider hanging an additional mirror to reflect light. You may also want to consider supplementing an overhead fixture with sconces at the vanity. While an overhead fixture provides overall ambient lighting, task lighting at the vanity makes grooming easier.

Half Bath Design Ideas

green bathroom

Even in a small powder room or half bathroom, style can come to the forefront. Painting the space a bold color is one way, but a half bathroom is prime for splashy wallpaper. Because the room is small, you won't need a lot of wallpaper and because the room isn't used as frequently, you won't get tired or overwhelmed by the design. Pick a pattern that draws from color schemes, motifs, or design elements in the adjacent rooms. Or let the powder room design guide your choice. Here, retro mint tile was too charming to rip out but a little too dated to stand on its own. A banana leaf print wallpaper saves the day, complementing the green hue while bringing it into the 21st century.

You don't have to paint the walls or install wallpaper to bring a splash of color into a half bath. Colorful hand towels pop against neutral walls, a graphic rug adds interest underfoot, and a brightly patterned window treatment or bold artwork livens up a space.

Add personal touches to a half bath depending on how the space is used. If it is primarily used by guests, consider setting out a tray with extra toothbrushes, lotion, and tissue. If kids use the space, stash a footstool behind the door so they can reach the sink and hang a hand towel at their level.

Materials for Small Powder Rooms

orange painted bathroom with marble stone sink modern light fixtures and round mirror
Refresh Magazine

Tile is a great way to add style in a half bath. Make a splash in a small space and cover an entire wall with tile. Glass mosaic tile is available in sheets, making it easy to install yourself and giving dimension to a wall. If you don't want an entire wall of tile, add interest to basic walls with a tile backsplash. Underfoot, a unique tile design can anchor a space in originality and charm.

While half baths may not see the traffic a full bath does, you'll still want to choose flooring that can withstand wear and tear. Hardwood is a good-looking, durable option that works especially well if the rooms adjacent to the space have wood floors. For the look of wood at a lower price, go with laminate.

Create a cohesive look in the bath with coordinating accessories. The finish you select will depend on the style of the bath. Choose satin nickel or chrome for a contemporary look. Oil-rubbed bronze works well in a more traditional space. Once you know what finish you like, look for complementary towel bars, faucets, and light fixtures.

Have Fun

Brie Williams

One of the perks of a half bath is not being constrained by practicality. Have a little fun and try something creative. A wall-mount basin sink like this one may be cumbersome in the bathroom you use every day to get ready (where am I going to put my straightener?), but in a half bath, it's a fun touch that will make you smile.

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