Small bathroom ideas for compact spaces, cloakrooms and shower rooms
Looking for small bathroom ideas? A small bathroom can be stylish, practical and, with the right know-how, space-efficient.
Big bathrooms are a luxury many of us can only dream about – a free-standing bath in the middle of the room, complete with roaring fire and sumptuous armchair is on everyone’s wish list, right? However true that may be, we think compact bathrooms can be just as gorgeous!
A small space doesn’t have to look cluttered or cramped when you incorporate a few clever tricks of the trade – your room can soon ooze style and sophistication, even if all you have is a shower room to experiment with.
A couple of space-saving tips mixed in with a splash of gorgeous accessories and textiles will turn the most modest of bathrooms into an enviable space in minutes. We show you how to create the small bathroom of your dreams.
Small bathroom ideas
1. Mount your taps to the wall
Image credit: Perrin & Rowe/@simplyscandikatie
Wall-mounted mixer taps work well in compact bathroom designs as the pipework can be hidden without the need for a basin pedestal. You can use that freed-up space to house shelving or a laundry basket.
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.
3. Work in a wall-mounted unit
Image credit: David Giles
Wall-mounted modular furniture remains a favourite 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 colours, from soft hues to strong brave tones, available too, as well as plenty of different textures.
4. Wallpaper a cloakroom
Image credit: Colin Poole
One of the best ways to disguise a small bathroom is to create interest and a striking wallpaper is ideal for this. If you have a bath or shower in the room (rather than it being a cloakroom), make sure you buy one that’s made specifically for bathrooms, which will cope with the damp, warm conditions.
5. Buy freestanding and multi-functional furniture
Image credit: David Brittain
A limited footprint shouldn’t impact on your creative flair. If your bathroom is verging on the small side, consider using freestanding furniture that you can move around at a moment’s notice.
Going for freestanding storage and seating allows you to move your scheme around whenever you like and, unlike fitted bathroom units, you can take freestanding pieces with you when it’s time to move out.
6. Trick the eye with tiles
Image credit: Paul Raeside
The amount of space you have and what the eye perceives aren’t necessarily the same thing. Play with the boundaries of perception by tiling the side of your bath and the wall with the same design – it makes it hard to distinguish where each begins, thereby making your space feel larger.
Marble is particularly effective here, as it looks almost like one huge sheet and the individual tiles aren’t very obvious.
Freestanding pieces are a godsend in small spaces. Tiered wire storage keeps luxuriously packaged lotions and practical wash bags on show and easy to grab. If space is limited, you can take the stand from bedroom to bathroom when needed.
8. Add wall-hung units
Image credit: David Giles
Floating fittings visually max the space, as more of the floor can be seen, and make cleaning a breeze. You can always use the area underneath to store toiletries in pretty wicker baskets.
A palette of off-whites and tonal greys will make your bathroom feel large and airy, while wall integrated taps keep the look minimal and well-finished.
9. Use the same tiles on the floor and walls
Image credit: Polly Eltes
A clever trick to making a small bathroom look bigger is to use the same tiles on the walls and the floor. ‘Use wall panels or matching floor and wall tiles in large-scale sizes for a seamless look,’ suggests Nicky Taha, Visual Stylist, VictoriaPlum.com.
Not only does the natural stone in this family bathroom add a spa-style touch, but the continuous run of tiles creates a spacious feel, along with the wall-hung fixtures that save on floor area.
If natural stone feels too neutral, you can easily pep it up with strong colour pops with your towels, storage and accessories – an on-budget way to add personality to your bathroom.
Use every inch of an attic space by building a bath into the eaves. If you have an awkwardly shaped ceiling – like this loft bathroom – turn it into a decorative feature.
Paint the ceiling white to contrast with the statement wallpaper behind. It’s a great way to add character in a confined space. Consider adding a skylight, if possible, to open up your bathroom and create a light and airy space.
White furnishings will help to bounce light around the room, meaning you can inject personality with a few interesting accessories.
Your bathroom lighting is key. Include task lighting next to mirrors and dimmable options in alcoves or behind a bath to create drama and mood. Make sure all light fittings have the correct IP rating for safe use in wet areas.
11. Factor in a slipper bath
Image credits: Tim Young
If you can’t squeeze a standard roll-top bath into the bathroom, consider a shapely slipper bath – many come in short versions and they’ll let you rest your back in style. And if you crave traditional fittings in small space, the latest roll-top baths are available in smaller dimensions.
12. Furnish to scale
Image credit: Lizzie Orme
Large items of furniture can dwarf a small room so always buy pieces that suit the scale of your space. In a small bathroom, stick to the basics of a vanity unit and storage rack that you can either hang on the wall or rest on the edge of a bath. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t pack on the personality. Paint a vanity unit in your favourite colour and opt for patterned tiles on the floor.
Plus, you can pop a few baskets underneath if you’re short on storage space.
14. Tile halfway up the wall
Unsure how to tile a sloping ceiling? Then try tiling halfway up the wall. It’ll save on tiles and make the space feel larger. Choose a dark neutral tile and paint the ceiling above it white to maximise brightness from roof lights.
While a white bathroom suite is the best choice for opening up a small space, it can sometimes feel a little stark if the whole room is white. That’s why a hint of colour on the walls is the perfect compromise: light enough to create an airy feel, but with bags more character.
Here, the storage alcoves were built from tongue-and-groove panelling, then painted in white to contrast with the raspberry walls and striking cobalt-blue tiles.
16. Accessorise white with black or blush
Image credit: David Woolley
If you don’t have the budget to give your entire bathroom a makeover, accessories will do wonders for a compact space. Choose a theme – monochrome is bang on trend and easy to implement, or you could choose blush tones for another up-to-the-minute look.
Apply the style of your chosen trend to lighting, mirrors, smaller accessories and soft furnishings and instantly transform the space.
17. Decorate with a fresh white scheme
Image credit: Tim Young
Make a compact bathroom feel more spacious by sticking to a simple all-white scheme. Team a white suite with glossy wall tiles and plenty of plush textured towels to ensure the space feels welcoming rather than cold.
18. Invest in made-to-measure fittings and fixtures
Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez
A well-thought-out design can fit all the essentials into as little as two square metres for a bathroom and even less for a shower room. The key is not to squeeze too much in.
If you only have a small space, it’s much better to make a focal point of a walk-in shower or a beautiful bath, rather than ending up with a cramped bathroom.
19. Distract from the size with feature wallpaper
Image credit: Rachael Smith
Wallpaper will make a statement in any room and the bathroom is no exception. A downstairs cloakroom is a prime space to use wallpaper, as bathrooms with a shower or bath will require specialist paper to prevent steam damaging it. Opt for a unique, bold or interesting print to maximise the impact in a small space like this. Fit a sheet of Perspex as a splashback behind the basin to prevent water damaging the wallpaper.
Where space is tight, opt for an over-shower bath that delivers the best of both worlds. Rather than positioning your shower against the short side of the bath, try placing it along the longer side for a more luxe feel. Use a bold tile design around the bath to contrast with the rest of the room.
21. Stick to a monochromatic palette
Image credit: Oliver Gordon
Keep to a monochrome scheme and add colour, texture and pattern with out-there accessories. White will open up a bathroom like no other colour, making it feel as spacious as possible. White tiles and black grouting can be a winning combination in a small bathroom.
22. Characterise with colour
Image credit: Matthew Williams
This compact modern bathroom uses a number of techniques to create real wow factor, despite the small square-footage. Add a hearty dose of colour to inject vibrancy and personality into a white bathroom otherwise at risk of feeling clinical and characterless. A bright yellow ceiling and shower screen give this small bathroom a real focal point, while downlighters and white tiles keep the space feeling light and bright.
23. Have recessed shelving built in
Image credit: David Parmiter
Recessed shelves are a great space saver, both practically and visually, keeping toiletries neat and off the surfaces. Building the shelves into false walls that hide pipework is a clever use of a necessary feature. Also consider recessed light fittings – either spot or linear.
24. Work in a wet room
A wet room can make the most of a small space and add value to your property. If you’re converting an attic, consider a wet room instead of a bathroom. It’s a great way to make the most out of a small space and when it’s beautifully finished like this designer-style one, it’s stunning. Ventilation is key as a build-up of moisture could lead to condensation and damp problems, so install a good extractor fan. Underfloor heating doesn’t take up any space but will add warmth and help to dry surfaces quickly.
25. Keep it simple
Image credit: David Cleveland
If you’re in a quandary over how to decorate your small bathroom, just keep it simple with soft, natural shades. Choose furniture and accessories with clean lines and keep the room as clutter-free as possible to create a feeling of space.
26. Make it appear larger with mirrors
Image credit: Richard Gadsby
Mirrors can completely transform the look and feel of a room, as they reflect light and create the impression of space. It’s a great trick that interior designers use all the time. Whether you hang a mirror on the wall or go for adventurous mirrored tiles, the reflection is guaranteed to brighten your bathroom.
Go for a freestanding bath – it can work really well as a focal point in a small space. They’re not all as big as you think and you can even buy smaller versions that will fit into tighter spaces. Add a pretty stencil on the wall above to draw the eye up and create the illusion of space.
28. Place a shelf for storage above panelling
Image credit: Matt Cant
Tongue-and-groove panelling visually frames the bath and the handy shelf at the top acts as a mantelpiece to a host of trinkets, toiletries and accessories. The eau de nil colour is a relaxing choice for the bathroom, and adds interest to this compact space.
29. Fit a sunken bath
Image credit: Brent Darby
If you’re renovating your bathroom or en suite, consider installing a sunken bath. Provided you have the space for it below your floorboards, a sunken bath will streamline your bathroom, giving it a luxurious, hotel-style feel.
30. Make space beneath the eaves
Image credit: Brent Darby
Compact fittings are a big help in awkward-shaped loft spaces. Don’t worry about trying to fit a bath – go for a luxurious glass shower enclosure instead. It’s common with loft conversions and attics to box in parts of the room that have a reduced ceiling height for storage.
But instead, why not look at ways to work around the reduced heights? A toilet or basin is a smart idea.
31. Be smart with furniture
Image credit: Rachael Smith
Make the most of space in compact bathrooms and opt for a tallboy unit that reaches up to the ceiling for maximum storage. Choose a mirrored unit that will give the illusion of space to a compact bathroom.
How to plan a small bathroom – need to know
Where do I start planning a small bathroom?
Kitting out a tiny bathroom might seem a challenge, but there’s no need to comprise on style. Decide what bathroom features are important to you, be that a bath or extra storage. Then draw out a scale plan, allowing space around the fittings for moving around the room.
Keep the loo in place if possible as moving the soil stack can be a costly job. Don’t forget to include those luxurious touches, such as statement tiles or underfloor heating for chilly mornings.
Will a bath fit in a small bathroom?
Image credit: Ashley Morrison
As we mentioned earlier, a freestanding bath can be a good option, as these also come in smaller sizes. D-shaped baths also get the look perfectly but have one flat side, which butts up against a wall. In bathrooms with a tricky layout, a corner bath could work well.
Can I squeeze a shower in a small bathroom?
Shower enclosures come in all shapes and sizes, including space-saving quadrant designs, which are a neat fit for a tight corner. Or, go for a wet room with a tiled floor or a low shower tray. A glass panel separates the space and contains any splashes, making the room feel bigger, too.
If you can’t live without a bath, fit an over-bath shower, or a shower bath for more room.
How do I maximise space in a small bathroom?
Fitted furniture will unlock storage potential dramatically, adapting to the most awkwardly shaped spaces, and can conceal pipework. For a boutique hotel vibe, go for a wall-hung loo and basin unit with drawers and tall cabinets to match. This will free up floor space, giving even the smallest room a clutter-free feel.
Don’t let a compact room be a barrier to creating your dream scheme – we’ve got all the tips, tricks and expert advice you’ll need. Let us know how you will be visually expanding your bathroom. Will you be using any of these small bathroom ideas?