How To Make A Small Bathroom Look Bigger: Before & After

how to make a small bathroom look bigger

There’s lots of advice on the internet about how to make a small bathroom look bigger, but it’s not unless you actually go through a complete renovation of a small bathroom that you actually get the learnings and knowledge on how to really work with a small bathroom, and maximise the space you do have.

Our Victorian terrace house, much like others had a very dark narrow hallway and it has the smallest bathroom known to man. You’ll see for yourself in a second that the sink was so big there was a inch gap between that and the door.

In this article, I am providing a whole host of actionable tips that you can make to your small bathroom to give the illusion of a bigger space with a better flow, whilst also showing before and afters of our small bathroom renovation, and all the steps we did to do it.

Sound good? I’m here to sure you that small bathrooms can be beautiful and functional too.

How To Make A Small Bathroom Look Bigger?

Reconfiguring The Layout of The Bathroom

Most of the time, a small bathroom feels even smaller because of the configuration. If you are remodelling your bathroom and you have the budget, repositioning the plumbing will help make a small bathroom look bigger instantaneously.

As you step into the bathroom, what’s the first thing you see? If you’re greeted by an enormous sink that blocks your way or a view of the toilet, it’s probably worth reconsidering the layout. Consider installing waterfall basin taps for a sleek and modern look that doesn’t take up much space.

Sometimes something as simple as hanging a door another way, or adding in a sliding door can be affordable yet super effective ways at increasing space.

You’ll see further down this post at how we reconfigured our bathroom layout to create much more space in what was really, a very small bathroom. The addition of the waterfall basin taps was a game changer in terms of both aesthetics and functionality.

Install A Large Mirror To Reflect Light and Create Depth

Adding a mirror is one of those fail safe ways to make a small space feel larger as they work to reflect and bounce around the room the available natural light.

Adding a mirror above a sink is one of the most common ways to add a mirror to bathroom. Whilst cabinet mirrors can seem like a good multi-purpose function, they will have the reverse effect in a small bathroom.

Because of the depth they protrude from the wall, it will make the room feel even smaller. So, do avoid these where possible.

Choose Light & Bright Colours

If you have lots of beautiful natural light in your bathroom, use it to your advantage and paint your bathroom in light and bright colours.

Whites, off-whites and soft colours such as sage green are a great choice for smaller bathrooms.

You can then introduce a couple of accent colours in the room in a few well placed areas to add depth and warmth to the colour scheme.

Use A Frameless Glass Shower Enclosure To Open Up The Room

If you can amend your existing bathroom, opting for an enclosed frameless glass shower is a great way to open up the room.

Corner shower enclosures are one of the most effective ways to open up the flow of the room, whilst still delivering a stylish and ample shower space for a small bathroom.

Opting for a frameless shower door keeps the unit feeling sleek, modern and uncomplicated.

frameless glass shower
Image Credit: Heat&Plumb

Consider Vanity Size

Where space is a premium, storage becomes an issue so I would always recommend a vanity unit which houses your sink. This provides ample storage space which is out of sight, and it keeps it off the walls and above the sink.

However, consider the vanity size carefully.

Lots of vanity units can carry a really big depth, as we found when we were looking for the perfect unit. We actually ended up going for a vanity unit we had to modify to fit a sink which was slimmer than your average.

In doing so, we added a really beautiful unit that was 50% smaller than the existing sink. This was an easy spacing saving fix that looked gorgeous too (more on that later).

Use Vertical Stripes or Panelling

Another fail safe method to make a room feel bigger is to think vertically. When you’re greeted with vertical stripes or vertical panelling, your eyes are instantly drawn up to the ceiling which gives the illusion of a bigger space.

Vertical panelling is one of my favourite choices for a small space, it instantly makes a bathroom feel taller and larger, whilst it provides uniformity within the space.

It’s a durable wall covering for a bathroom that can cover up a multitude of sins on damaged walls too.

vertical bathroom panelling

Keep Decor to a Minimum to Avoid Overcrowding the Space

It’s all in the detail when it comes to styling a space, but less really is more here. With a small bathroom a few well considered decor accessories is enough, you need to keep decor to a minimum to avoid overcrowding the space.

Whilst some may encourage wall mounted shelves to display items, I think this defeats the object of making a small bathroom feel bigger as your eyes are constantly being distracted with different areas in the bathroom.

Instead, keep it simple with a few touches. A singular plant on a windowsill, fluffy towels hung, a nice bottle of soap etc. You don’t need to go overboard here!

Our Small Bathroom Before

You know you have a small bathroom when you can take a picture from one angle and get everything in! I mean. what wasn’t wrong with this configuration of our small bathroom?

If you want to make a space feel even more ‘bijoux’, this is it.

Whilst this space would have put a lot of people off, I saw the potential. The function of the bathroom was completely wrong.

You were immediately greeted by the biggest bathroom sink bang in the centre of the room. In fact, so big that it was an inch from the door touching it when you opened it up.

The first view as you open the door and you’re greeted by a toilet, again bang in the centre of the room.

There’s then a bath tub shower which takes up about 50% space of the tiny bathroom as it is, and apart from that, it looked terrible. It was cold, damp, uninviting and certainly not the place I feel like undressing in and washing in.

To give you an idea of size that might be helpful, the bathroom is 1.8m x 1.8m, and as you’ll see below from the floor plan, the bathroom is part of what was a rear extension which is by the back door, it was also built (previous owners) with a single skim which is what can make it feel really cold.

So, what did we do…

small bathroom before
Victorian small bathroom before floor plan

Our Small Bathroom After & What We Did

We knew that the bathroom had to be completed remodelled. The bathroom in its current form just couldn’t function so we had to rip everything out and create a new layout.

Moving pipe work does cost more money, but it was money well spent in my opinion, there would have been no point just updating fittings as it still wouldn’t have felt nice or been a workable bathroom. Here’s what we did;

Moving Plumbing

Perhaps, this was the most integral part of making the small bathroom feel bigger and we really spent some time planning this out.

The Bath

I love a bath, but because the bathroom was so small, we had to negotiate.

This just wasn’t the space for a bath, but by adding an ample corner shower by the door instead, we freed up about 25% space in the bathroom, and the larger shower made up for not having a bath in place.

I wanted to make it still feel like a luxurious experience so we made sure we added a large waterfall shower head which was 30mm in width.

We also went for a ceramic base, don’t be fooled by the cheap shower trays online, they feel inferior and won’t last. If you spend your money on anything when it comes to a bathroom, do it on the plumbing fixtures as you’ll notice a difference in the long run.

Toilet

Yes, we all use one. But no-one wants to see it as the first thing they spot as they enter a bathroom, and it’s current position was taking up way too much room.

We moved the toilet to the upper left corner, just next to the shower, this created a lot of space, and it was no longer the first thing you spotted as you entered the bathroom.

Sink

The sink was perhaps the worst placement of all in the bathroom, it completely stopped the flow of the room and well, it was a squeeze to get in with it protruding in the centre of the room.

With the toilet moved to the corner next to the shower, we moved the sink position opposite to the door, the idea is that we would add a beautiful vanity unit here with a mirror above it so it would instantly reflect and bounce light around the room.

Whilst the room was TINY, we were lucky that it got a lot of beautiful, natural light so we really wanted to use this to our benefit.

Once the sink was moved, we actually had floor space!

Heated Towel Radiator

As I previously mentioned, the bathroom extension had a single skim and the only source of heating was a pull down heater on the wall?! It is probably the weirdest thing I came across in the house, and the result was that the bathroom was freezing.

We were limited on space, but we managed to still to get a heated towel radiator added where the old sink previously was.

To adequately heat a room you need to work out the BTU, heat output you require from a radiator. Our towel radiator didn’t meet what we needed, but because the space couldn’t take anything bigger, this was the best solution. Plus, it meant we could heat the room still, and also it was a place to dry towels which previously didn’t exist in the space.

This is what our reconfigured small bathroom layout looked like.

small bathroom before and after
small bathroom before and after

Floor Tiles

With a small bathroom I’d actually encourage larger scale tiles as lots of small tiles can make the space feel more claustrophobic and crowded.

We opted for the Victoria Grey Tile from Topps Tiles. We wanted stand out tiles that set the room off, yet neutral walls which allowed the tiles to take centre stage.

I think when it comes to small bathrooms you can afford to be a little bit louder with choices like these.

small bathroom before and after

Panelling

In the main area of the bathroom we went for shiplap panelling throughout and painted in Dulux easycare pure brilliant white.

We wanted to give it a crisp, pristine finish, and as the bathroom got a lot of natural light, it would help to make the space feel even bigger.

As we were also going for a modern rustic style bathroom, you really can’t go wrong with this style of panelling. Just ensure it’s appropriately primed before painting.

In the shower area we actually opted for multi panel sheets, game changer.

It’s not only more affordable than tiles, but it’s a great alternative because you don’t have the problem of mouldy grout in a few months time to look forward to. If you have damaged walls, it’s a great way to cover them and have a durable, aesthetically pleasing finish.

small bathroom styling

Styling

For our bathroom and most small bathrooms, the form and function of the room is by far the most crucial thing in making a bathroom feel bigger.

Most of the time it feels even smaller down to the poor configuration of units. With this amended, it immediately made the space flow better and feel bigger.

But for me, the devil is in the detail and thoughtful styling touches will make the room feel nicer, whilst ensuring you don’t add too much so it’s overcrowds the room.

We added touches of greenery with a hanging plant in a natural rattan hanging bathroom for a little bit of softness in the room, a spa like bottle of soap and gorgeous linen towels for that spa like experience. These little touches really help to make a small bathroom feel luxurious and a place you want to relax and spend time in.

small bathroom styling

Where To Put Toilet Paper Holder In Small Bathroom?

To make a small bathroom feel even nicer, position the toilet paper holder out of sight. You don’t want it to be the first thing people see as they step into the bathroom. Add a wall mounted toilet paper holder out of sight, or if this isn’t possible opt for a toilet paper stand that can be positioned wherever you need it. The small details like this do matter!

Where To Hang Wet Towels In Small Bathroom?

If you have the space, a heated towel radiator is the perfect multi-purpose unit that will dry towels, and keep the room warm too. Alternatively, where space is a premium simply add some hooks to the back of your door to hang wet towels out of sight.

How to make a small bathroom look bigger is one of the most commonly asked questions on Google, but there are so many clever styling tricks that can give the illusion of extra space without an extension. What do you think?

Photo of author

Author

Nicole Sage

Nicole Sage is the founder of Sleek-chic Interiors and is a highly experienced interiors writer and skilled home renovator who has a passion for all things design. She has been featured as an authority at Pinterest, Ideal Home, Daily Mail and in countless other interviews. For 8 years, Nicole has written, observed key interior trends, renovated and undertaken interior short courses at the renown KLC school where she has gained her grounding interior design principles. With a keen eye for detail and a love of creativity, she shares her expertise on the latest interior trends, practical DIY tutorials, and styling inspiration to help others transform their homes into stunning spaces. With a commitment to delivering informative and engaging content, Nicole inspires and empowers readers to explore their own unique sense of style and create beautiful, personalised interiors. Contact her at hello@sleek-chic.co.uk for interiors advice, colour questions and any commentary.

2 thoughts on “How To Make A Small Bathroom Look Bigger: Before & After”

  1. Love the transformation of a poorly laid bathroom in to a beautiful functional space that actually works.

    Useful tips about using panels instead tiles and placement of toilet so its nit the first thing you see on entering room are excellent.

    Well done.

    Reply

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