10 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger

Can't knock down walls? No problem! Work a little design magic to make even the tiniest bathroom feel spacious.

Small bathroom spaces aren’t found just in apartments and condos — they’re in our guest bathrooms and powder rooms, too. Since no one likes feeling crowded, here are a few tips for making any small bathroom seem bigger — no wall demolition required.

1. Brighten the room

Bring in as much light as possible. Light, bright rooms always feel more spacious than dark and drab ones.

  • Wall color. Paint the walls and ceiling the same light color to make the bathroom feel double its size. Anytime an area of the room is a different color, it chops the room into different compartments, making it seem smaller.
  • Windows. If you have a window, use sheer window coverings to maximize the natural light.
  • Lighting. Install additional flush-mount wall or ceiling light fixtures to increase the light in the room.

2. Add mirrors

Install larger — and more — mirrors than you typically would in a bathroom. The reflected light will open your small space into one that feels more spacious.

Photo from Zillow listing.

3. Install a sliding door

Swinging doors can take up almost half the room, depending on how small the space is. A sliding barn door or a wall-pocket door won’t encroach on your bathroom’s already limited real estate.

Photo from Zillow listing.

4. Think pedestal sink

The added bulk of a full vanity takes up valuable space, so try a pedestal sink instead. You may not have a place for soaps or towels on the vanity, but there are plenty of wall-mounted solutions perfect for bathroom accessories.

Photo from Zillow listing.

5. Streamline storage

Keep all storage as flush with the walls as possible, because anything that sticks out will chop up the space and close it in. Install recessed shelving and medicine cabinets instead.

6. Choose light-colored flooring

Even if your walls and ceiling are light and bright, a dark floor will negate their effect and close the space in. Keep the flooring light to create a space with a bright and open flow.

Photo from Zillow listing.

7. Eliminate clutter

Nothing crowds a space faster than clutter. A good rule of thumb: If you don’t need it there, store it elsewhere. Pare what you keep in the bathroom down to the bare necessities.

8. Hide the bathmat

Having a bathmat on the floor all the time can make your bathroom feel smaller. Put your bathmats away when you’re not using them to expose the flooring and make the space appear larger.

9. Raise the shower curtain bar

Raising your shower curtain bar all the way to the ceiling draws your eyes up and makes the ceiling seem taller, creating the illusion of a larger space.

Photo from Zillow listing.

The same goes for any window treatments. Raising sheer curtain panels to the ceiling also creates the illusion of a larger window, making the small bathroom seem larger.

10. Go frameless, clear, and cohesive in the shower

Clear glass shower doors make the room appear larger, while frosted glass breaks up the space and makes it seem smaller than it already is. The same goes for a frame around the glass. A frame can make the area seem choppy rather than smooth and open.

Additionally, install the same shower tile from floor to ceiling. The seamless look from top to bottom adds cohesion and openness.

Just a few changes to your small bathroom can make dramatic differences in how open it feels. Once you’ve tried these tips and tricks in the bathroom, apply them throughout your home! It’s all about creating the illusion of space.

Top photo from Zillow listing.

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How Historic Racial Injustices Still Impact Housing Today

For the majority of Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, owning a home is a major goal. According to the first Zillow Housing Aspirations Report, 63 percent of whites, 63 percent of blacks and 73 percent of Hispanics believe owning a home is necessary to live the American Dream. But although they share the same dreams as whites, for blacks and Hispanics getting into a home remains as challenging as ever—in part due to financial challenges and decades of discrimination.

Historically Denied

Historically, the homeownership rate among people of color has lagged behind the homeownership rate among white Americans, in part because of institutional barriers to entry. Until the late 1960s, federal government-backed subsidies—many of them funded through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)—were off limits to people of color. The FHA, which was established to help people remain in their homes during the Great Depression, began to promote homeownership during the years after World War II.

And the lagging homeownership rate wasn’t just the result of one program. There were others created to boost homeownership that resulted in similar outcomes for people of color. Black military veterans, for example, weren’t able to borrow money through the GI Bill to purchase homes.

Middle- and lower-income whites benefited most from federal government programs, including low-cost mortgages and subsidies for home builders to construct affordable homes in racially-segregated communities.

Even today, minorities still face more hurdles, similar to the ones they experienced in the past. When blacks and Hispanics try to secure FHA loans, they’re denied about twice as often than their white peers—denials which can sometimes be linked to injustices endured outside of housing. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that fewer blacks and Hispanics apply for these programs.

But for those who do, “far fewer actually get accepted, and the groups that are highly at a loss are black potential homeowners and Hispanic potential homeowners,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

The Consequences

“Housing segregation has not been something that has been quickly changed due to personal prejudice,” said Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now.

Yesterday’s outright discriminatory policies helped keep minority homeownership low and largely limited to less-advantaged areas. And today, those disparities persist. The Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trend Report 2017 revealed that although they each account for 13 percent of all U.S. households, blacks and Hispanics only account for 8 percent and 9 percent of U.S. homeowners.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now, said low homeownership rates is connected to other disparities.

“African-Americans, in particular, still faced the income wealth disparity, legal segregation, legal job discrimination,” he said. “That continued on through the creation of the American middle class, which limited African-American participation as it pertains to homeownership.”

“Housing segregation has not been something that has been quickly changed due to personal prejudice,” he said. That’s especially true when it comes to those same FHA loans—it’s not just a problem of the past.

Discrimination Still Exists

While Asante-Muhammad says outright legal discrimination has since been outlawed, we’re still seeing the repercussions of the country’s historic discriminatory practices.

“In the 21st century, I think we’re looking more at the issue of the results of housing discrimination and discrimination as a whole,” he said. That discrimination, he added, leads to strong racial economic inequality, which, in turn, makes it harder for people of color to move into more expensive neighborhoods.

Part of the problem, he said, is there’s still market discrimination against homes in black communities.

“A home in a predominantly black neighborhood and the exact same home in a predominantly white neighborhood will have less value because it has less market appeal because people don’t want to live in neighborhoods with black populations somewhere above 20 percent,” he said.

Asante-Muhammad argues some of the discrepancies can be attributed to racial and personal animosity keeping people of color out of higher-valued neighborhoods. But the gap could also be due in part to high negative equity rates—the share of homeowners who owe more on their home than it’s worth—in largely minority communities. When a homeowner is in negative equity, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to sell their home at all, let alone for a profit they can then use to help buy a different home in another neighborhood.

In black and Hispanic communities, home values fell farther than in white communities, and haven’t been able to fully bounce back from the recession.

Less Money, More Problems

“In terms of closing the gap of white and black homeownership, we’re not moving,” Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell said.

While minority buyers are trying to enter the housing market, it’s made increasingly difficult due to their lack of wealth.

Gudell said wealth-building in predominantly black communities is hard because of yesterday’s inequalities. It’s actually impossible to point to one single event that led to gaps in wealth for minorities since there have been decades of inequality. Gudell says it’s a compounding effect and something that we “haven’t been able to figure out how to fix it yet.”

“In terms of closing the gap of white and black homeownership, we’re not moving,” Gudell said. “If you look at white homeownership, it’s increasing, while black homeownership is falling.”

Asante-Muhammad echoed those concerns.

“Wealth inequality … reinforces what had been maintained by law and by personal prejudice in the past,” he said. And that lack of wealth is only exacerbated when it comes to home buying.

“So, let’s say you’re getting a $200,000 house and want to put a 10 percent down payment, that’s $20,000. That’s much higher than the median wealth of blacks and Latinos,” he said. A 10 percent down payment is already outside the traditional norm. Typically, a down payment is 20 percent of the home’s value, so $40,000 for that same $200,000 home.

But even if these would-be buyers took advantage of some of the systems in place to help address some of these issues—including utilizing an FHA-backed loan which allows borrowers to make a down payment as low as 3.5 percent—it’s often still not enough.

Asante-Muhammad said even if these buyers got an FHA loan on a $200,000 home—the median-valued home nationwide—the down payment would still be beyond the wealth of most blacks and Latinos. For that $200,000 home, a 3.5 percent down payment would equate to $7,000—or roughly 68.5 times the wealth of African-Americans and 58.5 times Hispanic wealth.

And their wealth today is much less than it was even 10 years ago, when black and Hispanic wealth was $10,400 and $10,200, respectively.

“If things keep going the way they’ve been going, in 2053, the African-American median wealth will be zero,” Asante-Muhammad said.

And that lack of wealth has big repercussions for the future.

“I hope things will get better, but I don’t think the gap will close anytime soon,” Gudell said. “These are such big problems that you can’t just have a quick fix for them but my hope is that we would have equality and balance in the future.”

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San Francisco: The Sweet Spot for Trick-or-Treaters

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The annual Trick-or-Treat Index from Zillow puts San Francisco in the sweet spot: No. 1 for trick-or-treaters.

Zillow Trick-or-Treat Index 2017 (PRNewsfoto/Zillow)

Zillow Trick-or-Treat Index 2017 (PRNewsfoto/Zillow)

 

Analysts at Zillow began with the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI), concocting a formula that includes home values, how close homes are in proximity to each other, and the share of 10-year-olds (and younger) in a given market. Bubble, bubble…

“Searching for neighborhoods with the best candy is a Halloween tradition for many kids and their parents,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Our annual list is a fun way for families to see how their neighborhood stacks up against others when it comes to trick-or-treating. These are places we think will have plenty of candy and lots of young kids running around from door to door.”

In the City by the Bay, the top three neighborhoods for trick-or-treaters are Presidio Heights, Sea Cliff and Golden Gate Heights; in No. 2 San Jose, the top three are West San Jose, Willow Glen and Cambrian Park.

Is your city out of the running this year? Fear not.

“If you don’t live in one of these cities, look for areas that are getting into the Halloween spirit with decorations and lots of costumed kids,” Gudell says.

See the 2016 Trick-or-Treat Index.

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Is Your Bathroom a Total Snooze Fest? (It Doesn’t Have to Be)

White subway tile, white fixtures, white ceilings and walls — are you asleep yet? Beat the bathroom blahs with these tips.

The current trend of turning household bathrooms into spa-like retreats isn’t a bad one, per se.

Whether waking up with a hot shower or relaxing before bed in a soothing bath, everyone appreciates a crisp, clean palette and great lighting for getting prepped. And neutrals make sense for installed features like bathtubs and sinks — things that are difficult and expensive to change.

But a bathroom has the potential to be so much more than just a white box. The bathrooms we’ve designed, both for clients and in our own homes, have been spaces for color, personality, and a little bit of that sometimes dirty word: whimsy.

Giving the bathrooms in your home more character makes for a quick, inexpensive, and exciting transformation. Here are a few of our favorite decorating tricks. Perhaps they can work in your home, too.

Paint it black. Or blue. Or how about pink?

While your bathroom’s tile and fixtures may be neutral, there’s no reason the walls should be. In fact, you can get away with bold, high-contrast colors in bathrooms precisely because there’s so much white to balance it out.

Concerned that dark walls will make the room gloomy? Worry not — you’ll be safe thanks to the gleaming white tile and countertop.

You can go particularly bold with color in powder rooms. These small spaces generally have little in the way of architectural details, so high-impact paint will go a long way, making them memorable at minimal expense.

One thing to remember: Exercise caution when selecting hues, as the paint color will bounce around the room and onto your skin.

Acidic green can make you look sickly, orange will give you an artificial tan, and a bright blue will drain color from your face. Besides making that first glance in the mirror a bit jarring, the wrong color can cause makeup application challenges.

Get that paper

What if you’re totally over paint? It’s time to graduate to wallpaper.

The wide range of styles and patterns gives you remarkable freedom to redefine your bathroom. Wallpaper works particularly well in small spaces, where the color palette is tightly controlled, and the walls may be at least partially covered with built-ins, mirrors, or tile.

The right pattern can make the room feel more cohesive and, in some cases, help raise the ceiling height to reduce claustrophobia.

Use linear patterns — stripes, plaids, checks — to establish structure in rooms that lack architecture or have low ceilings. Organic patterns, like overscale florals or abstracts, can soften a room that has a busier floor plan or feels unwelcoming.

 

While you have quite a bit of flexibility in wallpaper composition for powder rooms, bathrooms with showers are a good fit for vinyl papers and their moisture-resistant properties. As always, installation matters, and working with a professional paper hanger will give you the longest-lasting results.

Furniture for function and fun

In larger bathrooms or combined bathroom and dressing rooms, you may have a chance to introduce free-standing furniture.

Built-in vanities and storage pieces can overwhelm a bathroom and make it a bit monotonous. To combat this with a little style, we’ve used  small dressers to add enclosed storage space, and bookshelves or smaller tables create a space for towels and toiletries.

While bathrooms are frequently where we get dressed, many of them lack a place to sit down when doing so. Adding a small chair or stool — even a funky old armchair — improves function and style.

When bringing furniture into the bathroom, keep scale in mind. Even in relatively large rooms, open wall space may be in short supply, and there’s the real risk of creating unnecessary obstacles. For best results, prioritize a tidy footprint.

Make bold statements with artwork

Sticking with neutral colors? Wallpaper not for you? No room for a funky armchair?

OK, last chance: Give your bathroom some punch with great art.

We’ve found that most people play it safe in bathrooms with small, framed prints or skip the art entirely. Nonsense! Go for impact with larger pieces — integrate something sculptural or even cover a wall with paint-by-numbers.

Also, it goes without saying, but yes, your most precious pieces should stay in drier spots.

Get more bathroom design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

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1920s Japanese Tea House Turned Zen Retreat – House of the Week

There’s nothing quite like being surrounded by water — or knowing your home is where New Englanders used to socialize.

When Larry Genovesi set out to build a home on Massachusetts’ Little Harbor, he didn’t realize he would end up saving a piece of history in the process.

It started as a typical day in 2000. He was strolling through Cohasset, a small seaside town of about 8,000, when a tiny, 1920s Japanese tea house caught his eye. The view of the harbor — and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance — was a huge selling point; the ability to fish just beyond the doorstep was another.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

Genovesi bought the place on a whim, becoming the third known owner of the property. Next on his list: convincing his wife to live in 550 square feet.

“We ended up living there for eight years. I think it’s a testimony to a great marriage if you can live with your wife in 550 square feet,” Genovesi joked. “But it was interesting and it helped us understand the property — the seasons and all that. I’ve always been a fan of Japanese architecture.”

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The couple used that inspiration when they set out to design a larger, earth-friendly house in the same spot. Genovesi wanted to save as much of the existing structure as possible while immersing something modern in the lush landscape. 

The result is a nearly 4,000-square-foot home, surrounded by the harbor on three sides. Each window in the 3-bedroom, 4-bathroom home offers a view of trees or water.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

Of note, a soaking tub in the master bathroom is positioned to take in views stretching to the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s a great feature — probably my wife’s favorite,” Genovesi said. “It’s a calm place to soak and meditate.”

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The home has other zen features, too, including a koi pond and waterfall. A rooftop deck allows for unobstructed views of the stars. On cooler nights, the owners will cozy up near a firepit at what they’ve nicknamed “sunset point.”

Photo by Brian Doherty.

Added bonuses: the ability to kayak and canoe from the house, regular visits from deer, and blue herons and fruit trees on your front doorstep.

Glass panels in the floor of the dining room honor the surrounding landscape, too, allowing natural light to flood the lower level. There is a kitchenette, a bathroom and a game room there.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The details are decidedly modern for a home steeped in history. Builders saved nearly 70 percent of the original house, which served as social gathering spot for a well-known New England family.

Workers salvaged three of the four original stone walls, each about two feet thick. They added a steel structure for support and salvaged some of the old-growth Douglas Fir, which Genovesi transformed into the dining table.

Photo by Brian Doherty.

The family has put the home on the market as they search for another adventure — potentially starting an agricultural school to inspire the next generation of farmers.

“It’s very much a place where if you live there, you live in the land. I think the person who buys this needs to appreciate that fact,” he said. “It isn’t one of those big massive houses that you live inside. You really live outside all year-round.”

The home is listed for $4.995 million by Gail Petersen Bell of Home Center Sotheby’s International.

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