Small bathroom design ideas

All bathrooms require careful planning and this is especially true of small bathrooms. Intelligent design incorporating space saving and bespoke bathroom products can make even the smallest of spaces into a stylish and practical bath or shower room.

A successful design for a small bathroom or shower room should maximise every inch of space and combine practical considerations such as storage and adequate heating and ventilation to create a bathroom design that is both stylish and uncluttered.

Choosing the colour scheme and tiles for a small bathroom

The best small bathroom designs make the most of the available light and maximise space.  The choice of colour and tiles is important, in order to maximise the feeling of space use light neutral colours combined with large tiles for floors and walls.  Where light is at a premium glazed wall tiles will help to reflect light, a contrasting tile of a similar tone can be used to define the floor.  Whilst mosaic tiles can be used for the floor of a wetroom, using small tiles throughout a small bathroom or wet room will make the room feel smaller as will dark colours. 

A large mirror, installed above a bath, toilet or behind shelves in an alcove, can make even the smallest of bathrooms feel substantially bigger by reflecting light and creating the illusion of much greater space.

Lighting for small bathrooms

Lighting is an important part of bathroom design and is often overlooked.  Bathrooms require lighting solutions that are similar to kitchens, focussed light for work areas such as basins and vanity units and ambient or mood lighting for surrounding areas.  With careful planning and some forethought the correct lighting can make even the smallest bathroom feel bigger.

Areas such as basins require light to be projected from the wall towards the individual, lighting the face, rather than recessed spotlights which can cast a shadow over the basin when in use.  A good alternative to wall mounted lights is mirror with integrated lighting as this will provide illumination around the basin and take up less space than a mirror with separate lights.

Recessed ceiling lights are perfectly adequate for lighting the remaining areas of a bathroom, however, advances in LED and coloured lighting allow for interesting and attractive lighting effects to be created.  Small individual LED lights or strip lights can be mounted under shelves or vanity units to create ambient lighting effects or recessed into floors and walls to highlight areas such as a wet shower area or to create a warm glow from behind a toilet.

Keeping the colour pallet light and neutral will help to maximise the effectiveness of lighting in a small bathroom, however, the placement and type of lights must be considered.  Installing lots of high powered ceiling lights might seem like an effective means of introducing light into a small bathroom but the result can feel cold and more like an operating theatre.

Bathroom furniture and sanitary ware for small bathrooms

The best small bathroom furniture combines cleaver storage solutions with stylish clean lines.  Consider using a wall hung toilet and sink to keep the floor clear of clutter maximise space and make cleaning, which can be difficult in small bathrooms, easier.

A combined wall hung sink and small vanity unit with either integrated drawers or cupboard below will provide ample storage for many bathroom essentials with the added benefit of hiding unsightly pipework.   A slim bathroom cabinet mounted above the sink will provide further storage space; combine with mirrored doors and back lighting to create an attractive focal point.

Small bathrooms often feature awkward spaces such as alcoves and a good bathroom design will use these features to create further space.   Bespoke fitted bathroom furniture and shelving can turn even the most difficult of spaces into stylish and practical storage solutions.   Bathroom cabinets can be as little as 100mm in depth and it may be possible to replace elements of a stud wall with MDF carcases, potentially creating a substantial amount of storage with minimal intrusion into the available space within the bathroom.

Baths and shower enclosures for small bathrooms

In a small bathroom it may not be possible or necessary to accommodate a full size bath as shorter and deeper baths, such as the Hip Bath or Labette by Bette, occupy far less space while still facilitating a relaxing soak.  Smaller baths will still accommodate a glass bath screen for creating a shower within the bath.

A shower enclosure or wet room will often take up less space than a bath and can be a more efficient solution for small bathrooms.  A common problem associated with shower enclosures and small bathrooms is the spaced required to open the shower door into the room, a sliding or bifolding shower door that contains the opening portion of the door within the shower negates this issue and will often allow a larger shower to be created.  Bespoke shower enclosures and trays are now widely available and this makes it possible to create a full shower enclosure in awkward spaces, such as in an alcove or under the stairs, that would not normally accept a standard sized shower enclosure.

A wet room, although generally more expensive to install, will maximise floor space within the bathroom due to the lack of a shower tray, making cleaning easier and creating the illusion of space.  A simple fixed wet room shower screen is an option worth considering if the space available within the bathroom precludes the use of an outward opening hinged shower door.  If space is at a premium it is possible make the whole room a wet shower area and do without a shower screen, however, adequate drainage and ventilation will have to be installed to manage the moisture and standing water should be removed with a squeegee after each shower.

Heating and ventilation for small bathrooms

In any bathroom adequate heating and ventilation are important for both comfort and controlling ambient moisture.  The small, or often non-existent, windows and limited wall space that are features of small bathrooms require heating and ventilation to be carefully considered.  Free up valuable wall space by fitting under floor heating instead of a traditional radiator, and for drying towels consider mounting a small heated towel rail level above a bath or in the drying area of a wetroom.  Ventilation within small bathrooms is equally important, especially in a shower or wet room and an extractor fan of suitable capacity should be installed to draw away excess airborne moisture.

Room H2o have been creating imaginatively designed and beautifully executed small bathrooms for more than 10 years.  Why not take advantage of our expertise and state of the art 3D bathroom design software to design your perfect small bathroom or wet room.  Contact the experts at Room H2O today for a free small bathroom design consultation or alternatively visit our showrooms in New Malden, Surrey and Wareham in Dorset.

This virtual image of a small bathroom uses large tiles combined with light colours and a large mirror to maximise the feeling of space
The correct lighting will help to make even the smallest bathroom feel bigger
A walk in shower enclosure is a space efficient solution for small bathrooms
In a small bathroom a large mirror creates the illusion of extra space and reflects light
Turning a small bathroom into a wet room with a fixed shower screen can help to maximise the available space