Do you have a small bathroom that you are just dying to update? Small bathrooms can be tricky when it comes to remodeling. Many times there just isn’t enough space to rework the plan and it can get costly when you start moving plumbing, electrical, windows and walls. I recently had a homeowner with just this type of situation. They had a lot of work to do in the entire house, so to save money we decided to gut the bath but leave the layout in place.
We started by replacing the bath/shower fiberglass unit with a new stylish tub from Kohler. It was a bit wider and taller than what had been there and immediately that helped to update the room. My client was thrilled, she wanted a tub with a little more room and we found one to fit the existing space. I suggested that we use white subway tile for the tub surround not only because of its timeless look, but also because it is an inexpensive tile that delivers a great look! By keeping the tub and surround light, the space is light, crisp and appears larger.
Because the ceilings were only 8 feet tall we ran the tile almost to the ceiling which helped to give the room a larger feel. Keeping tile at the standard height looks squatty. Don’t be afraid to tile up to the ceiling. You can use any size of tile and I encourage you to be creative. Avoid basic 4 x 4 tile since it is very dated looking and remember that the smaller the tile the more grout you will have to clean. While mosaic tiles may look fun, you will regret using them once they are all over the wall! By using a tall shower curtain the eye is drawn up, a standard shower curtain hangs too low and accentuates a small space which is what we want to avoid.
The flooring was an old tile that needed replacing. It had been laid in a straight pattern and with a partition wall in the room, the tile pattern looked choppy because there were too many small cuts. We selected a 12 x 12 tile that resembles slate and laid it on the diagonal resulting in a more even flow. Laying the tile on the diagonal pushes your eye outwards, resulting in a larger looking area which is always a bonus in a small space.
The previous vanity was a long, boring cabinet that butted up to the wall. It was out of proportion to the room and the height was too low. By replacing it with a freestanding furniture style cabinet that is topped with a beautiful piece of brushed granite, the vanity now adds character to the room. A new undermount sink and polished nickel faucet reflect a bit of a spa look. Using outdoor lighting indoors is a favorite trick of mine and we added lanterns on each side of a framed mirror for a touch of casual sophistication. The lanterns are on dimmer switches and there is overhead lighting so there is both task and mood lighting in the room.
The heavy floral wallpaper was stripped and the walls are painted a pale shade of green. The textured ceiling has been covered with shiplapped pine boards and crown moulding was added to finish it off. Two pairs of small louvered shutters are on the way for the window privacy. A few more finishing touches and the room will be finished. My client is thrilled with the results. Her small bath looks larger and much more stylish!
If you are not up to redoing your whole bath, break it down into parts and decide where you will get the most look for your money. If the tub/shower area is tucked into a corner and the vanity is front and center consider replacing it or painting it a great finish and replace the top, sink and faucet. Check out the floor, if you have carpet you will want to strongly consider replacing it. Just keep in mind that raising the eye up and out will help to make a small bath appear larger. Less clutter and simplifying is key. The great thing is that a small bathroom can be made into an incredibly charming or sophisticated space by freshening it up with new finishes.