Small bathroom design ideas that function well and feel spacious

Take a look at these bathroom design ideas to make your bathroom look bigger than it actually is.
white bathroom with dark blue cabinetries
image credit: Chipper Hatter / thisoldhouse.com

Apart from your bed, your bathroom is where you essentially begin and end your day. You take a nice cool shower in the morning to feel energised. You then take a nice warm bath in the evening to take the edge off before hitting the sack. It's important that you feel comfortable spending time in your bathroom because it's a space to have some alone time, relax, or be creative. As many people would say, 'the best ideas come in the shower.' 

Your bathroom design plays an essential role in the level of comfort you'll have in the bathroom, no matter its size. While big bathrooms can give you all the comfort you need, small bathrooms can be just as magnificent. Above all, bathrooms are the one space in the house you can actually get away with having a smaller area to work with but still make it look functional and beautiful with clever design tricks.

In this blog, we'll show you some stylish small bathroom design ideas without making the space feel crowded or look cluttered. If you have a small bathroom layout but want to make the room look or feel a bit more spacious than it actually is, this article is perfect for you!

Narrow or small bathroom design floor plan layouts 

Here are some small bathroom design floor plans/layouts you can steal if you're building or renovating yours:

bathroom floor plan
image credit: Ian Worpole (floor plan)
small bathroom with bathtub floor plan
image credit: Jared Kuzia

Below is another stunning design.

small bathroom layout with laundry area
image credit: Ian Worpole (floor plan)
small bathroom with laundry area
image credit: Victoria Pearson

Another small bathroom design floor plan.

small bathroom design floor plan layout
image credit: Ian Worpole (floor plan)
small bathroom floor plan layout
image credit: Chipper Hatter

Design elements, materials and finishes and colour palettes that make a space appear larger

Keep colours light and bright or double down on dark colour 

The use of consistent palettes and tones is key to giving the bathroom a spacious feel. This is because the consistent colours give the bathroom a more seamless or unbroken look, as if the entire space is a room without edges, which creates an illusion of added space. According to some designers, you can go either completely light or dark to make the room look more spacious than it really is. 

Dark and moody
Dark colours like black or coffee brown give depth to the space and create an illusion of shadows. Of course, you can introduce some other elements like gold or metal to lift a dark bathroom and make it feel luxe. These shiny metal accents can bounce the light around and give an illusion of spaciousness.

image credit: Yodezeen

Light and airy
On the other hand, using light colours can make the room look bigger as they reflect light better than dark ones. The reflective look makes a space feel more open and airy than usual. If you have a white bathroom, you can add light timber elements to give a nice warm effect.

immaculate white small bathroom with brown small tiles accent
image credit: Barion McQueen on Pexels

Use a glass shower door (or eliminate  the shower door entirely) 

Small bathrooms can always use a good shower door to protect things from moisture (especially if you have a couple of cabinets or storage). Instead of using a shower curtain, you can use a transparent glass shower door to protect your belongings. The glass allows for an unobstructed view and helps open up the space. Just remember, the technique only works with transparent glass doors. Avoid glass types like frosted glass because they obstruct the view and can make the space look even smaller. You can also opt to forego glass doors entirely if it's too much of a hassle if your bathroom doesn't have furniture pieces to protect from moisture. A glass screen or panel rather than a full door may also work well if you really want some kind of partition.

image credit: The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Install a large window if possible 

By installing a large glass window, you can bring in a lot of natural light. The natural light will make your bathroom look less confined. Large windows help give the illusion of a larger bathroom because it's like the outside world is an extension of the bathroom itself. Imagine going into the bathroom to freshen up. Your eyes will probably focus on the great view outside versus the actual interior.

You get to see nature and feel the fresh air from outside, which can make you feel more relaxed.

If you're concerned about your privacy, there are some handy solutions for that. Frosted glass can blur the outside view while diffusing light in the bathroom. If you want something even more advanced and follow current bathroom trends, you can install smart glass technologies that allow the glass to change from transparent to opaque at will using a remote control.

white small bathroom with window
image credit: blog.solarart.com

Install huge mirrors

Another great technique you can use is the 'mirrored effect.' It's a good way to play with light and the perceived amount of space in your bathroom.

Get a large mirror for your bathroom and place it over the vanity. Make sure that it reflects a good, unobstructed view. If possible, add a light source to bounce off of it, like a pendant light. This should create an excellent optical illusion of a more spacious lighted area.

Having a mirror is also a good substitute for hanging a painting in the bathroom. When placed at the right angle, it can give off the illusion of a piece of art. If you want to highlight that aspect, we suggest getting a decorative frame for your mirrors.

small bathroom with large mirror
image credit: mindy gayer design
small bathroom with two mirrors
image credit: decoist.com

Try open-shelving

You can do open shelving in two ways. You can place your items on see-through glass shelves, or you can simply install an open-shelf cabinet without glasses. Since you get to see through shelves instead of having closed cabinets, your view is unobstructed, which makes the space look more open. Open shelving is also a creative way to make efficient use of your bathroom items because they are now a part of the décor itself.

Just a creative idea: if you would take on this path, you can use different kinds of open shelving options. While cabinets are great, you can also use small baskets or containers to hold items. You can place them near the bathroom sink. Make sure that the colours of these containers and baskets match the bathroom design. It can be a good opportunity to recycle and reuse some items.

small bathroom with open shelving
image credit: Flippin’ Rustic
country-style bathroom with open shelving feature
image credit: decoist.com

Use wall-mounted furniture

Since a wall-mounted furniture piece is installed on the wall, it's as if you're not losing too much space in your bathroom. It adds a nice streamlined look to the bathroom that widens the gaze. Adding one or more pieces will help create an optical illusion of there being a lot more space present because it's as if the furniture pieces are floating. The bathroom floor won't look crowded, and you can use the extra space below the wall-mounted furniture to add some other bathroom items.

small bathroom with wall-mounted furniture
image credit: Zipcode Design
small bathroom with wall-mounted furniture
image credit: Zipcode Design

Add a shower niche 

FYI shower niches are those specialised shelves hollowed out from the bathroom wall. They don't subtract but rather add to the bathroom space in more ways than one by their very design.

A sizeable vertical shower niche, for example, can add a lot of storage space for bathroom items. If your shower is too small, maybe you want to accommodate more than one niche.

The decorative aspect of the niche can also act as a visual focal point for the bathroom. Some owners like to add waterproof lighting to make the niche stand out even more.

small bathroom with recessed shower niche
image credit: Sanbege

Use the same tiles on the floor and walls 

Using the same bathroom tile design and colour on the floor and walls will make the bathroom look like it's extending further than it is. You can have fun with the design by adding a complementary mosaic (a small tile) to add an accent to the matching tile pattern. You can also play around with different tile sizes to break the monotony a little.

image credit: Steven Evans
modern bathroom with tile design from floor to ceiling
image credit: Nigel Rigden

Opt for a combined shower/bath

If you can't decide between a shower and a bathtub, why not install a shower-tub combo? It's practical and space-saving. It gives you the freedom to take a quick shower or have a long relaxing bath in one single space.

relaxing small bathroom with combined shower and bath
image credit: Emily Gilbert Photography

Opt for a smaller back-to-wall bath style rather than a freestanding bath

Since the bathtub is essentially glued to the wall, it allows added space in the bathroom compared to freestanding ones. There are many small-sized back-to-wall bath options in the market, so finding one that can fit your designated space shouldn't be a problem. It's ideal if the colour of the bath is the same as the colour of the wall to make it look like an extension of the wall.

small bathroom with back-to-wall bathtub
image credit: victoriaplum.com

Get the look

Here's an image carousel featuring small bathroom design ideas from our Inspiration Gallery that also displays high-quality products from selected homeware brands in Australia.

Superdraft can help make your small bathroom look bigger 

We're no strangers to renovating small bathrooms and making them look more spacious than usual. It's always a fun project for our expert designers to strategise the best design elements to use in limited spaces.

If you think any of the above small bathroom design ideas are great for your bathroom renovation project, then start planning your project for free or request a free quote. Feel free also to browse through our Trends and Inspiration pages to find more design ideas!

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