When my husband and I found out we were expecting, people could not help but offer us their grains of wisdom. While I carefully considered these well-intentioned tidbits, there was one I took very seriously: Travel before the baby is mobile.

So, we took a trip to Japan. We went there a couple of years ago and, while returning with a baby in tow this time around certainly changed things, much of what amazed me then still managed to wow me this time: the food, the friendly people, the transportation systems, and, of course, the efficient designs.


If you have a small bathroom space and want to make the most of it, consider some of these ideas I found on my trip:

• Combine a bathroom sink and toilet into one. There are ways to retrofit your toilet so that it includes a sink at the top, or you can purchase a toilet with a sink built in. Not only does this save on space in the bathroom, but it also saves on water use as well. The water used to wash your hands drains into the toilet tank to use for flushing. This might be best used in a half bath, where you wouldn’t use the sink for things like brushing your teeth or washing your face.

• Add open shelving beneath the sink. Standard vanities with closed storage beneath the sink are dated, but implementing open shelving underneath the sink modernizes the vanity while giving you storage space. If you need to store unattractive items, add some baskets. Opt for smooth, subtle baskets in one color rather than a pattern or overly decorated basket.


• If you have a pedestal sink, flank it with storage baskets on the side for things like towels and paper goods. Look for baskets with lids so that your items are not on display.

• Skip the shower curtain — even with tubs. Install glass instead. Take it a step further, and do what our hotel did: Use a half glass door. However, consider your shower habits and splashing tendencies before you do this. When I showered, it was fine, but we had to put extra towels on the floor for my husband.

Email questions to thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.