Arne Vos knew it was time for a new bathroom when tiles started dropping off the walls.The room was small in size, but a giant eyesore. It had badly needed a makeover when Vos and his wife bought the house in Toronto's Beach three years ago. But everything else in the house needed updating, so the tiny, 32-square-foot space was left â until it literally started falling apart."The washroom was always a big thorn in my side," Vos says. "From Day 1, I hated it."Aside from the bad lighting and shell-shaped pedestal sink, the walls and insulation were disintegrating behind the dated tiles, so Vos took a sledgehammer and gutted everything, including the window.The next step was more complicated. Vos, a Dutch native, had owned contemporary design stores before moving to Toronto to represent some high-end European product lines. Even with that background, he found it challenging to put his vision on paper. He also had to choose every material, furniture piece and accessory that would go back in. "The smaller the space, the more you have to find a balance there between visual and functionality," he says.The result is breathtaking, natural and timeless. It's also an inspiring example of how much is possible with little space.Privies in older homes and new condos typically share issues of diminutive size. It's hard to make these rooms comfortable, particularly if there is a desire to incorporate today's spa-like options. Anita Griffin, brand manager for Delta Faucet, says, for a small bathroom, "the first thing that you really need to consider is functionality, so the style and form should follow."This is particularly important for anyone designing a room from scratch, experts say, but even a room with fixed features needs to be approached from the perspective of function: what are people doing in the bathroom and how?Think of the bathroom as if it were a factory, says Ji Kim, an industrial designer with Moen. "You have to think about the workflow and you can treat the sink and shower as workstations, where they're all connected activities."A badly placed towel bar can mean water drips all over the floor, she notes."The storage of the things that you need has to be in a meaningful or natural place, so you end up putting (things) back. Thinking about all that ahead of time is the most important factor." After function, style and form solidify the look. With bathroom space often at a premium, experts suggest sleek, small-scaled lines with some eye candy. Chrome is a good place to start."What's great about chrome is that it's crisp, clean," Griffin says. "The flat, shining surfaces on chrome add extra sparkle and reflection to a room. If you pair chrome with a classic line, you've really made a choice that will endure the test of time."Single-handled or wall-mounted taps won't overpower, a guide best followed throughout the room. "We've had a lot of our products go on a high-protein, low-carb diet and they've really come down in scale," Griffin says.Vos chose a wall-mounted toilet and vanity, to make the room feel as spacious as possible. A floating toilet requires moving waste lines, even digging up the subfloor, but it makes a huge difference for the eye, he believes. Few condos can accommodate such a change but, if it's possible, the effort is worth it, Vos says.An airy look won't steal volume from the space, Kim notes. If it's not possible to have a floating vanity, use legs, rather than having a piece sitting flat on the floor. Keeping colour light helps, as do semi-clear or light curtains for the shower and window. Three light walls leading to one dark one also can work well in a small room."(Some) people are moving away from the shower curtain and either going with the wet room, so that...there isn't a shower wall at all, or they are moving toward a glass enclosure," Griffin says. "So the look and style of the shower system is becoming more important."All that can be done with the environment in mind. Stylish low-flow fixtures are available, including in the luxurious rainfall shower heads.As for cost, Vos says it could have been a $15,000 makeover, but he elected to spend an extra $5,000, factoring in the hot real estate market that's virtually guaranteed in the Beach. Vos used washed, quarter sawn white oak for the vanity and skirt of a drop-in Jacuzzi, white glass mosaic tile on the walls and hand-stacked slate of varying thicknesses and sizes on the bathtub wall, border and vanity countertop.You can never go wrong with basic and natural materials, he says.Renovating a small bathroom doesn't require a big budget. Says Masco. "If you...change out your faucet, put fresh, modern, sleek accessories in there that match the finish of your faucet, add a new hand shower for functionality, you can really refresh the room. Then you add a coat of paint. "It's amazing...how much it will change the feel."