14 ways to make a small bathroom look bigger

Bathrooms are one of the most important design spaces in your home, but what do you do if yours is on the small side? You may not have the budget or the desire to knock out walls and create a larger space, but you aren’t stuck with your claustrophobic bathroom.

The good news is that you can create a well-designed, luxe feeling space even without that garden tub and square footage. Thoughtful design details and using some simple psychological tricks can create a gorgeous, small space that doesn’t feel so small.

Just a few design tweaks, and you can create a (seemingly) bigger space with fewer distractions and a more comfortable design. Let’s transform your bathroom into something you love with these simple tips anyone can do.

Use Color to Your Advantage

Open up space with soft, neutral colors. White is always a classic design choice for a bathroom and can help reflect light for a more expansive feeling. Use paint with a little gloss to play up natural light and keep things easy to clean.

If your fixtures aren’t white, try to match their colors to create the illusion of space, as well. The eye will have trouble distinguishing where one thing ends and another begin, causing the area to feel larger.

Use Tone on Tone

dark tiled bathroom
Victoria Borodinova/Pexels

If you don’t like the idea of white, use a tone-on-tone color scheme to achieve the same effect. Light grays or even pure blues can create a serene effect without the starkness of white. Choose similar colors for walls, floors, and fixtures to accomplish this.

Downsize Shelving

Shelving is essential for storage, but how much do you really need? Going minimal on design features that stick out from the wall help give your bathroom much-needed inches on all sides. If you must have storage, switch to simple hooks to reduce the visual clutter, or hang a shelf high and out of your eye line.

Add Mirrors

Mirrors are excellent at expanding a space. You know that the image in the mirror isn’t physical space, but your brain still interprets it as square footage. Adding a larger mirror above your sink, or one that goes to the ceiling, can play up that small space.

Mirrors also reflect light, giving your bathroom a brighter feeling. Add one on the sidewall or in the shower for an automatic upgrade to a dark bathroom.

Lighten the Floor

Painting your floor white or installing a light-colored tile or floor also adds visual space. For the smallest bathrooms, white on the floor and walls make it difficult for the eye to establish boundaries. Keep your bath mat white as well to ensure you don’t break up the visual space.

Use Clear Shower Doors

If you’ve got glass doors, changing them out for clear doors helps the bathroom feel larger while still protecting your floors from water. If you’ve got a curtain, change it out for simple, clear plastic to accomplish the same feeling.

shower with glass door
Vecislavas Popa/Pexels

Those extra inches across your bathtub or shower may not be walkable space, but you won’t feel quite so claustrophobic while you’re in there.

Add Recessed Shelving

The thought of minimizing your shelving from the previous suggestion may not have gone over well. If you’ve got some space between rooms, you can keep your shelves without interfering with internal space.

Build recessed shelves in between studs in your wall for extra storage and a way to decorate the space without interrupting your visual line. If you’ve got a weekend to tear up your wall, this could be a significant upgrade.

Add a Pocket Door

The swing of a standard door can interrupt both floor and storage space. A pocket door helps preserve your bathroom privacy without getting in the way of your visual line. If you don’t have quite the space for a pocket door, you can cut down on the clutter with a bifold-style door.

Replace Your Vanity

Cabinet-style vanities may offer you storage, but they can take up a lot of space in a small bathroom. Replace them with a simple pedestal sink to give you more foot room and cut down on clutter. If you were able to add in recessed shelving, you might not even miss the cabinet storage.

Remove Clutter

You might be tempted to keep every cleaning product, makeup container, and hair tool in the bathroom where you use them. However, with so much clutter, your bathroom can feel much smaller.

bathroom essentials

Move most of your things to your linen closet or hide them where you can. Keep your absolute essentials in the bathroom itself to provide as much space as possible to move around.

Upgrade Your Lighting

Dark bathrooms always feel cramped, so upgrade your lighting to something more expansive to make up for it. Add bright lighting around your vanity for better views when you’re trying to get ready and change out that boring overhead fixture for something that brightens the space. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish with better lighting.

Accentuate a Long Wall

If your bathroom seems small, choose the longest wall to accentuate. Paint horizontal stripes or install your tile going the length of the longest wall to draw the eye down and create space. You can also accomplish this by installing tile to the ceiling in your bathtub or shower.

Visually Separate Walls

If your bathroom is already a very long rectangle, go against the rectangle by installing tiles perpendicular to the walls. Your eyes will visually separate your walls, and it will feel like you’ve added just a few inches to the square footage.

Upgrade Your Fixtures

Sometimes, expensive-looking fixtures can trick us into believing the bathroom is more comfortable. Change out those cheap metal or plastic fixtures for things like brushed brass or dark pewter to distract from the small square footage. And with a small bathroom, little touches will make a big difference.

Expanding a Small Bathroom

While you may not be ready for massive renovations, there are things you can do to make the bathroom more comfortable and create the illusion of space. When you upgrade a few things and take the time to organize your bathroom free of clutter, you may find that it’s your favorite room in the house.

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