Make the most of an ensuite, cloakroom or compact space
Size isn’t everything when it comes to bathrooms. Choosing options that make your room feel lighter and brighter, as well as fixtures and fittings which have multiple uses can make a huge difference to how any bathroom functions and feels. With some clever planning and smart design decisions, even a small bathroom, tiny ensuite or compact cloakroom can feel spacious and offer everything your household needs.
Whether you’re looking to squeeze a new bathroom or cloakroom into your home, or planning to refresh an existing room, we’ve tips and advice to help you make the most of your space. We’ll walk you through choosing fixtures and fittings that’ll fit even the smallest bathroom and introduce you to some of our innovative space-saving products. We’ll also share the secrets of decorating and lighting a room to make it feel bigger. Let’s get started.
If you’re not looking to overhaul your ensuite or cloakroom right now, we’ve got lots of space-saving quick fixes in our article on how to maximise storage space in your bathroom.
Tools & materials required
Small bathroom ideas
Basins are the hub of the bathroom, but can often take up a lot of room. When space is at a premium, there are two ways that your basin can play a role in making your bathroom feel bigger.
Wall-mounted basins, also known as wall-hung basins, don’t include a traditional pedestal, freeing up floor space and making your room look more streamlined. Depending on the space available, you can either opt for a floating basin that sits against any flat wall or a corner basin that sits snuggly in a space that’s often wasted. Stylish chromed wastes and fittings below the basin mean you’re not compromising on style with these sleek models.
Alternatively, choose to make maximum use of the footprint of your basin by incorporating storage underneath. Vanity units, sometimes known as washstands, have seen a makeover in recent years and a resurgence of popularity. New compact models mean that you can now find vanities to suit almost any space in both contemporary and more traditional styles. A vanity unit may mean that you can go without additional free-standing storage in your room – or free up storage space elsewhere in the home.
We love the Ideal Standard compact corner unit that’s a real multitasker. It’s wall-hung and fits cosily in a corner so that it takes up very little space, but it packs a punch with built-in storage that’ll hold your everyday essentials.
Whichever basin you opt for, be sure to choose one with a single tap hole and install a mixer tap here. Not only will the streamlined design of these taps keep things looking neat, it’ll also free up space for soap and other small bathroom essentials.
Many of the tricks you can use with a basin to gain space can be used with toilets. Opting for a wall-hung model will give the illusion that your room is larger – and help to make cleaning a breeze. For unusual-shaped rooms and smaller cloakrooms a corner toilet can be a boom, making use of space that might otherwise be wasted.
Whichever option you choose, don’t forget to pay close attention to the dimensions of the products you plan to use. The size of a toilet cistern and pan can vary considerably from one model to another, which can be helpful if you’re looking to solve a particular problem. Slimline cisterns can reduce how far a toilet protrudes into a room – useful if you’re trying to avoid the swing of a door. In narrow spaces, a slim pan could make all the difference between whether you can make room for a basin next to it or not.
Don’t forget the toilet seat too. Choose a white or neutral coloured seat that blends in with the fixtures in the room. This way your eye won’t be drawn to this part of the room as soon as you walk in.
Finding room for a bath can be tricky in a compact space, but fortunately there are a lot of options when it comes to this family essential.
Straight baths are small-space friendly and come in a range of lengths to best fit your room. Make the most of the floorspace occupied by a bath by using it for hidden storage. Our bath storage unit side and end panels make clever use of otherwise wasted space and are the perfect place to stash bath toys and shampoo out of sight but conveniently close to hand.
If you’re considering installing a shower as well as a bath, combining these in a shower bath is an easy way to save on space. Much more than just a shower head perched over the bath, these multitaskers are cleverly designed to offer a generous space for showering at one end without compromising on the functionality or comfort of the bath. Combine your shower bath with a glass bath screen to protect your room from splashes but also allow as much light as possible to flood your space. Folding screens, such as those in our Seine and Nile ranges, can be a great option if you’re worried about a rigid one getting in the way.
Showers & wet rooms
Modern shower enclosures are available in a huge range of shapes and sizes that can fit into even the most difficult spaces. Quadrant and offset quadrant enclosures offer sleek looks, and sliding doors will take up very little space compared to more traditional hinged doors. If you want to keep visual clutter to a minimum, go for clear glass doors and frameless fittings that’ll help to make your shower room look bigger and keep cleaning simple. Try our Luxuriant range for our lowest-profile shower enclosures.
If space seems tight for a shower, consider a wet room as an alternative. You’ll still have the option to shower in the room without the need to install a shower tray or enclosure. Whilst installation can take a little longer as you’ll be waterproofing the whole room, you’ll be rewarded with a shower room that’s easy to clean and packs multiple uses into a small, or unusually-shaped space.
Bathroom furniture & storage
Storage can be a challenge in smaller spaces, but thankfully there are lots of options that’ll make your room work harder for you.
Mirrored cabinets are ideal for placing above a basin, and are available in a range of depths to suit different rooms. Where space is at a premium, consider a mirror with an integrated shelf that’ll give you somewhere to pop a few essentials, or a cabinet with a lift-up door that needs less room to open. We’ve also got single and double door cabinets to give you more options, and designs with invisible handles that’ll make your room look sleek and streamlined.
If there’s a little floor space available, a tall narrow cabinet can hold everything from towels to toilet paper – and there’s wall-hung options that’ll keep floors clear. Our Imandra and Paolo ranges feature high gloss cabinets that’ll reflect more light into your room.
Don’t forget to hang a shower caddy in your shower enclosure or above your bath to help keep bottles off surfaces and everything close at hand. You’ll find solutions in different shapes and sizes to suit your space and family.
Keeping a room as light and bright as possible is the ideal way to open it up and make it feel larger. Neutral colours, like whites, creams and pale greys, as well as glossy surfaces will help to achieve this. Pick a specialist bathroom paint that will resist the steam and moisture well, and a soft sheen finish that will help to reflect natural light. Keep ceilings white to give the illusion of height and space.
Glossy tile finishes will also help to brighten a space. Large format tiles can help to make a room look more spacious, and fewer grout lines and simple designs will give a seamless finish. Smaller tiles and mosaics, along with patterned wallpaper, can look fussy in a smaller space so stick to simple designs that’ll also be easy to clean and maintain. Bathroom wall panels can be a good alternative to wall tiles in shower enclosures and above baths. As well as being incredibly easy to install, the smooth and glossy acrylic surface isn’t interrupted by grout lines making the room look more spacious. Stick to neutral colours that’ll reflect light around the room.
Adding generous-sized mirrors to your room is another way to give the illusion of space, and will work wonders for reflecting natural and artificial light. Choosing a frameless option will allow your eye to travel over the mirror without distractions. For a seriously sleek look and multipurpose mastery, consider a mirror with built-in lights. It’ll maximise mirrored space by making better use of room you might have used for spotlights above a traditional mirror.
For more tips and ideas to help make your bathroom feel lighter and brighter, take a look at our article on How to brighten a room.
Choosing a darker coloured flooring can help to define the space in a small shower room or cloakroom, and make it look bigger. Floor tiles, sheet vinyl and Luxury Vinyl Click flooring are ideal choices as they’re moisture-resistant, durable and easy to clean. As with wall tiles, choosing a grout that tones with the tiles, using larger tiles and avoiding bold patterns will make the space look less busy and more spacious.
In a smaller bathroom, a traditional radiator can take up precious space, but innovative alternatives offer space-saving solutions.
Nothing beats a warm, fluffy towel after a bath or shower, and a towel radiator is perfect for compact spaces. Also known as towel warmers, they’re available in a wide range of stylish finishes. Choose white or metallic finishes to enhance the illusion of a larger room. There’s narrow options for tight spaces as well as shorter towel warmers that can be mounted above the bath for cosy towels ready at a moment’s notice. Choosing a towel radiator is also a chance to do away with a conventional towel rail, usually offering more hanging space and quicker drying times.
If you’re replacing the flooring in your bathroom, consider options that can be used with underfloor heating. Underfloor heating can be used in even the smallest cloakroom, and you’ll never need to worry about stepping out of the bath or shower onto a cold floor again. Removing a radiator or wall-mounted heater could free up valuable space for additional storage – or simply more room for busy households.
How you light your bathroom or cloakroom can make a huge difference to how big it feels. Compact spaces will feel smaller with inadequate light, but the right choice of bulbs and fittings, in the right place, will help rooms feel more spacious and inviting.
For overhead lights, choose bathroom spotlights and downlights with LED. Position the lights evenly across the room where possible and consider adding spotlights above key areas, such as the bath. Modern LED bulbs will give a clean, bright light and last for an average of 15 years – so you won’t need to worry that more lights might mean changing more bulbs. They also reach maximum brightness almost immediately unlike older CFL bulbs, helping to make your room feel more welcoming.
Consider adding wall lights mounted above or on either side of your basin, or a mirror with built-in lights. These will give a softer light that’ll make tasks like shaving and putting on make-up easier, and will complement your overhead lighting.