Picture of George Nicola
George Nicola

George is a seasoned interior designer and property marketing strategist with over 13 years of experience. He specializes in transforming properties into visually stunning spaces, helping clients recognize the potential and beauty in each property. With an impressive international client base of exciting projects throughout Europe and America.

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If you have a small bathroom, powder room, (half baths), en suite or wet room you might wonder if hiring a designer is worth the money. While it is an extra expense, a skilled designer can maximize every inch of your space, avoiding costly functional and style mistakes. Designers bring experienced eyes to your project, noticing details you might overlook and providing practical solutions that save time and money in the long run.

 
  1. Expert advice in small bathroom design is invaluable. Professionals bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, which can make a big difference in the final result.

  2. Accessibility Matters: When designing a small bathroom, consider incorporating accessible features like grab bars, a curbless shower, and a comfort-height toilet. These elements not only make the space more functional for users of all abilities but also add value to your home. Planning for accessibility from the start can save costly renovations down the line.

  3. Lighting Is Key: Proper lighting can make a significant difference in a small bathroom. Natural light helps the space feel larger and more inviting. If your bathroom lacks windows, consider installing a skylight or solar tube. For artificial lighting, use a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a well-lit and visually appealing space. Dimmer switches allow for adjustable brightness to suit different needs and moods.

  4. Ventilation Is Vital: Adequate ventilation is crucial in a small bathroom to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to mold, mildew, and other issues. Install a properly sized exhaust fan that vents to the outdoors, not just into the attic. Run the fan during showers and baths, and for at least 20 minutes afterward, to remove excess humidity. If possible, include a window that can be opened for fresh air circulation.

  5. Don’t Forget the Details: Small details can have a big impact in a tiny bathroom. Choose hardware and accessories that complement your overall design style. Coordinate the finish of your faucets, showerheads, and cabinet pulls for a cohesive look. Add personality with unique elements like a statement mirror, artwork, or decorative tiles. These finishing touches can elevate your small bathroom from functional to fabulous.
A modern, designer bathroom with two oval windows, a shower area, and a vanity with a sink. The walls have built-in shelves, and there is a small vase with flowers on the counter. Despite its tiny bathroom size, it optimizes space without sacrificing style or spending much money.
A modern, designer bathroom with two oval windows, a shower area, and a vanity with a sink. The walls have built-in shelves, and there is a small vase with flowers on the counter. Despite its tiny bathroom size, it optimizes space without sacrificing style or spending much money.

Powder Rooms (Half Baths) and Compact Full Bathrooms are the most prominent types of small bathrooms today. They are frequently highlighted for their functionality, convenience, and ability to add value to a home.

Bathroom designers have access to a wide range of resources and products that can elevate the look and feel depending on the specific bathroom space. From compact fixtures to perfect color schemes and tile ranges, their expertise ensures that each element works together seamlessly.

A designer tiny bathroom featuring a wall-mounted sink and faucet, a lit shelf with folded towels underneath, and a toilet adjacent, all adorned with wood paneling and ambient lighting—a perfect space to spend money on thoughtful luxury.
A designer tiny bathroom featuring a wall-mounted sink and faucet, a lit shelf with folded towels underneath, and a toilet adjacent, all adorned with wood paneling and ambient lighting—a perfect space to spend money on thoughtful luxury.

George Nicola, a designer at TALLBOX, suggested that instead of wasting money on poor layout choices or incompatible materials, paying 300$ for guidance from a designer will save you at least $1,000 through informed decisions; that’s at least 3 times saving. With a designer’s touch, your small bathroom can transform from a cramped and cluttered space into a comfortable and efficient space.

You do not need to hire a bathroom designer if you have to:

  • Only repaint the room yourself instead of hiring a professional.
  • Install some fixtures like towel bars, shelves, and mirrors yourself.
  • Shop for deals on materials and fixtures at discount home improvement stores or online.

Who to hire, designer or decorator?

When it comes to hiring a professional for your small bathroom project, you may wonder whether a designer or decorator is the right choice. While both can contribute to creating a beautiful and functional space, there are key differences in their roles and expertise.

 
  • Have formal education and training in design principles, building codes, and construction practices
  • Create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces by considering layout, lighting, plumbing, and other technical aspects
  • Can make structural changes, such as moving walls or altering the floor plan
  • Often work closely with architects and contractors to ensure the design is executed properly
  • May have a network of trusted suppliers and craftspeople to source high-quality materials and fixtures
  • Focus primarily on the aesthetic aspects of a space, such as color schemes, furniture selection, and accessories
  • Can help create a cohesive and stylish look by coordinating various design elements
  • Generally do not make structural changes or deal with technical aspects like plumbing or electrical work
  • May have a keen eye for trends and decorative details that can enhance the overall ambiance of your bathroom

A 3D interior designer may be the better choice for a small bathroom project that involves significant layout changes, plumbing alterations, or complex design challenges.

They have the expertise to address both the functional and aesthetic aspects of your space, ensuring that every inch is optimized for efficiency and style.

However, if your primary goal is to refresh the look of your bathroom without making major structural changes, an interior decorator can help you achieve a beautiful and cohesive design. They can guide you in selecting colors, materials, and decorative elements that suit your taste and complement the existing layout.

 

5 Ways a designer will save money when designing small bathrooms

Powder Rooms (Half Baths) and Compact Full Bathrooms are the most prominently mentioned types of small bathrooms. They are frequently highlighted for their functionality, convenience, and ability to add value to a home.

First-time renovators (buyers) often attempt to save by cutting corners on the smallest of the spaces, such as half-baths and compact full baths but not en suites.

Here are some ways a designer might save money and optimize the space to its full potential:

Use budget-friendly materials:

  • Opt for ceramic or porcelain tiles instead of natural stone. They can mimic the look of stone at a lower price point. Often from 25% up 40% for selected style.
  • Choose laminate or solid surface countertops over more expensive options like granite or quartz.
  • Use chrome or brushed nickel fixtures instead of premium finishes.
A designer touch graces this tiny bathroom with white subway tile walls and black floral wallpaper. A white toilet, adorned with a potted plant on top, adds charm, while a wicker basket sits neatly on the floor beside it.
A designer touch graces this tiny bathroom with white subway tile walls and black floral wallpaper. A white toilet, adorned with a potted plant on top, adds charm, while a wicker basket sits neatly on the floor beside it.

Keep plumbing simple and efficient:

  • Locate the bathroom near existing plumbing to minimize new pipe runs.
  • Stack bathrooms vertically to streamline plumbing.
  • Use a standard tub or shower base instead of a custom tile shower to reduce labor costs.

Maximize space efficiency:

  • Install a corner sink or a wall-mounted sink to free up floor space.
  • Use a shower curtain instead of a glass door to make the room feel larger.
  • Incorporate recessed shelving and medicine cabinets for storage without intruding on the room.
A tiny bathroom design features a blue vanity with a marble countertop, dual faucets, a mirror, wall-mounted towel racks, and a toilet in the background. Decor includes white flowers in a vase and neatly folded towels. Consider hiring a designer for this compact space to maximize style and functionality.
A tiny bathroom design features a blue vanity with a marble countertop, dual faucets, a mirror, wall-mounted towel racks, and a toilet in the background. Decor includes white flowers in a vase and neatly folded towels. Consider hiring a designer for this compact space to maximize style and functionality.

Choose multi-functional fixtures:

  • Install a combination shower and tub unit instead of separate fixtures.
  • Use a shower panel system that integrates the showerhead, body sprays, and controls into one unit.
A minimalist bathroom renovation with a marble countertop, a sink, a soap dispenser, and a branch arrangement in a vase sits gracefully in front of a large mirror.
A minimalist bathroom renovation with a marble countertop, a sink, a soap dispenser, and a branch arrangement in a vase sits gracefully in front of a large mirror.

Opt for pre-fabricated elements:

  • Use a pre-fabricated shower or tub surround instead of custom tilework. These units are cheaper and quicker to install.
  • Consider using a vanity with an integrated sink top. This eliminates the need for a separate countertop and can be more cost-effective.
  • Look for pre-assembled storage units or medicine cabinets that can be easily installed, saving on labor costs.

By choosing pre-fabricated elements, designers can save money on both materials and installation labor, especially for long or short term rented apartments.

These ready-made components are designed to be easily installed and can offer a similar look and functionality to custom-built options at a lower price point. However, it’s important to ensure that these elements are of good quality and fit well in the overall design of the small bathroom. Designers should carefully consider the dimensions, style, and durability of pre-fabricated items before incorporating them into the project.

Mistakes homeowners make when attempting to design a small bathroom

When it comes to designing a small bathroom, there are several common pitfalls that homeowners should avoid. One key mistake is prioritizing low-quality, short-lived materials over durable, high-quality options that provide lasting value. Subpar materials like flimsy countertops and fixtures may save money upfront but often lead to costly repairs and replacements down the line. In contrast, investing in sturdy, well-made components can help your bathroom stand the test of time.

Opting for oversized, bulky fixtures that consume valuable floor space, rather than choosing compact and space-efficient fixtures such as wall-mounted toilets, floating vanities, and corner sinks.

Opt for Space-Efficient Fixtures: Choose compact and space-efficient fixtures such as wall-mounted toilets, floating vanities, and corner sinks. These fixtures not only save space but also often cost less than larger, more elaborate options.

 

Undertaking a costly expansion project to add square footage to the bathroom, instead of repurposing adjacent spaces like closets or utility rooms to provide additional space without extensive construction.

Repurpose Existing Space: Instead of expanding the bathroom, consider repurposing adjacent spaces like closets or utility rooms. This can provide additional space without the need for extensive construction

Hiring professionals for every aspect of the bathroom update, including minor tasks, rather than doing minor updates like painting, installing new hardware, or adding decorative touches themselves to save on labor costs.

DIY Where Possible: For minor updates like painting, installing new hardware, or adding decorative touches, consider doing it yourself. This can save on labor costs and allow you to allocate your budget to more critical areas.

Using dark, heavy colors that can make the space feel cramped, instead of light colors and mirrors that can make a small bathroom feel larger and more open.

Use Light Colors and Mirrors: Light colors and mirrors can make a small bathroom feel larger and more open. This visual trick can help you avoid costly structural changes while still improving the room’s appearance

Splurging on expensive, high-end countertop materials that strain the budget, rather than choosing cost-effective countertops like plastic laminate or solid surface that are durable and less expensive.

Choose Cost-Effective Countertops: For countertops, consider materials like plastic laminate or solid surface, which are durable and less expensive than stone or custom options. These materials are also easier to install, potentially saving on labor costs

Installing outdated, energy-guzzling light fixtures that increase electricity costs, instead of using energy-efficient lighting options like LED bulbs, which consume less power and have a longer lifespan.

Install Efficient Lighting: Use energy-efficient lighting options like LED bulbs, which consume less power and have a longer lifespan. This can reduce your electricity bills and maintenance costs over time.

Relying on freestanding furniture that takes up valuable floor space, rather than incorporating built-in storage solutions like recessed shelves and cabinets that maximize space without the need for additional furniture.

Incorporate Built-In Storage: Built-in storage solutions like recessed shelves and cabinets can maximize space without the need for additional furniture. This can help keep the bathroom organized and reduce clutter, making the space feel larger and more functional.

Overlooking accessibility features, limiting the bathroom’s usability for some individuals, instead of designing for accessibility, which can add value to the home and make the bathroom more functional for all users.

Plan for Accessibility: Designing for accessibility can add value to your home and make the bathroom more functional for all users. Features like grab bars, adjustable showerheads, and roll-under sinks can be incorporated without significant additional costs.

Installing fixtures that waste water and lead to higher utility bills, rather than using water-saving fixtures like low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads that reduce water usage and provide long-term savings.

Use Water-Saving Fixtures: Install water-saving fixtures like low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads. These fixtures can reduce water usage and lower utility bills, providing long-term savings.

Installing a traditional shower with a high curb that can impede accessibility, instead of considering a curbless shower that can make the bathroom feel more open and accessible.

Consider a Curbless Shower: A curbless shower can make the bathroom feel more open and accessible. While it may require some initial investment in waterproofing, it can save money on materials like shower doors and curtains.

George Nicola (designer) suggests:

Shop Smart for Fixtures and Materials:

Look for sales, discounts, and clearance items when shopping for fixtures and materials. Online marketplaces and local home improvement stores often have deals that can help you stay within budget. By implementing these money-saving tips, you can create a small bathroom that is both functional and stylish without overspending.

Budgeting for Your Power Room

Spending wisely on a bathroom remodel requires understanding typical renovation costs and avoiding the trap of false economy. Thoughtful planning can help you use your budget effectively.

Understanding Renovation Costs

Knowing what to expect in terms of costs can help manage your budget more effectively. Labor costs often make up a significant portion of expenses. Plumbers, electricians, and tilers require skilled, professional labor, which can be costly.

When planning, create a checklist of essential items versus optional upgrades. Buy a book on bathroom renovations and learn how to prioritize according to necessity and use affordable materials to stretch your budget.

Common costs involve:

  • Plumbing and electrical work: Essential for safety and functionality.
  • Tiles and fixtures: Mid-range options can provide durability and style.
  • Permits and inspections: Essential for legal and safety compliance.
  • Waste management: Take care of the garbage generated during the reno, store and dispose of it properly and cost-effectively.

These costs can add up quickly, so keep a detailed budget sheet. This keeps track of all expenses and adjustments in real time, preventing unpleasant surprises.

 

Avoiding False Economy

Aiming to cut costs too aggressively may lead to a false economy. While saving is important, compromising on quality can incur higher expenses in the long run. Low-quality materials or unskilled labor could result in frequent repairs and replacements.

Spending wisely means investing in crucial areas. For example:

  • Plumbing: Faulty plumbing can lead to leaks and water damage.
  • Electric work: Safety should not be compromised.

Opt for budget-friendly but reliable options for items like towel bars and cabinet hardware. These elements can look good without costing a fortune. Balancing cost with quality ensures a long-lasting remodel that won’t drain your wallet with future fixes.

Planning the Renovation Process without a designer

Start with a detailed plan. Measure your space accurately to know what fits and where. Sketch the layout, placing fixtures like the toilet, sink, and shower in easily accessible spots.

Consider plumbing requirements. Check existing plumbing to see if it supports your new design. Moving major fixtures like the toilet or shower can increase costs due to extra plumbing work. Sometimes, keeping these in their original place saves money and simplifies the process.

Ventilation is key in a tiny bathroom. Make sure there’s a proper vent fan to prevent mold and moisture buildup. Good ventilation also keeps your bathroom fresh and extends the life of your materials.

Selecting Quality Materials and Labor

Invest in quality materials. Choose durable tiles, like ceramic or porcelain, which resist water and wear. For fixtures, opt for stainless steel or chrome-plated taps and showerheads to prevent rust and ensure longevity.

Consider multifunctional and space-saving fixtures. Floating vanities, under-sink storage, and wall-mounted shelves maximize space and keep the bathroom tidy. Mirrors can make the room feel larger and brighten up your space by reflecting light.

Hire qualified professionals for installation. An experienced contractor ensures that plumbing, electrical wiring, and fixture installations comply with local codes. Quality labor prevents future problems and ensures that your new bathroom is safe and functional.