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We demand so much of them, it’s only right that we give small bathrooms the attention they deserve at the design stage.

The hardest-working room in the house is challenging enough to design no matter what its size. But when the dimensions are small the project becomes even more demanding because you need to pack in maximum function in limited square footage. Space being at a premium, every element in the bathroom needs to reflect style as well as serve a definite purpose. So how does one pull this off while designing a small bathroom? Here are some useful tips:

Hard-working, high style fixtures

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When designing a small bathroom, it is even more important to pick hardware and fixtures that keep function, style and budget in mind. If you can squeeze them in, remember that side-by-side sinks will make the bathroom function a lot more efficiently. For a dash of added elegance, consider a bowl-shaped sink that sits on the countertop in a modern twist on the old-world basin. Easy-to-clean, high-shine chrome or metal faucets and racks look stylish and last many years. Using a clear glass shower door allows natural light to flood the entire space without obscuring the view of any design elements.

Style with tile

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Tile allows you to create any look imaginable. For high impact you have metal backsplash options that bathe the small room in an inviting sheen and sparkle. “The backsplash is a perfect place to incorporate metal into the design as it’s easy to clean and less likely to get scratched there than it would be as a countertop,” says interior designer Terrell Goeke.

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Mosaic patterns look stunning on a shower wall or above a tub. Or you could use contrasting colors you love to create an eye-catching checkerboard design behind the tub or shower. Tawny colored tumbled slate tiles imbue the bathroom with a warm, earthy hue. The subtle variations in color add interest and depth. If bold hues aren’t your thing, a raised tile backsplash adds texture and contrast without introducing too many colors.

Flooring for function

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Floor tiles are the most sensible and durable option for a bathroom. Easy to clean and available in a range of colors, a tiled floor keeps the space light and airy. Travertine floors are the hardest wearing and safe for bathrooms because their textured surfaces also make them slip-resistant and thereby prevent falls. If you prefer natural elements in décor, there are wood-inspired options in the market that can mimic the look of the material you love without making maintenance a constant concern.

Fun with color

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This is where you can really let your imagination and creativity run wild when designing a small bathroom. Color is incorporated with your choice of tile, wall paint, shelving and accessories. Bold color choices are very much on the table among tiny bathroom ideas as they can add a lot of drama to a small space. Powder rooms painted in dark colors or covered with patterned wallpaper look very dramatic.

If over-the-top color isn’t for you, introduce one bold color in a shower or tub surround and keep the palette muted through the rest of the space. Yellow might seem like too bright a color, but many seem to love its sunny and cheery effect on a small bathroom. Blues and greens, reds and browns, oranges and browns – any shade can be made to work in a bathroom.

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But if you’re going for a more serene, cohesive and spa-like feel you could pick a calm neutral palette. An all-white bathroom always looks crisp, clean and appealing. White and gray is a classic combination that never seems to go out of style. For a more masculine and modern feel, try mixing warm and cool tones of gray.

Select smart storage to conquer clutter

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Your choices in this category can make or break a small bathroom in terms of function, so storage selection should be done with care. Your objective should be to have everything you need in the space within easy reach, but without creating visual clutter because that can make the bathroom appear smaller than it is. Strip bathroom contents down to the bare necessities and keep things simple.

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Nestle set-in shelves above a tub to store extra towels for house guests and showcase your favorite decorative items. Install a shelf above a toilet to store your preferred soaps and lotions. Incorporate shelves and drawers in the vanity or install a medicine cabinet for shallow, concealed storage. Use baskets to tuck away in shelves. That way everything is organized and neat.

Showcase architectural assets

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To design a more dramatic and unique small bathroom, consider adding some architectural interest if the space permits. You could perhaps design an arched entry to the shower or a step up to the tub to define the space.

Let it glow with good lighting

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This is another key element in small bathroom design ideas. Well-planned lighting makes all the difference when it comes to function and feel. Optimize natural light with windows and mirrors. Layer lighting fixtures on the ceiling and walls. The goal is to make the bath bright and invigorating to begin the day, subdued and soothing to end it.

Accessorize with flair

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When everything else is in place, accessorizing is the final touch that punches up the style factor in a bathroom. Frame your mirrors for a more formal, finished look. Choose towels in varying hues to complement or contrast with the bathroom’s color scheme. Custom hand towels are an affordable way to add style and personalize a bathroom. Use pretty apothecary glass jars to store q-tips and cotton balls. Add a vase of flowers or greens to bring a soothing natural element into the space.

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Packing a small bathroom with equal measures of function and style is very achievable. Use these tips to design a space that dutifully delivers on its purpose while looking its very best for many years. Smart choices in color, storage and accessories will keep your small bathroom looking fresh and inviting for a very long time.