Asked on Dec 22, 2016

How can I upgrade this horrible, tiny bathroom?!

Shantoy Perry
by Shantoy Perry
I am in urgent need of your help, I found an amazing basement apartment but the only downside is the tiny bathroom.
I am not able to knock out the wall behind the pipes as it is a solid wall linked with the foundation. I was thinking of moving the face basin to the same side as the toilet??? I don't know what I could also do to make those rustic pipes have an more esthetic appeal.
q horrible tiny bathroom, bathroom ideas
q horrible tiny bathroom, bathroom ideas
q horrible tiny bathroom, bathroom ideas
q horrible tiny bathroom, bathroom ideas
  27 answers
  • Ann Meyerhoff Ann Meyerhoff on Dec 22, 2016
    First I would enclose the pipe with a wood frame. Replace the stool and sink. A small vanity would add some storage that is out of sight. Remove the shelf above the stool and find a nice set of shelves on legs possibly to add more storage and room for extra decoration. Reline the shower with seal able panels or decorative tiles. Floor too. Paint the wall - perhaps so texture as well or paneling made for bathrooms from Menards or on of those places... light fixture updates, medicine chest...

  • Tova Pearl Tova Pearl on Dec 22, 2016
    Having lived with tiny bathrooms for many years, i can tell you it is doable!
    First of all, do some searches for "industrial chic" rather than "rustic" to find a way to make your pipes a decor accent.
    Then, I would look into replacing the floor tiles (lots of hometalk tutorials on that!) while keeping in mind that tiling in the shower and behind the sink will make the bathroom a lot more durable & pleasant. If your ceiling is high enough that you don't mind losing an inch or two, you may be able to tile over the floor tiles rather than ripping them up, which saves a lot of work.
    If you have the budget, you'll maybe want to replace (or hire someone to replace) the sink & toilet. Again, you don't need super expensive, but a narrow rectangular sink placed on the wall near the toilet will make the space feel more open. If that large pipe is your sewage pipe, maybe you can even consider moving the toilet closer to the shower, and put the sink near the door (on same wall as the toilet)?
    Next you'll want to think about storage: you've got lots of space for shelving above the toilet.
    Then the fun details! paint the walls a fun color - small bathrooms can be really colorful, use nice comfy textiles like shower curtains and bathmats to soften up the place, hang some nicely framed pictures - and voila. You might also want to paint the window grate a lighter color and add a little curtain there or some privacy covering to the glass. Good luck!

  • Lynne Forrestal Lynne Forrestal on Dec 22, 2016
    good suggestions all ready, pipes , either box in and try to HIDE and if you put a cabinet door on that for access, you could extend a little and add custom shelfs for storage too... OR, paint pipes a contrasting color and make it part of the funky archetechure... either industrial style or just bright colors, say bright red for pipes,and another bright color or two for the rest of the room. In tiny spaces you can have fun!!!

  • William William on Dec 22, 2016
    If this is a rental, as you say apartment, make sure you get permission from your landlord, in writing, for any changes you want to make. Suggest he/she help in funding any renovation or discount on your rent.

    • Shantoy Perry Shantoy Perry on Dec 22, 2016
      Thanks for this valuable tip. They had informed me that they are willing to cover the cost of the reno, I was just hoping I could get some insights to provide them with in changing it.

  • 861650 861650 on Dec 22, 2016
    You have a great landlord who is willing to do a little reno! One thing you may consider is to hang a shower curtain at the ceiling but shower curtains are not made the length you need. Possibly buy two curtains and add length at the bottom. Use what is left over to make a curtain for your window/grate.

  • Joye R. Foster Joye R. Foster on Dec 23, 2016
    PUT THE SINK AND TOILET ON THE SAME WALL. NOW IT LOOKS LIKE A MAZE. Oops, sorry re all capitals. I am not shoutingat you.

    • See 2 previous
    • Shantoy Perry Shantoy Perry on Dec 29, 2016
      That's okay(the caps), but yeah it totally f3lt like a maze when I first saw it lol

  • Wow! That is really tiny! All great suggestions here and I do not have anything original to contribute, and please share photos when you have completed, as I bet we are all curious to see what you have done. Have fun with it! Good luck. ☺

  • Eroque022810 Eroque022810 on Dec 23, 2016
    I'm surprised that as a renter you can change things. What I would do is change the tile to something more modern,such as the beautiful grey longer tiles. Then I would paint the pipes in greyish silver to kind of look like pipes yet not shiny so it looks like a loft. Then I would paint a light grey and buy a funky shower curtain. As a renter I would see if the homeowner would help out and/or return the money once you leave but get it all in writing.

    • See 2 previous
      Ann, As a Landlord for 30+ years you get burned out with tenants trashing your property and subsequently learn from tenant's teaching you to do the minimum. I've had tenants leave 2 large dumpsters full of trash. I've had them leave nearly completely furnished houses. When you have been a landlord for a while you'll understand. Good responsible tenants are like gold. I'll do anything for them.

  • Joye R. Foster Joye R. Foster on Dec 25, 2016
    I was thinking the plumbing could be routed from the shower or sink. You are right, they will not want to spend a lot on it.

  • Lynda Dexter Lynda Dexter on Dec 25, 2016
    embrace the look paint the pipes a copper color and add rustic design elements or maybe even go with a steampunk look. Paint in jewel tones.

  • Pat Ruge Pat Ruge on Dec 25, 2016
    All good suggestions. As a landlord, my number one criteria is to keep a good tenant happy. I know most landlords have the reputation of wanting to collect rent and keep expenses down. However, I can tell you that is not always true. If you come up with a good idea (which this landlord obvi has not) present your ideas and ask your landlord to make the improvements. If you don't ask, you don't get. When you go to the landlord, go with a cost estimate. He/she may have resources which can even reduce the costs.

  • Deborah Kindred Deborah Kindred on Dec 25, 2016
    If your landlord will allow it, paint the pipes & walls a softer blue gray color, put up a shower curtain of long stripes of blue/gray. A curtain or plastic window cover over the small window that sort of match the shower curtain will elongate the look to make it look larger. In the past my landlords wouldn't change the bathroom fixtures unless they were broken or leaking. Good luck with whatever you do!

    • Mary Ann Niemczycki Mary Ann Niemczycki on Dec 26, 2016
      Reminds me of my first apartment when I was just married. There is not much that can be done structurally here that will not be expensive for you or the landlord. Use paint to make it light and bright. Transparent shower curtains will keep the space open but anything over the window will just close it in. Looks like you could add storage over the toilet.

  • Kathy Murray Kathy Murray on Dec 26, 2016
    Turn it into an industrial looking bathroom & use the pipe to your advantage, then it's suppose to be there. You could even take a sander to the pipe to expose some of the metal. Put a weathered wood shelf up behind the toilet with some cool metal brackets. If you leave the old sink you could update to an industrial faucet or buy a funky metal sink. You could also buy some faux adhesive brick tiles or vinyl ones for the walls & plaster around them since the room is so small. If you want to do your tile floor there are vinyl self adhesive flooring planks that look like wood that can be laid right over tile flooring. Resilient flooring that is moisture resistant which makes it an excellent choice for high moisture areas such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and basements that come in sheets of 6 to 8 inches by 2 to 3 feet long. The picture of the bathroom with purple tissue paper walls is mine, it's small & tight. I bought a plant stand from Ross & had a sink made, the faucet I bought from England because the shipping was free & it was 3 times cheaper than buying it in the U.S for that same faucet. If you're strapped for cash check out scrap yards or 2nd hand stores. I've added pictures of these ideas. I would sure like to see your finished product which ever way you go. Good Luck!

    Hi Shannon, I see two major issues-The glare from the light is making the room seem very harsh and unfriendly. Replace the fixture with some softer lighting to cut down on the glare. The second thing is to do some creative painting. How about turning the cast iron drain line into a tree trunk? add some vines on the wall behind it. I'm seeing a light green/mint wall, with vines and flowers and leaves. If you can't get rid of the pipes then camouflage them. Maybe replace the toilet and faucet fixtures with something in keeping with your new forest/jungle theme and a plastic jungle vine over the shower vent.

  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Dec 26, 2016
    I would ask what the pipe is made from?You can make it into a towel holder with ribbon like material.Also put more shelves above the toilet.

  • Cheryl Markus Reynolds Cheryl Markus Reynolds on Dec 26, 2016
    I don't think there is enough room next to the toilet for the sink. Not to mention the cost to have it re-plumbed. Instead of hiding the pipes, I'd paint them and the mirror frame black, add a small shelf under the mirror and a light over it. Remove the towel bar on the left and put 2 black towel bars on the right side of the sink. Find an over the tank shelf unit for storing towels, toiletries and extra TP. You can put a black sink skirt around the sink and keep cleaning supplies under it. For your accessories - shower curtain, small rug, etc. - you can pick an accent color or stick with the black and white theme.

  • Cynthia Jordan Cynthia Jordan on Dec 26, 2016
    I thought my bathroom was small. My bathroom isn't big but it's twice the size of your bathroom. I can only suggest painting it and putting a new curtain up. I don't know any landlord here that would allow you to make major change to the bathroom (i.e., breaking down walls, plumbing etc.) without his permission. You might get into a lot of trouble if you do it without his permission. Renovating it can run into a lot of money. Of course if you were going to pay for major renovations, your landlord might not mind, as it will benefit him. I don't think you should be investing too much money into the bathroom anyways because you don't own it. It's like giving extra money to your landlord. It's your landlord's responsibility for major upkeep, not the tenants.

  • Francesca Francesca on Dec 26, 2016
    I'm a great believer in if you can't hide it or alter it sufficiently then the best thing to do is make it look intentional. Lynda's ( above) idea is great. You could really go with the steam punk look,perhaps modified to your taste. If you don't like that look is it possible for the non shower pipes to be boxed in? Then you could have art work, mirrors etc. on it. Obviously fresh paint, shower curtain etc . Is going to help as well. You didn't say whether this is a purchase or a rental. If you purchased then I guess you could do more comprehensive work. I thought my bathroom was small but this has to be the tiniest I've ever seen! Good luck😀

  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Dec 26, 2016
    Here's my thought: A rectangular sink. A new high seated toilet facing the shower, would provide a little more walk space. For high end look, paint the walls & pipes soft black add all white & brush nickle accessories. A pop of color could be added in a rug or small painting. Best of luck.

  • Lori Lori on Dec 27, 2016
    If you don't like the industrial or steampunk look there's another way you can go here. If you can get ahold of a good assortment of wood scraps or multiple sizes of premade wood crates you can enclose that pipe and leave cubbies open everywhere that you can around it( beside, below, and above that pipe). Use the cubbies for extra t.p., rolled up towels, Kleenex, pictures, a potted plant or nice candle if you're into that sort of thing....makes it look like the "assorted cubbies storage wall" belongs there. Only has to be as deep as you need to cover that pipe. You could extend that wall as shelves over the toilet for more storage. There are smaller profile sinks that take less room so it doesn't stick out so far into the room (you see them in tiny houses a lot). I've even seen toilets with the sink built into the top of it so your sink water refills the toilet tank. A bit pricey to replace a toilet with those but saves a lot of space and water. Fake a stained glass window by framing in the window and adding window film to the glass, lets the light in but gives you privacy too. Lowe's has several kinds of window film that mimics stained glass, easy to use and pretty too. Check Ebay too. Enclose the pipe in the shower the same way you do the huge one on the wall, adding hooks to the bottom of it for hanging a wire shower caddy for your shampoo, soap, conditioner, etc. and towels. A throw rug will add warm and color to the floor. Paint the mirror frame or replace it with something nicer. Trim moulding doesn't cost that much, can be cut in a miter box, and will change the look a lot.
    Paint can also do wonders for lots of things and can be cheap if you check out the 'mismatched' or sale section of the paint department. I can't see your light fixture but those can be changed out quite easily. A clearish colored shower curtain will look nice but not feel closed it. I have lace curtains over my plastic shower curtain tied off to the side just like window curtains, with a valance too. Looks very nice. My building manager loves what I've done with my bathroom.

    Hope you can use these ideas or they inspire some of your own. I'd love to see whatever you end up with for your bathroom design!

  • Headcoverings Veils Headcoverings Veils on Dec 27, 2016
    Definitely go with an industrial look...maybe incorporate the "tree" suggestion for the large pipe (lightly scaled, of course). How about a black and white silhouette look for the leaves and trunk?

    The "window" appears to be just a vent - am I correct? Is is possible to replace the vent grate with a small casement window?

    Shelving/wire baskets attached to wall above toilet would be good. Maybe repeat that on the wall beside the large pipe, if space permits.

    If there is room, a pedestal sink would "anchor" the wall.

    Moving the sink to the opposite wall would be the best idea, if the landlord is willing, and if space permits. Maybe the landlord would let you make some improvements that would apply to your rent. "Ask and you shall receive (maybe)"

    If all else fails, move!

  • Julie Nutt Julie Nutt on Dec 27, 2016
    Wow, tiny is an understatement! But if your landlord will approve all of your ideas...
    If the inside glass doesn’t have the grids (is smooth continuous glass) I would get some stained glass film from Lowes, something that lets the light in, but adds a touch of style and possibly color. (if the grids are on the inside, you could have a picture frame made to the exact size of the window and apply the stained glass film on the glass of the picture frame. If you are able and allowed to move the sink, I would completely cap off the water/drain lines in the wall on the left, finish it off with either a mural, or tapestry that won’t stick out into the room. I would build a base with a shelf taller than the height of the sink and carry the shelf all the way over top of the toilet. (with cutouts for the pipes coming out of the top of the shelf) also adding some storage under sink for cleaners/TP. You could reuse the sink, get a nice pedestal sink or make the base deep enough to accommodate a basin sink. (though you would want the base lower for a basin sink for height of overall sink) The base will also give you a way to run water/drain lines for the sink-that looks like a water line to the right of the large pipe... but what about hot water? Would landlord approve a small on demand water heater under the sink? Tapping into the large pipe for the drain would best be done by a plumber. You could build a medicine cabinet that has cutouts for the water pipe to go up (shelves inside have cutouts too) and reuse the mirror as the door. You could use pipe clamps to fasten a vertical towel rack with pivoting “L” bars to hang towels to the left side of the large pipe, and other clamps to hold a cup holder/ toothbrush holder to the right side of the large pipe... all painted to match the pipe... making the pipe part of the decor and functionality of the room. Add a couple more small shelves above toilet for knick knacks / storage. Hang stainless steel chain from the pipe that goes over the shower to hang shower type rack for shampoos etc. If you still need some warmth and color, pick some accent tiles in your color scheme and apply randomly or make a sort of chair rail on shower walls. Hard to tell the condition of the floor tile, but there are kits on the market where you can literally paint it to your preference. Most of these ideas are minor changes and could be easily taken down or changed if/when you move out. The only major renovation is moving the sink. If done properly and in good taste, most landlords would approve as it will increase the value of the property and the overall functionality and appeal of the room.

  • LDodd LDodd on Dec 27, 2016
    You might take some measurements and consider a toilet/sink combo unit:

    Is there any way to add an "entry" to the bathroom -- a room/door before the door -- and put your vanity/sink there?

    To cover the large pipe (outside the shower), it might be possible to us a length of sheet metal to create a rounded wall between the toilet and shower and cover it with a mural panel or just cover it with the thinnest possible plywood with a faux window. You can get donated used (and sometimes nearly new) windows from a Habitat for Humanity for a reasonable price.

  • Bonnie Bonnie on Dec 28, 2016
    This is a tiny bath and the ideas here are just so great. I feel if you can get any storage in it w/o looking more cramped. Keep it simple and love the stained glass idea for the window.

  • Carol Carol on Dec 29, 2016
    vinyl wallpaper is water and steam proof. Talk to your landlord if this is a rental, before you do anything... and look into putting an extractor fan where the grate is.

  • Chrystine Dimitry Chrystine Dimitry on Dec 29, 2016
    Hmmmmm ... can you box the pipes in with green board and tile it? Or, if you like them, paint them flat black, like cast iron, and add some industrial touches to make a Steam Punk bath!

  • Lana Kregerova Lana Kregerova on Dec 30, 2016
    If this is rented I would extend the shelves to where the pipe ribs out. I would go to a place like lowes and get a sheet of decorative metal cut to size and mount across the opening above the shower and place a shelf above the sink closer to mirror frame add some votives or flowers on the shelf by the mirror I would use an atrractive shower curtain as my accent