Making the most of a small bath
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If you’re like me, sipping a glass of wine in a hot bath with a good book (or magazine!) is the perfect way to end the evening. Soothing sounds (or lack thereof), fluffy towels, and amazing-smelling bath products can do wonders for the soul, especially after the particularly tiring, trying days. But what if (again) you’re like me? With a small bath that you have to share with several other adults? For me, that’s sharing with my college-aged sons. For you, it might mean sharing a tight space with your siblings, parents, or roommates. How on earth are you supposed to create a relaxing, feel-good space within a tiny space shared with others? I’ll tell you how you can’t do it: with stuff belonging to several people permanently in the bathroom.
(Not mine.) This small bath has some seriously big style!
Our full-size bath is 5’x8′, we have no linen closet, no window (thank goodness for the Broan ventilation fan, huh?), and no room for a hamper. This is what works for us.
- De-clutter and organize it! If you have a small vanity, there should be very little besides dental needs just regularly sitting on the countertop. Hair brushes/toiletries/tools/hair products, skin products & various accoutrements can (probably) all be relocated to other places if necessary.
If you have a linen closet and/or a decent sized vanity, this is the place for that stuff – not on your countertops competing for prime real estate in what will no doubt be a crowded space. We have a 30″ vanity, and obviously that simply isn’t enough room for all that stuff, and for all of us. I’ve opted to keep only our bathroom cleaners, brushes, and extra toilet tissue in ours.
So where does all the other stuff go? The linens? The toiletries? The hamper?
Sometimes you just need to get a little creative.
- Vintage wardrobe: I have an antique chifforobe in my nearby dining room, and I use the “closet” side (I’ve added small but sturdy shelves) for our bath linens and hair tools, and the drawers for kitchen/dining linens and accessories. This could work with practically any vintage wardrobe (or not vintage – your call). We each have a hamper in our respective bedrooms. I realize this doesn’t work for smelly work or athletic gear, but that stuff usually gets thrown into the wash immediately.
- Closet: This is how it’s done in dorms and barracks. Make room in each person’s bedroom closet for their bath linens (and if you don’t have room in your tub/shower, for everyone’s toiletries as well. You’d just need a caddy to carry them).
- Other ideas: Nightstands, cedar chests, metal trunks, lockers, utility room, any kitchen cabinets you aren’t using, etc. Just because it’s a bathroom item doesn’t mean you have to stuff it in there!
- Make it inviting!
- Hang some art. As long as it’s not too big for the space, art is a great way to express your style and give your small bath some personality! I’m fond of vintage chalk ware, but I also have a small floating shelf with my collection of vintage shaving mugs.
- Make it smell good: Keep a candle lit. Diffuse some essential oils. I regularly alternate between a candle, some EOs in a reed diffuser, and a small bowl of good-smelling bath bombs left out to scent the room. You could even hang a bouquet of fragrant herbs from the shower head (if you don’t use your shower head to hold a caddy!). When you shower, the steam from the shower really draws out the fragrance from the herbs!
- Bring in some texture: a shower curtain and bath mat in the right colors and materials can go a LONG way in helping make a bathroom cozy and inviting. Everyone’s tastes are different, so the sky’s the limit!
- Upgrade it! If you can. I realize not everyone can do this, but if you’re in a position where you can even make small changes, you should. This is strictly how I plan on upgrading our bath, but hopefully you’ll take away some ideas for your own. It’ll be done in stages as time and money allows.
I can’t mess with the layout of the appliances in my bathroom, nor can I increase the square footage. But I found some smart ways to upgrade my bath (and yours!) that will make the most of every available inch, increase the value of my home, and make it look a million times better than its current dreary “builder’s special” state.
- Mirror: I’ll be downsizing our huge mirror – mirrors DO amplify a space, but not when they take up half a wall and only reflect another wall. I plan to repurpose a vintage one from a damaged dresser; it’s more to scale and more my style than a store-bought one.
- Lighting: I’m going to possibly just paint my current fixture to match new hardware (keep reading), but I do plan on doing specialty light bulbs if I can.
- Toilet: It’s very important to me to go as green as I can with whatever I can, so I’ll be upgrading first to a more eco-friendly, water-conserving toilet. I’ve priced these, and they’re actually not expensive at all. They’ll also save water, so there’s that. And a smaller profile means more space for the eye to take in in a small bath!
- Hardware/Fixtures: Just like in the kitchen, new drawer pulls and knobs are small changes that can make a big impact. So are replacing faucets, shower heads, sink fixtures/etc. Changing fixtures before I can change out my appliances doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but it’s a way to bring a little more style to the room and make it look better until I can get to the other items on the to-replace list.
- Vanity: I am undecided on this one. I’m either going to get another 30″ vanity, but with smart upgrades such as shelves and drawers, so that I can actually keep more bath items in the bathroom. OR I’ll repurpose a vintage nightstand into a custom one. This should also make it easier to keep more bath stuff in the actual bath. OR I’ll switch to a smaller vanity with a beautiful natural stone surface. It’ll give us still more space – not usable space, I know, but it will make the bath look far less cluttered. And the downsize won’t make any difference as far as storage, since I don’t keep much in my vanity anyway!
Image: Premier Surfaces
This one’s from Premier Surfaces, and I love it! While it’s beautiful, it’s not my style. But they can fabricate one custom to my needs and style!
- Floors: I want to do the floors right away, and if I didn’t plan on replacing my vanity (or knew that I’d be replacing it with one the same size as the current one), I would. I love Premier Surfaces’ tile selection!
Image: Premier Surfaces
This marble tile is easy to keep clean, the light color makes the room appear bigger, and since my bath is small, I could eventually upgrade to this luxe material without totally breaking the bank.
- Bathtub: While I would absolutely LOVE to have a luxurious clawfoot tub, or even a playful vintage pastel one from years ago, I will be updating my tub with another standard size. I have found one with a curved apron, though, that will allow for more room in the same space as a standard tub.
What useful ideas do you use to make the most of your small bath?