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Small Bathroom Design Ideas

When it comes to design, a small bathroom presents an opportunity to have some fun. Consider that you typically only spend a few minutes in a small bathroom or powder room. As long as you get the bathroom layout right and provide all the necessities, you can really go in any direction with your bathroom decor.

We were excited by that idea when we finally decided to tackle our small main floor powder room over holidays. In just over two days, we transformed it from a red and sombre space to one that is pleasant and surprisingly pretty. You can get a whole new look without a costly bathroom renovation. Here's my best tips for a quick budget bathroom remodel and designing a functional small bathroom with style.

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small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

Before I dig into the changes we made in this bathroom remodel, let's take a look at what this bathroom looked like before. We moved into this house two years ago and we hadn't touched this space. Here's a few things that had to be fixed:

  • the bold red paint that made this room feel dark and small
  • weird ceiling angles emphasized by the paint treatment
  • a window with blinds that were constantly closed to provide privacy
  • modern dated fixtures that didn't fit with the warm and traditional design scheme we had in the rest of the house
  • no towel holder, art or accessories and a lack of style
So how did we remodel this small bathroom on a budget?

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

1. Keep Existing Fixtures and Furnishings

The biggest costs in a bathroom renovation are incurred when you make changes to the existing layout and furnishings. Things like moving the toilet or faucet placement, changing the vanity, or making structural changes can significantly increase your budget. In this budget bathroom remodel, we didn't have to make any costly alterations. The toilet worked fine (though it was wobbly and needed to be re-installed) and the vanity and countertop were adequate. The floor tiles really weren't our style but they continued into the connected kitchen so we decided to live with those as well.

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

2. Use Inexpensive Molding to add Character

One great thing about small bathrooms is that you don't have a lot of square footage to cover. We decided to keep this project at a minimal cost by relying on inexpensive paint and moulding to bring about a dramatic transformation.

To bring character to the space, we decided to continue the wall moulding treatment into the bathroom. The moulding outside the bathroom was installed a few years ago by the previous owners but we were lucky to find trim pieces to replicate the look. We had leftover trim from our living room project that exactly matched the chair rail. We did purchase additional picture moulding which was super inexpensive, about $8 for the entire room, and we kept the existing baseboard.

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

3. Expand Your Space With Paint

How can you make a small bathroom look bigger? All it takes is the right paint colour and a few reflective accessories. By painting the wall above the chair rail and the ceiling the same white paint colour (Simply White by Benjamin Moore), and using a darker colour on the bottom (Stonington Grey by Benjamin Moore), we were to make the room feel taller. Having the ceiling the same colour as the walls also helped to minimize the weird angles. The small door on the right above the vanity is a door into the laundry chute which runs from the floor upstairs to the basement downstairs. It's pretty handy for tossing down dirty tea towels but it creates this strange curved ceiling in the bathroom!

Another space-expanding trick is to use mirrors. This round mirror fills up the area nicely and reflects the sunlight from the window, making the bathroom feel bright and airy. I also like how the round shape plays against the hard edges of the vanity and towel bar and the minimal design doesn't overpower this small room.

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

4. Be Creative With Your Privacy Options

Privacy is something you need to have in a bathroom but that doesn't mean everything needs to be closed off and dark. Window film is a great option that is not only functional but helps to make your small bathroom feel bigger. We lined the entire window with this window film and I added a simple tension rod, curtain rings with clips, and a cafe curtain I sewed out of scrap fabric to the bottom half of the window. This way, you let in natural light but don't feel exposed when you're in the bathroom.

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas, bathroom privacy film, cafe curtain

5. Choose Clean Lined Decor Elements

Although the mouldings and trims are very curvy and traditional, I balanced them with more modern and streamlined toilet paper holder, towel rod, and knobs. Their minimal design doesn't draw too much attention or compete with the moulding. Keeping everything in a matte black finish also helps tie the entire look together.

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas, bathroom wainscot

Looking to outfit your own small bathroom? Here's a boutique of favourite decor items for the bath:

6. Make a Statement With Light

Light fixtures are one of my favourite ways to bring style and impact to a room. Typically, you might only have one or two light sources in a small bathroom. Make the best use of that opportunity by choosing a light fixture that combines both functionality and design. This Permo Industrial Wall Sconce comes in 5 different colours and was less than $35! With it's mixed brass and metal finish, it packs a lot of style in it's small form. I love the swivel head and the extended arm which allows light to be cast downward in a nice cone shape.

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

7. Use Art in the Bathroom

It might seem counter-intuitive, but I would encourage you to use a really nice piece of art in your small bathroom. Art can elevate the feel of an entire space, make it feel 'fancier' and, well, less like a bathroom! I've had this modern print for years and was just waiting for the right spot to display it. Who knew it would end up here. I love that it's unexpected and how the art picks up on the black, white, and cream tones found in the room.

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

small bathroom remodel, bathroom design ideas

I was extremely happy with how quickly this room came together. How long does it take to renovate a small bathroom? It depends on the complexity of changes you are making but this budget bathroom remodel took us only 2.5 days. If you have a small bathroom in need of a makeover, make a few select changes and you and your guests will be sitting pretty in no time!


Looking for more small bathroom remodel ideas? Check out these past projects:

Small Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom Floor Tile Layout

Black & White Vintage Bathroom

Bathroom Tile Ideas

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