“See a need, fill a need!” – Bigweld from the movie “Robots”
When the economy tanked in 2008, few things were hit harder than the housing market. People were losing money hand over fist, and sometimes it even looked like they were giving away their houses for as cheaply as they were selling. With so little cash to go around and still a high need for housing, the “tiny house” was born.
Tiny houses are generally around 400 square feet, with some houses measuring in as small as 80 square feet (that’s an eight by ten foot room, people!). Mounted on a trailer to accommodate mobility, or set on a slab of concrete, tiny houses provide suitable housing for a fraction of the price of a full-sized home. Since 2008, they’ve become so popular that some people are switching over to the “tiny house lifestyle” just because they want to live a more simplistic life. There’s even a show on Netflix about tiny houses (that’s how you know it’s a big deal).
In a tiny home, every square foot matters, and there can’t be any wasted space. People frequently use Murphy beds, pull-outs, and other dual-function furniture to make sure that there is no wasted storage potential. If there is anything tiny house homeowners know about, it’s making the most out of every appliance, fixture, and piece of furniture.
The bathroom isn’t a place where you spend a ton of time each day, but you do visit often enough that it should be functional and somewhat relaxing. If you’re considering going tiny, here are some things to think about as you plan your bathroom space:
Probably the most important part of the bathroom is going to be the storage capacity, so what can you do to maximize it?
- Medicine Cabinets: Ah, the good, old-fashioned medicine cabinet. This handy piece of décor has a mirror that you can open to reveal a separate space for medicine, makeup, and other small items. As you look into medicine cabinets, choose one with clean lines, a large mirror (to brighten up the room and give the illusion of more space), and lots of functional storage (the shelves can’t be too shallow).
- Shelving: If you don’t want to use a full mirror, consider using shelving above your vanity. Shelves will give you extra places to put those bathroom essentials without things getting too crowded.
- Fill in the spaces: As you consider your bathroom plan, try to fill in any spaces you see with storage opportunities. Is there a little bit of room between the shower and the toilet? Create or buy a small cabinet for towels and toilet paper. Do you have a small space in front of the tub? Make a short bookshelf for linens and makeup bags. An empty wall? Hang hooks for towels, hairdryers, or shower caps. The key will be to use a critical eye to find and make the most out of small, empty spaces around the bathroom.
Most tiny homes use a compost toilet, which is already smaller than a regular toilet. If you’re really short on space, though, it’s possible to have your toilet and shower share the same drain, which can open up just a little more space.
- Bath: Living in a tiny house doesn’t mean that you have to give up on a nice soak if that’s important to you. When you’re planning, look for a child-sized tub, a curved or corner tub, a miniature claw-foot tub, or get creative with a whiskey barrel or galvanized tub instead of something more traditional.
- Shower: If you’re not one to soak in the tub, there are ways to adapt your shower to be both functional, space-saving, and very relaxing. To give the illusion of space, use a glass door, or nix the door altogether. Keep the colors in the shower neutral, but don’t be afraid to mix and match different textures, styles, or patterns of tile, wood, or stone.
- Wet room: Another option is to create a wet room. This is basically the “studio apartment” of bathroom designs, where there aren’t any walls or dividers between the toilet, sink, and shower area. There is usually a drain on the sloped floor and a handheld or hanging showerhead, and this design is the ultimate way to save a little space.
The best possible thing that you can do for your tiny bathroom is to use light, bright colors. Try to incorporate as much white as possible, but don’t be afraid of using a pop of color here and there. Plants can bring color as well as freshen up the air, and you can always choose colorful soap dispensers and linens to brighten things up. Additionally, there are a lot of really cool fixtures out there in colors other than chrome or nickel. Look for polished brass, copper, and gold to add a little bit of glitz and glam.
When you’re choosing your lighting, you need to decide which lighting will be a focal point, and which will play a more supportive role. Go as crazy as you want on the focal point lighting, but for everything else, recessed lighting is the way to go. It gives the illusion of height, and it doesn’t take up very much space. Both of those qualities will make your bathroom seem a little bit bigger than it actually is.
A tiny house doesn’t necessarily mean that your bathroom has to suffer. By planning well, using space-saving techniques, and maximizing your storage, your bathroom can be a functional and relaxing space. If you need help with design for a new project or a remodel of your existing tiny home, make sure to enlist the help of experts. We have 17 years of experience as kitchen and bath remodeling contractors in the greater Seattle area.