Monday, May 5, 2014

Tips for a Tiny Apartment: The Bathroom

Living in Paris has its joys, but tiny, antiquated apartments are not one of them. At least not if you are a family of four! In this series, I'm sharing my tips on how to survive, room by room, if you live in a tiny apartment.

Tips for a Tiny Apartment: The Bathroom

Tips for a Tiny Apartment: The Bathroom

Before I dive into the tips, let me set the scene. Most Parisian apartments have one room for the toilet, which may or may not have a sink. Then they'll have a separate room for the shower/bath, and that will have a sink. It's a ridiculous waste of space in a space that's already ridiculously small. And while I could kind of understand their desire to keep the toilet separate from everything else, shouldn't there always be a sink in the same room? Plus, if you just combined the two rooms, you'd have a large enough room where the toilet could be quite far from the rest of the elements in the bathroom. I'm not buying it.

But I am stuck living in it.

So without further ado, here are some tips on how to live comfortably if you're stuck with a tiny bathroom:

Minimize your products

Do you really need 4 different types of shampoo? Can you and your husband/roommate/kids use some of the same products? Are some bottles close to empty? You can't streamline everything but see what you REALLY need and what you can consolidate. For example:

- My husband has amazing hair and can use any shampoo, so he uses my son's baby shampoo.
- I'm one of those people who squeezes every last drop out of every bottle/tube/jar, so I try to hold off on buying a replacement until the absolute last minute so that I don't have duplicates taking up space.
- If I try a new product I don't like I immediately give it away/toss it/recycle it. If I don't like it today, I'm not going to like it tomorrow so there's no need to have 10 different types of lotions lying around.

In a tiny bathroom, close the shower curtain and use a minimal color palette

Close the shower curtain

In my kitchen tips post, I mention the importance of keeping a small area clean so that it feels bigger. That holds true for bathrooms as well. One of the quickest ways to give the impression of being clean without having to scrub it down every day is to close the shower curtain. Now you can't even see the shower/tub! I usually let it air out 5-10 minutes after taking a shower, then close the curtain. The side benefit is that by stretching the curtain out, the curtain itself airs out and won't get the gross mildew and/or hard water stains as quickly.

Use a tiny trash can

We don't generate much trash in our shower room so rather than have a can taking up precious space (and attracting my toddler's attention) I have the world's tiniest trash can under my sink. It pretty much only sees make-up remover pads and cottons swabs so I can go quite a long time before emptying it.

In a tiny bathroom, use a tiny trash can to save space!
Since everyone got a kick out of my tiny kitchen trash can, I figured I'd show my even tinier bathroom trash can. Normally he hides under the sink but I took him out so you can see how small he is compared to soap and toothbrushes.

Minimize colors and use white as much as possible

You'll be somewhat limited with this if you're renting (like us) but you can at least try to have accents (shower curtains, rugs, towels, mirrors) in white or light colors. The fewer competing colors, the larger the room will feel.

Minimize decorations and store things out of sight

Originally I had perfume and cologne bottles lined on the shelf below the mirror. It was handy and I thought it added a nice French touch. But the shelf is just a little bit slanted and one day one of the bottles lemming-ed (I'm making that a word) its way off the shelf. It was a sad day. So I stashed the rest of the bottles under the sink, leaving just my seashell on the shelf. And you know what? The room doubled in size. Less really is more. Take your decorative items to other parts of the house that can showcase them better and leave the bathroom as sparse as possible.

Do you have a tiny bathroom? What do you do to stay sane?

Check out the rest of the series:
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Kitchen
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Bathroom
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Bedroom
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Closet
Tiny Apartment Tips: The Living Room

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Vicki Lesage, Author