33 Clever Ways to Turn a Small Primary Bathroom Into a Luxe Oasis

A small primary bathroom with a combination clawfoot tub and open-air shower

Design: Mindy Gayer Design, Photo: Lindsay Stetson Thompson

While many homes come equipped with sprawling primary bathrooms, many do not. If you haven’t been blessed with an incredibly spacious bathroom, your options might seem limited. Most of the primary bathroom design ideas you can find online assume you have plenty of space to spare. They feature dramatic chandeliers, massive clawfoot tubs, and showers big enough to sleep in. But if your primary bathroom isn’t the size of a small palace, rest assured: you do have options.

Primary Bathroom

The term "Primary Bathroom" is now a preferred way to describe the largest bathroom in the home. (Many experts—including the Real Estate Standards Association—have recognized the potentially discriminatory origins of the term "Master Bathroom.") Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.

There are tons of ways to make a small primary bathroom feel spacious, functional, and luxurious. Because—contrary to the décor inspiration you bookmarked might have you believing—excessive roominess isn’t a prerequisite for a well-designed space. By working with what you’ve got and adding efficiency where you can, you can create a space that feels genuinely special.

To demonstrate our point, we’ve rounded up 32 stunning small primary bathrooms, which prove that size doesn’t matter: the way you use your space does.

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Set the Scene With a Bold Tile Choice

A small primary bathroom lined with pretty printed tiles

Studio Peake

When your bathroom is low on space, it may seem frivolous to add any purely decorative accents. After all, shouldn’t you be optimizing for function anywhere you can?

But, tiles are a necessity in any bathroom, and they’re a great place to have some fun. Snag a statement-making set, and transform your bathroom without adding any bulk.

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Go All In on Vanity Storage

A small primary bathroom packed with small drawers and cabinets

Pure Salt Interiors

Vanities are great places to sneak in some storage. If space is limited, it’s worth it to make sure your vanity meets your precise storage needs. So if you have a bunch of small necessities to store, consider trading larger cabinets for smaller ones.

Give yourself a mix of open storage options (like cubbies and shelves) and closed ones (like cabinets).

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Add Flexibility With a Bath Tray

A freestanding bathtub topped with a bath tray

Pure Salt Interiors

Bath trays can be a great way to add luxury and functionality to a small bathroom. In addition to giving you a place to rest food and drinks during your longest, most luxurious baths, a bath tray can optimize your storage set-up. The space inside your tub probably goes underutilized, and adding a shelf—in the form of a bath tray—can make it more efficient.

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Shave a Corner Off Your Shower

A small primary bathroom with a hexagonal shower tucked next to a vanity

White Sands

Showers tend to be square or rectangular, but they certainly don’t have to be. By scoring a pentagonal shower, you can save a little space—often, without making your shower feel tight or cramped.

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Cozy Things Up With a Rug

A small primary bathroom decorated with a chandelier, a woven chair, and a dark red rug

Design: Allie Boesch Designs, Photo: Amy Bartlam

Rugs make a striking addition to any bathroom, but they can be a particularly good investment if your bathroom is small. Why? Rugs are low-profile, so they can add style to your bathroom without taking up much—or really, any—space at all.

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Cut Down on Vanity Bulk

A small primary bathroom with a freestanding sink, a mirror-lined medicine cabinet, and two woven under-sink baskets

Katie Martinez Design

Vanities can be useful from a storage perspective, but they can also be incredibly bulky. If you don’t have that much to store, consider forgoing the traditional vanity, and pairing a freestanding sink with a few storage baskets, instead.

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Load Up on Shower Shelves

A boldly tiled shower with a built-in shower shelf, topped with several color-coordinated toiletries

Design: Mindy Gayer Design, Photo: Vanessa Lentine

The more toiletries you can store in your shower, the less you have to store under your sink, behind your mirror, or somewhere else in your bathroom. So, consider installing a few shower shelves. You can match them to your shower tiles, or use them to add a pop of color to your space.

And remember, you don’t have to store everything on them—just your go-to shower necessities.

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Slide a Tub Between Tight Walls

A small primary bathroom with a freestanding tub tucked between tight walls

Cathie Hong Interiors

If you’re navigating a narrow bathroom, you might think a bathtub is out of the question—how could you possibly fit one in your space? But the truth is, there are plenty of tubs that are designed to be narrow but deep. Snag a freestanding option to spare some extra space, and make the most of the walls next to your tub by installing a towel rack or some shelves.

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Snag a Tiny Bath Stool

A shower decorated with a small bath stool, which has been topped with soap and a sponge

Katie Hodges Design

Bath stools can be incredibly useful to have. The shower-friendly seats can double as shelves and triple as décor. And though anything that makes your set-up more efficient is worth sparing space for, you can snag an extra-small bath stool to free up extra room.

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Add Drama With a Chandelier

A primary bathroom with a black freestanding tub and a beaded chandelier

Pure Salt Interiors

Great primary bathrooms feel glamorous, even paradisiacal. But if space is tight, where, exactly, are you supposed to add those much-needed luxurious touches? Try looking up. Your floor space may be thoroughly furnished, but you probably have some ceiling space to spare. And a chandelier can transform even the smallest of bathrooms into a show-stopper.

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Stick to a Single Floor Tile

A small primary bathroom, which has been lined with the same striking floor tile from wall to wall

Julian Porcino

One easy way to make your bathroom look and feel more spacious? Use the same floor tile from wall to wall. This will create continuity between your shower and the rest of your bathroom, making the whole room seem bigger. 

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Invest in a Bold Mirror

A small primary bathroom with an ornate gold statement mirror, a striking wall sconce, and gray cabinets

Sarah Fultz Interiors

Mirrors are a necessity in any bathroom, and since statement-making mirrors aren’t usually much bigger than standard ones, you can snag a striking option that adds style to your bathroom without taking up unnecessary space.

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Build Shelves Inside Your Walls

A small bathroom lined with shelves that have been built into the walls

Pure Salt Interiors

Shelves can be a great way to add storage space to your bathroom. But since they often jut out of the wall, they can make a small space feel more cramped. One way around this? Build shelves into your walls. This may not be possible to do with every wall, but it’s a clever way to upgrade your space wherever you can pull it off.

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Turn Your Tub Sideways

A small primary bathroom with a hexagonal shower and a bathtub that's been turned to face the shower

LeClair Decor

A small bathroom doesn’t mean giving up your dreams of owning a tub—it just means rethinking them. If your bathroom is too narrow to accommodate a tub, could you try turning that tub sideways? Sure, the choice is unusual, but if it makes your bathroom more enjoyable, isn’t it worth trying?

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Free Up Space With a Wall-Mount Sink

A small primary bathroom with a boldly tiled floor, a clawfoot tub, and a wall-mount sink

White Sands

If you’re determined to cut bulk anywhere you can, consider trading your freestanding sink for a wall-mounted one. Wall-mounted sinks don’t demand any more space than is necessary, giving you even more under-the-sink room to play with.

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Skip the Shower Curtain

A small primary bathroom with a combination clawfoot tub and open-air shower

Design: Mindy Gayer Design, Photo: Lindsay Stetson Thompson

Shower curtains may not take up a lot of room, but they do visually close off your space. To create the illusion of a more spacious interior, consider dropping the shower curtain altogether. You can always use different tiles to section off your space.

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Use a Ladder as a Towel Rack

A small all-white primary bathroom decorated with a ladder that's been repurposed as a towel rack

Laura Brophy Interiors

Towel racks tend to be all function, no form. But if you’re willing to get creative, you can trade your traditional towel rack for a similarly low-profile item, like a ladder. In addition to giving you more room to hang towels, the swap will add personality to your bathroom in a space-efficient way.

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Layer Mirrors Over Your Windows

A small bathroom vanity situated against a window, with two hanging mirrors draped in front of the window

Katie Hodges Design

If you can’t mount your mirror on your wall, you may think you need to rest it on your countertop. But what if you hung it from your ceiling and let it dangle in front of your wall, instead? This out-of-the-box approach won’t make sense in every bathroom. But if your wall is lined with windows—or if it isn’t nail-friendly—it’s a solid space-saving option.

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Spring for a Striking Palette

A small bathroom with a striking sage green accent wall, a clawfoot tub, and a red rug

Ashley Montgomery Design

One perk of having a small bathroom? You can pull off a bold palette. Striking colors tend to be best in small doses. And nothing lends itself to small doses like a small space.

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Forgo Full Shower Walls

A very small bathroom outfitted with a shower that has waist-high walls

Margaret Wright

Walls can close off a space, making it feel more cramped, so consider cutting your shower walls in half. These shorter-than-average walls should be enough to keep water from spilling onto your floors, without making your space feel more crowded than necessary.

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Dress Up Your Space With Art

A small bathroom with a gray freestanding tub and a large red painting on the wall

Tyler Karu

Art is a great way to dress up any space. And since it typically sits flat against your walls, it should lend your bathroom some statement-making style without taking space away from other necessities.

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Put a Bathtub in Your Shower

A large shower with a freestanding tub inside it

Julian Porcino

If you don’t have room for a separate shower and bathtub, simply combine the two. Snag a bathtub/shower combo, or stick a freestanding tub inside an unusually large shower.

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Save Space With a Hovering Vanity

A wall-mounted bathroom vanity that hovers about 1 foot above the floor

Cathie Hong Interiors

Many vanities run from sink to floor, but if you don’t need all that storage space, consider snagging a hovering vanity. The piece should give you an extra foot of under-vanity space. And while that might not sound like a lot, it should be enough to make the room feel more open.

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Keep Your Shower Walls Crystal Clear

A small primary bathroom with a shower lined with two glass walls

Devon Grace Interiors

Glass shower walls won’t necessarily save space. But since you can see through them, they should make your space feel more open. (Just be sure to keep them clean!)

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Make Unexpected Accents Work for You

A small bathroom with a slanted ceiling, and a shower with a built-in seat tucked under that ceiling

Jessica Nelson Design

Some small primary bathrooms aren’t just small—they’re also unusually shaped. But instead of looking for ways to cover up these so-called “flaws,” try to use them to your advantage. Could you tuck a shower seat underneath a slanted ceiling? This clever choice could cozy up your bathroom, while helping you make the most of would-be dead space.

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Pick a Playful Shower Curtain

A small primary bathroom with a bold printed shower curtain

Margaret Wright

Shower curtains are excellent places to make a statement. Why? You probably need one anyway. And since they’re low-profile, they can dress up your bathroom without demanding unnecessary space.

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Build a Cabinet Next to Your Mirror

A small bathroom vanity equipped with shelves underneath and next to the sink

Design: Mindy Gayer Design, Photo: Vanessa Lentine

Below-mirror cabinets are a popular way to add functionality to your bathroom. But mirror-adjacent cabinets can be just as useful—especially if you’re in dire need of storage space.

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Tuck Your Tub Behind Your Vanity

A small primary bathroom with a vanity, a bathtub, and a shower all tucked next to each other

Design: Eye for Pretty, Photo: Amy Bartlam

Breathing room between pieces is lovely, but it’s ultimately a luxury. So rethink your layout, and creatively cram in as much functionality as you can. Would you rather have negative space next to your vanity, or would you rather have a bathtub? 

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Score a Super-Small Sink

A bathroom with an antique vanity and an extra-small sink

Erin Williamson Design

Many sinks are bigger than they need to be. If yours falls into this category, consider swapping it with a smaller option. (Your future self will thank you for all the counter space you just freed up.)

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Look for Sneaky Places to Add Storage

A small primary bathroom with shelves tucked into the wall and below the sink

Katie Martinez Design

Try not to waste even an inch of space. If a wall isn’t serving a purpose, consider transforming it into a set of shelves. And make sure the space underneath big-ticket items—like your vanity—is being used, as well.

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Sprinkle in Some Space-Efficient Décor

A bathroom vanity topped with small decor organized on a sleek gold tray

Pure Salt Interiors

Your primary bathroom should feel like a slice of paradise, but filling it with décor is an easy way to clutter it up. So look for ways to add luxury without adding bulk. A tray on your vanity may be all you need to pull your space together.

If you keep all of your décor elements small, purposeful, and compact, you shouldn’t lose too much space.

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Keep Your Palette Crisp and Bright

A small primary bathroom lined with a crisp all-white palette

Design: Mindy Gayer Design, Photo: Vanessa Lentine

Light colors tend to make a space feel bigger, so consider filling your bathroom with them. By committing to one or two light colors, you can make your bathroom look more spacious—and you can simplify your decor scheme, in the process.

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Make Every Piece Count

A statement-making small primary bathroom with boldly tiled floors, a copper clawfoot tub, and several glass shelves

Erin Williamson Design

If your bathroom is small, you won’t have to fill it with too many pieces, so try to make an impact with every piece you add. By combining a striking sink with bold floors and a statement-making tub, you can craft a space that feels truly special—and luxurious enough to call your primary bathroom.

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