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How to design your small bathroom space for less

By Rachel Wallace

We know a lot of folks don’t have as much space as they’d like. It can be tricky to create the bathroom of your dreams when your options are limited. Nevertheless, it can be done!

We spoke to former The Block contestant Dale Vine to find out how you can best design a bathroom to maximise a small space and not break the bank.

Lay it out – carefully

Your measuring tape will be your best friend when renovating, but particularly if you’re working with a small space. Be precise and draw up a carefully planned layout to ensure you don’t wind up even a millimetre off your desired outcome.

However, even if you think you’ve got your floor plan handled, Dale warns against one particularly common error when it comes to doors.

Carefully plan to see how your dream bathroom works. Cut back on bulk by using glass and sliding doors (or no doors!). Picture: Highgrove Bathrooms

“The most important thing to consider in a layout is doors,” Dale begins.

“You want to make sure a door isn’t opening directly into something else, or will be blocked from opening completely. This can include your bathroom door, cabinet door and shower door.”

To address this, you can also opt for cavity slider doors. These slide into your walls as opposed to opening out into the space.

Use glass for your shower

A popular trend and key space-saving device is the glass shower wall. You can leave an opening for the ‘door’ instead of having an actual door that swings out or slides.

This will leave you with more space within your shower and in your bathroom on the whole.

A space-saving vanity

Maximising floor space is key and a wall-mounted vanity can help achieve this.

Instead of having a large cabinet sitting on your floor, you can wall-mount a single basin with a mirrored cabinet for storage.

A mounted vanity can save space.

“Opting for wall mounted faucets and spouts will also save you bench space instead of sticking up off your basin,” Dale shares. “These are a trending look right now.”

How to create the illusion of space

Dale had a number of tips to help make your bathroom look bigger than it actually is:

1. Increase light

If your bathroom is a bit dark it will feel even smaller than it is. Make sure it has plenty of light, via a skylight or some strategic lighting.

A skylight can do wonders for opening up a bathroom.

“Understandably, it can be impossible to add a skylight to an apartment or lower level bathroom, so if you’re fortunate enough to have a window, capture that light by keeping the blind and window open,” Dale says.

“Highgrove has mirrors that are backlit. These mirrors throw light not only to you but they also backlight the wall, enhancing the space and highlighting your tiling.”

2. Light colours

Another way to lighten things up is via your colour palette. Steer clear of darker colours and use pale shades to enhance the natural light.

3. Use smaller tiles

Dale says smaller wall tiles can help give the illusion of a bigger space. If you’re looking to cut back on your tile budget, opting for ceramic over porcelain tiles can help with this.

Leave your plumbing in place

If you can renovate your bathroom without moving pipes and plumbing, this will definitely help you save. See if you can work with the existing locations of taps, drains, toilets and your shower head.

New piping can cost an arm and a leg, so if can be kept, keep it.

“One of the significant cost factors is moving things that require new piping,” Dale confirms.

“If your layout works, then updating your tapware or redoing your tiles will update and refresh your space at a fraction of the cost.”

Aesthetic changes, like new taps, cabinet handles and mirrors can go a long way!

Consider what you have

If you’re renovating a small space, think carefully about the existing features before ripping it all out and starting from scratch. This will help you manage your budget, particularly if you can cut out or reduce the time required by certain trades.

“Know what works and what doesn’t,” Dale says.

“This will give you a good head start because you will know what to address first.

“The more you want to do, the more you need to invest. A complete bathroom renovation can require a whole team of trades — a plumber, builder/carpenter, electrician, tiler and a glazier.”

Get the right trade for the job and you’re home and hosed.

All uncredited images captured by Ashely Aidone.


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