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9 Interior Design Tricks to make your bathroom look bigger

One of the things that perplexes me often is why architects and building companies design large homes with tiny bathrooms. It is rare for new families these days to have more than 2 children anyway, so many bedrooms in those larger homes end up unused. The bathrooms however, which see regular daily use are small, cramped and lack storage.

Our home is exactly like that, as are plenty of 80s/90s and more recently built 'executive homes' in suburban and rural areas. Lots of bedrooms and small bathrooms.

All bathroom photography and graphs shot and prepared by

How to make a small bathroom look bigger

During the early stages of designing our new bathrooms, we considered sacrificing a bedroom (my blogger's office) in order to make up more room for two larger bathrooms, but in the end decided against it.

To maximise the existing space, we looked at incorporating all the tricks in the book to keep each bathroom a decent size, light and airy.

1. Rethink the layout

Many bathrooms often seem congested and it's not the size that's at fault but the actual layout of the room that was not well thought off when the space was first designed.

If you were able to re-design your bathroom, would you keep the furniture in the same place? There are plenty of design tools out there to help you design your space, all you have to do is add the dimensions and pre-selected furniture with standard dimensions can be added to see if the space could be re-configured.

Idea: combine your bathtub and shower to make more space for a larger sink.

2. Use wall-hung toilet pans and vanity units

This may be by far the smartest trick in the book of an interior designer. In the example below, only half the wall has come forward to create a built in cistern by 30cm whereas the rest of the wall is pushed back to create layers of depth and accomodate the deep vanity unit.

The wall-hung unit (Sento Short Wall-Hung Wc Pan with lid and rapid installation frame 3/6 litre concealed cistern, both VitrA) allows the eye to see all the way back and thus be fooled into thinking the room is deeper than it really is.

3. Lay the tiles the right way

Is there a right and wrong way to tile when it comes to small bathrooms? For sure!

The direction of the tiles on the floor really can make a difference! Tile horizontally along the narrowest walls to 'push them apart' and make the space feel wider.

Check here for the before and after of this smart bathroom with hex tiles and wall hang units.

4. Add light colours and a big mirror

White painted walls help light bounce around, so with the combination of a mirror in the right place and use of gloss tiles, your room will instantly look and feel bigger.

5. Do not tile all the way to the top...

Despite popular belief, tiling all the way to the ceiling will make your room appear shorter than it is. Leaving a 20cm gap all around will create the illusion of a taller ceiling and thus make your space feel bigger.

6. ...and use larger format tiles or mosaic

The point here is to reduce the grout lines that make a wall look busier and thus more cramped in. If we were to choose between large format tiles and mosaic, we'd go for large tiles on the floor and keep mosaic on the walls.

7. Play with materials that work together

In the example below, three different tiles from the same range have been used to create layers and add interest. However, their similar look and colour way create the impression that only one type of tile has been used.

Look closer and you will see: large format tiles on the floor; metro tiles all the way behind the sink and then herringbone mosaic tiles from the tap and above. The result of this is a less cluttered look.

8. Create a recess in the shower or bath

A recess will help you store shampoos and other bathing paraphernalia meaning you will not have to clutter the shower tray or bathtub or worse, install metal shelves in a corner... No thanks!

9. Eliminate the clutter

A wall hang vanity with ample storage like the one we used in our ensuite bathroom renovation will help you keep everything hidden away, like the loo rolls, all your make up and even cleaning products.


When every square foot around your bathroom matters, using the right furniture and applying smart tricks and hacks to fool the eye and give the impression that the space is bigger is always essential. Even if you apply just a few of these ideas, your ensuite or family bathroom is sure to appear bigger than it might be. Which one will you be trying out?



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