21 Small Bathroom Ideas to Make It Feel Larger

Designing or updating a small bathroom can feel like a chore but when done correctly, it will make the biggest difference. After all, having a luxurious bathroom, no matter the size, will instantly up both your daily life and your home’s resale value.

To learn the best ideas for transforming a small bathroom into a spa-like space, we chatted with a few experts. Rasheeda Gray, principal designer and owner of Gray Space Interior Design, Kelley Mason, manager of content and creative for Lulu and Georgia, and Mercedes Austin, CEO of Mercury Mosaics all reveal some of their favorite trendy and timeless small bathroom ideas.

1. Assess storage needs

A bathroom with a large gray vanity, a round gold mirror, and marble tile

Center your design around how much storage you need.

Mark Lopez/Getty Images


First call to action: determine the smartest storage solutions for your limited space, Gray recommends. Consider shower niches, linen storage, toiletry cabinets, and more. You may even consider forgoing a classic vanity for something that floats to create more floor space where you can use hooks, baskets, or shelves. Making this assessment right away will help you maximize the function of the design so it works with your overall design.

2. Befriend light, bright neutrals

A bathroom with white subway tile, a glass shower, and a floating wooden vanity

Neutrals keep things light and always work.

CreativaStudio/Getty Images


When in doubt, white works wonders in small spaces. The brightness, Gray notes, helps to make the space feel much larger and it keeps you from having to worry about the “right way” to incorporate color without shrinking your bathroom. Other light neutral tones like grays and beiges can also help small bathrooms feel bigger and warmer.

3. Liven it up with splashes of color

A bathroom painted white and light blue with the tub set back in a nook

Light colors help liven up poorly lit spaces.

Michael Robinson/Getty Images


Color, of course, is a treat that can liven up your space. If you have sufficient lighting, whether natural or artificial, darker colors are a dramatic option that can make your design feel everything but boring. Should your light sources be a bit dimmer, softer colors can help illuminate the space.

4. Incorporate larger patterns

A bathroom with large mosiac tiles and a freestanding tub

Small tiles can overwhelm a small space, so go big.

Jon Lovette/Getty Images


Though it may seem counterintuitive, large patterns work best in small spaces because they actually make a space feel much bigger visually, while small-scale patterns do the opposite, Gray explains.

5. Make use of every surface

A closeup of a bathroom sink with a glass shelf above it where toiletries are stacked

Adding glass shelves also increases storage without interrupting visual space.

Fernando Bengoechea/Getty Images


Nothing is off-limits when space is tight, including back-of-toilet storage, or any other surface, for that matter. Use each exposed surface as a shelf (within reason, of course).

6. Include decor that doubles as functional storage

A bathroom with a towel rack and small rattan cabinet on either side of the toilet

Decor that doubles as storage is critical in a small space.

Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images


Similarly, maximize the space you do have with baskets, cabinetry, floating shelves, and the like, so each surface looks designed but can also double as storage.

7. Layer lighting

A modern bathroom with white subway tile, hanging sconces, and a ladder towel rack

Add balance with multiple light sources.

Edwin Tan/Getty Images


Gray and Mason both recommend using multiple light sources in a bathroom, even if it’s small, in order to make it feel more open, airy, and even balanced. Try recessed lights paired with vanity lighting, sconces, or even a chandelier for an extra-luxurious retreat.

8. Splurge on your shower fixtures

A bathroom shower with an ornate gold showerhead

Not only does a nice shower head look great, it also enhances your experience.

Scharvik/Getty Images


Budgeting can be stressful but if you’re looking for one area to splurge on in your small bathroom, let it be the bath and shower fixtures. “Selecting a shower head that fits your needs; handheld, body sprays, rain-head, etc. will make a huge impact on a small bathroom for many years to come,” Gray says.

9. Add floating or built-in shelves

A set of built-in wooden bathroom shelves stacked with towels, toiletries, and plants

Consider built-in shelving if you’re doing a remodel.

Courtesy of Lulu and Georgia


Designing a bathroom for the first time may allow you some flexibility with custom built-in bathroom shelves. If you’re simply redesigning or doing so on a budget, though, floating shelves are an affordable solution that are equally as trendy.

10. Choose a mirror with storage

An ajar medicine cabinet above a bathroom sink

A medicine cabinet adds storage without taking up space.

namaki/Getty Images


Storage in small spaces is limited so don’t sacrifice precious wall space for a mirror that doesn’t reflect your needs. Medicine cabinets or mirrors that pull out to reveal space to keep your toothbrush and other toiletries are truly a lifesaver.

11. Get creative with hooks and hangers

A view through double doors into a bathroom with a black freestanding tub and a tall towel rack in the background

Tall towel racks also make your bathroom feel taller.

Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images


Build your own vertical towel rack or line the wall with a variety of hooks and hangers to allow for hanging towel storage for a more relaxed feel to a spa-like bathroom.

12. Design with a glass shower door

A bathroom with wooden tiles and a large glass shower.

Glass shower doors help continue the line of vision through the space.

archigram/Getty Images


Showers with glass doors naturally make a space feel bigger since they don’t block the full view. Plus, they’re pretty stunning to look at (even in bigger bathrooms). If it fits in the budget, this is another place worth splurging. You can find glass door kits to add to your existing tub or opt for a clear curtain for a budget alternative.

13. Save wall space with ceiling lighting

A bathroom with a chandelier hanging from the ceiling

Keep lighting up high if your walls are cluttered.

Westend61/Getty Images


With all your shelves, hooks, and decor, wall space can get covered up fast so ceiling lighting, whether recessed bulbs, a chandelier, or pendants, works really well in smaller spaces.

14. Design with a trendy bath tray

A long tray full of soap, towels, and loofahs positioned across a bathtub

Store some of your prettier toiletries out in the open.

Tammy Hanratty/Getty Images


Harking back to the sexy storage options, “A beautiful tray helps corral a messy vanity, and can be an opportunity to add a decor item with personality,” says Austin. If your vanity isn’t big enough, you can even keep it displayed across your tub.

15. Consider wallpaper instead of wall tiles or paint

A brightly colored bathroom with blue tile and floral wallpaper

Wallpaper allows you to easily add color and patterns.


Courtesy of Mercury Mosaics



Peel-and-stick wallpaper is a particularly fun option for anyone who’s looking to jump on a trend without making any permanent alterations. Note: the pattern rule mentioned above really applies here, so Mason suggests sticking to a larger wallpaper print so it doesn’t make the space feel dizzying or even smaller.

16. Have fun with bathroom tile trends

A small bathroom with bold blue tile in the shower

Bathroom tile is an endless wealth of possibilities.


Courtesy of Mercury Mosaics



Bathroom tile trends are seemingly evolving constantly but if you’re looking to hop on some of this year’s best, click here for even more tips.

17. Opt for large format tiles

A bathroom with large white marble tiles on the walls, floors, and inside the glass shower

Large-format tiles won’t overwhelm small spaces.

FOTOGRAFIA INC./Getty Images



Remember that pattern rule we discussed? You bet it also applies to tiles! Large-format tiles of about 4 by 12 inches or even 12 by 24 inches (with small grout lines) are best for small bathrooms to make them feel more open and less busy.

18. Match your wall and floor tiles

A freestanding bathtub in front of marble wall tiles that continue onto the floor

Continue your wall tile onto the floor to create continuity.

Designer: Gray Space Interiors; Photographer: Brian Wetzel Photo


Extending your wall tile to the floor will also help to make your otherwise small bathroom seem bigger. The continuity will trick the eye into making the room visually expand.

19. Mix and match patterned tiles

A bathroom with blue and white mosaic floor tiles, blue rectangular wall tiles, blue patterned wallpaper and a white vanity

Mixing tile patterns increases visual interest.


Courtesy of Mercury Mosaics



The funky thing about patterns is that as long as they’re big enough, there are no other rules. Try mixing and matching your wall tiles with your floor patterns.

20. Think light and bright with white tiles

A modern bathroom interior with white tiles and a glass shower

White tiles create a clean look.

archigram/Getty Images


Light and bright doesn’t stop at paint and other bathroom fixtures, light tiles are especially eye-catching as they can immediately elevate a small space with little effort.

21. Go to the dark side with dramatic tiles

A bathroom wall with dramatic black tiles, a gold mirror and wall sconces, and a while floating sink.

A bold, dark tile creates a dramatic look.

Courtesy of Mercury Mosaics


Whether colorful or black, dramatic tile options are definitely in. Step out of (or into) your comfort zone with a bold tile option to create a statement bathroom — just be sure to balance it out with a lot of lighting.

Insider’s takeaway

Never underestimate how big a difference renovating a small bathroom can make. If you’re tackling this project yourself, consider your in-bathroom needs first so you can strategically pick pieces that work for them, then make them work double-duty as both decor and storage.

From there, narrow down your wall and floor treatments. Your small bathroom’s color palette can be light and airy or dark and dramatic as long as you’re sticking to larger tiles and patterns to create the illusion of more space. Glass showers help with this, too. And remember: if there’s one thing you should splurge on, it’s the shower fixtures.