How to Get the Most Out of a Small Bathroom Layout

Everyone has a thing, right?  Some people like fencing, or origami, or twisting yourself into a pretzel in a really hot room. At ibby, our thing is remodeling small bathrooms – it’s what we do.  We like to consider ourselves the unelected governing body of the Small Bathroom Club.

Do you have a small bathroom?  Welcome to the club.  What’s that?  You have no interest in joining?  Well, like most people in the club, you don’t have a choice until you (1) move to a different place, or (2) reconfigure your floor plan to make the bathroom bigger.  Since most people in the SBC either can’t or won’t do one of those things, let’s focus on how to make your bathroom feel bigger without actually making it bigger.

Visual clutter is bad

Are you Bath and Body Works’ best customer?  I’m sure they appreciate your patronage, but the 50 different lotion bottles you’re displaying are visually distracting.  Consider editing your collection or keeping them out of sight.  The more things that your eye has to look at, the smaller your space feels.  


This also applies to the finishes of your space.  Using small tiles means that you have to use more grout.  More grout means more lines to look at (and more cleaning, which is the worst)(“lines” is the technical term, btw).  More lines means….you guessed it, your space feels smaller.  Feel free to use the small tiles as an accent, but keep it simple.

Pop quiz, hot shot.  If stopping your eye from moving around the room is bad, then….

Encouraging visual movement is good

Way to go Keanu, you get a gold star. How do you get the eye to move around the room?  Start with large format tiles…fewer “lines” so fewer visual interruptions.  

Consider a floating, wall hung vanity.  Seeing those extra floor tiles will allow your eyes to see the whole floor, which gives the illusion that the floor is larger.  

Install linear fixtures in landscape orientation; a rectangular mirror hung sideways, those large format tiles, or even skinnier large-format tiles to accentuate the horizontally, and/or a longer shower niche than typical all help with visual movement.

Choose a couple smaller fixtures

Get a toilet with a smaller-than-typical tank (just make sure the bowl is normal size, you know, ’cause you still have to sit on it).  If the toilet looks smaller, then…..yup, the bathroom looks bigger.

That wall hung vanity from above also works for this category too.  It’s a double threat (just like every member of the Backstreet Boys, with their sweet dance moves and silky smooth voices)…


First things first – declutter. While redesigning your space, select linear fixtures installed in the same horizontal orientation, and combine them with a few (strategically chosen) smaller fixtures.  This will encourage your eye to move around the room, making it feel bigger.


Here is a bathroom we designed and built that incorporates all the strategies listed above:

That is a standard 5×8 bathroom – there’s even a radiator taking up floor space. Looks way bigger than 5×8 though, right? Right.

Author Bio:

TJ Monahan is the General Manager of, a design build firm based in Bethesda, MD that makes it easier than ever to remodel your bathroom through the use of the free software on their website.