7 tricks designers use to fake square footage in a bathroom

Learn stylish design tricks to make your bathroom appear larger

Fake square footage in a bathroom
(Image credit: Corine)

One of the hardest rooms to decorate, a bathroom – particularly a tiny one – can be challenging. Lack of square footage and, heaven forbid, sometimes windowless. However, with some key design features put in place you can create the illusion of space. 

We asked our favorite designers for their ideas for transforming a squeezed bathroom into a one that feels bigger, brighter and better.

See: Bathroom ideas – stylish decor ideas for all bathrooms

1. Always opt for wall-hung units

Fake square footage in a bathroom

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Whatever the size of your bathroom, wall-hung units – or failing that, units that stand on slim legs – are the best option for faking square footage simply because you can see beneath them, right to the edges of the room. 

What to avoid if you want to make your bathroom feel bigger? A wall of fitted furniture – it will make the floor area, and therefore the entire space, look smaller. 

Either way, choose a design that’s the same color as your walls for a cohesive look, and consider wall-mounted taps, which allow for slimline basins – and more space on the top of them for bathroom paraphernalia. 

2. Go for stark contrasts of light and dark

Fake square footage in a bathroom

(Image credit: Richard Felix Ashman/Aaron Leitz)

Your first thought might be to go light and airy in your bathroom, which of course will bounce light around. However, dark and moody can work equally well, as California-based interior designer, Richard Felix-Ashman shares below:

‘When designing this bathroom, I went super-dark and cool-toned. The darker, cool, bluish tones make the walls, ceiling and floor recede. The white bathtub, the mirror and the polished nickel all leap forward, creating contrast. Our eyes are always drawn to areas of greatest contrast – a truism learned from traditional, black and white photography. In this bathroom, our eyes are drawn to the brighter objects – they come to the fore and the darks recede to the shadows, thereby pushing the walls back and creating a sense of space.’

3. Choose frameless glass screens to fake square footage

Fake square footage in a bathroom

(Image credit: Nick Smith)

‘A great way of adding to the feeling of space in a bathroom is to use a glass panel,’ says Jo Oliver, Director at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse. ‘A clear glass shower screen will reflect light effectively and will open up the space allowing you to see the whole bathroom without any barrier, instantly making it feel larger.’

We love this look as it means you can create a cohesive look throughout the bathroom and see it via the glass – for example, the warm brass fixtures and fittings and the use of color throughout. 

4. Bounce light about with reflective surfaces

Fake square footage in a bathroom

(Image credit: Maestri Studio)

We love a wall of mirrors as a design feature, but a tall and/or wide single piece will still do a fabulous job, especially if the frame is mirrored too. A dark framed design will draw the eye to the mirror, in this case you don’t want this to happen – the key is to create a seamless feel. 

Double the effect of the fake square footage, like in this bathroom by Maestri Studio, by hanging light-reflecting tiles behind the mirror, by adding wall lights either side, and by choosing fitted furniture that matches the wall and floor colors.

5. Match flooring and wall colors

Fake square footage in a bathroom

(Image credit: Corine Maggio)

‘One of the best things you can do to give the illusion of space in a small bathroom is use the same flooring from the shower into the rest of the bathroom and to have space under the vanity so you can see the continuation of that flooring,’ says Corine Maggio, Founder of California-based CM Natural Design

Playing with scale also works – small hexagonal tiles on the floor add a decorative aspect and contrast against the white square wall tiles that zone the bath and shower area. 

6. Top and tail the bathroom with white

Fake square footage in a bathroom

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

‘When your space is super narrow you need to pull all the design tricks out of the bag,’ says Irene Gunter, founder of interior design studio Gunter & Co. ‘One top interior design tip is to paint the ceiling white and the floor a shade or two lighter – use large format tiles to help make the space look bigger.’

Pick up the white again with basin unit and sanitaryware – it prevents the ‘middle’ of the scheme from looking too heavy. Use white paint around the window instead of tiles to highlight it and reflect the light back in.  

7. Swap angles for curves

Fake square footage in a bathroom

(Image credit: Bert & May)

The key to a successful bathroom is how it flows visually – this includes the color scheme, the cohesivity of the fixtures and fittings and how the floor and wall tiles work together. 

See: How to plan a bathroom – ace the layout and design of your new washroom

When floor space is tight, you can borrow some back by cutting corners – literally. This is where curves come into play, like in this bathroom by Bert & May – rounded edges on baths, showers and furniture are much friendlier and, of course, save space, all adding to the visual flow of the bathroom.