How to Make a Small Bathroom Look FABULOUS!
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones (darn you!), your bathroom has somewhere between 25-60 sq ft of floor space. And while this doesn’t leave a ton of room for ye ole
tooshie squirter bidet, there’s ALWAYS room for some serious WOW factor!
A wood shiplap wall is a GREAT way to make a small bathroom look gorgeous!
You’ll find that most small bathroom articles focus on making small bathrooms look BIGGER – which is an admirable topic. But we’re focusing on the FREAKIN’ FABULOUS here people, which means that sometimes you need to EMBRACE your small space and make it come to LIFE with CONTRAST, TEXTURE & VISUAL INTEREST.
But before we get into the good stuff (I know you’re just using me for the photos and my charming wit) I want to chat about contrast and how it can affect your small bathroom…
HIGH CONTRAST VS LOW CONTRAST
One item is drastically different from the other (in colour, depth or texture). High contrast can…
- make a space or item look smaller than it is (which is why I wear black underwear)
- be dramatic looking depending on how it’s used
- allow you to accent key pieces/features in your room
- be busy looking
- liven a space up
- have more personality than a low contrast space – but not always (just anticipating angry emails from those with low contrast spaces with personality)
Before, this bathroom didn’t really have a lot to say (except ‘get me a fresh roll, will ya?‘)…
After, the paint colour (Sherwin Williams Anonymous) and dark vanity contrast with the lighter elements in the space, adding visual interest…
Items in a room have a similar depth and are similar in colour. Low contrast can…
- make a room or items appear bigger than they actually are (which is why I wear a white bra…)
- seem calming and soothing
- sometimes be boring without a shift in sheen level, pattern, texture and variations in depth
- be a soft and subtle approach to decorating compared to high contrast
This next photo shows a low contrast bathroom. Even though there are different sheen levels, patterns and products, the overall look is low impact and subtle as it relates to contrast in DEPTH. INTEREST was added via pattern and texture. While this is a slightly LARGER bathroom, it gets the point across…
This next bathroom also has a low contrast approach, but you’ll see interest added in SEVERAL ways…
- blue-green vanity colour
- hexagon pattern tile floor with a varied marble
- wainscoting (Benjamin Moore White Dove) that offers a soft contrast with the Stonington Gray walls
So what does this mean to you and your loo?
a) You know WAY more about the colour of my gonch than the average person and…
b) If you have a small bathroom and want a subtle look, you might prefer a low contrast look as it relates to DEPTH; adding interest with variation in texture and sheen. However, if you’re looking for some impact and personality then high contrast might be the way to go!
The 3 Best Small Bathroom Ideas
Small spaces can have fun too! Just because you have a small bathroom doesn’t mean it needs to be plain, white and potentially boring JUST so that it ‘looks’ bigger. Personally, I’d rather my bathroom be small and have a GREAT personality than boring…and still small.
IDEA 1 ADD CONTRAST WITH PAINT COLOUR
If you’re finding your bathroom a little underwhelming, consider painting the walls an interesting colour that adds CONTRAST or drama to the space…
In the above photo, Benjamin Moore Dior Gray is low contrast with the floor, but high contrast with the trim and white fixtures. Also, notice how the yellow/gold in the artwork pops against the cool wall colour (warm vs cool creates contrast).
This next bathroom looks STRIKING in Sherwin Williams Moody Blue as it contrasts with the white fixtures (but I can see a wink of wood trim around that window – that should be white, but anyway). Also, notice how the black fixtures and hardware contrast with the white.
If you wanted to make the above bathroom look BIGGER, you’d use polished nickel/chrome fixtures/hardware and a bright wall colour, something like Benjamin Moore Classic Gray…but remember, looking bigger can also mean looking BORING!
Adding shiplap or board and batten to a bathroom and painting it a great colour is another great way to add interest without going over the top on colour OR budget. In this next space, notice how the walls and board and batten are medium contrast, but the black fixtures add some SERIOUS energy to what was previously a sad little space…
And paint colour doesn’t refer to JUST your walls either – don’t forget about that vanity! This next powder room has a stunning personality with a striking green vanity (Sherwin Williams Isle of Pines) and a fun hexagon tile on the floor which adds pattern. This is not a boring little powder room that you’d casually walk by – you’d stop in to say hello (but if I see you talking to the toilet, we have a problem)…
See more of the above home HERE
IDEA 2 ADD CONTRAST & INTEREST WITH DECOR
Would you hang a plastic see-through drape over your bedroom window (if so, what IS your address)? Would you have this plastic drape hanging from an old chrome rod that has rust on it? Probably not. What I’m trying to say is that you need to pay JUST as much attention to your shower curtain as you would do those hanging in your bedroom or living room!
And items like shower curtains, towels and decor are GREAT if you prefer ‘short-term visual interest’.
What does this mean?
Well, there are those of us who get bored with things quickly (I fondly refer to it as DBD – Decor Boredom Disorder). We quickly tire of one thing and CRAVE a new colour, pattern, or husband every time our monthly comes around. This means that if we’ve committed to a particular colour or pattern on a surface that’s costly to replace, this compulsion can get pretty expensive when it comes time for a fresh new look. This is why it’s often best to add interest on SMALL replaceable pieces, rather than expensive permanent ones.
And while PERSONALLY, I’m a big fan of white towels, you can definitely add some interest with colourful towels. And yes, I know this next bathroom is NOT small, but it sure puts those towels to work visually!
PLEASE REMEMBER, I rely 100% on my Online Paint Colour Consulting clients for their photos in an effort to show you REAL HOMES with REAL BUDGETS. Thank you to everyone who sends them in!
Remember, you can also add low contrast interest by layering the same neutral in different products/decor and changing the textures as well…
PLACES TO ADD COLOUR TO YOUR SMALL BATHROOM
- soap/soap dispenser
- shower curtain
- simple accessories
- floor mat
Actually, one of the best ways to add colour AND texture to your bathroom is with those carpets that go in front of the toilet and around the toilet seat lid…SAID NO ONE EVER! Nothing gives me the heebie-jeebies more than mats in front of or ON a toilet, just thinking of them makes my toes curl – OH THE HUMANITY!
IDEA 3 ADD INTEREST WITH TEXTURE OR PATTERN
This idea is one of my faves. Adding texture or pattern to a small bathroom is an AWESOME way to give it personality, especially if you’re not a big fan of drastic shifts in colour.
In this next bathroom, while the black faucet and mirror add CONTRAST to the warm gray of the quartz countertop, the penny tile adds a fun pattern to the scene and picks up on the shape of the mirror and curved black faucet…
In this next white on white bathroom, you’ll see contrast and visual interest in SEVERAL different places…
WHITE VS BLACK: black mirror and faucet
PATTERN: shiplap vanity wall (the rest of the walls are plain drywall)
TEXTURE: the striped hand towel, crystal knobs and even the plant add TEXTURE and movement to the space
POINTS TO PONDER RE: CONTRAST IN A BATHROOM
- if your walls are a darker colour, your toilet will ‘pop’ and be high contrast, however, your sink and tub are likely white as well so it won’t look out of place
- if you have bone or almond fixtures it will have a similar, but slightly softer effect
- the little things matter, so make sure your shower curtain rod, towel bars and TP holder are all the same finish
- matte/flat finish paint in a dark colour on bathroom walls can show more moisture, so if you don’t have great ventilation, make sure you use a HIGHLY wipeable paint or stick to a lighter colour in an eggshell or satin sheen
4 Tile & Shiplap Ideas for a Small Bathroom
Want more ideas for decorating your home?
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Thanks for visiting – chat soon!
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2016, COMPLETELY REMODELLED IN 2021