Living Large In a Small Bath

Designers work within small footprints to create spaces that look great and function beautifully.

A space will never be physically larger than its actual footprint. But designers often use their creativity to incorporate design techniques and elements that make a space feel and function like it’s much bigger than it is. This month, Kitchen & Bath Design News asked several designers to share projects that focus on living large in a small bath.

Designer: Alisa Hofmann, Design Set Match, Oakland, CA

Size of Space: 7’x9′

Design Goal of Small Bath

One of the homeowners has multiple sclerosis and is expected to be wheelchair bound within a year. Hofmann needed to redesign the space – the home’s only bathroom – within the same footprint and into something that could be accessible for his needs.

Design Solutions

Hofmann started the process by removing the tub and replacing it with a curbless shower. She equipped it with amenities that will simplify use for everyone, such as a teak shower seat that can be raised and lowered based on need, and niches at two different levels to provide easy access to shampoo, etc. A bi-fold door helps facilitate trafc fow through the bathroom.

The 36″x60″ shower is a bit wider than the tub it replaced, so Hofmann chose a shallow vanity – just 12″ deep – and a semirecessed sink. “We’ve taken up as little space as possible so he can still move around easily,” she says. Drawers on one side of the vanity and a pull-out on the other provide easy access to contents. “No reaching is required,” she says.

Additional Small Bath Design Tips

When you include a shower pan, keep it the same color as the foor tile, unless vision problems with the client are a concern. “Visual blocks make a space feel smaller,” Hofmann says.Consider a tile size other than 12″x12″. “Our brains are familiar with that size and can subconsciously calculate the size of a room,”

she says. “Instead, choose an over scaled tile, such as an 18″x18″ or 12″x24″, or something that is smaller [than 12″x12″]. When you take away the scale of things we look at every day, our brains don’t calculate that size as quickly and the space will feel larger.”Choose a wall-mount faucet. “It can save a few inches where a faucet would otherwise sit on the counter,” she says.

Small Bath Myths to Dispel

You need at least one tub in your home. “Most people take showers, even those with kids figure out how to shower their young ones,” she says. Small baths require a pedestal sink. “You can still have a vanity in a small bath,” she says. “The extra storage space minimizes clutter, and clutter makes space feel smaller.” All master baths need two sinks. “Even if a small master bath has enough space for two sinks, the extra sink takes away elbow room and makes the space feel smaller,” she says.

‘Must Haves’

Hofmann suggests an electrical outlet near the toilet. “Even if a client doesn’t want to include a bidet seat at the time of the renovation, it costs just pennies to put the outlet in  now versus later,” she says.

Another must have is a two-in-one shower head where a handheld shower is included with the main shower head. “It’s perfect for a tiny space where you don’t have room for any extras,” she comments.

Other essentials include recessed cabinets with electrical outlets and medicine cabinets with integrated lighting.

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