March 25, 2011 in Design Dilemma
How do I decorate a small bathroom?
How to decorate a bathroom: I'd like to redo the "master" bath in the house we just bought. Right now it's a little boring room with one window, a shower stall, toilet, and sink, with little room for anything big and fancy. Dimensions are roughly 10x8 feet, of which 3x8 is shower space. Any ideas on how to make this a more welcoming up to date room would be appreciated. While this is currently the master bath, eventually we hope to convert or room to a guest bedroom/bath, so we're looking for design that would fit this role. Thank you in advance.
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A uniform color scheme in a neutral will help! THe toilet isn't bad - sorta European -- but change the lid. Get rid of the vanity and the medicine cabinet which is just hung on the wall, not even inset into it. I could see walls in a deep color (muted olive? Dusty taupe? Navy?) that you like, with a pedestal sink and an interesting mirror hung over it. Or a modern wood stand for a vessel sink and bronze fixtures.

Is that a glass sliding door on the shower? Yuck. I can't tell if there's a tub or just a shower stall. If you can replace the shower stall with tiling, try for one that doesn't require either doors or curtains -- all the latest rage and a lot easier to clean!

I'd continue whatever color scheme you've started in the guest room, keep the design simple and sleek, even slightly stark with lush linens and high-end fixtures.
0 Likes   March 31, 2011 at 3:51PM
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Crockett and Tubbs want their bathroom back!

But seriously - This isn't a large bathroom (I'd be willing to bet it's much closer to 66"x96" - with a 30x66" shower) and moving fixtures probably isn't in the budget...
...but if you could at least either move the door opening to the right so that it's facing where the sink is now, or swap the sink and toilet - your view into the bathroom will be much more pleasing... addition, i'd consider swapping the swinging door for a pocket door - In a small bathroom, you wouldn't believe how much larger the space will feel without having to deal with a door.

I'm attaching a photo of a similarly-sized bathroom from the Maritime Hotel in New York - I'd highly recommend taking this as your cue for design and layout as these are amazing bathrooms. What this doesn't show is the ceiling mounted rain-showerhead...

Whatever you do, you need to keep your finishes simple - Run your tile wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling, keep the floors simple (You might even consider a curbless shower rather than a curbed one as shown) and use lots of mirrors to give the impression of more space.
0 Likes   March 31, 2011 at 4:16PM
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Thanks for the input.
inkwitch: I like the ideas for the sink, and that's what I've been trying to decide between - pedestal vs. stand/vessel sink. I have to look at some more models to help me decide.
Regarding the shower, I'll post a couple more pics to show what's there now, but basically it's a stall with sliding glass doors. I'm not quite sure what you mean by a shower that doesn't require doors or curtains. Could you please explain?
bepsf: I'll measure again in the morning. Is swapping the place of the toilet and sink complicated? Something i could do on my own or a job for a pro? Regarding a curbless shower, how do you prevent water from getting all over the place?
Thank you both for your advice
0 Likes   March 31, 2011 at 4:46PM
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2 more pics
0 Likes   March 31, 2011 at 4:49PM
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Swapping plumbing:
Yep, it can get complicated since it would require rerouting the floor drain for the toilet and the wall drain for the sink and the hot and cold water lines - it's definitely not a DIY, but if you're putting down tile you may be pulling up the subfloor anyway to correct mold/water damage issues and replacing w/ new materials in which case it may not be too much of an additional cost.

If you refer to the pic of the bathroom I attached, the showerhead is overhead behind the fixed glass partition - there's minimal to no overspray into the main part of the bathroom...
...if this were curbless, your tile contractor would slope the entire floor to meet the drain. There are even channel/trench drains that allow the use of larger-format tiles so that you don't have to use smaller cut tiles or stones.
The great thing about the channel/trench drains and curbless showers is that in addition to having a cleaner appearance and being able to mop the entire bathroom floor and sweep all the water directly into the drain - it's also great for ADA: there's no curb/step-over so it's easier for a person of limited mobilty to get in & out on a shower chair...
...and lets face it - We're all going to get older sooner or later!
0 Likes   March 31, 2011 at 5:03PM
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Stephanie Burns
Oh, this is the problem we just conquered on our houseboat. We had 2 sixties style bathrooms that were just big enough for a small shower, toilet and sink. We managed to squeeze into that footprint 2 bathrooms, one with a steam shower (it has a small tub), updated vanity and our original toilet. Because we had low ceilings we decided to panel the room in recycled wood. We managed to get clear Port Orford cedar that is on the lighter side and smells divine. We used pebble tile on the floor to give it a natural look and (being on a houseboat) installed portholes going to the other bathroom and to the bedroom. Many bathrooms today have some sort of opening to other rooms. The other bathroom has the same finishes with a whirlpool tub with a handheld shower. I don't have pics, but trust me the outcome is divine. A steam shower takes less water, but is like going to heaven. Both the steam shower and the tub can be removed easily. The cost was pretty minimal considering-the cedar and steam shower being our luxury purchases (but oh, so worth it). In a small space you can go top shelf.
0 Likes   April 1, 2011 at 8:27PM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
You've gotten some good ideas. Just a couple of thoughts - it this is going to be functioning as your master bath for the time being, I think I would go with a small vanity on feet (to raise it off the floor visually) with a vessel sink. I like a wall mount or pedestal look, but a small, simple vanity will give you some storage. There are some beautiful - but pricey - medecine cab/mirrors out there, which you may or may not want to invest in, depending upon how long it's going to function as the master bath

As for the layout, it might be easier to switch the door location rather than the plumbing. Could you move the door opposite the vanity and make it a pocket door? Or, what about a barn-door style, if this meets your aesthetic? (you can't swap it and use a swing door though - it would interfere with the entire layout).

Lastly, replace those sliding doors with a fixed glass panel or a half-wall with a glass panel above, just like the photo bepsf posted. Your shower stall is large enough that you won't get spray at the other, open end. There are so many beautiful tiles out there - choose one and go with it. Again, as bepsf said, because the room is so small, you don't want to overwhelm it with a lot of tile sizes and colors. Less is definitely more here. The photo shows a continuous shelf across the whole room - that would be very functional and a great design element. Good luck~
0 Likes   April 3, 2011 at 8:20AM
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Vicki Jackson
As someone who has 3 of these 5x8 bathrooms. I can tell you that you need the storage of a vanity. Changing out your vanity to something from this decade will change the look of your room! also installing a nice mirror with perhaps a medicine cabinet behind it???
Also adding some sort of shelving above the toilet. A new wall color and tile will also update your space! And I say new shower doors --I am not sure how not having a door would work in real life every day bathing.
0 Likes   April 3, 2011 at 9:19AM
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We redid our small bathroom and we were able to vault the ceiling which makes the bathroom look much larger.
0 Likes   April 3, 2011 at 10:14AM
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Thank you all for the ideas.
I think relocating the doorway sounds like the most straightforward option, although it might disrupt the symmetry on the bedroom side of the wall (closet and bathroom doorways are on same wall, currently each spaced equally from nearest perpendicular wall). Perhaps swapping around the hinges so the door opens into the bedroom is a simpler fix. In theory the door would be closed most of the time, so one wouldn't be staring at the toilet from the bedroom. Thoughts?
The more I think about it the more I like the idea of a wood vanity on feet with a vessel sink. Any recommendations as to which companies to use?
Shower - I like the idea of half wall + glass. One current issue with doorless is that the shower head is on the side of the shower opposite the sink. The opening to the shower would have to be on that wall. Is it practical to move the shower head to the opposite wall (without having ugly tubing running in the shower)?
Regarding the vaulted ceiling - I like the thought, but eventually we plan to put another floor above, so it probably would be wasted time/money.
0 Likes   April 3, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
Well, you are going to be ripping the shower apart anyway in order to re-tile, so it wouldn't be that big a deal. You can leave the handle part on the open end so you can turn it on but put the shower head on the opposite wall. You will probably want to move the drain to the other end, too, but that's probably where the current one goes (to the sink drain).

As far as vanities, you can shop the big box stores or check out this website Something like this might also work OR there is always Ikea for a more reasonable price
Here is another site with a good variety, including wall-mount, which would be another option

Do you have 8' ceilings or higher? If they are higher, you might be able to put a transom window over the bathroom door. Since you mentioned the symmetry from the bedroom, maybe your best bet is a pocket door for space-saving. Another idea might be a frosted (or similar) glass door, since the bathroom opens off the bedroom. Try this link If you do this, you might want to just leave the door location alone and keep it closed. You can do anything for money, of course ;-) but it sounds like you have a lot of other projects down the road! While in the best of all worlds, I would not put the door opposite the toilet, it really all comes down to how much you want to spend.
0 Likes   April 3, 2011 at 4:11PM
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Thanks for the ideas. Ceilings are 8 feet. It turns out that our first projects will be deck replacement and landscaping, which will set us back a good 25G, so bathroom is on hold for now. Will update when we get to work.
0 Likes   June 20, 2011 at 6:37AM
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Kathryn Peltier Design
OK, good luck with your landscaping project! I had one other thought about the symmetry - could you add kind of a double door look, with one side being a stationary door (frosted glass/art glass/???) and the other side operable? That might solve the balance issue.
0 Likes   June 20, 2011 at 7:33AM
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I like that idea. Turns out when I originally posted I had misremembered, and the does aren't that symmetrical after all. But the fake door idea might remedy that anyway.
0 Likes   June 20, 2011 at 7:56AM
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