Home renovations: Space maximizing ideas for remodeling small bathrooms

Even a small bathroom can be a jewel-box in your home if you choose the right fixtures, lighting, colors and storage solutions. Here are some ideas to think about before you remodel.
A small bathroom remodeling project calls for creativity and imagination to make the space meet all the needs today’s family demands from a “powder room.” But, if you treat the space as a “jewel box” — small, but holding beautiful things — it can become a delightful part of your home.

A small bathroom allows you to indulge in luxury that might be too costly in a larger area. Sumptuous flooring, perfect lighting, and top-of-the-line wall treatments can be workable financially in a smaller version.

Home renovations: Space maximizing ideas for remodeling small bathrooms

If you are actually remodeling, ripping out old fixtures and lighting, moving walls and doors, you can take advantage of a bare canvas, and begin from scratch with new things that meet your needs exactly.
Here are some things to think about before you make your choices:

If this is your only bath, choose the largest tub that will fit in your space. Every now and then, regardless of your sex or age, a soak in the tub will be a welcome alternative to a quick shower, especially if you choose a jetted tub. You might have room for a corner-shaped tub if a traditional rectangular one won’t work.

Think about your basin options, and what kind of storage you must have in the bathroom. A pedestal sink offers a touch of sophistication, and visually opens up far more space than a cabinet or counter, but you will need to have other options for places to put towels, cosmetics, and hair-care supplies.

Lighting is always important in a bathroom, and even more so in a small space. It should be bright enough for safety, specific enough for make-up application and shaving, and, ideally, adjustable enough to dim for a relaxing bath.

Keep as much natural light from a window as you can. Reduce space demands by keeping your window treatments close to the wall; use of frosted glass or a self-adhesive plastic applied directly to the window preserves some privacy without blocking light. So will a curtain of glass beads, either multicolored or clear — and they add a sparkle dimension. For the romantic, a lightly gathered panel of lace on tension rods will softly cover the window without protruding into the room.

To bring in more natural light without sacrificing usable wall space, consider clerestory windows or, for a truly unique treatment, check out triangular glass shapes intended for the interiors of boats! Installed through exterior walls, they act as light magnifiers and increase natural lighting a hundredfold.

Full ceiling light is a desirable option, supplemented by vanity lights. Consider using the new full-spectrum bulbs to keep as light, airy feeling in the space as you can create. Install dimmers on overhead lights so the room can be bright enough for practical use, but easy to convert to relaxing room with a soft, spa-like feeling.

High gloss paint, using a clear vinyl shower curtain, and choosing a light color floor are other ways to maximize the light in the room.

Of course, keeping clutter to a minimum preserves the open feeling in a small space, but every bathroom must have some storage space for towels and personal care items. Some imaginative use of the walls, inside and out, can add ample space without taking floor space.

Cubbyholes installed between the studs, placed randomly throughout the room or clustered together, take advantage of otherwise ignored space with a moderate amount of carpentry work. Spaces will usually be about a foot wide, can be any height, and can be left as a single open space or outfitted with shelves. If left open, the items they hold are part of the decor. Covered with a curtain or door, they store the less attractive bathroom necessities.

When floor space is at a minimum and wall space is scarce, try looking up. A ten or twelve inch shelf installed on one wall (or all around the room) just above the door height gets a lot of paraphernalia out of the way, but not out of reach. This shelf can hold pretty baskets of spare soap, hair care supplies, or stacks of towels. For a clean, spare look, leave the shelves open. For a cozier approach, hang a short curtain or mini-blind in front of the shelf, suspended from the ceiling.

Choose the colors in a small bath for maximum impact. There is no reason for a miniature room to be dull, or any rule that says it has to be done in a single color. One of the freshest looks enjoying a current “trendy” status, and ideal for a small room, is white woodwork against a citrus or pastel wall. Use of high-gloss paint will reflect more light into the room and be easy-care.

One of the most practical ways to eliminate visual clutter and simultaneously add a color punch is to use the usual bath necessities as decor. You have a perfect excuse to invest in thick, thirsty towels in rich colors to display on open shelves; any soap dispensers, waste baskets, tissue holders that must be out in the open should be chosen for its contribution to the ambience of the room as well as its practical use.

Additional storage ideas that work well for small bathrooms are

  •  glass shelves (visually less bulky than wood)
  •  wire mesh hanging baskets (ideal in a shower to corral shampoo, soap, sponges)
  •  towel rods installed inside cupboard doors to hold curling irons, hair dryers
  •  keep only the necessities in the room; store extra tissue, shampoos, soaps in a closet somewhere else

When you are faced with redoing a small bathroom, it can be an adventure instead of a chore!

  •  Use as much light in the room as you can
  •  Use your necessities as decorating accents
  •  Keep the curtains and window coverings as light and clear as possible
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