These Small Bathroom Ideas Are Big on Style (2024)

Big things can indeed come in small packages—just take a look at your tiny bathroom. Because of the limited square footage and opportunities to change the layout, it’s common to write off a small bathroom as a design afterthought. But in reality, a powder room or guest bath offers a great chance to experiment with a bold color palette, eye-catching tiles, or cool hardware. And with the right design tricks, you can easily strike a balance between form and function—regardless of your bathroom’s size.

Just ask New York–based designer Kati Curtis, who has designed numerous small bathrooms. “They’re actually some of my favorite spaces to work with,” she says. “With a small, dark space, I have the freedom to be bold with dark colors and patterns.” In fact, she adds, contrary to common misconceptions, dark colors can actually make a small room feel more expansive and dimensional.

For an extra touch of glamour, Curtis likes to incorporate vintage lighting, among other flourishes. “Details including fun wallpaper, interesting finishes, vintage lighting, and specialty hardware can transform a small bathroom into a destination rather than a drawback,” she adds.

Fortunately, you don’t have to look far to find inspiration: We’ve scoured the archives and highlighted the very best small bathroom ideas here. With 100 rooms to peruse—featuring whimsical wallpaper and any number of other artful touches—there’s bound to be a bright idea here that suits your space and style.


Hex Flex

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This bathroom might be small in square footage, but it’s mighty in impact. Nestled in a vacation rental that sits on 12 acres of land in Maine, this charming teal-accented space offers rest and reprieve for someone who has spent the day outdoors. The porcelain hexagonal tiles from Casablanca give the shower walls added dimension and intrigue. Our favorite detail? The chair is by the architect and artist Emily Muir, who also designed the whole cottage.


Botanical Backdrop

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A small bathroom is a perfect opportunity to let your maximalist self run wild. In this charming historic Australian house, a Gubi mirror and Studio Henry Wilson sconce pop out against the delightfully lush botanical wallpaper—proof that letting your garden grow doesn’t always necessitate a green thumb.


Cake Color

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Don’t let the pretty pink hues fool you: The bathroom of this Chelsea, New York City, apartment, belonging to artist and accessories designer Christina Wang, is badass. With one of Wang’s own paintings, a depiction of a Momof*cku Milk Bar treat, a sultry black sink fixture, and Italian tiled flooring that references Phoebe Philo stores for Céline, her style is anything but dainty. “Christina pulled a really early reference to it,” says Le Whit’s Liza Curtiss, who designed the space. “Because of the diamond shape, we thought it created a really fun pattern, and it mimicked Murano glass.”

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As the Romans Do

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We love a tile moment. When half of the bathroom is white space, you can be as bold as you want with the other half, no matter how small your washroom. Taking cues from ancient Rome, Filippo Chia installed an eclectic 18th-century Murano mirror and 19th-century Riggiole tile in the guest bathroom of this fairy-tale tower in the Italian countryside. A happy place, if we ever saw one.


Color Me Happy

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Welcome to the sherbert-hued bathroom that you may want to stay in forever. This open-air bathroom, home to fashion-world bon vivants Sally and Michel Perrin, evokes the sand-colored hues of nearby beaches with a pop of electric color. As it turns out, paradise is more a matter of style over space.


Light Wash

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Natural light can make a space feel more open. Take, for instance, this children’s bathroom in Keith McNally’s Martha’s Vineyard farm, which is awash in both light and charm. Its Mexican terra-cotta tiles and tongue-and-groove paneling come together for a look that is sophisticated without feeling overly precious.

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Handsome Honeycomb

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“We wanted this jewel box of a space to feel dark and moody,” says designer Lucy Doswell of this patterned half bath, which is enveloped in a graphic honeycomb-pattern wallpaper from Robert Kime. The small space, which features a 19th-century Dutch mirror that was a find at Avery & Dash, reflects designer Doswell’s ability to mix elements from multiple periods.


Floral Notes

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This half bath, just off the entry of a loft in TriBeCa, achieves a delicate balance of textures and materials that come together in a fun-loving elegance. This hand-painted Porter Teleo floral wallpaper and coordinating ink-blue ceiling are the stuff of small-space magic. If you’re short on counter (and floor) space, a small corner cabinet can serve as a welcome landing pad for those extra necessities.


Pile on the Plaid

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“It’s plaid city in here!” Victoria Sass jokes of this playful half bath. “It’s check on check on check.” To achieve the look—which is echoed throughout the rest of this happy lakeside hideaway—Sass worked closely with a Minneapolis tile company called Clay Squared to Infinity for this custom glaze and pattern. The plaid fun continues in a complementary Pierre Frey wallpaper that is as spirited as it is sophisticated.

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When the bones of a house are good, less can be more. Case in point: This powder room, designed by architect Gil Schafer, features cork walls and high-reaching windows that need little else. A tasteful custom-made mirror creates a sense of added square footage, while a winsome sconce (from Ann-Morris Antiques) sits perched above eye level. If reading material is provided in this cozy bathroom, who’s to say whether this is preferable to a bonafide reading nook?


Cottage Commode

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Is there any better lavatory companion than an impish rattan penguin? This olive-green bathroom (painted with Farrow & Ball’s Chappell Green) in Ken Fulk’s Provincetown, Massachusetts, cottage is the true seaside retreat. Our flightless seabird is accompanied by a painting by John Dowd and a vintage chain toilet (unearthed while undoing 1950s-era renovations) that is equal parts stylish and space saving.


Kiss and Tell

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We’re not just paying lip service to designer Eva Bradley, whose classic hillside San Francisco home is absolute eye candy. Minimally designed in comparison with the rest of the house, the primary bathroom is a streamlined retreat that is satisfyingly proportioned to its dimensions. With a skinny sculptural marble side table from Anthem and a wall-mounted soap dish, little more is needed in this refined and artful space. We’ll be skipping to the loo every time!

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Understanding Scale

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The light-and-bright bathroom in this SoHo loft packs a punch. While the tub tightly abuts a duo-vanity moment, it’s not at the cost of good design. The sink and countertop vessels are freestanding, creating a surprising feeling of openness to the floor plan. The Italian antique mirrors create a further illusion of space, assisted by the open white walls, painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove. All that's missing is your favorite bath bomb.


Old School

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When your lavatory is less sizable, choose furnishings that offer optimal functionality in minimal square footage. Take, for example the spa-like bathroom in this Portugal home, which boasts a barely there towel holder and enchanting small footstool. The hand-painted Portuguese tiles depicting a man in 18th-century garb add a lot of personality without sacrificing precious wall space.


Reach for the Sky

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When the bathroom’s architecture speaks for itself, little else is required. This soothing retreat in the former home of an aristocrat has sculptural molding and tiled marble flooring, brightened by sky-blue walls (Farrow & Ball’s Skylight). The artwork—a stalactite-like piece by Sebastião Lobo—adds texture that keeps the space from falling flat.

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Refined Retreat

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Take a peek into this Manhattan bathroom, which designer Augusta Hoffman says required little more than some tasteful accessories when punctuated by this exceptional wallpaper moment just beyond. Here, she opted to keep the room crisp and white with classic subway tiles, paired with a green bud vase from a collaboration she did with Casamia and a basket from Pottery Barn.


Trolley Trick

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Make use of that unused blank space with a chic rolling cart like in the powder room of this charming Manhattan home. You can roll the cart and its contents to the tub for easy towel access or to the mirror to do your hair. We especially love the vase and florals atop, which create warmth and a fitting tie-in to the antique floral wallpaper.


Gainly Grotto

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In a gut renovation project, Toronto-based designer Montana Labelle turned this five-bedroom, three-bathroom house into a four-bedroom, six-bathroom house. Here, the powder room proves that Labelle knew exactly what she was doing. With its grottolike quality, this soothing nook features a custom sink designed by Kit King, vintage sconces, and a sculptural vintage mirror. Who needs an overbearing mirror when the space is this stylish?

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Rub a Dub Dub

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Take notes from Ashe Leandro’s design scheme for Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland, which takes full advantage of architectural idiosyncrasies. A classic standing bathtub is perfectly nestled into an elegant archway, overseen by a vintage light fixture from JF Chen. Here, home is where the tub is.


Vivid Mirror

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? This vintage option from Piero Fornasetti, of course. When paired with a repeat and marble sink—as seen in this Ariel Okin–designed pad—it gives this small bathroom a fun, personality-packed punch.

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Rachel Silva

Assistant Digital Editor

Rachel Silva, the Assistant Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, covers design, architecture, trends, and anything to do with haute couture. She has previously written for Time, The Wall Street Journal, and Citywire.

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Kelsey Mulvey

Kelsey Mulvey is a freelance lifestyle journalist, who covers shopping and deals for Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and ELLE Decor, among others. Her hobbies include themed spinning classes, Netflix, and nachos.

These Small Bathroom Ideas Are Big on Style (2024)
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