Ask the Editor Spring 2009
Making a Small Bathroom Look Big
Courtesy of Lori Carroll and Associates
High ceilings are accentuated by using an uninterrupted wall material.
Question: What are some design tricks for making a small bathroom appear bigger than it actually is? --Steve S., Chesterfield Twp., Mich.
Answer: Few of us have the luxury of working with a large amount of space during a bathroom remodel, so getting the most out of our existing, small space is a top priority. Clearly, the less stuff filling up your bathroom, the more space you’ll have, but you’re always going to have a lavatory and toilet, and sometimes a bathtub or shower.
With that in mind, you might find it necessary to turn to a few design tricks to keep your space feeling larger than it actually is. Using a light color scheme in your bathroom is a good first step, because as great as a dark-colored small bathroom can look, lighter bathrooms generally appear more open.
Using mirrors can also create the illusion of space. Shane Silverman, a designer with Kitchen Encounters in Annapolis, Md., says it is worth considering using a mirror that extends all the way down to the counter. The mirror can function as the backsplash, and provides a larger reflection than a medicine cabinet mirror would.
Accentuating the room’s height with a consistent material on the wall that goes from floor to ceiling is a design technique that Lori Carroll, ASID, and founder of Lori Carroll & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., suggests. (The above photo is one example of this. For another example, check out this Lori-Carroll-designed powder room). Carroll, who has won numerous bathroom design awards, also recommends using a tone-on-tone style when combining sinks and countertops. This creates areas where the eye isn’t jarred by a sharp contrast. Design fluidity can go a long way in making your space look like larger than it is.
Dawn Whyte of Designs By Dawn, which is part of the Lake Street Design Studio in Petoskey, Mich., recommends limiting the amount of eye-catching fixtures and fittings in a small bathroom. “It’s good to have one item that provides a real ‘wow factor’”, says Whyte, who is up for an NKBA design award for a powder rooom this year. “But in a small bathroom, if you have too many bold statements, they will end up fighting for attention, which can make your space seem smaller than it is.”
Finally, try using a floating vanity (a vanity that does not extend all the way to the floor). This will help make your floor space appear as large as possible, as your flooring material can extend to the wall under your vanity, instead of stopping some 21 inches short of the wall.