Clever storage options and smart finishes means that even the smallest of bathrooms can be stylish as well as practical. Whether you opt for a sleek streamlined look, or traditional detailing, there are plenty of ways to pack a punch.
Small bathrooms used to demand a compromise – often requiring homeowners to do away with a bath or a separate shower, not to mention issues arising from lack of storage. But the latest modern fittings can create a luxurious bathroom from minimal square footage. Shower baths remain a popular option in compact rooms, and choices are greater than ever.
Recent innovations have seen luxurious waterfall and rainfall-style showerheads added into the mix, able to offer the same invigorating feel of a dedicated shower enclosure. The latest bespoke glass screens help to create a more streamlined finish too, as specialists are able to template the glass to suit the space, with minimal brackets and no frames to create a more open feel. And if you crave traditional fittings in small space, the latest roll-top baths are available in smaller dimensions.
- See more: Bathroom ideas – decor ideas for wet rooms, shower rooms and more
1. Use antiqued mirror glass to make a small bathroom feel larger
If the passage between a master bedroom and bathroom is wide enough, consider addinga shower enclosure. ‘Ensure it sits seamlessly in the background by using clear glass – possibly with a modesty panel – and a flush-to-floor tray,’ says Kirsten Wain of West One Bathrooms.
2. Make the most of a small bathroom's awkward shape
Awkward ceiling shapes in loft conversions can be cleverly incorporated into an en-suite bathroom with fixtures such as shower heads built into sloping walls. In this scheme, sandblasted glass panelling neatly partitions the bathroom from the sleeping area.
3. Simple solutions are more streamlined
‘Architecturally and visually, it is best to keep a small bathroom feeling open by not crowding too many things into it. Edit your amenities often, hang your towels on bars or hooks, keep pattern to a minimum, and generally, make it simple. The room will feel bigger if you use a pedestal sink rather than a bulky vanity, a clear glass door rather than shower curtain and reflective surfaces such as glossy ceramic tiles in a large scale,’ explains Barbara Sallick, Co-founder, Waterworks.
See: Bathroom trends – inspiring new looks for your bathroom suite
4. Pick a bath that is made to fit
A small bathroom can cater to a bath – and a good-looking bath at that is worthy of center-stage, if you pick a design that has been created specifically for the space. This tiny tub is beautiful in a period home or a contemporary-style space. Find it at The Albion Bath Company.
5. Enhance space with a wet room
Wet rooms are great for smaller spaces as they make the room look bigger by not closing it off with screens. You can of course also consider incorporating a generous shower into a large bath – giving you the option of both.
6. Hang a mirror to make your bathroom feel larger
Mirrors are an essential part of any cloakroom both practically and aesthetically. They bounce natural light around a room, making the room seem instantly larger and brighter. Ornate options look fantastic in guest cloakrooms and are great statement pieces. If you prefer to keep things simple, then a mirror with a bevelled edge is an effective but subtle detail.
7. Light a small bathroom to make it feel bigger and brighter
Lighting zones are a key consideration, as getting the lighting right can make all the difference to the ambience created in your bathroom. Try installing a dimmer switch so that you can control the intensity of light, depending on your mood. Spotlights, either recessed, fitted to a track, or as part of a multi-light fitting, instantly brighten a room.
8. Be adventurous with small bathroom decor
A small bathroom or cloakroom need not be dull or boring. Small spaces can be elevated with bold decorating choices, like this compelling pictorial terrarium wallpaper and moody moss-green tongue-and-groove panelling.
9. Pick a cohesive style that suits your home's period
Many people shy away from classic styles as they assume that they can crowd a room and can be too oppressive, but this isn’t the case. By using light colors and tones and embracing traditional fittings such as an Art Deco style, you can achieve a period look in your bathroom despite its small size.
10. Pick wall-mounted furniture to keep floors clear
Wall-mounted modular furniture remains a favorite for storage, due to its fuss-free, streamlined look. Available in a range of heights, widths and depths, it means that you can create semi-bespoke furniture that best suits your space. You’ll find a wide range of colors, from soft hues to strong brave tones, available too, as well as plenty of different textures.
How should I design a small bathroom?
Every aspect of a small bathroom needs to be carefully considered, but that doesn't mean you need to compromise on style. Clever storage solutions can make all the difference, and thankfully there are now many compact options for bathrooms – from reduced-depth bathtubs and basins to slimline shower trays and frameless screens to enhance the illusion of space.
Also, bear in mind that wall-hung designs will optimise floorspace, and reflective surfaces can help bounce light around the room.
What is the best color for a small bathroom?
The answer to this question is that 'it depends'. First, take account of the natural daylight in your small bathroom: if it is poor or if the bathroom is north- or east-facing, you would be better choose a bathroom color that reflects light and has a touch of warmth to it.
If your bathroom is flooded with daylight thanks to a large window, there's no reason not to choose a dark color.
Consider how the bathroom color will look on all four walls – in a small space, it may be over-powering if it is dark or bold; or it may make the room feel entirely characterless if it is pale – and this is where you need to be clever with adding pattern and texture to complement that color.
What to avoid? A strong color and poor lighting, whether daylight or artificial light – the effect will be that the entire space with have a tinge of that shade, and when you look in your small bathroom mirror you might find your face reflects that shade – which is unflattering and not conducive to wellbeing.