8 items interior designers never have in small bathrooms

Revealed — the items interior designers never have in small bathrooms

This small bathroom with black tile floor and zero clutter is inspiration for clearing out items interior designers never have in small bathrooms
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For savvy bathroom decor advice, we delved into the eight items interior designers never have in small bathrooms.

These spaces can easily become a dumping ground for storing odds and ends, leading to cluttered, rather than quaint. Usually, it boils down to having way too many items in the bathroom. If that's ringing bells, don't worry. 

We spoke to two interior designers and a home design consultant to learn which items to banish from small bathrooms. With their expert eye for design, this guide will have your small bathroom feeling like a sanctuary in no time.

Items interior designers never have in small bathrooms

Don’t we all wish we had big bathrooms in our small studio or one-bedroom apartments? Not just for aesthetic purposes, but for storing skincare products, hair supplies, and more.

“Small bathrooms can have a ton of potential if done the right way and can be charming or alarming if you can't manage the space,” says interior designer, Vanessa De Leon. 

Small Kitchen Trends Interior Design Expert
Vanessa De Leon

Vanessa De Leon is a New York-based interior designer, product designer, blogger, brand ambassador and lifestyle expert. Vanessa's innovative sensibility combined with a keen eye for detail helps her clients inspirations and ideas come to life.

1. Hair tools

Blow dryer and hair straightener in gold organizer

(Image credit: Wayfair)

The first items that spring to mind for Vanessa are hair tools. Storing hair tools in a small bathroom can take up a lot of room. She suggests finding a basket for these tools and placing them in a nearby closet for easy access. “Declutter where needed because a tiny bathroom is not a storage place,” she says.

This metal hair tool Holder from Wayfair is perfect for your hair tools. It's pleasing on the eye, doesn’t take up much space, and allows you to store tools even when they're still hot since it is made of steel wire.

2. Bulky furniture

Wooden bathroom cabinet with towels

(Image credit: Wayfair)

For Vanessa, large bulky furniture in a small bathroom is a no-no. Instead, look for furniture for small spaces that will be sleeker and smaller. Adding too large of a storage shelf or towel rack can make your bathroom look and feel too cluttered.

Make room for a piece of furniture that can fit into the space with lots of drawers such as the Carmalita freestanding bathroom cabinet from Wayfair. You can display your skincare collection on top and hide unattractive items like personal hygiene items behind cabinet doors, making it a great toilet paper storage idea, too.

3. Plastic storage bins

Woven baskets on shelf in bathroom with towels

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Vanessa suggests keeping plastic storage bins out of the bathroom. Instead, place a nice decorative basket to store towels in a small bathroom.

This rattan basket from Wayfair would be a great addition to your small washroom. It's ideal for holding any of your dry towels or a neatly folded bathrobe if you don’t feel like hanging it from a hook.

“A basket can fit nicely under a floating sink or even on the ledge of a bathtub,” she adds.

3. Dark colors

White bathroom with light blue floor

(Image credit: Home Bunch)

Designers agree you should avoid these worst colors to paint a small bathroom. "No dark colors in the bathroom,” says Vanessa. “Keep the small bathroom light and bright, as the brighter colors tend to make the space look larger.”

She suggests looking for light, neutral, colors such as whites, light grays, or taupes to enhance the perception of space. 

Great colors to utilize for painting a small bathroom would be Benjamin Moore’s Stone Hearth or even Dune White.

4. Small mirrors

Abstract mirror with black edges, placed on a light wooden shelf, leaning against a beige wall

(Image credit: Wayfair)

One of the quickest ways to elevate your small bathroom is to add a large or irregularly shaped mirror. Vanessa suggests getting rid of small mirrors and trying an accent mirror on a wall instead. This placement will make a small bathroom look larger. 

This irregular bathroom mirror from Wayfair is sleek and retro, which will bring more warmth, brightness, and creativity into your small bathroom. 

You could even swap yours out for a bathroom mirror with storage to help organize and hide your medicine, beauty products, and more. 

5. Heavy curtains

Small marble white bathroom with a bright sky light and no curtains

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Interior designer Elizabeth Vergara suggests steering clear of heavy curtains in a small bathroom. Heavy curtains block light, creating an enclosed atmosphere. 

If you have a window and seek privacy, Vergara advises opting for lightweight and sheer blinds or alternatives such as these frosted glass and window films from Amazon to maintain an airy feel and allow natural light to flow freely.

Keeping heavy curtains or blinds out of your space is sure to brighten up a small bathroom.

Interior Designer
Elizabeth Vergara

Elizabeth is the founder and lead designer of the Latina/female-owned luxury design & build firm based in NYC called Vergara Homes. Over the past 13 years, Elizabeth has helped homeowners design and renovate upscale homes.

6. Harsh Lighting

Home design consultant and stylist, Veronica H. Speck, mentions bathroom lighting is paramount, especially if the room does not have a window with natural light. 

“Use warm overhead lighting rather than harsh fluorescent bulbs, and incorporate sconces, pendants, and backlit mirrors,” said Speck. “When possible, use candles to cast an ambient glow.”

An ideal candle to utilize in a small bathroom is this marble candle from Anthropologie, as it is chic, yet minimalistic. 

As for warm overhead lighting, this Matane ceiling light from Amazon will do the trick nicely, as you can customize the color temperature to suit your needs and preferences.

VHS Ventures
Veronica H. Speck

Veronica is the founder of VHS Ventures who connects artists and designers to galleries, and luxury brands to retailers for representation for interior and collectible design consultation services.

6. Plastic, artificial, synthetic materials or fibers

Green marble bathroom accessories on beige countertop

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Synthetic materials are not good for bathrooms, Veronica advises, because they can harbor bacteria and mold. They are also not as durable as natural materials and can be damaged by moisture and heat. 

Veronica likes to instead incorporate all-natural materials like marble, travertine stone, wood, and glass, avoiding plastic or synthetic pieces at all costs. 

This Esmeralda marble bath tray from Anthropologie is great for neatly holding your toothbrush, toothpaste, or even a bar of hand soap. 


How should you feel upon entering a small bathroom?

Veronica believes small bathrooms should feel like a spa — luxurious, calm, and zen. Your bathroom should be a respite to peacefully bathe, shave, apply makeup, style hair, and prepare for the day or evening. 

Therefore, simplicity, storage, and organization are key — avoiding unnecessary clutter, electrical cords, and other items. 

Why do small bathrooms tend to be cluttered?

Small bathrooms tend to be cluttered due to the lack of storage. They often don't have enough space for ample storage to be built in, leading to clutter. Another pain-point leading to clutter is overcrowding, especially if there are too many fixtures and furniture in a small space.

How do you avoid clutter in a small bathroom?

To avoid clutter in a small bathroom, start by maximizing storage space, only keeping the essentials in the bathroom, and storing everything else out of sight.

All in all, when styling or upkeeping a small bathroom, it's important to focus on maximizing storage space, clearing clutter, and using light colors and natural materials to create a sense of spaciousness.

You can even use the right paint colors to make a small bathroom look bigger if yours is tiny.

By following these tips, you can create a small bathroom that is both functional and ultra-chic.

Aida M. Toro
Freelance Writer

About Me:

Hello! My name is Aida M. Toro and I am a freelance writer that loves cultivating stories about amazing people, fashion, interiors, art, and food. I currently write for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, The House Magazine, Hobnob Magazine, The C-Word, and Real Homes. I live in West New York, New Jersey, which is literally a 10-minute ferry ride or 20-minute bus ride away from New York City. Although I was born and raised in West New York, I consider NYC my home, as I believe it to be the place where all dreams come to fruition, and of course, spend most of my time in. When I’m not writing, I love perusing the city streets and taking snaps with my iPhone of street art along with random things, scoping out new restaurants as well as their spaces, shopping at some of my favorite stores, spending time with family and friends, walking my cockapoodle Benji, and working out at Lifetime or DOGPOUND, which are some of the top fitness spaces in Manhattan and overall the U.S.