At Home: Open up that small bathroom
Many homeowners are stuck with small bathrooms. Even in the largest homes with open, grand living spaces, the bathrooms are often tiny and cramped. Before you start tearing out walls and moving plumbing fixtures, consider these tips from area designers on giving the bathroom a larger look and feel.
Play with Paint
Choosing the right color for the bathroom can make all the difference in how large it appears. Common logic dictates using lighter colors, which makes the space feel more open. However, surprise! Dark colors are often the way to go. Designer Leslie Hunsicker of Leslie Hunsicker Interiors said, “It is a myth that dark colors close an area in. Dark colors make walls recede if the room is well lit.”
“If it is a powder room, very dark colors actually will make it seem larger than light colors,” designer Chris Grandmontagne of Grandmontagne Designs and Warehouse 414 said. “Especially a dark ceiling will seem higher. Painting the walls and ceiling the same color also pulls the ceiling up. And in a narrow space painting the opposite walls a different color will widen the room. Although I’m not an advocate of indiscriminately painting walls different colors. There are decisions here that really need some finesse.”
Whether you choose light or dark colors, designer Jan Hutt of Carpet One Floor & Home noted, “Painting the walls and the cabinets the same color helps expand space.”
Hunsicker also added, “Monochromatic color schemes are the best for small areas. Walls, countertops and floors should be in the same color tone. Save accents for towels!”
Let There Be Light
Lighting can also give the room a larger appearance. This is achieved in two ways—with fixtures and mirrors.
All of the designers suggested large mirrors or a mirrored wall to reflect light and make the room seem larger. Hunsicker said, “The smaller the room, the larger the mirror should be. Also, lighting that comes down into the mirror will double the light output. Try using pendants or lighting fixtures with longer vertical arms to achieve this.”
If the bathroom has a window, keep the dressing simple. Choose light fabric or café-style curtains to cover the window, or go with a simple blind or shade. This will allow as much natural light into the room as possible without giving up privacy.
Help the light spread throughout the room by installing clear glass shower doors. Shower curtains and frosted glass both block light and cut off the shower or tub from the rest of the room. Hutt said, “A clear shower door works miracles. Allowing the tub or shower to be part of the room extends space.”
Get Off the Floor
Fixtures that take up little floor space, or at least appear to, will give the room a larger feel. Hutt said, “I’ve put legs on an existing cabinets and that makes the room look less crowed. Also wall hung cabinets work well. Lots of air under the cabinet makes the room seem bigger.”
Grandmontagne noted a pedestal or wall-hung sink will also make the space appear larger, as will housing the sink in apiece of furniture that is wall-hung or on legs, which allows you to see under the sink. “Installing lighting under this so you see open floor back to the wall will also help,” she said.
Accessories that stick out into the room will attract the eye and make the room look smaller. Minimize artwork, hanging racks, or wall shelves, unless they are situated above a vanity or toilet that already protrudes into the room. Installing recessed shelves and medicine cabinets between the wall studs can be a fairly easy do-it-yourself project. Just make sure to watch out for electrical wiring before cutting into the wall.
Finally, cut out the clutter. A lot of stuff on the walls and countertops can make a tiny space feel even smaller. Don’t overload towel racks and use just one floor rug. Also, store all but the most essential items you use out of sight instead of on the countertop. To jazz up the décor, choose just one large piece of artwork or decorative accessory instead of a bunch of smaller ones.