We bought our current home as a rundown place mainly because we love a renovation project and we want our home to look the way we imagine it. If a home is in good liveable condition it feels so wasteful to rip out a kitchen or a bathroom or anything just because you don’t like it.
Over the years our renovation projects have gotten bigger (and more stressful!) with this current home being the biggest project we’ve taken on. It hadn’t been done up since the 1970’s so everything needed doing including breaking walls, adding bathrooms, creating a whole new space for a kitchen and more. I’ve always meant to share about the renovation which was a few years ago and I’ve just realised that I haven’t until now.
The overall look and feel we wanted for our home was Scandinavian inspired minimalist with lots of warmth. To start with I’m sharing our small bathroom remodel which is also our main bathroom. I say main because it’s the biggest bathroom we have and the only one that can fit a bath – just! Having said that, it’s still a very small bathroom and also has all kinds of quirks including low sloping ceilings on one side and super high ceilings on the other, all in the space is less than 50 sq foot (less than 4.6 sq m).
Planning our small bathroom remodel
When we moved in, the bathroom was two rooms – a tiny toilet room and another tiny room with a bath and a sink. The room with the bath could accommodate one person at a time. Before renovating, I remember those mornings when we had to queue to brush our teeth as it was the only bathroom at the time. The toilet was even tinier but then you only ever need to have one person in there at a time hopefully!
As both the rooms with bathtub and the toilet were tiny, it was obvious to us that we had the break the wall in between and create one room, which also meant one door instead of two in a tiny space. With that decided, it was time to plan the layout of the space.
We had wanted to move the toilet to another wall as when you open the door, the first thing you now see is the toilet which is what we didn’t want. But due to waste pipes and budget limitations, moving the toilet to the left wall wasn’t an option unless we were willing to spend a lot more. All we could do was move the toilet along the back wall under the windows but it couldn’t move to another wall. Often in a renovation you have to make many compromises due to budget and unforeseen constraints so this was one of them.
We knew we wanted a bathtub as it was the only bathroom that could fit one – we did plan to add 2 more bathrooms but both were going to be shower rooms as they were even tinier and way too small to house a bath. Ideally we would have had the bath against the longer wall under the windows but as the toilet had to be there, we had to place the bath against one of the shorter walls.
During our small bathroom remodel we had all sorts of space and layout issues that we hadn’t anticipated but had to work with. We sat down with pen, paper and tape measure and planned our layout options until we were able to fit everything in a way that was practical, space saving and would look aesthetically pleasing. This is the one step that I recommend spending time on until you’re absolutely happy because there’s no going back.
designing the bathroom look
Now came the fun part of designing the look of the bathroom and choosing the fittings. Our whole home was going to be white with pale wood and some grey and black touches and possibly the odd other neutral tone. While each of our bathrooms is different, they all draw from this main colour scheme.
For this bathroom I wanted to focus on white and wood. White to keep it looking modern and timeless and the wood to add warmth. And of course there would be the added tone of chrome for the taps. I had an overall vision in my head for this room so I made a mood board to bring it to life. Next step was to find stuff to match my vision, my small space and my budget.
I wasn’t keen a typical built in bathtub with bath panel and shower screen/curtain due to the small size of the bathroom. After much thought I decided to go for a freestanding bath in an oval shape (it’s a smaller than normal size as I couldn’t fit a full size freestanding bath). Freestanding may sound a bit crazy in a small bathroom remodel but I had my reasons. I firmly believe that the smaller the space, the less wall to wall built in stuff you have, the better. Also the oval shape sits away from the wall corners giving the illusion of space.
As you can see, even though this bathtub only has a tiny bit of space around it, it still gives this small bathroom breathing space. No matter how small a space is, don’t be tempted to fill every bit of it. You’ll end up making your small space look even tinier.
I went bathtub shopping and I found a stone bath I loved. I loved the smooth texture, the oval shape and the feel of the stone. It was a bit of a splurge but it was our main bathroom and the only one with a bathtub soI really shopped around for the absolute best price and went for it.
I had imagined a freestanding bath with a shower but that came with it’s own problems. It meant that shower curtain options were very limited and would end up adding clutter as they have to go all the way around the bath. Besides the clutter, a big shower curtain like that wasn’t going to work in this small bathroom. Also with a freestanding bath you want to see the bath, not hide it behind a curtain. I did have huge doubts about this whole freestanding bath idea because after all the bathroom is so small and I wondered if I was trying to turn this bathroom in to something it wasn’t.
But the idea wouldn’t leave me so I really thought practically about how this bathroom would be used and finally decided to go with my gut and forget about a wall shower. We are shower people and we were creating two other shower rooms. This bath is there for those rare times that we feel like having a bath (and for resale which is important but often overlooked) and was also for bathing my daughter who was pretty small at the time. We did add a hand shower as you can see from the pics because we thought that would be useful and it really is. We now use the bath mainly to bathe our new addition – a little puppy! 🐶
The bathroom furniture
My biggest bug bear is bathroom furniture. I’m just not a fan. I’m talking about stuff from regular bathroom stores which is still so expensive for what it is and mostly so boxy and modular. Maybe I’m going to the wrong places for bathroom furniture but I also find that every showroom I visit the sink never quite fits perfectly flush on top of the cabinet – do you know what I mean or am I imaging this?
While I did go trawling through bathroom shops in the hope that the bathroom furniture had somehow been miraculously transformed, that wasn’t the case. It was time to think outside the box.
I came across the wooden table pictured which is actually a console table and I loved it. I checked measurements and also found out that it was easily adaptable to fit a sink on top as it only needed one hole for the pipe/drain. My taps were going in the wall anyway (which is another simple space saving solution for small bathrooms) so that wasn’t a problem. The sink plumbing was going to be visible as the table is open but I actually like that. And the sink, as the eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed, is a mini version of the bath!
So, the wooden console table it was. The overall look of the bathroom is modern and white so I wanted a some rustic warmth and real wood was the answer. I especially loved this table as the wood is aged which was the contrast I was looking for against all the modern, stark white. Brand new looking wood or wood veneer wouldn’t have had quite the same look.
My one concern was that this table was not meant for use in a bathroom and being wood, I didn’t know what would happen. But I knew we weren’t going to be showering in there so there would be no daily moisture damage the wood. The only concern was water falling after washing hands/brushing teeth etc. I did some research and found out that I could seal it with several coats of a wax wood sealer which is what I did. This did make the wood slightly yellower but the seal has lasted really well.
I loved that the table had a shelf which was perfect for some storage of things like towels or anything else. I reasoned that the open storage would help me stay tidy but otherwise I could always use boxes if things were getting messy or untidy.
I knew I wanted white tiles but choosing the tiles was a nightmare only because there is too much choice, even in just white tiles! I had to rule out a lot of options because of budget which at the time I was crying about but in retrospect that was my saviour otherwise I think I’d still be here choosing! I decided to go for tiny tiles as I felt big tiles would make the bathroom look even smaller as there is very little floor space. We narrowed it down to tiny matt white mosaic tiles in either a round or hexagon shape. We finally chose the hexagon ones for practical reasons – the hexagons require less grout between tiles as they fit together. With the little circles, there’s much more grout so that meant eventually there would be a lot more cleaning and maintaining.
Even with these hexagon tiles there is still a lot of grout and it does require cleaning and using a grout pen every now and then on the floor. If you look at the pic above you’ll see that the grout on the walls looks white whereas on the floor it looks greyish which means it’s basically due for another clean very soon.
Lighting & heating
Despite having two big windows, the bathroom is dark because the windows are heavily frosted. Also outside the bathroom windows is a narrow passageway which get’s no light whatsoever. These are the original windows which we didn’t change for so many reasons. The benefit of the frosting is that it gets rid of the need for any blinds which again helps reduce adding more stuff in a small bathroom.
We went for simple recessed downlights which provide plenty of bright light. But we also went beyond this to create a calm mood for those times that you don’t need bright lights. We have three soft uplights behind the bath which creates a lovely subtle glow perfect for when you want to chill in the bath. Above the bath is a ceiling light which pairs well with the uplights for a bit more light in the bath area – I didn’t photograph this as I still need to find a pendant light – it’s just a bare bulb right now!
For the heating, being such a small bathroom I didn’t want a radiator to be yet another thing that took up space. And this bathroom is freezing as it gets no sun. The answer was electric underfloor heating which was so much more budget friendly than we thought it would be. It of course made a difference that we were doing a complete bathroom remodel from scratch – to put it in retrospectively would be much more expensive. All I can say about underfloor heating is that if you can go for it especially under tiles then do it – don’t think twice. I don’t ever want to go back to bathrooms with radiators as this is so much more warm and toasty.
That was all the main elements of our small bathroom remodel (the toilet was a pretty basic modern looking white one – I mean a toilets a toilet right?!). I needed a few essential bathroom accessories like towel hanger, mirror, toilet roll storage and things like that. I didn’t want to add any more than I needed to keep the space as clutter free as possible. I also saw this as my opportunity to add texture to this bathroom.
I loved these wooden teardrop hooks for this bathroom – it’s little details that finish rooms so thats what I was looking for. For the mirror, I liked the simplicity of it but it was the wood detail inside the white frame that made it for me.
I’ve picked various baskets and boxes all with texture to store toilet rolls, towels and some of the more brightly coloured toiletries that my daughter hoards! I’ve also bought/ re-used those brown glass bottles for hand soap and moisturiser that I re-fill. Toiletries come in all manner of bright packaging so using boxes and these kinds of bottles to decant them in is a quick and easy solution.
As I have no storage around the bath, I made a simple wooden bath tray which is handy to keep stuff on when in the bath. And finally I added a rubber plant because I love the warmth and visual appeal that plants bring. The plant pot isn’t ideal for this bathroom – a bit too dark but it’s on my to do list to change to for a pale stone effect one. I may even try hacking this one.
There’s a wooden step stool there because my daughter and her friends couldn’t reach the sink when they were younger. It’s kind of just stayed there ever since – maybe time to find another use for it.
Last but not least are my waffle towels that bring yet more texture and they feel lovely against the skin.
One thing I’m desperately missing is a piece of art. It’s on my to do list (actually has been for about 2 years!)- after all a room is never really finished! If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.
Renovating a bathroom? Here are my 5 top tips which may help especially for a small bathroom remodel:
Plan your layout down to the last inch and draw it out in scale so that there are no surprises. Share this with your installer/builder so they know exactly what you want. Measure everything before you buy to make sure it fits.
Think of how the bathroom is going to be used before buying anything. For e.g. is it a guest bathroom that will be used very infrequently or a kids bathroom that needs to be tough and durable. This will guide your choice of materials, amount of storage and use of space so that you’re not needing to update it often.
Control your budget by splurging on one or two things – my splurge was the bathtub and to a much lesser extent the sink. But everything else is pretty inexpensive including the wooden console table which cost less than if I’d bought ‘made for’ bathroom furniture in that size.
If you hate dirty grout and aren’t keen on maintaining and cleaning it fairly regularly, don’t go for white grout. Especially don’t go for tiny tiles and white grout!
If you’re doing a small bathroom remodel, don’t despair – this is my biggest bathroom and it measures less than 50sq ft! Instead think of it creatively and remember there are ways to maximise the space in any small room while still getting the look you want.
If you have any questions or need some ideas for your own bathroom, drop me a line in the comments or get in touch via email. I’d love to hear from you. And I’m always up for seeing your bathroom pics so do share.
P.S. Want to see a video of the bathroom? Head to my Insta reels and you’ll see it.