5 bathroom design ideas and tips for small spaces

As our homes get smaller, and more Australians choose to live in apartments and townhouses, our bathroom sizes are shrinking too. Even larger homes that opt to add a second bathroom often have to compromise on space to make it work.

While a bathroom may be physically small, that doesn’t mean it has to feel small. There are countless choices that we can make when building or renovating to trick our minds into perceiving a space as being larger than it really is.

We’ve put together our top tips and ideas to help you create a compact bathroom that looks deceptively spacious!


1. Try a walk-in shower

Segmenting a room is the quickest way to make it seem cramped. Whether it’s a glass door or a curtain, a barrier in a small area slashes your effective space much more noticeably than in a larger area.

When designing your bathroom, consider whether you really need an enclosed shower or an opaque divider. For narrow rooms, using a thin and tall piece of glass next to the showerhead will block the majority of the water without sacrificing the illusion of space.

A walk-in shower has the added benefit of being accessibility friendly and easier to clean.


2. Say ‘no’ to dark or overwhelming colours

Popular colour palettes based around heavy brown and black shades are often the wrong choice for small bathrooms. One of your goals when choosing an aesthetic for a small space should be to ‘brighten’ the area and reflect as much light as possible. Darker tones do the opposite. When space is at a premium, every colour choice counts!

Play with pastel tones or fresh and natural colours to keep the mood cheerful, and then accent with something a little bolder. For example, pale greens pair beautifully with copper hardware.

Because the bathroom is small, the effects of colour are amplified. Aim for ‘balance’ not ‘boldness’. You don’t want to plaster the walls in searing yellow and give yourself a headache every time you brush your teeth!


3. Use large, directional tiles

Small, square wall or floor tiles are a thing of the past for modern bathrooms. This is especially true for small spaces. They draw attention to the scale of the room and make it feel more crowded.

To improve the flow of your design, choose slightly bigger and rectangular tiles and ‘direct’ where the user’s eyes should follow. For example, if the space is very short and narrow, tile vertically to add the suggestion of height.

Remember to also try to match the grout between the tiles as closely as possible to the tile colour. If our brains pick up a grid pattern surrounding us, it can immediately feel overcrowded or oppressive.


4. Choose oversized mirrors

There’s a reason that a fair’s house of mirrors looks so much larger than it is. Reflective surfaces are the easiest way to play tricks on your mind and create the illusion of roominess – and you don’t need dozens of them to have an effect.

Because it’s already a key part of a bathroom’s design, the most logical and economical way to increase your perception of space is to boost the size of your mirror. Consider adding a mirror that runs the length of the wall above your basin or large format, borderless options that are more open and welcoming.


5. Pick low-profile fittings and furniture

Vanities often take up the most real estate in your bathroom. To actually reclaim space, rather than create the illusion of it, you could forgo the traditional vanity cabinet for a slimline countertop and basin combo, with all your amenities inside a mirror cabinet.

Smaller fixtures can also be crucial space-savers. Opt for wall tap sets and lip pulls on your draws, rather than tall mixers and handles. These choices may seem insignificant, but the right hardware can make all the difference to a small area.

Need help designing your bathroom to fit in a small space? The team at Barben can help you make the right decisions that open up your bathroom and make it feel truly luxurious.

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