9 Design Mistakes You're Making in Your Tiny Bathroom

Bathrooms are often overlooked when it comes to decorating or styling your home, especially if you’re dealing with very little space. But when it comes to blissful places at home to unwind after a long day, a clean and organised bathroom will help soothe your mind (and also beats out a spa any day).

However, there’s a lot more to consider than hanging a few new towels up and calling it a day. A well-designed bathroom will leave you with a beautiful, functional space, no matter the size. Done incorrectly and you end up with a space plagued with impracticality that doesn’t bring you an ounce of joy.

And while it’s easy to fall in love with trendy bathrooms you’ve saved to your Pinterest board, it’s important you work around your space instead of the space working around you.  

So, to save you time, effort and money, we instilled the help of Bathrooms & Kitchens Merchandising Leader at Reece Bathrooms, Daniela Santilli, to reveal the nine biggest mistakes she sees too often when it comes to designing a tiny bathroom. 

9 Common Design Mistakes You're Making in Your Tiny Bathroom

1. Not considering the location of accessories 

Not giving enough thought to the location of accessories such as towel rails and storage will affect the way the space functions. 

Solution:

Thoughtfully placed accessories will make all the difference. Plan where accessories will go so you can install enough secure fixing points. For example, robe hooks or towel rails close to the shower will equate to ease and comfort when exiting the shower - not to mention a floor free from being drenched. 

“Be selective and realistic with your needs and looking for versatile pieces that serve multiple functions,” Santilli notes.

2. Opening the door to a view of the toilet

The first thing you don’t want to see when you walk into your bathroom is a view of the toilet - it’s neither stylish nor necessary. 

Solution:

Place the toilet behind the door or against the side wall so it’s not in full view when you open the bathroom door. 

Instead of showcasing your toilet, “think about what the hero piece is in the bathroom and if possible, try to place it in a key location upon entry to the bathroom to catch the user’s eye,” Santilli says. “A bath under a window or skylight always looks fantastic and creates a luxurious day spa feeling.”

3. Overlooking the importance of a shower

According to a Reece Bathrooms 2021 Australian Bathroom Report, the shower is considered the single most important feature in a bathroom, closely followed by a freestanding bath. The problem is many people with tiny bathrooms don’t think they can’t have the shower or bathtub of their dreams due to minimal space.

Solution:

Even if you have a small bathroom, there are a plethora of ways you can make the most of your shower. 

“If your bathroom has a small footprint, a simple fixed panel solution for showers opens the space and creates the illusion of a larger room, or if you have a cubicle shower, sliding doors can get a great option if space is limited,” Santilli explains. 

If you want the best of both worlds, opt for a shower-over-bath model, which Santilli says is still a popular option for smaller spaces. 

4. Forgetting the function of mirrors

People often associate tiny bathrooms with even tinier mirrors, but a large mirror has the ability to create the illusion of a large space.

Solution:

Hanging a mirror on your wall has the ability to make any room appear larger and their light-reflecting superpowers will brighten the darkest of spaces. 

“One clever tip is to keep in mind when choosing placement for mirrors is to set the mirror to reflect any natural light, which will make the room appear more open and spacious. A mirror wall can double the feel of the room, or multiple mirrors in different styles can create the illusion of space.” 

A mirrored shaving cabinet can often be a great solution to getting the additional storage you need and also gaining additional light reflections. 

Plus, your reflection is gorgeous so what’s the harm in seeing it a little more often, right? 

5. Using a dark colour palette

A dark colour palette in a large bathroom can make for a luxuriously sleek feel, however, it can only make a small bathroom feel tinier. 

Solution:

Always opt for a lighter colour palette if you want to create the illusion of a larger bathroom in your tiny bathroom. 

If you've just moved in or have grown weary of those wacky tiles from a bygone decade, a very effective way to achieve a fresh, contemporary look is to simply spray the lot white. You'll want to get a professional on board to maintain a premium finish, but this option is more cost-effective than tearing them off the wall and starting again.

If you're a renter with a good relationship with your landlord, remind them of how the new look will help them with their property value (and cross your fingers). By choosing a crisp white colour, your bathroom will immediately feel more spacious and luxurious.

And if you still want an element of dark furnishings in a small bathroom, Santilli says this can easily be achieved through chic matte black finishes like tapware and showerheads. 

If white isn’t your style and you want a pop of colour, may we suggest opting for sky blue? A new study from American real estate marketplace Zillow, found a sky blue bathroom has the potential to bump up a home’s market value by USD $4,700 (AUD $6,400). Yes, really.

6. Impractical storage

People often choose storage that is too big for the scale of the bathroom, which creates a claustrophobic and cluttered space.

Solution:

If you implement any bathroom advice, let it be this: “Anything wall-hung will naturally increase the illusion of space and make the room appear larger.”

Think vertically - take advantage of robe hooks, which are also a great way to declutter and tidy a space. Consider floating shelves, which are not only budget-friendly but are also relatively easy to install. 

When it comes to choosing your vanity, float the vanity and utilise the space to double as your mirror to create the illusion of more space. “Besides visually helping the bathroom appear bigger, mounting a vanity above the floor frees up a little space for small items and is easier to clean, too.”

And remember, your bathroom isn’t a storage space so really think deeply about how you can minimise the amount of items that need to be kept there. 

7. Poor lighting

We all know overhead lighting is one of the least flattering sources of light found in bathrooms - and the same goes for bulky or wall-mounted light fittings. 

Solution:

While these definitely serve a useful function, they lack ambiance and romance. To create a luxurious feel, consider installing a pendant light or wall sconce to achieve a more flattering and aesthetically-pleasing way to get ready.

“​​Pendant lighting and feature mirrors are a great way to add a luxury design feature to the bathroom without taking up additional space, particularly around the vanity space.”

Santilli also recommends LED lights: “Rather than relying on natural light, which can be inconsistent and often unavailable in small bathrooms, LED lights make getting ready at any time of the day simpler.” 

Concealed LED strips are a smart option because they don’t consume too much energy and can be left on for longer periods of time, especially when you have guests over and you want to impress them with opulence. 

8. An overloaded vanity

Clutter can make even the largest bathroom seem small and this often comes down to a lack of functional storage space. 

Solution:

If you have space under your vanity or next to your shower, consider a hidden woven basket to store items in for both practical and minimal styling purposes.

To make your vanity look extra chic and functional, use a simple tray to collate things like hand wash and your most-used skincare products. Then, fill a small vase with your favourite flowers or even some freshly-picked branches from your yard, and voila! - you've got yourself a cute, stylish bathroom vanity.

9. Too many plants

We all know plants can bring life to any bathroom (and can even help purify the air), however, many people run the risk of placing one too many plants in their tiny bathroom. 

Solution:

Santilli warns to use them sparingly in a small space. “Be sure not to overtake the space with greenery if you’re short on floor or bench space; instead, utilise hanging plants.” 

Also, be sure to select a variety based on the amount of natural light and temperature it needs to stay thriving. Here’s a full guide on how to choose the right plants for each room in your home. 

Want more advice? Here are 17 incredible bathroom designs to inspire your next makeover.

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