Make a Big Splash in a Small Bathroom

Sometimes, the smallest spaces give us the best opportunities to go big with decor. Here, we’ve rounded up some bathrooms with real pizzazz along with expert advice on how to create impressive impact in a small space.

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September 20, 2017

Photo By: Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design

Photo By: Lowe's

Photo By: Brian Kellogg ©2012 Brian Kellogg

Photo By: Corey Damen Jenkins

Photo By: Preston Lee

Photo By: Mia Baxter Smail

Photo By: Stacey Brandford

Photo By: Susan Gilmore Photography

Photo By: John Woodcock Photography

Photo By: Jim Tschetter


Photo By: Rennai Hoefer

Photo By: Chipper Hatter

Photo By: The Home Depot

Photo By: Katie Nathey

Photo By: M.A. Allen

Brighten Up

"Small rooms can pack a lot of punch, and powder rooms especially are great for unexpected surprises," says Ghislaine Vinas of Ghislaine Vinas Interior Design. "For me, it's often a 'go big or go home' moment. I love being bold in my treatment of powder rooms."

Wide bands of fluorescent yellow paint brightened up the alcove of this bathroom. With no direct sunlight in this room, the color lends a sunny vibe. "The rest of the powder room was left white so it’s clean and fresh. The beauty of the treatment, too, is that if one grows tired of the color or the stripes, it’s easy to refresh with a new design," Ghislaine says.

Feeling Blue

By painting the vanity a dreamy blue shade, this tiny bathroom gets a bright and pretty focal point. Adding a band of glass mosaic tiles adds another personal touch to the space and is an eye-catching, cost-efficient alternative to a fully-tiled wall.

Then, it’s art and accessories that enhance the room’s colors and style. The splashy painting behind the commode pulls the room together, while a trio of bottles and a bird-topped decorative orb add personal touches.

Chic All Over

"Our client loves design impact. This gave us permission to layer found lighting pieces, a statement mirror and vintage bathroom hardware onto an already graphic wall covering," says Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.

For this bold half bath, Kelly worked to create a personalized aesthetic that would also complement the adjoining living and game rooms. "We began our design process by selecting a wall covering. From there we were able to source pieces from our client’s treasure trove of objects found while traveling to make it a space all her own." In general, Kelly likes to "celebrate a small space by providing a bit of drama that complements other areas of the home."

Masculine and Modern

"Fantastic wall coverings, bold flooring choices, unusual light fixtures and daring paint color combinations are all elements that can be manipulated to make even the tiniest loo a 'wow' space," says designer Corey Damon Jenkins.

In this bachelor pad, "the tiles have an iridescent quality, and we lacquered the ceiling in black paint as well," Corey says. "As a result, the white vanity, crystal lighting and oval mirror 'float' and reflect brightly against these gleaming backdrops."

While some people assume that dark wall colors make a room feel confining, Corey disagrees. "In reality, it's the exact opposite. They actually make the space expand visually because they obscure the lines that define the room's true size and perimeter."

From: Corey Damen Jenkins

In the Mix

This neutral-metallic powder room successfully incorporates a selection of unique and unexpected design elements to create a memorable, impactful space. Subtly textured, metallic tiles line the walls to add interest and reflect light in this contemporary setting.

A quirky vessel sink and off-center faucet play with form and function, while a shell-encrusted mirror balances out the design with tons of organic texture and appeal.

Bestseller Bathroom

Sarah Wittenbraker of Sarah Wittenbraker Interiors offers this suggestion, "When designing a small bathroom, make the floor tile or wall covering a standout. Or better yet, do both! Also, be smart about storage: Even powder baths need a cabinet or drawer for the necessities. I usually 'just say no' to pedestal sinks."

With this guest bath situated right off the living room, it is very visible and frequently used. "The book cover wallpaper was the perfect color palette for our home," says Sarah. "Plus this bookworm about died over turning our bathroom into a 'library!'"

A Spa-Like Setting

Keeping things sleek and chic was a priority in this elegant bathroom, with the finishes and palette helping lend the space a spa-like air. The wall-mounted, contemporary chrome faucet is cool but unobtrusive, integrated beautifully with the soft-toned mosaic tiles.

The simply styled, coordinating chrome-framed mirror matches the design, and it’s mirror-like finish keeps the look light, bright and modern. Minimal accents, such as the softly-hued green vase, keep the look clean and welcoming.

A Woodsy Welcome

We love the forest-inspired wallpaper in this small bathroom. The vertical design keeps the eye moving upward, visually adding height. And it was all inspired by a fanciful framed print. "The homeowner had this whimsical piece of art they wanted to incorporate, so we started there. This led us to the wall-covering choice," says Jen Ziemer of Fiddlehead Design Group.

The lighting, says Jen, is a fun juxtaposition to the rustic elements. Hooks and shelving help offset the lack of storage space, and the result is a small powder room that’s the perfect combination of style and function. "Don't be afraid to go bold in a small space!" says Ziemer. "Have some fun and give your guests something to talk about."

Pattern Play

Talk about a major statement in a small space: This powder room is a winning combination of colors, patterns and whimsy. The trick to keeping it chic instead of overwhelming is working within the color palette established by the wall covering.

Pulling hues of blue from the wallpaper, the striped sconce shades and hand towel pop without competing with (or getting lost in) the paper’s pattern. A frameless, beveled-edge mirror and simply-styled sink are perfect complements to the captivating graphic print.

Go Fish!

For this children’s bathroom in a vacation home, Linc Thelan of Linc Thelen Design wanted the design to reflect summer fun at the beach. "Adding the colorful geometric fish wallpaper, trough sink and custom woodwork gave this bath style and an experience of what summer homes are made of," says Linc.

The graphic, fish-patterned wallpaper adds just the right amount of color, whimsy and impact to this otherwise white space. "Find a statement piece and work around that," Thelan says. "Select a striking floor tile, wallpaper or cabinet and build off it." Adding child-height double hooks provides a bit of storage and incentive to hang up wet towels, swimsuits and robes.

Go for a Gallery

Personalizing a space can be done in many ways, but displaying prized collections is definitely one of the most satisfying. In this boldly-hued bath, children’s artwork and fun collectibles are framed and proudly displayed, creating a unique gallery-style environment where it’s least expected but certainly appreciated.

No vertical space is off limits. Here, even the door becomes its own art-laden wall. While this example shows a children’s bathroom, the concept is just as delightful in adult powder rooms, too!

Tons of Texture

"I think small bathrooms are great places to take design risks. Because they are such small spaces, a bold color or wallpaper choice can be a great surprise for guests, but you don't risk dominating a whole area of the house," says Carmel Greer of District Design.

In a fun twist, Carmel used architectural ceiling medallions as wall ornaments. Painted the same color as the walls, these medallions become eye-catching works of art. Various shapes and sizes of medallions add a whimsical feeling to this uber-textural design choice. This unusual but impactful decor is a clever way to decorate the walls in keeping with the feel of the turn-of-the-century row house in which it is located.

Statement Sink

In this gorgeous Mediterranean-style bathroom, an exquisitely decorated terracotta sink takes center stage. All the other elements in the room, from the golden color of the walls and border detail to the wrought iron towel rack and light fixture, serve to highlight and enhance the sculptural sink.

The result is an inviting powder room with a sunny feel and well-traveled aesthetic in keeping with the home’s bright, globally influenced decor.

Ranch-Style Restroom

The design of this striking small bathroom is inspired by the home’s modern ranch style. Crisp, white shiplap lines the walls, a rugged wooden vanity contains the sink, and gray and black details on the mirror, sconces, faucet, countertop and towels add some edge.

All together, these design elements perfectly blend the spirit of simple ranch living and sleek modern style. The potted cactus adds a fresh pop of verdant color and is a whimsical callback to Western landscapes.

Awesome Angles

When small bathrooms are carved out in unusual spaces, the result can be quite charming. Here, an array of angled walls gets refined with an elegant quatrefoil pattern that’s airy enough to take on a small space from top to bottom without feeling claustrophobic.

We love this choice of pattern, as it plays as beautifully overhead as it does on the walls, adding even more personality to a potentially difficult-to decorate area.

Cool in Color

Whether you want to celebrate the color of the season, your signature hue or just a favorite shade, you can’t go wrong bringing a bolt of bold color to a small space. In this radiant-orchid powder room, the accessories are kept traditional, yet minimal.

Gold and black frame the art, mirror and sconces for an elegant air. A ceramic garden stool and towels in a cool neutral help offset the stark white pedestal sink to create a harmonious space with lots of eye appeal.

Flower Power

A shower of peppy blooms in shades of pink and white gives this powder room its decidedly feminine feel. An oversized framed mirror, complete with golden hardware, helps to brighten up the room by reflecting the natural light from the window.

A washstand with a luxe look but spare design fits right in with the decor, while leaving the space feeling open and airy. Keeping the towels and accessories neutral allows the floral print to be the main focus.

An RV Retreat

"Our main objective was to keep our small bathroom simple and functional and to make us feel as though we had walked into a mountain cabin, not an RV," says Katie Nathey of Mountain Modern Life. "We simplified the color palette and accessories to create a space that feels larger and uncluttered."

Personalized touches make this petite bathroom even sweeter. "We were married at a cabin wedding venue in North Carolina, and the owner was kind enough to give us some reclaimed wood he had on the property. Some of that wood was used to create our bathroom counter as well as the shelf we use to store towels and toilet paper. We also reimagined the linen closet door using old tin and wood from my husband's family's farm. We love using materials that add history and tell a story!"

Pop of Pink

With its graphic print and a fresh rosy hue, the wallpaper in this tiny bathroom takes center stage, making a lasting impression on its visitors. A drawer-front vanity provides some much-needed storage space beneath the marble-topped sink.

Sconces with clear bases are affixed to opposite walls, rather than beside the mirror, to help visually open up the space. Simple accessories, a thin-framed mirror and minimalist towel bar also work well to keep the wall covering the star and finish off this jewel box of a powder room.

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