Unleash the potential of your cloakroom with these ideas that will turn your downstairs toilet into your new favourite space. Your downstairs toilet can often be a difficult space to style and may be squeezed into a small space under the stairs so can feel dark and forgotten.
Your small bathroom ideas can easily be translated to this space and allow you to unleash your creativity and make bold choices. In a small space it is important to balance both style and function to make the most of your downstairs toilet ideas.
Lucy Henderson head of interior design at My Bespoke Room says, ‘Not only does the size make it feel like less of a scary commitment but it's also not a room people spend long periods of time in. The downstairs cloakroom is often the first step for clients to build up the confidence to take greater risks in the rest of their home.
‘Add to that, it's most commonly used by guests so it's a great opportunity to show your fun and extravagant side! After all, you've got yourself a captive audience so why not let your personality shine through.’
Downstairs toilet ideas
Your downstairs toilet is the perfect place to experiment with your bathroom ideas before using them in larger spaces. ‘Cloakrooms and ensuites are now part of our day to day living space, an integral part of the home and no longer considered a separate utility,’ says Helen Clark, head of marketing at Utopia Bathrooms.
‘Bolder colours, textures and materials are being used to link these spaces to the rest of the house, with stylish bedroom and living room accessories perfectly at home in an en suite or cloakroom. It’s not surprising that we should be paying more attention to these smaller spaces as the cloakroom is the one room where all visitors to the home are likely to spend some time.'
Discover how these cloakroom and downstairs toilet ideas can transform this crucial space.
1. Don’t be afraid to use furniture
Just because your downstairs toilet ideas need to fit in a small space doesn’t mean you can’t have furniture; just keep it compact. Furniture allows you to keep your cloakroom storage ideas tidy and organised which prevents the room from feeling cluttered or overwhelmed with toiletries. Make sure to buy pieces that suit the scale of your space.
‘Furniture works particularly well in these smaller spaces and is vital in providing out of sight storage for toiletries, spare loo rolls and cleaning materials,' says Helen Clark from Utopia Bathrooms. 'Try combining fitted and modular furniture so that usable space can really be maximised. A fitted WC unit and storage cabinet will hide any unsightly pipework and allow the pan to be sited in the perfect location and not just where the pipes are.'
2. Turn it into a cloakroom come gallery
The downstairs toilet is a space that will be used by those that live in the home and guests on a regular basis. Shut away, your cloakroom can feel cut off from the rest of the house, so adding personalised touches can make it feel more connected to the rest of your home.
Once you have worked out which gallery wall ideas you want to use, adding artwork and photos brightens and adds some interest and can be a way to reflect your personality. Plus who doesn't love a nosey at old family photos!
‘The downstairs cloakroom is the perfect room to display some of your favourite artwork,' says Lucy Henderson from My Bespoke Room. 'Choosing the same frames for your gallery wall is also a great way to link the pieces together, even when they are different styles and colours like they are here. Take care when hanging artwork in a bathroom though as without proper ventilation, humidity can build up behind the frames.’
3. Use bold and beautiful wallpaper
Unlike in the bathroom, your downstairs toilet ideas won’t be at risk of condensation from showers or baths, which can affect the sticking power of wallpaper. Let your imagination run wild and use the maximalist wallpaper or other bathroom wallpaper ideas you’ve been afraid to use.
Lucy Henderson from My Bespoke Bathrooms says, ‘You'd be forgiven for thinking that in a small room you should opt for light, bright and unfussy walls. Forgiven yes, but also wrong! Pattern actually provides depth, tricking the eye into thinking that the space extends beyond.’
Jo Oliver, director at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse agrees, she says, ‘Combining bold patterns in a downstairs cloakroom is a great way to add interest in what can be a dull room. Don’t be afraid to use dark colours to create drama and have fun with quirky wallpapers.’
4. Install heated towel rails
Keeping your downstairs toilet well heated is important especially during the winter months. Due to it often being a compact space, a heated towel rail could be sufficient to keep the whole space toasty and they come in an array of shapes, styles and sizes to match your downstairs toilet ideas and small bathroom colour ideas. Underfloor heating is another great option and prevents any head scratching about where to fit in a radiator and frees up more wall space for storage.
Nick Duggan, director at the Radiator Centre says, ‘Wall hung towel rails are ideal for downstairs toilets, freeing up floor space while providing valuable storage for towels, keeping them dry and warm. Alternatively, choosing a mirrored radiator such as the SuperMirror shown below, will help to bounce light around the room, creating a feeling of added space, even in the smallest of bathrooms.
5. Use wall hung toilets
To make the use of your downstairs toilet ideas, maximise the floor space as much as you can. Wall hung units and toilets not only look great but are often slimline so won’t dominate the room. Being hung on the wall cleaning is easier and storage baskets can be used underneath to hide any unsightly clutter.
‘The trick with a smaller cloakroom is to maximise the visible area of the floor, as this creates the impression of space,’ says Phil Etherden, managing director at The Albion Bath Company. ‘Wall hung toilets and basins are an ideal solution. Just because the room is small though, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a statement and adding metallic touches is a great way to do this. They’re ideal for creating a focal point and adding structure and glamour to a bathroom scheme.’
6. Double up on tiles
To make the most of a small bathroom layout, use the same tiles for your walls and floor to provide cohesion to your space and make it feel bigger with a continuous flow.
‘Using the same tiles on the walls, floor and countertop will also enhance the feeling of space by creating a continuous look. Large-format designs mean fewer grout lines, and therefore less maintenance and cleaning. Slab tiles are ideal for creating a striking, high-end look, and can often make smaller rooms appear larger thanks to their seamless appearance,’ says Jo Oliver from The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.
7. Have fun with tiles
Small bathroom tile ideas can be used to bring a small space to life and can even become the focal point of your downstairs toilet ideas. Hexagonal tiles work especially well in more modern spaces and opt for small tiles to match the smaller room and provide cohesion. Take a risk with the colour and pattern of your tiles, and feel free to experiment with the size and shape of your tiles too.
‘Tiles are beautiful pieces of art on their own and have the power to utterly transform a room,’ says Diane Hyde, marketing manager at Craven Dunnill. ‘If you’re looking to experiment with bold colours and decors and inspired layouts and patterns, the bathroom is the perfect space to make a distinctive design statement that is uniquely individual. Bringing texture up onto the walls through tiles adds tactility and allows light to beautifully reflect off the glazes, bringing vitality to a space.
‘Whether you’re looking to go bright and bold or simple and classic, our tile offering comes in a whole range of elegant designs to suit all types of homes.’ These blush pink tiles, £47.51 per m², Craven Dunnill, are a stylish option that will go with a lot of your small bathroom tile ideas.
9. Make a strong statement on the floor
Ever wanted to really express your decorating self but lacked the confidence to totally commit? This small space is the perfect place to try something more daring.
Here's your chance to be brave and experiment with styles and colours you might usually shy away from. When the space is verging on the small side, we recommend adding interesting to the floor instead of the walls to avoid making it feel too enclosing.
10. Keep it classic in a downstairs toilet
A tongue-and-groove wall panelling idea visually frames this stylish cloakroom and the handy shelf at the top acts as a mantelpiece to host a selection of glass vases. The eau-de-nil colour is a relaxing choice and works beautifully with the period tiling in the compact space.
The panelling also adds textural interest so it can still remain a focal point even when it has a more neutral colour.
11. Opt for a space-saving corner sink
Look for smart solutions to save space in a very limited cloakroom. Utilise a corner sink to free up valuable space to move around in. This downstairs idea is especially effective if your door opens directly onto the sink – the smaller the design, the less restrictive it feels. Seek a corner storage unit to sit beneath the sink to save further space.
12. Build bespoke storage
If starting your cloakroom design from scratch consider building bespoke storage to make it feel less imposing. There are plenty of bathroom cabinet ideas to keep your space stylish.
A recessed cubby hole helps to emerge the storage into the wall, making it more streamlined. Adding lights above helps to create the perfect spot to display bathroom essentials which enhance the scheme, such as house plants, scented candles and luxury products.
13. Get creative with chalkboard paint
Chalkboard paint is the gift that keeps on giving, allowing you to change the outlook as and when you feel like it, and there are plenty of chalkboard ideas if you get stuck for inspiration. As a downstairs toilet idea it creates an opportunity to write welcoming messages for guests or memorable famous quotes to ponder while using the room. It's a great idea or a family bathroom to add an element of fun to toilet training.
14. Choose a sliding door to save space
Look for space-saving designs to be smart within limited spaces, such as this sliding door solution. While it's highly advised to choose an outward opening door in a small cloakroom to make the room feel bigger, that can prove tricky when the room in question is located in a hallway beneath the stairs.
An outwardly opening door could prove hazardous to passing members of the household and quests. When space is really tight try a sliding door instead, to mean the door takes up literally no space inside or out.
15. Transform the space with a bold theme
A small space is an ideal place to unleash your creativity when it comes to a decorating scheme. As this compact cloakroom proves, with a wild safari animal theme.
Using captivating wallpaper on all walls, hanging framed animal prints and dressing all levels with house plants solidly cements a theme. This on a larger-scale might feel too overwhelming, but in this simple and smalls pace it helps to add definition.
16. Add value to your home
Adding an extra cloakroom to your home will not only ease pressure on your existing facilities when it’s busy, it can also add value to your home if done well. It might take less space than you imagine, too.
If it’s relatively simple to run water to your box-room or smallest bedroom, if it sits above the kitchen or is next to an existing bathroom, for instance, then it’s worth thinking about changing it into a cloakroom, downstairs loo, or even a bathroom.
17. Be bold with blinds or flooring
Who said colour blocking was only for fashion? It’s also very effective in this small cloakroom. Simplicity is key with a dramatic yellow floor which bursts out from the white back-drop and bathroom suite
The same bold colour is repeated in the botanical window blind idea to enhance the sunny effect. Don't be afraid to use two bold colours and colour block that way, think dark blue flooring and mustard yellow blinds.
18. Maximise the space
Rather than blocking off the entire width of the wall next to the cistern and pipes, use the unused space for storage. This little cubby hole is ideal for stashing spare loo rolls and hand towels – and when the door is shut, you'd never know it was there.
Natalie Bird, brand marketing manager at Roca says 'It’s amazing how little space is actually required. According to building regulations, at the very minimum it needs to be 70cm wide by 130cm long for just the WC though it should be bigger to add a basin and any storage or heating. The bigger the better in terms of comfort.'
19. Utilise an awkward corner
An awkward corner with a sloping ceiling often makes a great location for an extra loo, particularly if it's next to your bedroom. Check where your waste pipes are, and if they run nearby, it should be possible to install a toilet without too much hassle.
Here the hinges and door handle give a country look that works well with the painted timber rafters.
20. Make it seamless
Just because the loo is separate to the bathroom doesn't mean it has to have a wacky design scheme. Sometimes it's more appropriate for the two rooms to have a visual connection.
By using the same colours and materials on the walls and floor you'll create a look that's seamless. Here the glass door provides a subtle division of the space.
21. Think smart
Make the most of the small square-footage. This narrow cloakroom uses a number of techniques to create smart wow factor. Add a hearty dose of texture with an exposed brick wall on one side to inject depth and urban personality, faux brick wallpaper will have the same effect. Patterned floor tiles and bathroom floor tile ideas in similar tones marry the scheme together.
22. Uniform with one paint shade
In a particularly small downstairs loo where you want to embrace a darker paint shade, we'd recommend painting any wooden vanity units and cupboards in the same shade to help uniform the look. Once you have decided on your bathroom paint ideas, having one tonal colour pallet helps to balance the room, ensuring less distraction and therefore making it feel more streamlined.
23. Keep it traditional
There’s no reason why your cloakroom can’t match the timeless classic elegance of the rest of your home. This petite yet elegant cloakroom is a country dream scheme of nature-inspired prints with neutral plaids and muted colours creating a snug and rustic space.
The flagstone flooring is a practical yet pleasing flooring solution. The iron coat rail makes the room traditionally fit for purpose for a quaint and practical finish.
How do I make my downstairs toilet look nice?
Lee Trethewey, interiors expert at Sustainable Furniture recommends softer colours in pinks, blue, greens and grey; and there are plenty of grey bathroom ideas. 'Incorporate these colours by adding coloured towels and a floor mat, and match them with any art on the walls.'
‘To make a downstairs toilet look nice, and to maximise the space, I recommend using minimal bathroom product,’ says Warren Kinloch, bathroom expert at Bathroom Deal. ‘For example, ‘floating’ products are great, including a floating sink basin without storage and wall mounted toilets without a tank.
‘Panelling is also a popular design choice which creates the illusion of height within a small downstairs bathroom. Having this midway up the wall not only allows you to add colour and your own personal style to the panelled area, but enables the room to feel less claustrophobic. I’d also recommend adding a large, but thin, mirror on one wall to further create the illusion of added space.’
How much value does a downstairs toilet add?
‘Reportedly, a downstairs toilet will add about 5% onto the value of your home. This is down to the ease of having this placed on the ground floor, so you don't have to go upstairs to simply use the toilet. It also opens up a home to more potential buyers. Many home buyers will not look at a home without a downstairs toilet if they are planning for the property to be their ‘forever home’ or if they have elderly relatives that wouldn’t be able to walk upstairs to access the toilet,’ says Warren Kinloch from Bathroom Deal.
Another bonus is that your downstairs toilet ideas usually won’t require planning permission - unless it is part of an extension - meaning you can get stuck in without having to wait for any approval.
'However, you may need building regulations approval if you're connecting new drainage or altering the central heating pipework. If you're unsure, we recommend clarifying this with your local planning authority or council,' says Polly Shearer, bathroom expert at Drench,
What are space saving measures I can include in my downstairs loo?
‘Storage is essential in a downstairs bathroom,’ says Ann Marie Cousins, founder of AMC Design. ‘Often these rooms are more compact, so use every nook and cranny available and consider a wall mounted loo and vanity unit with storage underneath. Wall mounted makes the room feel bigger as the eye is drawn to the corners. Make sure you think about what you need to store in there.
‘If it’s only extra loo rolls and smaller items, opt for a small unit - don’t buy larger for the sake of it. It is also important to think about the tile scale relative to the size of the bathroom. A reduced number of grout lines can help create a sense of space. Small tiles like penny tiles are great for floors but walls need more character.’
Will you be giving your space a revamp using these cloakroom ideas?
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Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.
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