Small Space, Big Punch

A cramped bathroom’s calculated makeover adds extra space and style.

Story by Jacqueline Jensen Ryan 
After photographs by Perspective Image


With the owners’ wish list including more storage, a shower stall and a tub for relaxing with a magazine and a glass of wine—all with a contemporary European look—“Every inch counted,” says interior designer Holly Van Biene. Getting the owners all they wanted while retaining comfort and function would be difficult, given less than 57 square feet of space, a sloped ceiling and an original 1930s window and toilet stack that could not be changed.


Van Biene created more storage with a custom vanity. She had studs in the wall turned on their sides so a standard tub would fit. The vanity and the tub deck were notched to maintain walking space and form a design element. The pivotal element, Van Biene says, is a glass, hinged half-door that rests over the tub deck when bathing but swings into the middle of the tub to create an enclosed stall for showering. A curtain or a regular shower door would have broken the room’s open feeling.

Notches in the vanity and tub deck serve as both aesthetic design elements and spacemakers.

The glass, hinged half-door creates an enclosed shower stall and an open-feeling tub.

The floral-patterned window shade adds a youthful feel and hides the original window.

Turning wall studs on their sides made room for a larger tub.

The mirror’s top edge was kept low to avoid bringing attention to the sloped ceiling.

Design Details

Interior Designer  Holly Van Biene, Van Biene Interiors, LLC, (425) 646-9009
Contractor   Tim Buell, Finely Finished Construction, (425) 444-8000
Custom Cabinetry  Jake Jacobson, Jacobson Design, (206) 431-5386