Make more of a compact cloakroom or en-suite loo with our smart downstairs toilet ideas. A cloakroom is just the place to experiment with a new style you might not be confident enough to try in a bigger room.
A great area to express your individuality and creativity, a separate loo can be a nod to your fun side, without changing the overall style of your house. However, balancing bold design and function can be tricky in such a small space.
Downstairs toilet ideas
If you are working with a small, possibly awkward downstairs toilet or cloakroom, clever storage ideas and space-saving fittings are essential. Fold away cabinets and chests or towel rails under basins are just two ideas that could save you valuable inches in a tiny cloakroom.
Use your bathroom idea to express your individual style: Fun, bold wallpaper, a wall mural or a printed blind will add flair and creativity to your room. Add contemporary touches, such as statement fittings in bold chrome, or exposed brick walls for an edgy, industrial feel.
Take a look at these cloakroom and downstairs toilet ideas to transform your confined yet essential space.
1. 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.
2. 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 a 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.
3. 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.
4. Build bespoke storage
If starting your cloakroom design from scratch consider building bespoke storage to make it feel less imposing. 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.
5. 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. 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.
6. 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.
7. Transform the space with a bold theme
A small space is the 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 a 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Get creative with wallpaper
The cloakroom is a good place to express your creativity as this flamingo wallpaper proves. The Cole & Son Flamingos 66/6042 wallpaper is an on-trend motif and is effective in the small space.
A pretty mirror, lighting and accessories add to the feminine style while metro tiling with dark grout balances the look. Once fashions change this small space can be easily updated with just a few rolls of fresh wallpaper for a whole new look.
11. Build in clever storage
Space is nearly always limited in a cloakroom, meaning you need to seek smart bathroom storage ideas. These cupboards and shelves built around the toilet not only creates essential storage but also hides the cistern for a streamlined finish.
Whitewashed or weathered timber creates a rustic, coastal look enhanced by marine blue-coloured soft towels.
12. Choose a floating vanity unit
A floating or wall hung vanity unit will create the illusion of space and is handy for keeping storage baskets tucked beneath. Continue the clean and simple style with calming eau-de-nil metro tiling mounted half-way, fresh white walls.
A three-tiered mirror adds interest and a vintage twist. Spot the palm tree print in the reflection (on the opposite wall) which has tropical flavour.
13. 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.
14. Be brave with pattern
Want to be braver with colour and pattern? The spare loo is the perfect place to experiment as it's not a room anyone is going to be spending too much time in. If you like it you'll be more likely to let loose with your creative side elsewhere in the home.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Furnish to scale
Large items of furniture can dwarf a cloakroom so always buy pieces that suit the scale of your space. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t add lots of personality.
Paint a vanity unit in your favourite colour, this one fits the space perfectly and is complemented with classic wallpaper and tiles to letting the washstand take centre stage.
18. 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 in similar tones marry the scheme together.
19. 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. The one tonal colour pallet helps to balance the room, ensuring less distraction and therefore making it feel more streamlined.
20. 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 much value does a downstairs toilet add?
'A downstairs toilet can be one of the best additions you can make when looking to add value to your home' advises director of Benham and Reeves (opens in new tab), Marc von Grundherr. 'Not every addition to the home will hold the same value in the eyes of a buyer but anything that provides more space and convenience is sure to be a good investment.'
'A downstairs toilet does just that and can be a vital feature for many homebuyers looking for a larger family home. It can add as much as 5 per cent to the value of your home which equates to nearly £13,000 on the current average UK house price. However, it only cost around £3,000 on average to add, meaning you’re left with nearly £10,000 in added value.'
Can you put a downstairs toilet anywhere?
In principle you can put a downstairs toilet anywhere you can feed plumbing to, meaning near a kitchen is the most practical. 'The most popular location for a new cloakroom in a home is under the stairs' explains senior designer from Ripples London (opens in new tab), Jo Sangster. 'Generally, this is a very poorly used space within houses and it can be renovated into a great little cloakroom utilising the space under the slope for the WC, with the basin at the other end of the room.'
Jo goes on to explain, 'There are more and more design led products available on the market to suit compact spaces, including micro-basins and smaller-sized WC's with concealed cisterns. We would normally recommend a good space being approximately 80 by 120-140cm but this will of course all be dependent on head heights and door positions. I would always recommend that a door opens outwards as this will make the space feel larger and much easier to use'.
Will you be giving your space a revamp using these cloakroom ideas?
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.
Cosy living room ideas – 33 ways to create a snug space to hunker down in
Amp up the hygge levels with our cosy living room ideas and expert advice
By Tamara Kelly
How does a stove fan work and should I get one? Everything you need to know
Find out how a stove fan works and if they really can maximise the heat given off by your wood burning stove
By Sophie Vening
55 small garden ideas to turn a petite outdoor space into something special
Decor, design and planting tips for tiny terraces, little lawns and bijou balconies
By Tamara Kelly