Getting rid of visual barriers

A small bath doesn’t have to look like a small bath. There are some design tips that can help the small bath appear roomier.

3 Tips To Making A Small Bathroom Feel BIG
  • Remove any visual barriers – Visual barriers would be walls or bathtubs with a shower curtain or obscured sliding doors. Anytime your visual sight of the entire room is blocked the space is reduced and the room will appear smaller. Removing the barrier will expand the room visually and the space will appear bigger.
  • Install clear glass for shower or bath enclosures – I always recommend installing a clear glass shower enclosure allowing you to see the shower walls. This is a good opportunity to face-lift your bath or shower area with updated tile for a fresh new look.
  • Replace full walls next to toilets with half walls – Another visual barrier I see a lot in small bathrooms is floor to ceiling stub wall, where the toilet is located, to give privacy. The wall can be replaced by a half wall and visually increase your bathroom size. A full wall not only makes the room look shorter, but it also makes it look more narrow.
  • Remove any soffits – Soffits are heavy and make the room ceiling height close in on you. You can really open up any room by eliminating soffits and flushing the ceiling. It is also a cleaner more updated design and a relatively inexpensive fix.
  • Eliminate shower curb – You might not think this would make much of a visual impact, but it is a division to the eye. By eliminating the shower curb and recessing the shower down a couple of inches and adding full clear glass shower enclosure makes a BIG difference.

Tricking the eye visually

Tile is your best friend when you are wanting your small bath to appear bigger. A great little trick is to tile the wall 48″ off the floor and run it around the entire room. You need to be careful not to do this with a patterned tile with a lot of movement¹ because it could have the opposite effect. The color psychology would be the calmer the palette the more open it would feel and the louder the palette the more the room would close in on you. Another tile tip would be to tile all walls of the shower area to the ceiling and not stop short. This would carry your eye up making your brain see the space larger.

Make sure if you are installing a clear glass shower enclosure that you go with frameless. This is a cleaner more open look and effects the way you view the space.


Fixtures that do not overwhelm the space

In any small space, you want to streamline your fixtures so they do not overwhelm the room. Below are some space saving suggestions that would be perfect for small bathrooms:

Wall Hung Vanities

You can see with this illustration below that the depth off of the wall hung vanity is less than 21″ which is what a standard vanity cabinet depth is, not counting the depth of the overlay door and overhang of a countertop which would be approximately 23″ in total. This solution saves over 2″ of a protrusion into the space.

Wall Hung Vanities

Wall Hung Toilets

This is a wonderful solution for small baths. The wall hung toilet only protrudes into your room 21″, where a standard toilet extends approximately 30″. I love the wall hung toilet because they are easy to clean and look great!

In small bathrooms, counter space is tight, so you might want to consider wall hung accessories as a solution to counter clutter.

¹Movement refers to the type of pattern a material has. For example, chinoiserie has a lot of movement while crema marfil marble does not.
I understand how stressful an interior design project can be. You may need someone to guide you, help to explain all those choices, and point you in the right direction. I’m available for consultation via Skype for your interior design project, no matter the size. Our virtual session will include a document detailing everything discussed. Feel free to contact me prior to setting up a consultation.


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About the Author: Patricia Davis Brown

Patricia, like her blog, is not a one-dimensional designer, which is evident in her accolades of 17 national design awards. Over a 38-year career in the industry, she has carved a niche in several areas of design. Licensed in interior design and certified in kitchen and bath design, she offers a full menu of design services ranging from whole house interior design, kitchen and bath design, lighting design, full remodels, commercial design and universal (ADA) design. Patricia is a sought-after speaker in the industry and has been published in many publications as seen on her interior design firm’s website, She writes for such publications as QuinStreetinc, Relaxed Remodeler, and talent offering design tips.