Hacks For Making A Tiny Bathroom Liveable

by Danielle Guercio

Apartment living is the norm for more and more millennials, and I can tell you from personal experience that you’re gonna find some wacky, tacky, and downright ridiculously small bathrooms out there if you're renting. When I moved from a dreamy extra large loft suite to a teeny tenement toilet room, I had to rethink everything I knew about beauty and decor, and make it fit into a bathroom roughly the size of a buttcrack.

One of the reasons I’m able to settle for such a comically tiny bathroom is that I made the big girl step to live without roommates for the first time ever. It’s much smaller, but I only share with my boyfriend, so it’s much more private overall. However, as a beauty writer, I have literally dozens of products that I’m either hoarding, testing, or both — and it takes up a lot of space!

Sacrifices must be made in some ways, but luckily there were some positive outcomes to taking on a smaller bathroom. I live in NYC, where small everything is seen as the norm, but I’ve never lived with a bathroom that didn’t have enough room for me to lay down on the floor.

To figure out what I could do to maximize the storage space in my tiny lavatory, I chatted with interior designer Caroline Sun, who owns Bleach LA Furnishings. She gave me some tips for making room for all my stuff while keeping my apartment decor on trend.

1. Use A Clear Curtain

My bathroom before Sun.

Sun knows as a renter you’re stuck (mostly) with what you have, especially when it comes to fixtures and tile. Since my building dates back to 1895, there are some pretty insane rust stains on the floor tiles, and no amount of scrubbing can get rid of them. Plus, the kind of yucky pink wall tile goes up almost to the ceiling.

I thought adding a striped curtain would liven up the space, but it really just ended up cutting the room in two. Instead, Sun suggests buying a clear curtain and adding any colors you love via accessories like shower caddies and soap dishes.

2. Use Plants As Privacy

Since I don’t want anyone to watch what I’m doing and that’s so easy in on-top-of-each-other NYC. People hanging up their laundry (a daily occurrence) can basically see right into my shower. But that window is a luxury in the city! I don’t want to kill the light completely, so decided to go with some hanging plants. Sun suggests palms and cactii for a trendy, minimalist vibe, but I have a cat, so I had to choose what would be non-poisonous to him but also cute.

Another thing to consider when picking your bathroom plants is the humidity. The rest of my house is dry enough to have cactii and palms, high up where gato can’t get them, and that’s where they live. But in a humid bathroom, ferns are the way to go. They do much better in this tiny space that fills up with shower steam in seconds.

3. Buy The Nice Towels

By having a bathroom so tiny it lacks a sink, I pay much less in the ludicrous rental market I live in. This frees up some capital to focus on accessories that can make such a crappy bathroom at least high functioning and welcoming. Making the jump to nicer accessories and essentials is a huge upgrade, even in a basic space.

Maybe when I had roommates using a 99 cent store plunger and toilet brush was acceptable, but I'm currently loving the high tech and non-drip and non-hideous solutions that are Simple Human’s Plunger and Toilet Brush. They make it easier to clean and are easier on the eyes.

This also means that just any old towel won't do. I can barely turn around unobstructed in there, so if I want to leave that steambox into the larger, colder abyss, a scratchy or shrunken, an abused towel doesn’t inspire relaxation. Parachute Home, known for their baller sheet sets, just moved into 100 percent Turkish cotton towels, and I just want to do an Alicia Keys piano flutter while I roll around on mine. Since a tiny tub can cramp style and comfort, having a giant, fluffy, and welcoming bath sheet to show yourself some love makes a world of difference. I have fallen asleep on mine many times!

4. Clean. Often.

This part is really important. I can’t get rid of these rust stains until I paint the floor (and who has time for that?) but I can put down a nice bamboo mat and keep dust bunnies at bay. I grabbed a Simple Human Squeegee to help with the aforementioned humidity, as excess moisture can damage the tiles and make them loose. Though this isn’t technically my problem, it is in my living space, so giving the tiles a quick once over after the shower does miracles for the day-to day look.

Hitting such a small space with a vacuum and some Windex makes cleaning a quick task, all that’s left is to wipe down our self-installed mirror, also from Simple Human. I couldn't believe the bathroom didn't come with a sink or a mirror. My skin care routine was suffering. This 8-inch Wall Mount Sensor Mirror is slightly magnifying, meaning you can look at your whole face at once. Not only does it mean we can actually get ready in the bathroom, the mirror makes the small space look a tiny bit bigger.

5. Store Up High

With storage we had to get extremely creative. The walls are basically all tile, so there’s really nowhere to drill without causing major damage. I had to mull it over for awhile before finding the right tool. Luckily for me inspiration struck on Amazon, and I was able to grab what is sold as a closet-door shelving unit meant for a pantry, and install it up high where there’s some sheetrock to safely drill into. This created all the storage we needed for skincare and medicine chest type supplies. The one tragedy: There was no way in hell I could bring my makeup and hair products and tools into this teeny space, especially if I want to take a calm peaceful bath without a beautyblender floating by.

6. Buy Organizers

My makeup before.

Sun designs furniture for people who don’t want to look at piles of products or jewelry. One of my biggest focus triggers is disorder, so when she sent me one of her epic makeup organizers, I knew my whole game was about to change.

Having my stuff in basic bins was really downplaying my fabulous collection. I’m lucky enough to try some of the greatest products in the world, and now instead of sitting in a pile, they’re arranged artfully in this smart and uber functioning piece designed by Caroline. Sitting in front of this Wall Mounted Makeup Organizer I find myself painting longer, enjoying the entire process. It’s a post-modern vanity for people who don’t have tons of space. It fit my entire makeup and tool collection with room to spare, which was incredibly impressive to me

Not only did Caroline’s tips improve my outlook on the tiny space, it improved the entire look of the space. I’m so happy I listened to her, and so happy that I have one of her awesome pieces hanging in my office — which is now my office, powder room, studio, and womyn cave.

Photos: Danielle Guercio