From congested to capacious

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

Your bathroom is your own personal spa, so you want it to be comfortable and beautiful.

Not everyone is blessed with a roomy bathroom. Most houses in South Africa, especially in new developments, are cursed with tiny bathrooms. What do you do if yours is one of them?

According to Ayanda Pongoma, an interior decorator, some simple design tricks can work a little magic to make a small bathroom space seem larger.

"With a bit of visual magic, colour and lighting, you can transform your small bathroom into a cozy retreat.

"People should take time to plan before they begin re-modelling or redecorating bathrooms. Layout and decorating ideas are important and simple plans are needed to make them work well."

How to deal with a bathroom that makes you claustrophobic:


Pongoma advises that you to use large, light-coloured floor tiles.

"White, very light beige or grey will give the illusion of space. If you are renting an apartment and cannot change the colour of your floor, use a light-coloured rug to cover the flooring."


Pongoma recommends light colours for the walls as well.

"Walls need to be white or beige. If you are using wallpaper, choose one with white, yellow, neutral or other light-coloured backgrounds, and an open and airy design."


"Look for small, wall-mounted basins without vanities so more of the floor will show. Don't go for a pedestal basin because it tends to eat up more space. A small bathroom will look more airy and roomy with a hanging basin," says Pongoma.


"If you must install cabinets and shelves, do it high on the wall and near the ceiling so that they do not form visual barriers.

"Choose cabinets that can be set into the wall. Cabinet doors or open shelves should be flush with the wall surface. Smooth, unbroken wall surfaces make a small bathroom appear longer and wider. Cabinet doors should be painted to match the wall colour. Opt for a small shelf for storage instead or fish out some space in a linen closet nearby."


Pongoma says you can create illusions of expanding a small space by placing a large mirror in front of the bathroom basin to reflect light well.

"Also consider artistic placement of smaller mirrors instead of one large one to distribute light more evenly. Hang large mirrors. Mirrors reflect space and make a small bathroom seem nearly double the size. Consider a large mirror above the basin and one or more additional mirrors."


"If your small bathroom has a bathtub, replace it with a clear glass-door shower stall to free space," says Pongoma.


"Think about placing over-the-door towel bars. These hold multiple towels in a small space. Tissue box holders in clear acrylic mounted on the wall work well, as do toothbrush and tumbler holders."

Pictures and plants

Pongoma says one of the most important tips is to use pictures and plants.

"Photos or prints mounted in clear frames can establish a decorating theme for a small bathroom. A green plant, live or silk, can be hung in a corner. Use a light-coloured basket for an airy look."


You can also open space by lighting it well.

"You can brighten up the bathroom using natural sunlight by installing skylights or larger windows," says Pongoma.