Ducks 'n a Row: Spacial Constrictions: Beautiful Space

14 November 2013

Spacial Constrictions: Beautiful Space

One of the most noticeable aspects of newer homes is their enormous size. Older homes just aren't that big. The average home size in the US was only about 1,500 square feet. Two adults with four or more kids in those days must have been cramped, or as the Realtor might say, ‘cozy.’ The big plus to living small is cleaning. A small house cleans up in a couple of hours, where cleaning a modern average house might take all day.

beautiful bathrooms; small bathroom; bathroom redo

Remodeling a small bathroom in a world with fixtures made for the modern average home presents certain challenges. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the famous designer Buckminster Fuller suggested making all bathrooms in a factory. He believed that everyone would want to regularly remodel and update their bathrooms and that they would want it to be easy. He was right. It’s too bad that contractors didn’t take him more seriously. Not only are the older bathrooms smaller, but they’re often irregular, too.

Never fear though. While showroom bathrooms and fixtures are always big, companies manufacture almost everything imaginable. Odds are that you can find what you need in the special order catalog at your local DIY store. For my money, with their extensive catalog and access to contractor supply that is easiest at The Home Depot, but you can do reasonably well elsewhere, too.
bathroom redo

Key Things To Remember for Small Bathroom Spaces

Several workarounds spring to mind. Here are a few:

  • Up is a wonderful dimension
  • Squares and rectangles are not the only shapes
  • Toilets don’t need tanks · Sinks don’t need vanities
  • Bathtubs and showers can come in modular walk-in styles
Most of the older houses were built with a shallow, mirrored medicine cabinet to save space, but they don’t stay attractive or save much space. Odd choice. Raising the cabinetry moves storage up and out of the way and leaves space for a more decorative mirror. A dark-colored back wall combined with lighter sidewalls creates the illusion of a rich recess. Light colored walls topped with a dark band of molding or dark trim will have a similar effect. Don’t feel too constrained by that. The light surface can be as opulent as white marble and mirrors, while the ‘dark trim’ can be functional, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. A gap above floating cabinetry can be used for lighting, architectural detail, or knickknacks. Feel free to experiment with color and shape.

The in-store vanity offerings are monolithic rectangular solids. By contrast, a floating shelf can be any shape and still serve the purpose of supporting a sink. Likewise, the sink can be mounted to the wall and free-floating. A pedestal also creates a graceful, attractive look that takes up less floor space than a square or rectangular vanity, as does a vanity with a curved front.
bathroom redo; beautify small bathrooms

Similarly, modern toilets come in a variety of styles. Low profile and tank-less toilets open up wall space. That avoids crowding. Design can be attractive without looking like you jammed everything you could into the space.

Tip: In a small bathroom, the bathtub or shower has the biggest footprint. That makes it a design bottleneck. Measure carefully and decide on that feature early on. Today modern walk-in modules combine shower and bath, so you aren’t limited to a tile-wrapped bathtub with a showerhead. Unfortunately, they’re also budget busters.

A Note On Color

Perhaps the single most common complaint about older bathrooms is the original color scheme. That’s because, of all things, towel colors change. Those avocado towels that matched the original tile might not be available again for twenty years, or more. Neutral walls and flooring are a much safer choice.


Designing in a small space takes extra creativity, but it can be done. Luckily, there are more fixtures in more shapes today than ever before, so it can even be fun.

JT Spas are specialists in bathroom decor, check out their website for a wide range of bathroom furniture.

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Photo Credits:
  • Bathroom by pepo on Stock Xchng
  • Bathroom Towels by bagaball on Flickr Creative Commons
  • Pedestal Sink by cjsorg on flickr creative commons
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