Tips for small bathrooms


Interior designer Rowena Vaughan shares 16 tips on maximising space and practicality in tight bathrooms.

As a designer working in London, I’ve found that most bathrooms are restricted in space. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a sumptuous and comfortable room but you do have to be clever with the space planning.

The smallest shower room I’ve seen was a tiny 1.2m x 1.7m room into which I managed to squeeze a shower (700 x 1200), WC and small hand basin with a mirror storage unit above. The room was so small we were unable to photograph it effectively. So to make my point, you don’t always need a lot of space to make a functioning and effective shower/bathroom.

So what are the ‘tricks’ to making best use of a small space?

1. Think creatively, does the plumbing need to go there? Can it go somewhere else that would give you that precious extra 10cm?

2. Could you put the cistern for the WC somewhere else? Concealed cisterns take up a lot less space than freestanding WC & cisterns.

3. Sanitary designers have become so much better at providing us with smaller pans on which to put our behinds. Find out which one has the smallest projection.

4. Do you really need a big basin? How many men actually wet shave any more, could you make do with a smaller bowl. Semi counter hung basins are excellent at giving you a bit of storage below, but project away from the unit so that you can still get your toes underneath.

5. Bathroom sanitary ware companies are always developing new and innovative products. Roca for instance have developed the W+W all-in-one washbasin and WC which reuses the grey water from the hand basin to flush the WC. By combining the basin and WC into one unit a huge amount of space is saved.

6. Taps and shower heads – the ‘follow me’ shower head set into the edge of the bath gives you a hand held shower without the need for having the hose trailing around the head of the bath area. Wall mounted taps give a clean, clutter free look.

7. In really small spaces using a sliding door, rather than a hinged swinging door often gives you more space to move within the room.

8. Wall mounted WC and basins are excellent at opening up the space. Wall hung sanitary ware makes the room seem more spacious because your eye sees all the floor space deceiving the eye into seeing more space.

9. Hide unsightly plumbing and pipework behind boxing.

10. Use mirrors or mirrored cabinets to reflect light back into the room.

11. Use electric underfloor heating this also means the room remains warm so you don’t get the same issue with condensation on the mirror also you don’t have to find space for a radiator. Or you could use a wall mounted towel rail.

12. Large tiles in small spaces create impact and don’t break up the wall into small boxes. Tiling one wall in a different tile can give impact to the shower cubicle.

13. Create a feature wall of interesting tiles rather than a band or tiles dotted around on a wall. This keeps the look of simplicity but creates a subtle impact. Tile alcoves in the different colour.

14. Where possible create an alcove in a shower cubicle or over a bath for all the bottles. I often put a mirror at the back of the long alcove in the shower to reflect light back into what is often quite a small space.

15. Lighting – one of the most under rated aspects of any room, good lighting can make a small room feel large. Create two circuits, one with general overhead lighting and one for the accent lighting. This way you can have low level lighting in a bath/shower room, which is nice if you have to use the room during the night. Use small low level lights in alcoves and behind mirror units.

16. Rather than a pattern on the floor, use a plain tile or flooring.

Having shown you some tricks, remember the most important is to do your planning and use them!