There are many considerations to keep in mind when renovating a small bathroom. After all, everything from lighting to texture plays a role in how that space looks and feels. If you’re helping customers transform a half bath into a full bath, here’s what to consider for maximum results across aesthetics, organization and more.
What to Consider
Making the right design choices when upgrading a bathroom can ensure that the end renovation is both spacious and efficient. To start, Schloegel Design Remodel suggests assessing what work is required. Each small design choice may be tied to another logistical choice, so it is key to understand which upgrades are essential. Opt for changes that will actually enhance the bathroom experience.
Let’s say a homeowner wants to add a clawfoot tub to a bathroom, for example. In this case, it’s essential to consider the existing water piping and electricity systems. Robyn Roberts at renovation matching service Sweeten points out that existing water lines may or may not support a bathroom expansion project. This could determine the kind of fixtures to include in the upgrade. Plumbing alterations can also be difficult and costly, so the choice depends on the budget and the ultimate goal of the project.
Lighting should be a core consideration during renovation planning, interior designer Gillian Lazanik writes. Owner of the Toronto design firm Affecting Spaces, she says that windows let in more natural light, which can make a small bathroom feel more spacious. A frosted glass window in the shower can be an easy upgrade that allows more light and boosts the value of the home.
Assessing how a home’s market value might change in response to the upgrade from half bath to full is another important way to plan a bathroom remodel. Knowing which specific changes add or detract from a home’s value can guide smart decisions that support the homeowners long-term, according to 123 Remodeling.
Energy and Space Efficiencies
Renovating a small bathroom provides numerous opportunities for making a home more efficient. And one of these areas is energy efficiency, explains Danny Lipford, host of the show Modern Homeowner.
Considering how each reno and design choice might cut energy consumption can both increase a home’s value and lower future heating and electricity bills. For example, Lipford says that using clear acrylic blocks around a new standing shower is more energy efficient than a traditional bathtub and shower combination.
Converting a tub surround into a standing shower is also more space efficient, especially if you’d also like to have a luxurious soaking tub in the space. On her blog So Much Better with Age, Julie Lundstrom shows how replacing a tub with a walk-in shower can make a bathroom feel bigger and brighter. Plus, it’s easy to add a bench and wall niche to a standing shower for an improved experience and better organization.
Attention to Detail
Another interesting way to expand the sense of space in a master bathroom remodel is to consider the impact of tiny details. For example, kitchen and bath contractor Smarter Bathrooms Plus says that finishes with round edges fit better than sharp-edged fixtures in small spaces, because they are less dramatic and imposing. Rounded edge fixtures tend to create a sense of continuity and soften the overall look of the space.
For homeowners looking to make a small bathroom also feel more luxurious, simply choosing the right materials can go a long way. Brenna Malmberg at Houzz points to a bathroom where porcelain was used instead of marble to line the shower walls, creating an elevated look for less. Faux marble tiles were installed on the floor to give the illusion of a high end space, but achieved at a lower price.
For a more eclectic way to upgrade a bathroom, patterned tile might do the trick. Designer Kate Dickson showcases a remodel in which black and white Moroccan tile helped add major pizzazz to a small bathroom. These busy tiles are balanced with white walls and vanities for an elegant balance.
Wood-grain tiles can add a pop of intrigue to a new shower. Dark gray wood grain looks sleek but has enough pattern to keep things interesting, as seen in the half bath renovation highlighted by Janel Laban at Apartment Therapy. Using wood grain tile as the flooring in a walk-in shower is also a unique approach that wouldn’t be found in other bathrooms.
It could also be worthwhile to consider the impact of a visually-stimulating wall. In a bathroom designed by Kylie M. Interiors, a marble herringbone wall featuring a metallic monochromatic scheme helps a space feel more elegant and exciting. Plus, adding patterns to just one wall makes a small bathroom feel larger.
Storage is another key consideration when renovating a bathroom. Having a dedicated space for all toiletries, towels and bathroom essentials will help homeowners maximize space and accommodate their needs.
Vintage bathroom store Retro Den explains that removing storage cabinets from floors actually adds space and also enhances the illusion of space because more of the floor shows. Think about the benefits of hanging baskets, shelves and hooks. In this case, Retro Den opted for vintage swim locker baskets mounted on wood to allow both character and organization.
DIY and design blogger Rachel Paxton agrees that baskets are a great way to store bathroom essentials in a way that feels airy and spacious. Open shelving doubles as decor, she says, so it’s a good idea to opt for shelving and basket combinations that fit the bathroom’s theme and look sophisticated.
Tall, narrow cabinets can also work well for a bathroom update. This is especially true for guest bathrooms and spaces used by families with children, as more storage space might be required. Beatus Haong at home renovation marketplace Kukun writes that the goal should be to store things higher, not wider, when working to expand space during a remodel. If a homeowner is stuck with a wide, bulky vanity cabinet, consider what it would mean to opt for a pedestal sink and move storage up.
Lastly, nixing clutter and mismatching fixtures is a simple act that can go a long way when making a small bathroom seem bigger. In a bathroom renovation featured by Julia Marcom, founder of the renovation blog Chris Loves Julia, an over-the-counter cabinet and traditional medicine cabinet were making a small bathroom feel even more cramped.
In the update, Marcom stripped these two bulky items and opted for a recessed bathroom cabinet that doesn’t take up too much space. This also freed up more wall space which was repainted a clean, crisp white that is space-enhancing.