How To Make A Small Bathroom Feel Bigger

When renovating a bathroom, here on the Sunshine Coast sometimes our clients quickly discover that either their budget or their properties’ limitations does not allow them to create their ultimate space. However, there are several savvy design tips and tricks for consideration which can help you achieve your design dreams. Let’s discuss how you can make a small bathroom feel bigger:


With space at a premium in a tight bathroom, every millimetre of space must be utilised effectively. A well-planned, hardworking layout will prove to be a winning strategy. The ultimate bathroom layout will have the sink close to the door, then the toilet and at the furthest point from the entry, the bath and/or shower. Tip: for aesthetic reasons, the toilet should not be the first thing you see as you enter the bathroom! Make sure you allow at least 50cm between the rim of the seat and any basin unit or wall so there is sufficient space for even the tallest user’s knees. Also, when planning your bathroom layout, consider high ceilings in a small space, where possible. Opt for 2.7m high over standard 2.4m heigh ceilings. High ceilings will enhance the sense of existing space.

Fittings and Fixtures

There is a multitude of space-saving fittings and fixtures available on the market today. For instance, wall mounted taps can create even more room. Opt for a neat, rectangular sink bowl over a round vanity bowl- these usually take up more space. A compact, space saving toilet cistern plumbed into the wall can give more room then a standard toilet. This last option though requires thought though, as plumbing issues with a built-in/ wall mounted cistern usually require opening up the wall cavity.

Doors and Windows

A simple solution for a small bathroom is to use a cavity slider instead of a standard door in your bathroom renovation. Windows will bring in natural light which will open up the room too. If you can’t install /include windows, consider a skylight. The more light you can introduce, the more spacious and open your small bathroom will appear.

Clever Tiling

Good tiling advice can help your small bathroom feel bigger. Floor-to-ceiling tiles will make the space feel larger, as will using large tiles. The larger the tile, the larger the room will appear due to the scale and proportion of large tiles tricking the eye into believing the space is bigger. If you can’t execute floor-to-ceiling tiles, match the wall paint colour to your tiles to keep it tonal.


In terms of colour, lighter colours make small spaces feel bigger, so favour a lighter colour palette over a darker one. Also, use one colour for the whole room so there is less visual distraction which may cut up the small room visually. Extra points if the colour and whole room is white! Our favourite white is Dulux Lexicon Quarter.

Design Tips

Using a few key styling tips can elevate your space saving renovation techniques. A mirror is a great way to enhance a small space, as it reflects natural light around and opens up the room. Opposite a window is a good spot as it will double the amount of light. As with the tiling, again play with a sense of scale and go big with the size of your mirror. A frameless shower screen will have less lines and consequently open up the room visually. A tiled wall niche in the shower cleverly creates extra storage while looking contemporary.

Consider All options

Although moving any plumbing in a bathroom is generally avoided as it adds significant cost to the renovation, sometimes freeing up space in a small bathroom is worth the extra cost if it adds valuable floor space. Options may include relocating the toilet to its own separate room elsewhere in the house, or, if the washing machine and/or dryer is in the bathroom, possibly moving them into a cupboard nearby.

The Principles of Design for Kitchens and Bathrooms

Good design is defined as unity of design and a timeless look. But to achieve unity and an evergreen look one must give consideration to all the principles of design. Remodeling your kitchen and bathroom is so much more than selecting fixtures and painting the walls. A good remodel will have a well thought out design concept that begins with the principles of design as its foundation.

The principles are balance, rhythm, emphasis/focal point, scale, proportion, and harmony/unity. In order to have a better understanding of these concepts we will look at each at it pertains to bathroom remodel planning and kitchen planning.

Let’s start with balance which is the distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, textures and space. On a recent powder room design a client requested tile to be installed above the vanity all the way up the wall and considered tiling the whole wall not just above the vanity. The powder room being very small could only visually support a small amount of tile without making the space feel bulky or heavy. Based on the principle of balance we opted for less is more and decided not to do the whole wall. Thought was also given to the light pendants we chose, again wanting to keep the room balanced we chose streamline lights that had very little bulk and clear glass to keep the balance of the space feeling light. These decisions helped the design of this small room feel spacious even with the lack of square footage.

Moving onto rhythm. The easiest way to create rhythm within a space is to repeat elements of design which can include line, shape, texture, color, pattern and light. In a recent bathroom project we used floral like mosaic in the shower, on the floor and on an accent wall. We repeated the pattern in several areas over mute color tile to give the bathroom rhythm. In a recent kitchen we used straight lines on the cabinet doors, hardware, light fixtures and furniture to create rhythm and flow. The idea is to keep the eye moving in a natural way that makes one feel relaxed and comfortable in the space and never overwhelmed.

Emphasis/focal point is one of my favorite principles of design to work with. Here the idea is to showcase a portion of the design and hold the viewer’s attention. Often referred to as the “wow” factor one can be as creative as they want as long as thought is given to the rest of the design principles. One of my favorite design projects was a master bathroom that was designed in all marble. The entire bathroom was jaw dropping so creating a focal point meant we had to get creative. The solution was building a false wall to house a fireplace and wall to wall niche tiled in herringbone which was accented with sun from a skylight. Though the entire space was breathtaking everyone who entered held their attention to the false wall we created. Focal point achieved!

Scale refers to the relationship of two or more objects, one that has a commonly known size. In a kitchen we know the average prep sink is 12×12. When selecting a faucet for this sink it would not be appropriate to select a large goose neck or commercial kitchen faucet.

Proportion is an obvious principle and easy to spot if it’s not calculated correctly. Simply put, one can not have a nine foot walk in shower in a bathroom that is only 8×9. The proportion of the shower is overwhelming and too large for the space. Likewise we would not use a giant chandelier meant for cathedral ceiling in a kitchen with eight foot ceilings. Scale and proportion go hand in hand and are a very important part of good design.

Harmony is all the different elements coming together to create a well thought out and beautiful design. In a recent mid-century makeover we gave thought to every element we added to the space. We chose dark blue tile, bold gold fixtures, walnut colored cabinets and turn of the century lights. Once all the elements were combined the harmony of the space was obvious. We would not have added polk-a-dots or nickel finishes to this design. Anything outside mid-century would have disrupted the flow.