5 Small Bathroom Remodeling Ideas

Small bathroom with claw foot bathtub

Astronaut Images / Getty Images

Making a small bathroom look and feel bigger isn't always about expanding the house envelope outward. Increasing square footage in a bathroom, while the desire of many homeowners, often isn't possible due to property size restrictions, zoning, permitting, or money.

Small bathroom remodeling is often about smart fixture selection, storage solutions, light, colors, and styling. For example, it helps to think of alternatives to standard versions of vanities, tubs, and even toilets. There are many compact alternatives out there and they offer a custom look, too.

  • 01 of 05

    Increase Ceiling Height

    Bathroom with Cathedral Ceiling and Cantilever Sink
    Mark York / Getty Images

    Believe it or not, this is a small bathroom. It doesn't seem so; it looks fairly spacious, in fact. Yet, if you look at the floor tiles you will see that it can't be more than about 50 square feet (5 feet wide by 10 feet long).

    Is it the window that does it? The eye-catching matrix of 48 glass blocks is a perfect way to allow light in while maintaining privacy. That helps, of course, but what truly creates the illusion of space is the high ceiling. While not everyone loves cathedral ceilings, in this case a cathedral ceiling is a welcome thing. Tall ceilings are notorious energy-wasters on a large scale, but when the room is a small bathroom, energy loss is kept to a minimum.

    For a truly modern small bathroom idea, you can't do much better than setting this double sink arrangement on a cantilevered bathroom counter. These clean lines emphasize the crisp geometry of the deep basin sinks and their unique fixtures.


    A cantilever is a method of supporting an item from one side only. The item is unsupported from below by posts or columns.

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  • 02 of 05

    Show Off a Stylish Tub

    Modern bathtub
    Image Source / Getty Images

    Bathtubs have come a long way over the years. No longer are they limited to the dull, short, and narrow tubs that few people actually want to use. While a standard wall-mounted tub would seem like a space-saver, it needs walls on three of its sides, and walls take up space.

    So why tuck the tub away? When you spend a bit more on a stylish tub, the tub becomes the focus of the room. This one is called a double-ended tub, with fixtures located in the middle. At night, you can lie on the left side and view the stars through the skylight. During the day, recline in the other direction so that the light coming through the windows shines on your book or magazine.

    Another small bathroom strategy at play here is the minimal decorations. Except for a wall cabinet and generous windows, this bathroom has few other adornments.

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  • 03 of 05

    Use Mirrors Strategically For Increased Light

    Wardrobe Installed in Bathroom
    Jake Fitzjones / Getty Images

    Almost every bathroom has a mirror over the vanity, for one obvious reason: We need to be able to see ourselves.

    But mirrors in a bathroom can have a secondary function. They can also expand the visual space in a bathroom, just like in other areas of the house. They provide the illusion of more space, plus they multiply the amount of available light.

    Here, one end of the tub is against the wall, effectively hiding the supply and drain pipes. But that leads to the issue of the bather also facing the wall. This is solved by adding a mirror on the wall, so bathers can view the open space behind while soaking in the tub. The mirror also brightens the room by reflecting light.

    Pair bathroom mirrors with lighter-colored walls for an even brighter effect. Drywall is always simple to paint. Make sure that you use eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss paint in bathrooms.

    When the walls are tile, consider painting the tile rather than removing and replacing it. Painting tile works best for low-impact areas like tile surrounds or backsplashes.

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  • 04 of 05

    Hide the Toilet Tank and Pedestal

    Wall-Hung Toilet in Modern Bathroom
    Toto / Getty Images

    Wall-hung toilets have an almost impossibly sleek look. But what's the secret? The secret is that two of the space-wasting elements are missing.

    If you look at the back of the bowl, you'll notice something missing: the tank. There is a tank but it's actually built into the spaces between the wall studs and is completely concealed by the wall finish. The best part—for small bathrooms especially—is the reclaimed space that would otherwise go to the toilet tank.

    Wall-hung toilets also have no pedestal or floor base, so the fixture takes up even less visual and physical space.

    Wall-hung toilets are significantly more expensive than floor-mount toilets. Expect to pay $250 to $500 just for a basic wall-hung toilet. While a reasonably experienced do-it-yourselfer can install a floor-mount toilet, wall-hung toilets usually need to be installed by a professional plumber. You'll pay $900 to $2,600 for a wall-hung toilet, including installation.

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  • 05 of 05

    Use a Medicine Cabinet and Unlock Hidden Space

    Medicine Chest Made of Wood
    DecorPlanet.com / PriceGrabber

    It's easy to think of medicine cabinets as being old, creaky, rusty, and maybe even a bit scary. That's because older medicine cabinets were made of thin sheet metal that scratched easily, with doors on low-quality hinges. But modern medicine cabinets are spacious, made of high-quality wood and tempered glass, and sunk deep into the bathroom wall.

    This contemporary medicine cabinet is made of dark wood and has three shelves and sleek, linear styling. Notice how the glass nearly reaches the edges of the cabinet.

    Though many medicine cabinets are recessed, this cabinet is a surface-mount model. To save even more space, there are recessed medicine cabinets that have shelf compartments that go into the wall so all that's on the surface is the mirror.