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14 Tricks to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger

How do you visually enlarge a small bathroom?

We’ve become very familiar with small bathrooms around here over the years… somehow large, luxurious bathrooms weren’t really a popular thing when our house was built in 1960.

So as we have done our small bathroom makeovers, we have tried every design tip in the book to trick the eye and create the illusion of more space.

Since we are smack in the middle of our half bath makeover, it seemed like the right time to share a few tips, in case you’re ever faced with the same predicament in your home.

These 15 tips will show you how to make your small bathroom look bigger without knocking down any walls. All of these bathroom tile ideas, paint colors, fixtures, lighting pieces, and decorating ideas are most recommended by pro interior designers.

1. Choose Very Light Colors

Avoid mid-tone paint colors at all costs. When you’re looking at a paint sample strip, always go for the lightest or darkest shade of the hue you like.

Light and neutral tones, such as whites, pastels, and soft grays, reflect more light, creating a sense of openness. Use these shades for your walls, tiles, and fixtures to create a visually brighter and more expansive space.

French inspired master bathroom remodel with marble countertop and herringbone tile

Here is what our bathroom looked like from the same angle with white walls vs. mid-tone walls. Doesn’t the white make the room look bigger?

Related: 9 Designer-Approved Off White Color Paints to Try

2. Or Choose Very Dark Colors

It’s a total myth that dark paint colors make rooms look smaller. In fact, they can actually do the opposite! Walls painted black, navy, or deep jewel tones like emerald or ruby make walls and ceilings appear farther away from us than they really are. Dark walls create the illusion of more space.

Have you ever ridden Space Mountain at Disney World? Didn’t it feel like you were out in space with no end in sight even though you’re just riding a roller coaster inside of a dark building? (Here is what it looks like in the dark vs in the light to show how small the space is in reality.) It’s the same concept when designing a small bathroom with dark walls and dark tile. Your brain is tricked into believing there is more space in the room.

In this tiny powder room we designed for a friend, we chose Benjamin Moore Polo Blue, a very dark navy, to create the illusion of more space.

Related: The Most Recommended Navy Blue Paint

3. Use Large Mirrors

Mirrors can work wonders in making any room, including a small bathroom, feel more spacious. Install a large mirror above the vanity or across one wall to reflect light and give the illusion of depth.

A mirrored wall or a frameless mirror can be particularly effective.

We chose very tall venetian mirrors in this bathroom for this very reason.

Related: Affordable Vintage Bathroom Mirrors + How to Upgrade a Builder Grade Mirror

4. Keep It Clutter Free

Clutter can make a small bathroom feel even smaller. Invest in storage solutions like wall-mounted shelves, recessed cabinets, or floating vanities to keep toiletries and other items off the countertops.

Keep only the essentials within easy reach.

5. Opt for Glass Shower Enclosures

If you have a shower in your small bathroom, choose a glass enclosure instead of a bulky shower curtain or frosted glass.

This allows the eye to travel through the space, making it feel larger. Frameless glass doors are an excellent choice for a clean and modern look.

See the difference in these two spaces with a frameless glass shower door vs. a curtain?

6. Use Vertical Space

Maximize vertical space by installing tall cabinets or shelving units that reach the ceiling. These can be used for storage and decoration, helping to draw the eye upward and create the illusion of height.

We maximized storage in this tiny toilet closet with vertical shelving.

Related: Bathroom Linen Closet Organization Ideas That Totally Work

7. Incorporate Stripes and Patterns

Horizontal stripes or patterns can elongate the walls and give the impression of a wider space. Consider using striped wallpaper, towels, or tiles to add visual interest while expanding the perceived dimensions of your bathroom.

For small bathroom floor ideas, choosing bathroom floor tile in a patterned configuration helps. We used a pattern with hex tiles in our kids’ bathroom to make it look bigger. I love the black and white flower pattern!

This herringbone pattern using marble effect white tiles is a great example for how to make a small bathroom look bigger with tile.

8. Select Minimalist Fixtures

Choose sleek and minimalist fixtures to save space and maintain a clean look. Wall-mounted toilets and sinks create the illusion of more floor space, while narrow, elongated fixtures can make the room appear less crowded.

9. Utilize Natural Light

If possible, allow natural light to flood the bathroom. Install larger windows or consider a skylight to bring in more daylight. Natural light not only makes the space feel bigger but also enhances its overall ambiance.

Related: The Best Luxury for Less Amazon Window Shades

10. Opt for Open Vanities or Open Shelves

Choosing an open vanity rather than clunky cabinets can help a small bathroom a small bathroom look bigger.

Open shelving can add storage while avoiding the closed-in feeling of traditional cabinets. Keep towels and decorative items neatly displayed on open shelves to create a more open and airy atmosphere.

Related: How to Turn a Console Table Into a Bathroom Vanity

11. Layer the Lighting

If you need small bathroom lighting ideas, the best advice is to layer your light fixtures. You want to create even light the illuminate the space in multiple angles.

That’s why it’s best to choose vanity lights positioned low and on either side of the mirror(s) rather than installing one vanity light above the mirror.

Related: The Best Vintage Wall Sconces for All Budgets in Every Room

12. Reflective Surfaces

Incorporate reflective surfaces like shiny tiles, glass accents, or metallic fixtures to bounce light around the room. These surfaces can make your small bathroom feel brighter and more spacious.

These glossy subway tiles around the lower half of this bathroom make it feel more spacious.

Related: Marble Tile vs Marble Effect Tile: Which Is Best?

13. Choose Glossy Large Tile for Small Showers

Matte tile in a small size with many grout lines can make a shower seem cramped. By going large-scale on your shower tile and opting for a glossy finish, it can reflect more light. Bonus points: large, glossy tiles are easy to clean!

14. Consider Beadboard or Shiplap Wainscoting

Similarly to why it’s helpful to choose striped wallpaper in a small bathroom, the same concept works for beadboard or shiplap on bathroom walls.

Related: Easy DIY Vertical Shiplap Wainscoting in a Bathroom

Speaking of beadboard, the beadboard wainscoting in our powder room is getting painted very soon! I cannot wait to see how it turns out!

Got any other small bathroom ideas you’d add to the list?

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4 Comments

  1. What’s amazing ideas. I will be use most of these in our bathroom/home. I am so lacking storage like crazy. Trying to utilize spaces between the studs as well. Funny design walls, turning them into a storage closet. As always, thank you for your fabulous design ideas etc…

  2. We are in the process of updating a bathroom and I’ve already included many of your ideas to my small space. I’m in love with the brass and white shelf. Could you share where it was purchased?