Opinions on sinks are surprisingly strong among designers and there are so many variables
to consider. For the sake of this discussion we are going to look at a bathroom
that needs storage. Pedestal sinks are beautiful and keep a space open but when
storage is an issue they do not provide a solution.
Sink and vanity sets are available that are narrower than
the standard 21 inches. Some are as narrow as 16 inches. This allows you to
open up your space a little and still provides a place to store your towels.
Another model to consider would be a sink and counter
supported by four legs. This allows you to store baskets and towels while still
keeping your space open. Many manufacturers offer a “best of both worlds”
design with drawers below the counter top and open space below.
If space for the swing of doors in a below counter vanity is
an issue fabric curtains require almost no space and still hide your
The countertop is a fun area to splurge if you can fit it in
your budget and you get a lot of bang for your buck. A beautiful marble
countertop can transform a room and it doesn’t care if it is mounted on a less
expensive cabinet system.
The vanity mirror can do a lot to extend your space. It
opens up your room and creates the illusion of a larger space. If possible,
keep your mirror close to flush with the wall. If storage is a consideration
the cabinet behind your vanity mirror can be built in to the wall.
A popular small space shower design is an “open shower”.
This design involves no shower walls or curtain – just the fixtures and a drain
on the floor. It is a great space saver! Having used showers like these before,
I feel it is important to note some serious drawbacks. Everything in the bathroom
can now potentially get wet – your towel, your clothes and, my least favorite,
the toilet seat. Safe, dry storage becomes nearly impossible. Successful open
shower designs are possible, but most that avoid the above mentioned issues are in
much larger spaces than those of our Cottage bathrooms.
If the goal is to keep the shower space from breaking up
your already small space there are other solutions. Glass shower walls or
curtains with ties that pull them back to the wall allow the eye to travel the
full length of the room.
Whether to include a bathtub in your small bathroom is a personal choice. When making that choice please be sure to consider that there are options for small spaces outside of the standard 5 ft tub. Corner tubs are a great space saver. Shorter tubs are also available by special order. When looking at a smaller tub there are a couple of things that become much more important. First, consider rim height. A common complaint is not the length of the tub but rather the fact that water, even in standard tubs, does not cover the bather. The other important thing to keep in mind is your “exit strategy”. How are you going to get out of the tub safely in your small space? Grip rails attached to studs in the wall are a must.
Small bathroom design is a challenge for even the best designers. No other room in the house requires so much of so little space.
Considerations include toilet, sink, shower, storage, appearance, door
clearances and ventilation, all of which will be exposed to frequent use and
copious amounts of moisture. Bathrooms in American homes have doubled in size
in the last thirty years. Bathrooms in older homes average 5x8. Bathrooms in
Tumbleweed Cottages range from 4 ½ x 4 ½ for the smaller of two tiny bathrooms in
the Sebastarosa to 7 ¾ x 5 ½ for the single bathroom in the Whidbey.
The question then becomes how to get the most out of your
small bathroom. Who better to answer that question than Tumbleweed? As with any
space we recommend that you look at your needs first and then design with those
needs in mind. Who will be using this space? How much storage will they need?
Is a tub necessary or, for your needs, would that be wasted space? Finally, you
will need to know your budget and local codes. Once you make those
determinations the planning can begin.
There are several decisions to be made regarding the toilet fixture that you install. We are happy to report that environmentally minded regulations require low flow toilets on all new bathrooms or remodels. The question then becomes whether you want a gravity fed model or one with a pressure assist. Gravity fed models are less expensive however, they frequently need to be flushed multiple times to clear the bowl thereby negating some, if not all, of the benefits of purchasing a low-flow toilet in the first place. A toilet with pressure assist is more efficient and uses less water but the fixture is also more expensive. Although they have come a long way since first appearing on the market they do tend to make more noise – an important consideration in a small space.
Toilet shape is another consideration. Rounded bowls are more traditional and take less space. Elongated bowls, however, tend to be the norm in newer builds. The advantage of an elongated bowl over a rounded bowl is an increase in the surface area of the water. Toilets with elongated bowls designed for smaller spaces are available but must frequently be special ordered.
The Best of Small Kitchen Design - The Little Rock Whidbey
Small kitchen design is unique in its need for both functionality and eye appeal. Lindsey Lewis of Little Rock, Arkansas adapted the kitchen in our Whidbey plans and takes high honors in both!
The small kitchen photos below offer great solutions for solving some of the most common small kitchen design dilemmas with stunning results!
Storage is one of the biggest issues confronting the occupant of a small kitchen. Kitchens, by their very nature, require “stuff” – pots, pans, utensils etc. Storing these necessary items in a way that does not create visual clutter is key. Lindsey’s stunning banquet is a great option. Linens, large pots and pans, over-sized serving platters or your Aunt Helen's favorite candle sticks will all fit snuggly and out of site in large, neutral colored baskets beneath the seating.
An island at the center of the kitchen provides additional workspace and another option for covered storage. It has the added benefit of providing space to place items coming out of the refrigerator or, with the addition of a stool or two, a space to socialize with a glass of your favorite Sonoma wine while the meal is being prepared.
Cabinets with glass doors help make small kitchens look larger. In her Little Rock Whidbey, Lindsey uses frosted glass in her cabinet doors and a brightly colored back wall with stunning results.
Shelves are another common option for kitchen storage. They keep things open and light but come with a few pitfalls. Most designers suggest choosing which items to place on them with great care to eliminate potential clutter. Stark white plates with cherry red bowls and stew pots make the perfect statement next to this sink. Handy hooks for coffee mugs hang below freeing up more cabinet space.
The flooring helps to create much of the character and dynamic of this custom Whidbey. Extending that flooring from the great room through both the nook and kitchen helps maintain the uniformity of the space.
Lighting is an often over-looked aspect of design. The natural light in this Whidbey is astounding but Lindsey also took care to provide “task” lighting in key areas. Note the lights above the table, island and sink. Carefully assess how you are going to use your space and locate task lighting according to your needs.
Small kitchens do have several things going for them that their larger brethren do not. There is an inherent efficiency in a well-designed small kitchen that no large kitchen can compete with. Everything you need is at your fingertips.
The other advantage a small kitchen has is cost. Because a smaller kitchen is going to use less square footage of counter space and fewer cabinets you will be saving money. Apply the funds to upgrades. High quality counter tops have great visual appeal and wear better over time. Custom cabinetry with high-end pulls and handles add immense value and character.
Congratulations Lindsey on a stunning adaptation of Tumbleweed's Whidbey! Your kitchen is an inspiration!