How To Design A Small Bathroom

It is always the smallest room in the house, but it probably needs to be the most multi-functional of all. How do you deal with this contradiction when designing a small bathroom?

Some people are lucky, they have huge bathrooms into which they can plop all sorts of bathroom appliances anywhere they like.

Most of us are stuck with a design problem to make sure we can fit a toilet, basin, shower/bath, storage, towel rail and allow for a door and window.

Let’s have a look at how we can make it easier with a few strategic design choices.


Any floor-standing basin is going to be taking up valuable floor space. it’s all about wall-hung basins and even wall-hung vanity units.

This is a great way to help keep the area around the basin clean. It’s so frustrating when you have to get around the back of a basin to clean out all the crap that finds its way there!

There are loads of great options to keep the basin and vanity as shallow as possible, even some that will fit perfectly in a corner.

Space-saving bathroom options have come a long way since the days of avocado!


Let’s talk about toilets.

This is another area where tastes and designs have changed a great deal. Wall-hung is, again, the way to go to save a bit of space.

Normally you have a big old cistern on the back of a toilet, but with a wall-hung toilet, the cistern can be hidden in a wall behind the toilet. This might be a problem with a brick wall, but even if you have to build a false wall behind the toilet, the cisterns that come with wall-hung toilets can be so slim.

Like the basins, you can also get corner toilets if that is the best way to fit your toilet into your design.


The obvious thing to do is to go for a shower to save on space, but if you’ve got a family that just isn’t going to be an option.

Thankfully, space-saving has extended to baths and you can find a huge range of widths and lengths of bath to fit your space.

We have a short bath in our loft bathroom for this exact reason. The toilet wouldn’t have fitted otherwise!

Another option to consider, if you’re prepared for a more expensive bathroom install, is a wet room. This way you can have a shower in the middle of the bathroom without the usual constraints of a shower. All you need is a showerhead and a drain.


If you’ve gone for a wall-hung basin with vanity then you’ve already gone a long way to providing storage, but there are still other ways to fit more in.

You can get baths with built-in, fold-down storage compartments. There is actually a lot of unused space around a bath and it’s great that manufacturers are starting to use this.

If any of your walls are timber framed, you can fit storage compartments into the space between joists. As long as you aren’t using an outside wall, it wont affect your insulation.

Keeping things high up is always going to keep them out of the way, so consider adding some high shelves.


Designing for a small bathroom isn’t just about fitting everything in, it’s also about making it look good too!

Lighting can go a long way towards this, especially if you have a small window, which I’m sure most bathrooms do!

The first step is to get some recessed LED lights fitted into the ceiling. This isn’t a big job for an electrician and can add so much more light to a room.

Then it’s about adding mid and low level lighting, such as a lighted mirror above the basin and LEDs under the bath.

Speaking of a mirror, if you can go for a large one it will reflect light around the room.

Alongside the lighting, make sure the wall surfaces are reflective by using gloss tiles or paint that has a soft sheen. Bathroom paints tend to have this any way to make sure the moisture doesn’t absorb into the surface.

Go for lighter colours on the walls to help make the space look a bit bigger.


In contrast to the walls, the floor works better in a darker colour to make the room look bigger.

It contrasts against the lighter colours in the rest of the bathroom and emphasises the floor space. This is where it can help to have wall-hung appliances so that you can see more of the floor and understand the space better.

Having a small bathroom doesn’t have to mean having a bad bathroom. You can use design tricks to make it look and feel bigger.

At the end of the day you are only spending a tiny portion of the day in your bathroom, but it does need to feel like a desirable space, especially when you’ve carved out an evening of bath-soaking with a glass of wine!

I’m off to run the bath now…

Leave a Comment