10 space-saving bathrooms – clever tricks to steal from interior designers
Whether big or small, the best space-saving bathrooms make every inch count
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These space-saving bathrooms are designed to make a compact space feel not just bigger and well-functioning, but super-stylish too.
When it comes to small bathroom ideas, clever planning – which includes everything from layout, to fitting choices, to smart small bathroom storage options – is key to ensuring that even a tiny bathroom can still feel spacious. Stylish finishes that are also practical are the icing on the cake.
Up to recently, space-saving bathrooms always required a compromise – often with the bathtub becoming the first victim in the battle for space – not to mention issues arising from lack of storage. But the latest modern fixtures and fittings can still create a luxury bathroom from minimal square footage.
Space saving bathrooms
The best compact designs combine charm and practicality, so we've asked the interior design experts for their top transformative bathroom ideas to ensure your room is a well-design space, no matter the size.
1. Blur the lines in a diminutive space
In this main ensuite bathroom by interior designer Beata Heuman (opens in new tab), carrying the same color tones over multiple surfaces helps to blur out awkward angles and sloped ceiling lines.
‘All the walls and the bath are clad in Béton Ciré, which is a micro concrete paste and totally waterproof,’ explains Beata. ‘The idea here was to make the space feel warm and earthy, unlike most bathrooms. The wooden floor continues in from the bedroom, which connects the suite of rooms and also makes it feel more spacious.’
The characterful vanity, made from a rustic antique table, cuts a strong silhouette against the plastered walls.
2. Go all out
In a seriously narrow bathroom, it’s worth utilizing every space-saving bathroom trick in the book. Here, a continuous stretch of flooring reaches right to the furthest wall to enhance length, while a slender vanity with slim feet emphasizes width.
‘Creating more visible floor space opens up the space; we tiled over a wet room tray to achieve level entry. Fitting large format tiles and a minimalist shower screen is visually calmer so also makes it feel bigger,’ explains Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co (opens in new tab). ‘Finally, using white paint around the window reveal draws attention to the space outside and reflects the light back in.’
3. Invest in custom cupboards
Built-in bathroom storage is streets ahead of free-standing when it comes to making the most of every inch. Commissioning made-to-measure storage is especially worthwhile if you have wonky walls or unusual angles that simply will not accommodate the standard sizes of off-the-shelf furniture. Built-in storage can also improve the shape of a small bathroom; straightening out awkward corners to create a cleaner, more linear space.
Here, Knight Frank (opens in new tab) Interiors has utilized the narrowest niche for built-in storage that’s designed for both display and hiding away. Adding cornicing and an open plinth mimics the style of a freestanding piece, which can feel more relaxed and authentic in a traditional setting.
4. Raise the roof in a tiny bathroom
If you can’t physically increase the footprint of your small bathroom, consider going upwards. Raising the ceiling is easiest if you have an empty loft space above – the height you can achieve will depend on the position of existing structural beams and supports. It’s wise to consult a structural engineer in the first instance.
In this narrow but tall wet room by Leanne Ford Interiors (opens in new tab), gentle curves provide a softer aesthetic compared to a pitched or vaulted ceiling, while allowing maximum height for an overhead shower rose. Increasing the window height with a clerestory panel and installing bright glossy tiles maximizes spaciousness in this small wet room.
The bath is by The Albion Bath Company (opens in new tab).
5. Find your niche
‘For diminutive bathrooms with existing alcove spaces or redundant airing cupboards, built-in baths and recessed shower areas are a great solution as they utilize all the available space and can free up the floor area elsewhere,’ says Emma Scott, director of design, C.P. Hart (opens in new tab).
Wall-mounted taps will provide a neat aesthetic and allow perfect positioning for easy access. ‘Alcoves either side of chimney breasts also work well for his and her basin units as the depth is generally shallower. For smaller, awkward areas of dead space, consider built-in niches or shelving for extra storage,’ adds Emma.
6. Enhance with mirrors
The space-boosting powers of mirrored glass are well established, and the first rule is the bigger the mirror, the more space it will appear to create.
‘Think about what you are trying to achieve. Tall bathroom mirror ideas can enhance the proportions of a bathroom, making the ceiling feel higher. Likewise, in a narrow space we can trick the eye into thinking the space is wider,’ says Ali Johnson, director, Otta Design (opens in new tab). ‘Position a mirror opposite or next to a window to amplify the natural light or place it in the darkest corner of a bathroom, behind a light source, to encourage the light’s reach through the space.’
7. Add a playful touch
Sink skirts are a joyful trend revival, and an easy way to bring pattern and softness to your bathroom. From a space-saving point, any vanity unit with ‘doors’ that slide sideways, rather than opening into the room, will increase and improve the layout options in a compact bathroom. In this colorful scheme, Barlow & Barlow (opens in new tab) used an upholstery fabric graded for outdoor use to keep toiletries and essentials neatly out of sight beneath the basin. Made from durable polyester, it is a practical choice in humid conditions and easy to clean.
8. Choose a walk-in shower
‘Walk-in showers are an excellent way to give the illusion of more space – they are far less dominant visually than a full enclosure and can also provide a light and airy feel in use,’ says Eamonn Agha, director, Huntsmore (opens in new tab).
In this narrow bathroom, the shower screen was built on top of a dwarf wall to allow in maximum light from the window beyond, while keeping shower spray safely contained and the toilet seat dry. ‘Going for a wall-hung WC leaves more of the floor tiles on show, which also helps make the room appear more generous,’ adds Eamonn.
9. Frame the view
Elevate a small scheme with luxurious natural stone punctuated by the strong lines of Crittall-style framing, which can ramp up design impact in the tightest of spaces.
This bathroom, in the Manhattan home of property developer Elias Kefalidis, features a custom-built metal framed shower enclosure in order to achieve the largest showering area possible, as well as a small bath. Extending the bath surround inside the shower provides a handy shelf for shampoo and toiletries, without reducing the width of the shower at shoulder level.
10. Create a focal point
Forget playing it safe in a small space, embracing bold color and pattern can have huge benefits.
‘Color is being embraced in space-saving bathrooms in a massive way right now,’ agrees Louise Ashdown, head of design, West One Bathrooms (opens in new tab). ‘A colorful feature wall at the end of a tiny bathroom will draw the eye through, ensuring every inch gets noticed.'
'In fact, patterned bathroom wallpaper is a really effective way to introduce color – dark green, pale pink and pastel blue are particularly popular – which can then be picked up on accessories, towels and even sanitaryware. Use black accents to complete a sophisticated palette.’
What is a space-saving bath?
When curating a space-saving bathroom, efficiency of design is paramount –especially if you hope to integrate bath ideas. Using less wall space than a classic tub, corner bath ideas are a practical addition that still provides a luxurious bathing experience – an ideal addition to your spa bathroom ideas.
‘A corner tub is a great solution for a bathroom that is tight on space. It is also a great way to still include a bath feature without sacrificing the freestanding shower, as well,’ says Amy Leferink.
Linda graduated from university with a First in Journalism, Film and Broadcasting. Her career began on a trade title for the kitchen and bathroom industry, and she has worked for Homes & Gardens, and sister-brands Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, since 2006, covering interiors topics, though kitchens and bathrooms are her specialism.
- Jennifer EbertDeputy Editor (Digital)
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