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how to make a small bathroom look bigger: 10 design and build tricks

How to make your bathroom look bigger

Simple design-and-build tricks to create more space, or at least the illusion of it...

By Paula Woods | 11 January 2022

Wondering how to make a small bathroom look bigger? In the UK, the average bathroom is just over a paltry four square metres – about the same size as a king-size bed. Even more generously proportioned rooms can feel cramped if not designed well.

Whatever your situation, use these 11 simple design-and-build tricks to create more space, or at least the illusion of it.

1. Go minimalist

Using a limited palette of materials and colour will make a small room appear bigger. Select pale neutral shades, built-in storage, and furniture and fittings with clean lines and simple shapes to create the illusion of greater space. If your garden affords you the privacy, then a large picture window will make your bathroom feel much bigger, brighter and hotel-like.

Rimless bath in a bathroom with picture window

Mozzano rimless Quarrycast bath from Victoria + Albert Baths

2. Floating furniture

Choosing bathroom furniture that is mounted on the wall is a smart way to create the illusion of a bigger bathroom – it tricks the eye into focusing on the space below the floating furniture, without costing you valuable storage space. The same applies to floating toilets in small downstairs cloakrooms.

wooden floating double vanity with counter top basins in a natural decor scheme

Photo: Kaldewei

3. Fix the footprint

Reworking architectural features or opting for a more inventive design may be the key to transforming a space. Consider whether a doorway or window can be moved to free up a wall for fittings and furniture. The reconfigured bathroom below also makes clever use of mirrors.

This reconfigured layout makes the most of a small space

Reconfigured layout and interior design by Louise Bradley Interiors. Photo Paul Raeside

4. Reflect the light

The easiest answer to the ‘how to make a small bathroom look bigger’ question is mirrors. It’s a well known trick but bears repeating nonetheless. Using a large mirror will create the illusion of more space. A double vanity, if you have the space, means even more room for mirrors (as shown below). Keeping the room light and bright also boosts the sense of space, so choose a lighter shade of paint and tiles.

Wondering how to make a small bathroom look bigger? In the UK, the average bathroom is just over a paltry four square metres – about the same size as a king-size bed. Even more generously proportioned rooms can feel cramped if not designed well.

Whatever your situation, use these 11 simple design-and-build tricks to create more space, or at least the illusion of it.

1. Go minimalist

Using a limited palette of materials and colour will make a small room appear bigger. Select pale neutral shades, built-in storage, and furniture and fittings with clean lines and simple shapes to create the illusion of greater space. If your garden affords you the privacy, then a large picture window will make your bathroom feel much bigger, brighter and hotel-like.

Rimless bath in a bathroom with picture window

Mozzano rimless Quarrycast bath from Victoria + Albert Baths

2. Floating furniture

Choosing bathroom furniture that is mounted on the wall is a smart way to create the illusion of a bigger bathroom – it tricks the eye into focusing on the space below the floating furniture, without costing you valuable storage space. The same applies to floating toilets in small downstairs cloakrooms.

wooden floating double vanity with counter top basins in a natural decor scheme

Photo: Kaldewei

3. Fix the footprint

Reworking architectural features or opting for a more inventive design may be the key to transforming a space. Consider whether a doorway or window can be moved to free up a wall for fittings and furniture. The reconfigured bathroom below also makes clever use of mirrors.

This reconfigured layout makes the most of a small space

Reconfigured layout and interior design by Louise Bradley Interiors. Photo Paul Raeside

4. Reflect the light

The easiest answer to the ‘how to make a small bathroom look bigger’ question is mirrors. It’s a well known trick but bears repeating nonetheless. Using a large mirror will create the illusion of more space. A double vanity, if you have the space, means even more room for mirrors (as shown below). Keeping the room light and bright also boosts the sense of space, so choose a lighter shade of paint and tiles.

Image: CP Hart

5. Frameless shower screens

Make your bathroom design as seamless as possible by opting for frameless designs. Lines and frames disturb and add clutter, whereas frameless shower screens trick the eye into thinking there’s more space than there actually is.

Blue bathroom wallpaper in a modern shower room with frameless shower screen

Photo: Triton

6. Sleek fittings

Likewise, sleek, unfussy fittings create the illusion of space. Keep your design as fuss-free as possible with minimalist fittings. Black bathroom fittings are an on-trend option for the hotel bathroom look and often are very simplistic in their design. In fact, a monochrome colour scheme will help make the space look bigger than it truly is.

black bathroom fittings in a modern monochrome scheme

Photo: Day True

7. Match wall and floor tiles

Keep your design scheme cohesive by choosing the same tiles for your wall and floor coverings. This creates the look of a fluid space that is everlasting without it being broken up by a difference in design. The same rules apply with colour – to make your bathroom look bigger, choose one colour or similar tones for a uniformed look.

black framed shower enclosure in a large suite with grey tiles and floating furniture

Photo: The London Tile Co

8. Steal space

If you’re up for a relatively simple remodelling project, increase the size of your bathroom by taking space from an adjacent corridor, cupboard or room. Seek advice from an architect or designer, and if the work involves removing a load-bearing wall, consult a structural engineer via The Institution of Structural Engineers.

this bathroom was extended by knocking through into a cupboard

A cupboard was knocked through to create a shower in this scheme by West One Bathrooms. Photo: Paul Craig

9. Smart lighting

Design your lighting scheme to ensure there are no dark corners or shadowy recesses. The aim is to create an even level of brightness throughout the room by incorporating a combination of task, accent and ambient fittings. Bathroom lighting has come a long way in recent years, offering way more options for feature lighting.

bathroom with wall lights mounted onto a mirror - grand designs

Under-cabinet lights add a soft glow in this design by Catherine Wilman Interiors

10. Clever storage

A wall of built-in cupboards with handleless doors painted the same colour as the walls takes up a small amount of floor area, and it appears to recede into the background while providing plenty of storage for towels and toiletries.

Built in bathroom cupboards painted in the same colour as the tiles makes a bathroom look bigger

Interior design by Lisa Burke Interiors with Sensi porcelain tiles from Domus

11. Work the windows

This is another one that requires getting the builders in, but enlarging the original window openings can make a small bathroom look much bigger – ask an architect for advice. Opt for slim-framed or frameless glazing for maximum impact, and choose opaque or mirrored glass if you need privacy.

This new-build bathroom has a full-height, full-width bathroom window

This scheme is part of a new-build home by Gregory Phillips Architects

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