Get The Look: Making A Small Guest Bathroom Breathtaking

Decorating a very small bathroom can be an exercise in frustration. There’s rarely room for anything but the basics, and it’s easy to expend all your creative energy just trying to find a place for all the necessary parts. That combined with a lack of natural light means that small bathrooms are a somewhat grim canvas for a remodel. But small bathrooms don’t have to be boring, drab, or dark – you just need to choose your materials (and your battles) wisely. This stunning guest bathroom by Mark Brand Architecture uses texture, contrast, and well-placed artificial lighting to turn a crowded space into something lovely.

Strategically placed spotlights turn the stone accent wall and tub face into the focal point of this bathroom, giving the small space a sense of drama (by Mark Brand Architecture)
Strategically placed spotlights turn the stone accent wall and tub face into the focal point of this bathroom, giving the small space a sense of drama (by Mark Brand Architecture)

 Get The Look: The star of this bathroom is the stone tile, but it’s the recessed lighting that makes it stand out. Add a modern faucet, tub filler, toilet, vanity light, and bathroom vanity to keep the space looking sleek and contemporary, and you’ve got a chic, museum-style look in a petite 5’x8’5″ bathroom.

Why It Works:

It’s unfortunately easy to make a small bathroom feel crowded. Intricate patterns, lots of color, or even a lot of texture on the walls can bring them in, making the space feel even smaller than it is. In this bathroom, though, all but the far wall is left bare. The effect draws attention away from the narrower walls to either side and to the far end of the bathroom, which makes it seem longer. The use of a rough-cut, unpolished, off-white stone adds a lovely tactile element to the space, and turns the bathtub (which should look shoehorned in) into a rather breathtaking feature of the space. The recessed lights positioned over the tub help emphasize the texture of the stone, but also provide nice mood lighting for the bathtub, and help chase the shadows out of the far end of the bathroom.

Wall mounted bathroom vanities are a staple of small bathroom design, but the custom mirror lends height, depth, and elegance to the space (by Mark Brand Architecture)
Wall mounted bathroom vanities are a staple of small bathroom design, but the custom mirror lends height, depth, and elegance to the space (by Mark Brand Architecture)

It might come as a surprise, but there’s actually no source of natural light in this bathroom; the “window” across from the bathroom vanity is actually a cleverly designed lightbox. Hidden behind a panel designed to look like a shoji screen, this recessed light provides soft, diffuse light that makes it feel like a real frosted window. The light above the bathroom vanity is the primary source of light in the room, but adding in ambient and mood lighting to supplement the task lighting over the mirror adds depth, drama, and shadows to this small bathroom, which is really what makes it look so interesting.

But you tell me – what do you think of this small bathroom? Do you have any favorite techniques for brightening up a windowless bathroom? Let me know in the comments below!