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No matter the space, it’s easy to consider limited square footage as a burden, something you deal with instead of actually enjoying—especially when more puzzling details like plumbing are involved. But crack open your creativity a bit and think of all the fun you can have with this particular design challenge. (Bonus: Pricier items like handmade tile can be more budget-friendly when you don’t need as many.)
For those in search of small-bathroom ideas—whether you’re completely overhauling your own or just looking for a renter-friendly DIY project—we present our 14 favorite pint-size spaces that feel way bigger than they are.
The Powder Room With Maximalist English Style
A frilly basin really sets the tone in the powder room of this London townhouse, owned by Lucy and Josh Barlow of Barlow & Barlow. Sometimes working with a small space means packing in as much personality as possible—instead of chaotic, this one feels immersive. Bucolic wallpaper, that scalloped sink, brass fixtures, and flashes of fiery red in the form of fabric sconces and art frames play together to create something delightfully cozy.
The Bathroom With Plenty of Architectural Charm
On the flip side, sometimes the best small-bathroom ideas are less about texture and color and more about architectural details—consider the reno of this Cleveland bathroom, a master class in adding character where there was none. While you might think big-move details like a sweeping alcove and wraparound shiplap would eat up too much of the 55-square-foot space (where before there was only a shower), they actually make it feel airier and less boxy.
The Bathroom That’s Having the Most Fun With Tile
Instead of feeling constricted by a small bathroom, consider it an invitation to lean in to some really funky ideas—like a tile situation that your friends (and all of their Instagram followers) will be copying for years to come. When Survivor alum Kim Spradlin Wolfe renovated her San Antonio guesthouse, she went all in on colorful tile from Clay Imports (for a grand total of $500). By extending the tile from the shower interior to the adjacent sink in the bathroom, she created the illusion of a much bigger space. Sometimes the statement is all about unexpected placements.
The Farmhouse Washroom With Lots of Monochrome Layers
What we wouldn’t give to live in Leanne Ford’s Pittsburgh farmhouse. Each nook seems to deliver some sort of design lesson or inspiration, and this bathroom is no exception. She stuck with a single color throughout—dipping into grays with a beautifully weathered sink—and instead played with textures. Shiplap, tile, wood, and fabric (in the form of a shower curtain made from a repurposed sail) live in harmony and feel expansive. The tip translates to rentals, too.
The Bathroom That Is Anything But Square
Laying out a bathroom requires a lot of geometry. How to nix some of that right-angle boredom? Throw in some unexpected shapes. This L.A. home makes a small bathroom a little more fun with a giant round window anchoring a rectangular shower divider. Keep things grown-up by maintaining a singular color plan for the hardware and tile that also accentuates the visual depth. (Renters: Never underestimate the power of a circular mirror to soften a room’s edges and bounce the light around.)
The Cozy Bathroom That Makes the Most of a Niche
How much charm can you cram into one small space? Between the glossy black wainscoting, claw-foot tub, whimsical wallpaper, old-school brass shower rail, and recessed book nook, this eclectic WC takes top place.
The Artful Bathroom With a Door You Have to Search For
Most of us think of wallpaper as more of an accent, not a camouflaging agent. But in the case of the powder room in this Melbourne home, a Pierre Frey brushstroke pattern blends the door right into the walls, creating one (seemingly) uniform surface all the way to the ceiling. The pink tile grout and matching sink basin are the cherries on top.
The Euro-Chic Bathroom With Cool Vintage Touches
Europeans do petite bathrooms out of necessity (and turn it into design gold): In old-world buildings, the WCs run small pretty much across the board. Still, there are a few steadfast rules that can help you achieve the same effortlessly grand vibe: strategically placed mirrors, allover classic geometric tile, and a vintage touch—like the stunner of a shower door in architect Costantino Affuso and designer Paolo Badesco’s Paris home.
The Modern Minimalist Bathroom That’s Gallery-Worthy
This L.A. bathroom is the ultimate reminder that there’s no need to cramp your style, even in the slimmest of settings—from the gradient wallpaper down to the chartreuse tiger rug. The trick? Let each piece play a major role, whether the floating vanity’s smoky block of blue stone, the mirror’s equally wispy shape, or the elegant arched silver sconces that could double as sculpture.
The Bathroom That Makes the Most of a Sloped Ceiling
The bathroom in design powerhouse Markham Roberts’s New York City carriage house is like a warm hug of wood planks. The natural texture gives major sauna vibes, while a steel-lined shower brings a modern touch. Both accentuate rather than attempt to hide the sloped ceiling, which adds some vertical breathing room. (Hint: A sliding door is another great option when square footage is at a premium.)
The Loft Bathroom With a (DIY!) Luxe Steam Shower
Just because the footprint is small doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a little spa moment. Designer Nick Poe’s Chinatown loft does things a little differently: There’s a freestanding tub in the living area and a built-from-scratch-and-scraps (think: budget-friendly) cedar-lined steam shower through a portal in the bedroom. The two features share connected plumbing—a feat of design you’ll probably only find in NYC. Meanwhile, the white tile is a nod to the same material used in the kitchen for an overall cohesive look.
The Powder Room That Encourages Mixing Things Up
When you stick to a singular color palette—say, soft greens and cream, like in the bathroom of interior and furniture designer Lisa le Duc’s Bay Area home—you can give yourself the freedom to mix and match different patterns and materials. Then step back and see the various details and textures really shine. Botanicals and terrazzo? That’s a small-bathroom idea we can get behind.
The Powder Room That’s Dripping in Drama
Being hemmed in by square footage has its silver (and red) lining: London-based design duo Angus and Charlotte Buchanan of Buchanan Studio transformed their powder room that is wedged beneath a stairway into this crimson and pink nook. Putting Angus’s background in set design to work, most of the elements were DIYed and sourced from scraps—from the fuzzy red trim hot-glued onto the wall and mirror to the tiny sink lined in Delft tile that was left over from another corner of the home. Brava!
The Itsy-Bitsy Bathroom With Visual Tricks
When in doubt (or on a tight budget), create a graphic split with black and white tile. This 27-square-foot bathroom in Tom Cladek’s Philadelphia row home is an optical illusion of sorts: Working the lighter color into the top half of the room gives it some visual height. This is one of the easier small-bathroom ideas to re-create—and you can achieve the same effect with paint if you’re renting.