Design by Room Bathrooms

Small Bathrooms Can Have Architectural Character as Well

A renovator’s Arc de Triomphe.
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pink shower with archway bathrub
Photography and Design by Crosby Studios

Here’s a fun fact you might have missed from Kim Kardashian West’s April Vogue feature: Her shower is big enough for a basketball team. Somewhere along the way, bathing in a giant enclosure became equated with luxury. No wonder our first instinct during a remodel is to blow out all the walls and expand into the master closet or hallway.

As much as Kardashian West’s big glass box intrigues us, the reality is, you can save money and make just as big an impression with as little as an arch. It’s a popular shape for traditional doorframes, windows, and mirrors for a reason—the structural detail is inherently grand, even in an area that measures a mere 3-by-3 feet. You might not be able to squeeze the Lakers into the showers, below, but when it comes to architectural character, they bring their A game. 

Embrace Repetition 

Photography and Design by Dabito

Dabito, the New Orleans–based design blogger behind Old Brand New, made curves the star in this bathroom. The silhouette of the glass shower door, cut into a citrus-hued statement wall, is echoed in the background by a floor mirror. All that reflection encourages clear sight lines.

Set the Scene With Tile

chevron tile in a shower
Photography by Heidi’s Bridge; Design by Byrdesign

The Greek isles served as the inspiration for the master shower in this Los Angeles home. Beatriz Rose, a principal designer at Byrdesign, used handmade blue-and-white Talavera tiles from Puebla, Mexico, to create a herringbone pattern on the back wall of the shower, while covering the rest in a dusty-white plaster. The zigzag pattern, visible even when the shower door is shut, gives the illusion of a much bigger space. 

Leave It Open 

glass shower arch partiion in a pink bathroom
Photography by Anson Smart; Design by Decus Interiors

For Australian firm Decus Interiors, a glass partition lined in rose gold was the answer to a standard closed-in footprint. This screen’s job is twofold: It prevents one side of the room from getting wet, while also softening the rigid lines of the maze-like floor tiles and boxy skylight. 

Go Vertical 

With subway tile, that is. Arches naturally draw the eye up, so flipping the classic accent in a new direction will accentuate this sense of height. For contrast, Owen Architecture used colorful squares inside the bend and as a wide baseboard of sorts.

Focus on the Floor 

spanish style bathroom flor tiles
Photography by Thibault Cartier; Design by Laura Blankstein

It’s easy to go overboard with ornate details when you want to play off Spanish Revival architecture, which is why architect Nancy Scheinholtz and designer Laura Blankstein chose to let the bold tilework shine in this bathroom and keep everything else pared back. This way, the archway looks like a natural addition, not a decision meant to fit a specific style. It feels good to be ahead of the curve. 

See more stories like this:  Skip the Pricey Bathroom Remodel and Make These Easy Upgrades Instead A Daring Bathroom Makeover Where Bold Paint Choices Pay Off A Sneaky Addition Took This Bathroom From Dreary to Light and Bright

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.