8 Tips for a Small Bathroom

Over the past 30 years, the average size of bathrooms in new homes has almost doubled. However, in many older houses the main bathroom has remained at its original 5- by 8-foot size.

The following eight tips from Kohler Design Center designer Diana Schrage will help you update your small bathroom, either by saving physical space or by using design techniques to increase the perception of space.

TIP 1: Toilet upgrade. Old toilets are larger and less efficient than newer models. To give yourself more room to operate, consider replacing your old model with a compact toilet. It's the same size as a round-front model and still provides the comfort of an elongated seat. Plus, newer toilets use less water, making them friendlier to the environment.

TIP 2: Stick with solid colors. In a small room, busy patterns overpower and appear to shrink the space. Light, natural tones lend an open, airy feel. If you want to get creative, play with textures rather than patterns. Keep prints light and to a minimum.

TIP 3: Streamline the shower. Choose a sliding shower door or shower screen. Sliding doors don't require door clearance, and the clear glass acts like a window, opening the space even more.

TIP 4: Lower your bath profile. To give the illusion of more space, consider replacing your old tub with a lower-walled model. Look for a 5-foot tub with a flat bottom. They're perfect for showering, but still deep enough for a pleasant bath. If you don't have the dimensions for a full bath, consider a corner shower enclosure.

TIP 5: Choose a smaller faucet. Change your faucet to a space-saving, single-control model.

TIP 6: Downsize the vanity. Save real and perceived space by installing a petite vanity, smaller pedestal or wall-mounted sink. Console tables, even if they're not particularly small, help expand the perception of space thanks to their slender legs. You'll want to add shelving to make up for lost storage with a pedestal sink.

TIP 7: Work at the right height. Consider hanging your cabinet from the wall at a more comfortable height (around 34 or 36 inches) to avoid unnecessary bending. If possible, use niche shelving and a mirrored medicine cabinet to remove bulky furniture.

TIP 8: Use corner storage. Install shelving or build your storage units into the corner. Small bathrooms need to make use of all available space. Corners provide those extra inches, and create unique design solutions.

By using some imagination and a few simple tips, you can turn your cramped bathroom into a cozy retreat—without moving any walls.