Small bathroom ideas to maximise compact spaces, cloakrooms and shower rooms

Clever storage options and smart finishes means that even the smallest of bathrooms can be stylish as well as practical
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  • Looking for small bathroom ideas? A small bathroom doesn’t have to be limited when it comes to style or practicality, with the right know-how it can be stylish and space-efficient.

    Big bathrooms are a luxury many of us can only dream of – 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! You have to be more smart with design ideas, but there’s plenty of potential in even the smallest of spaces.

    For more brilliant bathroom inspiration visit our bathroom ideas page

    A small space doesn’t have to look cluttered or feel cramped when you incorporate a few clever tricks of the trade. Your compact bathroom 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 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. Define zones

    Small bathroom idea with wood panel behind toilet and black tiles behind sink

    Image credit: Britton Bathrooms

    Use the method of zoning to make a small space feel more generous. This smart bathroom is small and simple but feels much bigger, thanks to the clearly defined zones. The toilet is less than half a metre from the sink but thanks to the wood wall panelling and the tiled splashback the two areas feel very separate, which helps to put a sense of distance between them.

    2. Position taps on the side of a sink

    White rectagular sink with brass tap on the side

    Image credit: Britton Bathrooms

    Don’t let a narrow bathroom space mean you struggle to get the look you want – simply think outside the box. Choose a slimline, oblong sink that allows for plenty of volume, without taking up as much space due to its width. Adding taps to the side will help to eradicate any problems you might encounter because of the slim width, because the water will run away to the longest length.

    3. Create the illusion of space with an oval bath

    small bathroom ideas

    Image credit: Chris Snook

    Don’t shy away from including a freestanding bath in a small bathroom. An oval bath cuts corners to boost the impression of space. A shallow shelf to hide waste pipes is also handy for adding extra surface space to display bath salts, plants and more.

    4. Make use of an awkward corner

    small bathroom ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If you don’t have a space tall enough for a shower in your bathroom opt for a freestanding bathtub with a bath shower mixer tap. If you’re short on storage a bath tray will not only look Instagram-ready, but keep your bath time supplies within easy reach.

    5. Be clever with glass

    A walk-in shower with frameless panels looks barely there in this elegant bathroom, helping to create the illusion of space. Grey marble wall tiles g and brass fixtures and fittings gives the small space a dash of glamour, without overpowering.

    5. Add alternative shapes with tiling


    Image credit: David Giles

    These hexagonal tiles add interest without overwhelming this small room with pattern. The owners have used hexagons in the porch and kitchen, too – as a subtle link through the house.

    6. Double the size with mirrored wall

    small bathroom with mirrored wall reflecting light

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc

    Ok, so it’s not doubling the size in literal terms but it is creating the illusion of double. Mirrors can completely transform the look and feel of a room, as they reflect light and create the impression of space. It’s a winning style trick that interior designers use a lot to maximise space. Whether you install a sheet of mirror to cover an entire wall or simply hang a large mirror, the reflection is guaranteed to brighten your bathroom.

    7. Stay inline

    The old green striped wallpaper was stripped out of this room and replaced with smart tongue-and-groove panelling painted in white and repeated on the bath panel for a streamlined approach. The old carpet was swapped for an industrial-look lino flooring, which is 
more hygienic and pleasing to the eye.

    8. Close in the gap

    attic shower room

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc

    When space is really tight closing the gap between the elements is a savvy idea. In a tiny ensuite look to make the space a watertight wet room where the toilet is directly opposite the shower, using the space wisely.

    9. Use clever paint effects to create an illusion of height

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Paint halfway up a wall to create an illusion of height. By lowering the eye with a darker paint shade you create a distance from the upper portion of the wall. If the wall was all one colour the room wouldn’t have as much depth. This clever, yet simple paint trick is a great way to make a small space appear larger than it really is.

    10. Wall-mount the taps


    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 bulky basin pedestal. You can use that freed-up space to house shelving or a laundry basket. 

    11. Think like an expert

    Small bathroom ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    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.

    12. Work in a wall-mounted unit

    Small bathroom ideas

    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.

    13. 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.

    14. Buy freestanding and multi-functional furniture

    Small bathroom ideas for tiny spaces

    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.

    15. Trick the eye with tiles

    Trick the eye

    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.

    Want bathroom storage inspiration? READ: Clear the clutter with clever bathroom storage solutions

    16. Invest in tall tiered storage

    Stack them up

    Image credit: Trevor Richards

    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.

    17. Use the same tiles on the floor and walls

    Use the same tiles on the floor and ceiling

    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,

    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.

    Want to know which colour to paint your bathroom? READ: Upgrade your space with these bold bathroom colour schemes

    18. Make the most of a sloping roof

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    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.

    19. Factor in a slipper bath

    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.

    20. Furnish to scale

    Pack on the personality

    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.

    21. Choose furniture and accessories wisely

    Choose furniture and accessories wisely

    Image credit: Tim Young

    Bring a nostalgic touch to the bathroom by upcycling a narrow console table to incorporate a small basin. Space-saving wall-mounted taps provide a neat solution. The more of the floor you can see, the more spacious your bathroom will feel, so go for a freestanding basin unit.

    Plus, you can pop a few baskets underneath if you’re short on storage space.

    22. Tile halfway up the wall

    Think within the box

    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.

    Looking for more small bathroom ideas? Why not create a shower room? READ: Shower room ideas to help you plan the best space

    23. Add a hint of colour to a white suite

    Add a hint of colour to a white suite

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    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.

    24. Accessorise white with black or blush

    Accessorise away!

    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.

    25. Decorate with a fresh white scheme

    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.

    26. Invest in made-to-measure fittings and fixtures

    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.

    27. Distract from the size with feature wallpaper

    Wallpaper a cloak room

    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.

    28. Reposition your shower valve

    Think in twos

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    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.

    29. Stick to a monochromatic palette

    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.

    30. Characterise with colour

    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.

    31. Have recessed shelving built in

    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.

    32. Work in a wet room

    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.

    33. Keep it simple

    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.

    34. Make it appear larger with mirrors

    Make it appear larger with mirrors

    Image credit: Richard Gadsby

    Tile a wall in mirrored tiles to add reflections and light, while also adding design details. These metro tiles offer a fragmented take on a mirrors, which feels more design focused than a flat sheet of mirror would.

    Loved these small room ideas? READ: 13 small bedroom ideas – to create a space that is big on style

    35. Make your bath the star

    Make your bath the star

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    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.

    36. Place a shelf for storage above panelling

    Consider a shelf

    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.

    37. Fit a sunken bath

    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.

    38. Make space beneath the eaves

    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.

    39. Be smart with furniture

    Small bathroom ideas

    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

    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.

    Is it better to use small or large tiles in a small bathroom?

    ‘While larger tiles help to open up a space thanks to the need for less grout lines, we believe that homeowners should embrace smaller rooms and if they love a smaller tile, then go for it’ advises Hamish Smith, creative director at Ca’ Pietra.

    ‘A small tile, perhaps with a pattern or interesting detail will add personality to a space, if you want to embrace a small space, you also shouldn’t be afraid of smaller darker coloured tiles either, dark colours add depth to a room which can actually make them feel larger’.

    Will a bath fit in a small bathroom?

    small bathroom ideas

    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 smart 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. Fitted furniture can also 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 bathroom 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?

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