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How to Update a Small, Outdated Bathroom

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By : Jilda Peterson    99 or more times read
While most new homes feature large, often luxurious bathrooms, if you’re living in an older home, chances are you are living with a small bathroom. It used to be that bathrooms were not much more than five by eight feet. If actually expanding the size of your bathroom’s footprint is not doable or desirable, you’ll be glad to know that there are several updates that can be used to make your little old bathroom more functional and stylish, while creating the illusion that the space is bigger than it really is.

Update the Toilet, Tub & Shower
If the locations of your toilet, tub and shower work well in their current locations, simply replace them with newer, sleeker fixtures. Old toilets are larger and much less efficient that new models; simply changing the old toilet for a new one will leave a little more space in your bathroom and cut down dramatically on water usage.

If you bathroom contains a shower stall, replacing a swing out style door with a sliding or bi-fold door will eliminate the space needed for door clearance. Older style tubs had high profiles that can make a room feel smaller; you can replace it with a sleeker model, or if you prefer showers or baths, rip it out and replace it with a standard 3x3 foot shower stall. This will take up about half as much floor space as a tub, giving you extra room for a linen closet, towel racks, or whatever you need. You can also opt for a corner shower unit which takes up even less room but might be too small for some people to be comfortable while showering.

If tearing out the tub is more that you want to pursue right now, you can still update your toilet and vanity and hide your old tub behind a stylish new shower curtain that goes all the way to the floor.

Updating the Vanity
If your vanity is cumbersome and dated, consider replacing it with a new sleeker sink base and sink. A pedestal sink or wall mounted sink are great space saving options but, since they offer no storage below, they might be a better choice in a powder room or half-bath rather than a much-used family bathroom. For vanity lighting, wall sconces will take up less space than an old overhanging light fixture.

Maximizing Storage
Look for ways to add storage to wasted vertical wall spaces: Corner shelves and over-the-toilet shelving units help the most of these unused spaces. Whenever possible, recess storage and medicine cabinets into the wall to save space in the bathroom. Storage units that hang behind the door are another good way to add space for small items like cosmetics and personal products.

Decorate for Spaciousness
Continuous uninterrupted light or neutral color will make your bathroom seem larger. Choose the same light color for walls and wall tile and use bolder colors in towels, countertop accessories and wall art. Busy patterns will make the room look smaller; choose a variety of textures in the same color to add interest without visually cluttering the space. Remember that reflective surfaces, like mirrors and glass tile, will make the space feel bigger and brighter.
Online contributing editor for, Jilda Peterson has extensive design experience, using metal fish wall art and candle sconces for the wall.

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