John Bick uses visual tricks to make a 5-by-9-foot bathroom appear spacious. "You want to feel the whole space when you walk in -- to see all of the five and all of the nine," says Bick, of Karr-Bick Kitchens and Baths, St. Louis. He prefers to replace existing tubs with a shower because a tub door or curtain visually cuts off that part of the room. "You'd be living in a 5-by-6-foot bath, not a 5-by-9-foot bath," Bick explains. He then creates a spacious shower enclosure in the place of the 3-by-5-foot tub.

Designer Jonas Carnemark of Carnemark Systems + Design, Bethesda, Md., also prefers glass-enclosed showers. He says frameless glass and the lack of shower walls give the illusion of a larger space. Carnemark uses wall-mounted or floating cabinets for the same reason. "Psychologically, the bathroom feels bigger," Carnemark says. He also uses recessed cabinets to provide extra depth and more visible floor space.

Bick says pedestal sinks also add visual space. But, if the clients need storage, he'll use a small 3-foot vanity with drawers. Another issue, Bick says, is a bathroom window. A window in the bathroom provides much needed natural light. But a window on the shower wall is more problematic because of the potential for moisture damage. He fits the opening with glass block and then specs a good vent to pull out the moisture.

Jonas Carnemark, Carnemark Systems + Design, Bethesda, Md.

Maxwell McKenzie

For this small bath, Jonas Carnemark replaced the tub with a shower and moved the sink into a corner. He installed a built-in medicine cabinet and corner mirror on the wall near the sink. A ceiling-to-countertop wall mirror on the facing wall adds to the illusion of space. He provided additional storage in a recessed cabinet behind the door. The clients also wanted a bidet, which Carnemark could not fit into the small space. He compromised by using Toto Kiki's Zoe toilet seat, which has bidet capabilities.

Let there be light: As with many 5-by-9-foot bathrooms, this one had a window over the tub. When Carnemark replaced the tub with a shower, he specified a custom-fitted glass door to cover the opening. It's frosted on the bottom half, which gives the homeowners privacy but still lets in light.

Room extender: The heavy glass door and panels make the room seem larger. Carnemark used strips of the concrete countertop as sills around the door and on the bench seat.

Hanging out: Carnemark hung the vanity on the wall, which he says makes the room appear larger. He used the same green slate tile from the floor and shower to create a wainscoting along the bottom half of the walls.


John Bick, Karr-Bick Kitchens + Baths, St. Louis

David Kreutz and Associates

Two designers paired up to create an open feel in this cramped condominium bathroom. Designer John Bick and homeowner Jerry Miller collaborated on the layout. The high-end materials give the room a touch of luxury and trick the eye into believing the bath is larger than its actual 5-by-9-foot footprint.

Double vision: One trick Bick uses is carrying one material or color from the floor to the ceiling all around the room. In this project, he used large granite tiles. "The continuity of materials gives you this visual effect," he says. He also carried the tile floor from the main bathroom area into the shower stall, which he says doubles the visual space.

See through: Bick used a heavy-duty glass door for the shower stall that extends from floor to ceiling. "It does not stop the eye," he says. The size and weight of commercial glass makes it difficult to handle, he cautions. Smooth lines: The mirror extends from the top of the vanity to the ceiling. Again, this unbroken line creates visual space.

Counter culture: The granite counter starts at the sink and runs the length of one side of the room. It narrows to a 6-inch-wide sill under the window. "The length of the countertop draws you into the room," Bick says.