There's no denying it, a family bathroom has to work hard. Whether you have children already, have one on the way, or just have a large family that often comes to stay, gathering family bathroom ideas is a must before you set to work. The space has to work for everyone, and just because you don’t need a bath or shower right now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future so think carefully about what you might require to future proof your family bathroom.
While social media is awash with a tidal wave of gorgeous bathroom ideas, it's worth taking into consideration your own families need, before you start purchasing all the 'pretty' bits.
Sharing one family bathroom between four or more people means you will require a clever design that can cater for so many needs. While you might want an elegant or luxurious bathroom, you will probably also need somewhere to store toys, with a durable design that will withstand regular use and maybe even a little chaos. But get your bathroom design just right and you will be able to create a space that the kids can enjoy, before transforming into a relaxing haven where you can chill out and find a little calm after the storm.
Family bathroom ideas
1. Keep it all white
Opting for an all-white bathroom will ensure your suite stays looking smart without dating. Painting the walls white too means if it does get cluttered and chaotic, the light and brightness of the room should help to curb that slightly. Add a touch of personality with some colourful tiles to make a feature wall or floor and add brass hardware for grown-up glamour.
2. Make the most of every space
If you've squeezed all the essentials into a small bathroom but have no space for storage, this over-door shelf idea is a great solution to hold towels and toiletries. It's an idea that can be used elsewhere in the house too, such as a cluttered office or bedroom too.
3. Hang rope baskets for towels
If you've got teenagers living with you, you're going to need a lot of towels to keep up with their shower habits. These textural woven baskets are both a practical and decorative addition to a family bathroom and can be simple screwed into the wall through holes in the weave of the basket.
Alternatively, use wire storage baskets to create a more industrial look for your bathroom.
4. Use a kitchen trolley as a bathroom caddy
Rather than having to rummage through drawers or reach for towels while bathing little ones, a compact trolley fits into the smallest of spaces and is perfect for housing all your bathroom items in one portable unit.
Transform an old trolley quickly and easily with just a can of spray paint to colour match it to any scheme.
5. Choose a luxe shower curtain
A family friendly bathroom doesn't have to look boring, just because it needs to be practical. There are lots of ways to add a luxe look, starting with your shower curtain. Throw out the sad looking white one and opt for a fancier design such as this one. It's a small swap that will make your bathroom feel more luxurious and less like student halls.
6. Supersize it
In a family bathroom, there will be times when several members are gathered around the basin so the bigger the better is the rule. Try a vanity unit topped with a large trough-like bowl and plenty of surface area to either side for toiletries and toothbrushes. Double basins are a great solution for early morning rush hour, although make sure there’s enough space between them for everyone to fit in.
7. Fit in a bath
If there’s room, a bath really is a must for a busy family, particularly those with smaller children. Not having one can also put off potential buyers if you plan to sell in the future. If you have the space, a shower enclosure will be a great addition for those mornings when there’s just not time for a soak. If you’re pushed for space a good solution is an over-bath shower. L- or d-shaped baths with a wider end and glass shower screen are a good choice here as they’ll look more streamlined than an ordinary bath with a plastic curtain. Placing taps in the centre of the bath will ensure there are no arguments about who gets the tap end at bathtime, while a shower mixer tap will make hair washing a breeze.
8. Opt for built-in storage
A family bathroom that’s used by lots of people can easily become messy, so making sure you have plenty of storage from the start is important. Avoid bottles, bags and brushes cluttering up surfaces by adding cupboards in the shape of vanity units below the sink, hanging cabinet mirrors and fitting shelves where you can. In a smaller room, glass shelves will help to create a sense of space and slim freestanding furniture will ensure you still see plenty of floor, so the room doesn’t start to feel overcrowded.
9. Keep it illuminated
Good task lighting above the sink is great for early mornings so think about where you place your spotlights or hang a glass mirror with integral lighting. For relaxing me-time baths, a gentler light is called for so consider placing your lights on a dimmer switch so you can have just the illumination you want. Candles are great for long soaks but make sure there’s a safe and stable surface on which to put them.
10. Colour-code your accessories
This painted wooden peg rail blends into the wall panelling and incorporates extra hanging space into a family bathroom. A colour-coded ribbon system is a great way to make a batch of all-white towels easy to identify for each family member.
11. Make the most of space under vanities
Provide plenty of handy storage; that children can reach, too. Baskets on open shelves are brilliant for clearing away toiletries in a dash, and if you allocate a basket per member of the family then the tidying up will be even easier.
How do you make a family friendly bathroom?
Designing a family bathroom can be tricky at times, as it involves meeting the needs of several users of different age groups who can all need different bathroom products. With a shift in focus to designing a room that looks as good as it functions, getting the right balance can need some careful planning.
Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs (opens in new tab), says, 'The family bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home. It needs to be both practical and live up to the task at hand with busy bath times but also be stylish and offer adults and grown up a space where they can relax and unwind.'
'One of the most important things to consider in a family bathroom is the layout. Getting it right from the start will mean that you have a bathroom that works for the whole family. Don’t think about how you use your bathroom currently, but how you’d like to use it in the future and use that as a starting point. If your layout isn’t quite right, think about the ways you might be able to make small but effective changes. It might be that you add in a folding shower screen or wet room to provide a larger area to move around in.'
The family bathroom is usually the largest bathroom and fittings and finishes should be selected with low maintenance and durability in mind. ‘Always use porcelain tiles in a family bathroom, including slip-resistant porcelain on the floors, as they are hard-wearing and will still look good in years to come,’ says Ripples (opens in new tab)’ designer Joanne Crane. ‘They also require zero maintenance.’
Should a family friendly bathroom have a bath?
In short, yes. Although removing a bath to give yourself more floor space or the option of having a larger shower, having a bath to clean small children really is a must. When babies are small, they can be washed in a baby bath or even the basin, but once they get bigger, a bath is a must-have for that bedtime routine.
A bath is also great if you have multiple children, as you can pop them in together and save time (and water). Opt for a bath that has a shower hose attachment off of the taps, which is ideal for getting soapy suds out of little ones eyes, as well giving the bath a good rinse once finished.
Barrie adds, 'One area where bathrooms design has changed recently, is the desire to save more water. Two-thirds of water used in the home is used in bathrooms and there has been a rise in demand for products that help to cut this down. There aren’t many family bathrooms that don’t feature a bath, but what we are seeing is a rise in people choosing baths with no pre-drilled overflow. It means that people can opt for this positioning much lower, which makes sure less water is used during bath time.'
How big should a family bathroom be?
There is no rule of thumb here, but that said, if there are multiple family members using it, the bigger the better! If there is an option to expand a small family bathroom by extending your home, or even stealing some space from an adjoining room, it might be worth the costs and effort to do so. Bathrooms are a hugely important aspect when it comes to selling homes, so not only will it benefit you and your family now, but could help with the sale of your home too.
- Holly Walsh Content Editor
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