How to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger: 9 Great Ideas

With an average size of 40 square feet, the question bathroom remodelers get the most is “how do I make my bathroom look bigger?”  You can’t physically make it larger without knocking down walls, but you can increase floor space and remove visual impairments to dramatically improve its look and feel.  Below are 9 great ideas for you to consider:

Use a Pocket Door

The experience of a bigger bathroom starts the moment you open the door.  If you have a standard hinged door that swings open to the inside, consider using a pocket door instead.  Not only do pocket doors slide into the wall, saving an average of 10 square feet, but they’re also a safer option in case an object or a person happens to be behind the door when you push it open.  Wouldn’t want to hit anyone!

Move or Change the Toilet

 In many older homes, the toilet is the first thing you see when you walk into the bathroom.  This spatial arrangement is bad feng shui; it makes the bathroom feel much smaller than it is.  One alternative is moving the toilet between the vanity and the shower or tub.  This simple change opens the entry way, creating a more comfortable space for easy maneuvering. 

The second option is switching from a standard toilet to a wall-hung toilet.  Standard toilets can be up to 18 inches wide and 27 inches long and sit entirely on the bathroom floor.  In contrast, hanging toilets are installed with the water tank in the wall, which frees up 9 inches of floor space and creates a visual effect of a larger bathroom.

wall_hung toilet
Hanging Toilet Front
Hanging Toilet Side

Get a Smaller (or Custom) Vanity

Most homes have a standard vanity – 22 inches wide and 36 inches long – which is overkill if you have a small bathroom.  Instead of the standard option, try a smaller, wall-hanging vanity.  This isn’t always possible without purchasing a custom one, but it’s more than worth it because it will allow you to maximize storage while also freeing up space on the floor.  The visual effect of this update will again create the appearance of more room.

Try a Curbless Shower

Curbless walk in showers add a modern, luxury look to your bathroom in addition to providing a host of other advantages.  One benefit is ease of use from kids to elder adults; without a curb, there’s less of a chance of tripping or falling on the way into or out of the shower.  Second, the space is more open, making it seem bigger and making it easier to clean.  Third, curbless showers maximize space because there’s no barrier in the way.  


The disadvantages of this setup are less privacy and the fact that water can get out, but there’s a fix for that too!  Install a sliding shower screen with privacy glass and a rain shower head instead of a wall-mounted head.  The rain type shower head concentrates water in a small area directly above you, and any water that does bounce off hits the glass screen.

Curbless Shower w/ Rain Head & Glass

Check Your Tile Size

Choosing the right size tile and layout for the walls and floor can make your bathroom appear larger, but it’s also important to consider the overall style of your home.  If you have a more modern or contemporary house, try a larger scale tile.  On the other hand, if you have a bungalow, 3 x 6 inch is ideal for your shower walls; 4 x 6 inch, 5 x 12 inch, and most other subway tiles are also great options, so don’t be afraid to check them out.  For the floor, go for plank style tiling to elongate your bathroom.  The overall goal is to get rid of harsh visual lines and create a uniform look.

Upgrade Your Storage Space

If you go for a curbless shower, build storage directly into the wall; it’s out of the way and it can hold things like body wash, shampoo, and conditioner without taking up valuable real estate in your cabinets.  You should also consider options like combined toilet brush and toilet paper holders, glass shelves, and small towel hooks.  Most items with a European style will create the feel of a bigger space.

medicine cabinet before
medicine cabinet after

Install Mirrors

If you have an empty wall or an area of the bathroom that doesn’t look very cluttered, install a mirror across from it.  The reflection of light bouncing off those areas adds to the visual illusion of increased space.  You can also install double mirrors in your medicine cabinet for a similar effect.

Add More Lighting

Improving the lighting is one of the fastest ways to revamp the look and feel of a bathroom.  Put in a bigger window, install better lighting above the vanity, or get a medicine cabinet with built-in lights.  If you don’t have windows, add a skylight or solar tubes.

medicine cabinet with lighting

Choose Light Colors

Every color has a presence, and dark colors take up more visual space than light ones.  Using a light color doesn’t just mean white though!  Get creative and try variations of beige, grey, purple, violet, and blue.  As long as the saturation of the color is light, you’re headed in the right direction.

Interior designers and contractors make tiny bathrooms appear larger by removing physical obstructions and making small changes to create the visual illusion of more space.  Now, you’ve got the secrets.  Try out some of our small bathroom ideas on your next remodeling project and let us know how it goes!