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.


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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Bold + Bright = Beautiful

Small bathroom color palettes don't have be limited to whites and grays. In a small space, you can use bright, bold colors and patterns that might be overwhelming in a larger room. This small bathroom from Dabito of Old Brand New is bursting with rich colors, quirky patterns and geometric shapes.

Photo By: Dabito, Old Brand New

Go Small or Go Home

Small bathrooms unfortunately call for smaller fixtures. Instead of overwhelming your bathroom with a large sink and bulky vanity, choose a smaller, vintage-inspired sink. This piece serves its purpose while allowing extra room underneath to stow two small step stools.

Choose a Petite Tub

Yes, you can make a tub work in a small bathroom! This otherwise cramped enclosure is the perfect spot for a small soaking tub. From bright, tribal pattern flooring to towel hooks that double as fun art, this is a great example of a small bathroom that gets everything right.

From: Prairie

Create an Oasis

Your bathroom should feel simultaneously invigorating and relaxing. Designer Justina Blakeney's jungalow bathroom is inspired by the baths she experienced on her travels to Turkey and Morocco. The blue color choice came from a family trip to Lake Tahoe.

Photo By: Dabito

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. In tiny powder rooms like this one, small, medium and large wallpaper patterns work well. In larger powder rooms and bathrooms, wall coverings featuring small patterns can look cluttered.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography

Try an Accent Wall

Even petite bathrooms can benefit from an accent wall such as this forest green wall featuring a vintage map. Instead of making this small bathroom seem smaller, the accent wall adds much-needed color to an otherwise neutral space.

Photo By: Mandi Gubler,

Pick a Patterned Floor

Patterns look great in small bathrooms. Try a quirky patterned floor and see how the small square footage actually works in your favor. For another decor trick that adds interest to your bathroom without taking up space, try brass or gold fixtures instead of more common chrome.

Welcome to the Jungle

A small space, like this powder room, can be a fun place to try out bold colors or patterns. Here, green leafy wallpaper gives the space jungle fever and is imaginatively contrasted by the reds and yellows of the rug.

Light + Airy

Lighten up a small space with white trim, white patterned wallpaper, white shower tile and a sweet, traditional vanity.

Floor-to-Ceiling Tile

Up the style ante and make your small bath look larger by installing a panorama of chic, colorful wall tile.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Show Your Stripes

While vertical stripes might make you look thinner, they can make your bathroom look bigger (and more dramatic!) Copy this nautical-inspired space from HGTV Dream Home 2018.

Photo By: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Or, Think Horizontal

Adding long, uninterrupted horizontal planks to a small bathroom is also a great way to make it seem larger than it actually is. In this small bathroom, the shiplap walls maximize horizontal space and keep the room from feeling closed in.

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. Sparkling damask wallpaper creates a stunning setting for a pair of contemporary pendant lights and golden sunburst mirror in this ultra-glam bathroom.

Kick Up the Color

Sometimes bold color is all you need to make a big statement. Although this space is small, the bold salmon-pink walls give it fresh personality. A simple white vanity and sleek fixtures balance the vibrant color.

Keep Clutter Controlled

While you'd never want clothes lying all over the floor even in a palatial bathroom, it's especially important to keep things neat and tidy in a small bathroom like this one from the HGTV Dream Home 2017. The rolling wire laundry basket shown here is a great design choice that blends function and style.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Bring On the Charm

A repurposed wooden ladder adds instant charm above the toilet in this farmhouse-inspired bathroom, offering a place to hang a hand towel and a basket to store extra towels and any other bathroom necessities.

See More of This Bathroom's Remodel

Go for Glass

Walk-in showers are far from your only option for high-style bathing. This bathroom features a subway-tiled tub married with a barely-there glass enclosure. The use of glass keeps the full expanse of the room visible for a spacious feel.

Photo By: Tessa Neudstadt

Float It

The vanity is often the largest piece of furniture in a bathroom and therefore has a big effect on how spacious the room feels. In this small WC designed by Marian Parsons, a floating vanity takes up less physical space without compromising style.

Take a Trip to the Country

A yellow, footed tub framed by yellow, floral curtains create a cozy, French country-inspired bath. A wood cabinet, antique door with glass handle and a blue, distressed footstool complete the aesthetic. Design by Sarah Richardson.

Make Shelving Matter

Small bathrooms can't afford to be cluttered. If your bathroom doesn't have space for large amounts of storage, the storage you do have should pull double duty as an accent piece like these sleek natural wood shelves with well-placed essentials and decor pieces.

Lose the Rug

Besides a bath mat, small bathrooms don't necessarily need rugs. Take a tip from this bathroom that's not much bigger than a corner and decorate your floor with a cheeky tile design instead. The message adds spunk without taking up space.

From: Kim Lewis

Photo By: Molly Winters Photography

Skirt the Issue

Careful attention to design ensured that this already-small bathroom would not feel closed in. Wine boxes add beautiful, warm color and create easy storage. A skirt for the sink provides extra storage underneath, and the pages of an old book are taped to the wall for inexpensive and effective decoration.

Add Spa-Style Extras

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

Photo By: Regan Baker Design Inc.

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. For example, give a builder-basic vanity a trendy cottage-style update by stripping the paint or stain down to the natural wood, then adding a coat of whitewash.

Install a Large Mirror

It's a well-known design truth that mirrors can create the illusion of more space. The floor-to-ceiling mirror shown here is a perfect example of this tactic. The floating marble vanity and soft, clean color scheme further complete the posh, airy look of this bathroom.

Go Quirky

Quirky, colorful book cover wallpaper makes a major statement in this small bathroom. Simple decor, like thin brass wall sconces, a retro mirror and white marble vanity, balance the bold paperback pattern.

Coordinate Fixtures

From the mesmerizing floor tile to the slanted ceiling, this bathroom is nothing but first-rate design inspiration. One of designer Emily Henderson's tactics for decorating this small bathroom (photographed by Tessa Neustadt) was to match metals, from towel bars to faucets, for a more cohesive appearance.

Photo By: Tessa Neustadt, Design by Emily Henderson

Light It Up

The right lighting choices in a small bathroom can maximize the space and provide the adequate light you need for your daily bathroom routine. This bathroom combines recessed lighting with a retro fixture for task lighting over the vanity.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images

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.  

Look Up

Try a bold, dark ceiling color in your small bathroom, such as the black ceiling in this room from Sarah Gibson, designer and blogger at Room for Tuesday. The dramatic shade also helps expand the height of this small bathroom by drawing the eye upwards.

Photo By: Sarah Gibson, Room for Tuesday

Show Off Your Shower

Fish scale tile is a hot bathroom trend and using it on a small shower accent wall is a great way to elevate your bathroom in a very subtle way. Bonus: Having less wall space to cover also means you'll spend less on this crave-able tile. Finish off the shower with a sleek glass door to strut your shower's new style.

Photo By: Chipper Hatter

Try Open Shelving

Floating shelves provide storage space for style-boosting accesories and bath necessities while making the room appear bigger.

Eliminate Enclosures

Any kind of enclosure or barrier in a room can divide it up and make the space feel smaller. While that might be desirable in some spaces, it's not what you want in a small bathroom. In this ultra-modern bathroom, the shower has no enclosure at all, which lends a roomier feel.

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.

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