It may be the smallest room in the home but a considered approach will give it impact. Properly designed and finished cloakroom ideas are a great addition to your home. Whether you’re planning an under-stairs conversion, a new use for an unused utility room or an extension, a cloakroom is always worth the extra investment.
Well-designed cloakroom or powder room ideas will not only add value to your home, it could also be particularly handy when you’re entertaining. Or when children are playing out in the garden and you don’t want them rushing up and down stairs.
These clever bathroom ideas for your downstairs WC will help you revamp an existing cloakroom or make the most of unused space with an additional loo. It will punch above its weight in terms of household usefulness.
1. Modernize with marble
Elegant and timeless, marble is one of the most popular and lusted after materials to use in a cloakroom or powder room Marble is naturally water-resistant and adds a luxurious spa-like feel to this small space, whether you have a modern room or a more traditional one.
Marble might be an expensive option, but there are more cost-effective ways to source this desired material. Rather than quarrying fresh slabs for your marble bathroom ideas, interior designer Deborah Bass of Base Interior (opens in new tab) suggests seeking out reclaimed marble from places like eBay, then commissioning a specialist stone restorer to cut and polish.
2. Keep it clean and simple
Hardwearing, easy to clean and dust-mite resistant, it’s little wonder polished concrete is so popular in cloakrooms. The industrial look is very on trend too, plus it holds the heat well so works brilliantly with underfloor heating.
Concrete is a low-maintenance, durable choice for most contemporary rooms. If sealed properly, it’s very hard-wearing and stain-resistant. Polished concrete tiles – and vinyl or porcelain lookalikes – can be laid by DIYers; poured concrete floors are best installed and polished by professionals. Concrete flooring can also be printed, stamped or stencilled.
3. Add life and vibrant with wallpaper
Cloakrooms don’t have the same steam and moisture issues as bathrooms, so can take bathroom wallpaper more easily, but it’s wise to choose splash proof, easy-to-clean surfaces for the floor and around the basin.
‘In this small area you can have fun with bold wallpaper or bathroom tile ideas. A pattern on the walls or floor creates a striking scheme,’ says interior designer Cherie Lee. 'It’s a good idea to check the color, pattern and texture in the cloakroom light before you buy.’
4. Curate a cohesive theme
Bold color might not be the first element you think of when planning a new cloakroom, but it should certainly not be an afterthought.
A good cloakroom color scheme is essential for creating the look, feel and design you want in this diminutive space. And you can use everything from wallpaper to sanitaryware to accessories to create a unique look.
Adding a statement hue to your cloakroom will really lift your whole space, bringing this practical space into line with the rest of your decor. The good news is there are so many colors to choose from. If painting or wallpapering isn't an option, you can also add color through details; brassware is guaranteed to make a decorative statement.
Bathroom tiles have an important role to play in a cloakroom's design – and not just because they provide a practical solution to keeping walls and floors protected from soap and splashes. The latest tile trends encourage individualization – the choice is yours. There are so many tile options that allow you to express your personality, introducing just as much style to the cloakroom as you might in any other room of the house.
‘Laying tiles on the diagonal is brilliant for adding interest and making a space feel larger by drawing the eye upwards,’ says Louisa Morgan, creative director, Mandarin Stone (opens in new tab).
6. Go for a dark color scheme
While decorating with a black color scheme can be tricky to get right, a considered approach will be rewarded by a simple but impactful cloakroom, no matter how big or small.
Plus, it will help to delineate the space, thus creating a 'zone'. You can always bring in touches of color with accessories and linen as and when you feel like it.
7. Build in a storage wall
Think outside the box when it comes to clever ideas to stash your cloakroom basics.
Good bathroom storage ideas for small spaces are essential to making both these aspects of the cloakroom work, but a limited or awkward-shaped space can create a challenge when it comes to making the best of any cloakroom.
‘Although hidden storage is practical, don’t be tempted to shut everything away,' says interior designer Deana Ashby. 'Instead use a combination of built-in cabinets and shelving to provide plenty of storage but without enclosing the space.’
8. Carve out a cloakroom under the stairs
Often underused and unloved, the space under the stairs is the perfect place for a cloakroom.
If it’s relatively simple to run water to this spare corner – if it sits next to the kitchen for instance – then it’s worth thinking about changing it into a cloakroom or an extra shower room.
If you have three or less bedrooms, check with a local real estate agent first, though, to discover if this is what buyers in your area are looking for.
9. Use a bold wallpaper in a small cloakroom
Wallpaper has gone through varying periods of popularity, but the latest trends are focusing on using wallpaper more liberally, choosing more daring and bold prints for your powder room.
This striking wallpaper idea would be perfect for a small cloakroom or powder room. The chances are you don’t have that much wall space and can go as bold as you dare.
Contrary to popular belief, wallpaper and bathrooms do mix. This fierce scheme, designed by Studio Indigo (opens in new tab), should be enough to convince you of that.
10. Adopt a country aesthetic
The best rural cloakrooms and powder rooms incorporate materials and textures that reflect the construction of the building, and also the rural views outside the window.
There has been a resurgence of interest in rough-hewn materials and traditional craftsmanship for the country-style cloakroom. Artisan-inspired and hand-crafted bowls, cabinetry and accessories that epitomize traditional crafts, heritage design and timeless classics will add real character and personality to your space.
‘The idea that less is more – and quality is preferable to quantity – is bringing about a return to natural materials,’ says Gill Few, channel manager at Kohler.
11. Make it mid-century modern
Although mid-century modern style was driven by advances in technology, it was also inspired by the natural world, and wood is the most widely used material for walls, furniture and cabinetry.
Characterized by clean straight lines and flowing organic curves, mid-century design is all about simplicity, and styling is key, along with a lack of ornamentation and a limited color palette.
12. Embrace maximalist design
The maximalist trend is all about embracing excess. More might be more, but the current trend for maximalism doesn’t equal mess.
Instead, decorate your cloakroom with statement wallpaper and show-stopping color combinations. Think of your space as a carefully curated Aladdin’s cave of treasures, with each item on display even more fascinating than the last.
13. Instil a sense of timelessness
White sanitaryware is a great choice for a traditional cloakroom as it goes with any wall color, giving you the flexibility to refresh your interior as and when you want to.
Light colored walls – or trompe l'oeil wallpaper – always look sophisticated and will help to create a bright and airy cloakroom, perfect for a traditional home. Pair this with contemporary chrome or brass faucets to add a touch of timeless charm.
14. Introduce shimmer and shine with copper
Copper is a great success in bathrooms and cloakrooms since it’s a conductive material that heats up quickly and retains water temperatures far longer than conventional ceramic designs.
Copper baths and basins are available in various finishes, from highly polished copper with a durable coating to protect the lustre, to antique finishes that burnish over time and tin-plated finishes with a silvery vintage charm.
‘The rich patina of copper is warm and inviting, and the coloring gets better and better with age,' says Joe Burns, director, Oliver Burns Interiors.
15. Design a statement scheme with tiling
Much like paint effects, the tiles you choose can alter the look of a room. They can make a small bathroom look bigger than it actually is or add visual interest to a dull space.
Unlike paint though, re-tiling a cloakroom can be costly and a hassle you won't want to have to repeat often, so it's important to choose bathroom tile ideas and designs that you won't tire of too soon and will last you for years to come.
Adding color and pattern won't necessarily make a small space feel smaller either. Chosen carefully, they can often give the space a cocooning, rather than cramped, feel.
How do you decorate a downstairs cloakroom?
Decorating a downstairs cloakroom is not an easy feat, but with our help you can turn an unused space into a fully-functional workhorse.
While it’s a good idea to use pale, neutral colors to create a feeling of space, don’t be scared of using bold wallpaper or tiling as a feature.
Your cloakroom is somewhere you can have a little fun and create a talking point for guests, and with less surface to cover, you can consider treating yourself to that statement wallpaper or the beautiful tiles you’ve been hankering after.
Reflective additions in the shape of attractive wall-hung stainless-steel or mirror-finish soap dispensers and loo-roll holders will give the room a touch of glamor.
Choosing smart bathroom lighting ideas is important, too, as they will prevent the room from feeling claustrophobic. Try mirrored cabinets with integral lighting or – just for fun – colorful pendants.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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