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Thinking Big on Bathrooms

Posted on Mar 28, 2019 in:
  • Remodel
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners

Luxury bathroom

By Mia Hannom

Q: Our master bathroom is reasonably large but it always seems cramped and uninviting. What can we do to make it roomier?

A:There are few things as pleasing as walking into a bright and spacious bathroom. But bathrooms are notoriously tricky spaces; there’s a lot going on in a very small piece of real estate. Fortunately, there are some nifty tricks you can use to make your bathroom feel bigger without moving walls. Some of these tips will create actual space while others will just make your bathroom seem more spacious.

Frameless Shower Doors

A shower curtain steals space because it’s effectively an extra wall in your bathroom. By replacing it with frameless glass, you can reclaim it. Take the glass as high as you can afford to go. Clear glass will act as a mirror, reflecting light back into the bathroom.

Bathtub Reclamation

Chances are that you don’t even use your bathtub as a bathtub. Replacing it with a walk-in shower will dramatically increase your floor space. Just make sure to keep the floor finish uniform throughout the bathroom and cut out the shower curb if you have the option. Whatever tiles you choose for your shower should well-match the rest of the floor.

Elevated Vanity

A little trick that creates more space in a bathroom—and in any room—is lifting the furniture off the floor. A floating vanity opens the floor space beneath it. The same goes for any other storage unit, like linen cupboards with legs, for example. The floor will extend to the walls instead of ending at the furniture and it will feel more spacious.

Hidden Stuff

A cluttered room feels small. To make your bathroom feel larger, keep as much stuff as possible out of sight. Maximize the storage space under the sink with pull-out shelves and organizers. Keep everyday items around the sinks and bathtub—if you don’t replace it with a walk-in shower—in containers for easy access.

Receding Walls

The number one trick to creating the sense of space in a room is to make its walls appear further away. An un-uniform wall—contrasting halves of tile and paint for example—draws our attention and seems closer than it is. To make it recede, keep it uniform.

Toned-Down Accent Tiles

The same goes for accent tiles. Don’t get too creative here. Contrasting strips and blotches carve up the walls and emphasize boundaries. The point is to make the backdrop of the room fade into the distance. It’s better to draw attention to an eye-catching vanity unit than a colorful strip of tiles on the wall.

Maximized Light

Bring as much natural light into the room as possible and add dimmers to both general and task lighting so you can be more flexible with artificial light. A dark room feels small and enclosed. A well-lit room feels airy and spacious.

Mirror Math

A large mirror can easily make your room feel twice as big. Mirrors add endless depth and reflect light from adjacent rooms into the space, brightening it up. Stretch your vanity mirror all the way to the corners to create a horizontal band or extend it up to the ceiling and add light sconces on the sides.


Mia Hannom is the owner of In Form Design, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ more than 2,900 members, write to


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