Small Bathtubs: Ideas and Options

It is possible to fit a small bathtub into your cozy bathroom, and there are more options than you might think.
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The master bathroom renovation isn't enough to make the homeowners move out of their master bedroom.

By: Kirsten Efird
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Do you have a small bathroom but still want a bathtub in it rather than just a shower? Maybe you have a half bath that you would like to convert into a full bath for a growing family. With all of today's small bathtub ideas and options, fear not—it can be done with a little research and creativity.

Small Bathroom Design

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Break the Rules

"Powder rooms are usually where I really go all out, break all the rules and use materials that might look 'over the top' in larger spaces," says interior designer Melissa Miranda. Dark colors or bold patterns, like this graphic lattice wallpaper, add dimension and a bit of fun. Design by Jennifer Jones

Go Big

An advantage of small bathrooms? Smaller prices. "Since the space is usually so small, you can get away with using higher priced materials as you need so little of them," says interior designer Melissa Miranda. Designer Shelly Reihl David paired a hand-carved marble sink with a modern metallic damask wall covering, gold gilded mirror and amber crystal wall sconces to create this impactful space.

From: Shelly Riehl David

Make Built-In Storage Part of the Design

Design blogger Layla Palmer maximizes the storage space in her small bathroom with a custom floor-to-ceiling built-in shelf for storing bath-time necessities.

©Layla Palmer

Kick Up the Color

As this 6-foot-by-7-foot Atlanta bathroom demonstrates, sometimes bold color is all you need to make a big statement. Although this space receives no natural light, the bold kelly green walls give it fresh personality. The ultra-white floor and wainscoting counterbalance the green's intensity.

Give an Illusion With Glass

Glass shower enclosures give the illusion of space in a small bathroom by allowing you to see from one end of the room to the other. Design by Sarah Richardson

Indulge Your Vanity

The vanity is typically the only piece of furniture in a small bath so it should make a big impact. Furniture-style vanities have been popular for quite a while and this timeless look is still going strong. There are many pre-made versions available or you can make your own with basic woodworking skills and an old buffet or dresser. Our step-by-step instructions will show you how.  

Choose Small-Scale Fixtures

In this urban bathroom, designer Vern Yip selected compact, sculptural fixtures to maximize floor space and match the apartment's streamlined vibe.  

Photo By: EP

Bring On the Charm

Wood paneling and a chair rail add formality to this charming powder room. Design by Thomas A. Conway

Go for a Saturated Shade

Small bathrooms or powder rooms are a great place to try ultra-dark shades you might be scared to use elsewhere. "I had a lot of natural light in the powder room so I didn't hesitate in choosing black as the main color," says designer Melissa Miranda. Miranda chose ceiling-reaching "Woods" wallpaper from Cole & Sons to emphasize the height of the room.

Add Floating Storage

In this small bathroom designed by Jordan Iverson, a floating vanity takes up less visual space without compromising style. A pocket door, instead of a standard swinging door, lends privacy to the bathroom while freeing up floor space.

Make Organizing Fun

Make stashing your stuff a little more fun by adding an unexpected splash of color to the inside of your vanity using paint or just a brightly colored adhesive paper.

Declutter Countertops

Store makeup, prescription items and any personal grooming tools out of sight. Style your countertop with fresh flowers and sweet-smelling lotion or soap.  

Add Spa-Style Extras

Luxury can be found even in a small space. This bathroom has just a standard-sized tub, but the tile, oversized shower head and accessories turn it into a retreat.

Photo By: Brandon Barre; brandonbarre.com

Try Open Shelving

Floating shelves provide storage space for style-boosting accesories and bath necessities while making the room appear bigger by allowing you to see all the way to the wall.

DIY Your Way to a Fresh Look

No matter how small your bath, gutting and replacing fixtures is an expensive undertaking. Save money by updating what you can yourself. Here, design blogger Layla Palmer gave a builder-basic vanity a trendy cottage-style update with a quart of gray paint and a little distressing with sandpaper.  

Add Color With Accessories

Even a minimal splash of color in a small space will add a big dose of fun. Stick to a soft neutral or white color palette for the walls and fixtures to maximize light then mix in just the right amount of color with the shower curtain, towels or accessories.  

Put It on a Pedestal

In this bright and cheery basement bathroom, designed by Sarah Richardson, a classic pedestal sink creates the illusion of extra square footage while a bright-white palette keeps the teeny-tiny space from feeling cramped.  

Skirt the Issue

Pedestal sinks are ideal for tight spaces but often show exposed plumbing and offer no hidden storage. An easy-to-sew sink skirt will solve both problems, providing style and function to a bathroom. Learn how to whip one up with our step-by-step instructions.  

Add Style Underfoot

The lack of square footage is a good thing when it comes to purchasing new flooring. Even a pricey pick, like this black, gray and white marble hexagonal tile, won't set your budget back too much.  

Change the Floor Plan

A cramped floor plan and outdated finishes prompted the remodel of this small master bathroom. Relocating the toilet to the rear wall and adding a wall-mounted sink maximizes the space. The glass mosaic tile feature wall adds movement and draws attention to the high ceilings and skylight. Design by Jennifer Jones

Vintage freestanding tubs were much shorter than today's tubs because people weren't as tall as we are today. The shortest freestanding tub is a mere 48 inches, or four feet long, and can work well for children's bathrooms or even for adults of average height. These tubs, which can be of the clawfoot variety or a more modern pedestal style, can even have shower attachments, so you can have the best of both worlds in your cozy bath. This type of tub can sit against the wall and does not need any extra space for a surround or deck area.

The smallest soaking tub for small bathrooms, however, is the Japanese soaking tub, which is becoming more popular and widely available in the West. These tubs have built-in seats and are much deeper than a conventional American-style tub—about 27 inches deep, so that you sit upright and the water comes up to your chin, making it a true deep soaking tub. You can find these as small as 41 inches wide, which is perfect for a small bathroom. They also are available as oval or round freestanding tubs in various finishes, such as stainless steel, copper, or the traditional wood.

Another way to fit a tub into a small bathroom is to consider installing a corner bathtub. Because of their design, corner tubs don't require the long wall space that standard bathtubs do. These tubs usually are five-sided and are designed so that two sides adjoin two walls. The basin can be triangular, oval, rectangular or even hourglass-shaped. The standard size for corner bathtubs is usually 4 feet by 4 feet, or slightly larger at 5 feet by 5 feet. Depths are comparable to conventional bathtubs, between 21 and 26 inches. Be sure you plan a bit of extra space for the surround or deck area. Whichever style you like, you will be able to find in today's wide selection of small tubs.

You don't have to give up on having modern amenities in your small tub. Some even have jets for that spa-like experience. The Japanese tubs feature aromatherapy options. Some even have a waterfall feature, or inline heating so that the water is continuously heated.

But first things first. Before you buy, analyze your space. Is there an alcove or underutilized corner in which one of these tubs might fit? Talk to your contractor or plumber to make sure the necessary plumbing can be located in that area. Measure the space thoroughly so you can be prepared when you head out to the home improvement store.

Bold and Trendy Small-Bathroom Makeover

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