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5 Tips From an Elegant, Small-Space Bathroom

Chicago designers Cari Giannoulias and Melissa Lewis transition a prewar apartment into the 21st century.

5 Tips From an Elegant, Small-Space Bathroom
Courtesy of Lewis Giannoulias Interiors

At first glance, this understated bath is a far cry from the boldly papered spaces we've been known to tout as the peak of powder room chic. But linger a minute longer and this small space reveals a wealth of bold design choices—from mixed marbles to atypical tile sizes—that just happen to come together in elegant black and white only. Chicago designers Cari Giannoulias and Melissa Lewis remained true to the traditional scale and stylings of their clients' apartment in Lincoln Park's prewar Marlborough Building

1. Make Space with Leggy Pieces. In a smaller bath, all the necessary utilities can feel packed in. By choosing a sink with an open base instead of a pedestal style or cabinet, the designers created visual space and allowed the petite footprint to feel open and airy.

2. Mix Multiple Marbles. Combining more than one statement making stone is a dangerous game—here the sink is in St. Laurent, while the floor and walls are Calacatta Gold. Lewis and Giannoulias recommend keeping your choices simple and classic: "By mixing timeless marbles as opposed to some of the newer, more modern stones, you end up with a gorgeous and complimentary pairing."

3. Play with Scale for Tile. "This bathroom is snug, so we went with a smaller 1" mosaic tile on the floor to give it some grounding," explain the designers. The larger, 8"x12" rectangles on the walls are reminiscent of an over scale subway style, making the room seem more expansive.

4. Forgo One Modern Rule. Mixing metals has become the default design practice for hardware. But given the other comparatively bold design choices in this old-world space, the duo chose to keep things consistent with polished nickel throughout.

5. Create an Envelope of Color. Painting the ceiling of a small space may seem like a surefire way to make it feel more cramped, but here, the pale gray carried over from the walls creates a luxe, jewel-box feel, even when executed in a smoky neutral.