The Ultimate Guide to Small Bathroom Perfection!

Dansani mini menuet cabinet in small bathroom

“Snug.” “Compact.” “Cosy.” We’ve all heard the sales spin that tries to describe a small room without admitting the obvious: that it’s small. However, we at & So To Bathe see a lack of space as a fantastic opportunity to get innovative with small bathroom ideas.

Our team’s reputation as small bathroom design specialists has only grown since embracing Virtual Worlds’ 3D and 4D technology. Rather than sit on a secret, we’ve decided to crack open our treasure trove of ideas for small bathrooms with this full and comprehensive guide to small bathroom perfection…

#1 — Embrace your space

3D small bathroom design from above

Only 1.8 x 1.4m to work with in this small ensuite shower room; not a problem for our designers! | Design by & So To Bathe

Quite a few of our bathroom projects involve working with smaller than average spaces. One reason is that most pre-war British homes were built with cost-saving in mind, in an era when tiles were considered too expensive to allow for larger bathrooms. Modern houses, which tend to have more space, often see homeowners putting in a second bathroom, invariably a small one.

However, when faced with an “unorthodox” bathroom space, don’t let lack of wiggle-room limit your imagination. Whether you’re looking for a cloakroom under the stairs, a cheeky loft conversion, or even a basement wetroom, there are many ways to pull off a cracking small bathroom design.

Put simply: there is no space too small, no passage too narrow, no staircase too intrusive, to prevent you from designing a stylish and functional bathroom.

Loft conversion bathroom with sloping roof

Take a look at this small bathroom converted from an old loft. At first our customers felt their room was too small for a full-size bathtub, but we encouraged them to use the sloping roof angle to their advantage. The result is a glorious bathing area under a skylight window, letting a generous amount of sunlight into what was previously a dark, cramped space. We also installed a deck mounted handshower by Flova with a retractable hose for maximum flexibility.

#2 — Use compact furniture

In our basement showroom, we wanted to inspire people with small bathroom ideas as well as the usual big displays. The obvious place was in the cramped area under the showroom stairs where space is at a premium. Deuco’s reduced-depth fitted furniture offers a surprising volume of storage crammed into its innovative design. By choosing a narrow worktop area (only 22cm deep, large enough for bottles and wash bags,) a low projection basin with side tap, and an integrated toilet roll holder, we managed to squeeze an awful lot in!

Deuco reduced depth fitted furniture, side tap basin and WC pan

Only 22cm deep, Deuco’s worktop surface area is ideal for small bathroom design | Photo by & So To Bathe

Think long and hard about how much size you actually need in terms of individual products. There’s no point installing a large basin or WC pan if it takes up half of the overall depth of your room, especially if placed above an equally chunky bit of furniture. Brands like Catalano offer a huge choice of compact wall-hung basins, leaving you extra space underneath (plus a built-in towel rail to kill two birds with one stone.) As a general rule, the more floor you can see under a wall-hung basin, the bigger the room feels. Which brings us to…

#3 — Let tiles and colours do the work

Tiling can be used in two very different ways in order to create the illusion of extra space in a small bathroom design. For those with bigger budgets, try spreading your tiles across the entire surface of the floor and walls, creating a “never-ending” effect that deceives the eye. Neutral tiling can unify the whole space by covering every inch.

The other smart way to tile a small bathroom is to deliberately use fewer tiles than average by half-tiling (or even quarter-tiling) the room. This creates a “horizon” effect along the datum line which draws the eye and enlarges the sense of space, while saving you money.

This small bathroom design in Horsham bathroom cleverly uses half-tiling and a stud wall shelf to create layers of depth. Combined with the large mirror above a sit on bowl basin, the overall effect is one of a spacious retreat rather than a boxy cloakroom.

Keep the tiles light and spacious, too. Our Pura Signature Showroom boasts a classic of the genre: by augmenting a Puracast bathtub with very large ceramic tiles (890x290mm) we achieved a subtle layering effect, made even more “open” by the lack of lines or patterns. By using the same tile on the back wall, we found another way to enhance the sense of space, a trick we use with many of our customers’ designs. (You can also just stick a mirror on the bath panel to reflect a matching floor tile; see our recent design in Eastbourne for a perfect case study.)

Tiled bath panel and matching tiled wall

A great way to “layer” a bathtub by using the same tiles to add depth | Photo by & So To Bathe

#4 — Play around with stud walls

One of our favourite small bathroom ideas is to find extra space in the stud wall by building features into the face. This is especially important when considering where to put smaller items, such as toilet roll holders, cabinets, and even hair and body products. Recessed shelves and niches are a great way to use stud walling as part of a stylish and practical design. Our recent bathroom project in Crawley took this exact approach, allowing the customers add some artsy touches of their own.

Side by side comparison of 3D design and finished bathroom

Shampoos, clocks and artwork find a home in niches and shelves created from the stud walling | Left: our 3D design, Right: finished photo

You can also remove or replace stud walling to add extra pockets of space such as a shower area. We recently annexed part of a customer’s landing to enlarge the adjacent bathroom, creating room for a generous overhead shower space with the added bonus of a head-height niche for shampoos. Take a look:

3D design of shower area with glass screen

This bathroom didn’t have a shower area until we replaced the stud walling, adding extra space | Design by & So To Bathe

#5 — Brighten the corners with a shower quadrant

We know plenty of designers who baulk at turning a narrow, long space into a main shower room, rather than a basic cloakroom. But width is an overrated asset when installing a shower: better to use the three walls at the end as a natural enclosure, build along the side wall and put the wash basin at the opposite end. Bingo!

Another of our favourite small bathroom ideas is to use a corner shower quadrant with a single sliding door. It has better economy of space than a square enclosure, and its curved design is a little easier on the eye.

Corner shower enclosure in small bathroom design

#6 — Pick up a P-bath

For as long as we can remember, the shower-bath has been a core part of many people’s bathrooms. It’s the most practical, space-saving combination there is for those who want a bit of everything in their bathroom.

Many of our customers feel they are forced to choose between a mid-size shower area with no bathtub, or a traditional shower-bath placed up against the corner of the room. But there’s no reason to feel cramped in a P-bath like the one pictured below. Made by Pura, it’s designed with an ideal showering width at one end and comes with a hinged door panel for ease of access. Their Puracast range also offers shorter P-bath tubs for those who just don’t have the extra inches at their disposal.

Puracast P-bath with easy access glass door

#7 — Tear down that wall…

If you really don’t like showering in a small room, there’s always the nuclear option: knock down the wall between the bathroom and bedroom for a fully open ensuite! Just don’t get the carpet wet…

3D design of fully open ensuite wetroom

Our customer broke the fourth wall with their “open plan” wetroom request in Cowfold, West Sussex. Design by & So To Bathe