Small bathroom ideas are an opportunity. So what that you can't fit in a vast sauna shower? In a tiny bathroom, you have to be smart and clever with your design and there is beauty in that.
Among our team of interior design experts at Ideal Home, nothing will make us swoon quite as much as a showstopping small bathroom. The simple reason is that most of us are tackling tiny bathrooms at home too, and we know the true challenges that the lack of space presents.
From tiling tricks to storage solutions, we've trawled our incredible library of archive imagery and mined our little black books of industry experts to find the best bathroom ideas to suit a tiny space. We've compiled more than 30 of our most ingenious small bathroom ideas to help you create a bathroom that's the envy of all your friends
Small bathroom ideas
'If your bathroom is modest in size, there’s no need to compromise on aesthetics,' shared James Roberts, Director at Sanctuary Bathrooms. 'While there are some limitations design-wise, small bathrooms can still be spectacular by making the most of the space you have with clever storage, layout, and use of colour.'
A small bathroom doesn’t have to look cluttered or feel cramped when you incorporate a few clever tricks of the trade. A tiny bathroom can soon ooze style and sophistication, even if all you have is a small bathroom layout to experiment with.
A couple of space-saving tips mixed in with some smart budget small bathroom ideas can turn the most modest of bathrooms into an enviable space in minutes.
1. Side with a shower bath
Sadly most small bathroom shower ideas don't include a walk-in shower. But that doesn't mean your small bathroom can't still be dreamy, as there are other stylish options.
'The choice of shower that you decide on can be partly dictated by the space and shape of your bathroom,' says Lee Reed, Head of Design at Easy Bathrooms. 'If space is limited, having a shower over the bath is a practical way of ensuring you can still have both, which can be important in a family bathroom. If you are going for this option, specially designed baths (L or P shaped so that they provide a larger area when showering) can work.'
'However, you don’t have to give up the dream of a freestanding bath/shower mix either. Traditional models such as boat bath can be a great option when used with either a riser kit or ceiling-mounted shower. To stop water splashing everywhere, team with an oval shower ring and shower curtain.'
2. Don't forget the finer details
It's the small details that can go a long way to making a small bathroom look bigger and feel special. 'Finer details make a big difference to the look and feel of a small bathroom,' says Ed Norris, National Sales Development Manager at Mereway Bathrooms.
'The handles on your storage cabinets are not just for function, they are an elevating touch, so should coordinate with the overall look – slim curve D handles for a minimal scheme or traditional knobs for shakers. Reflect light around the room and create a sense of space using illuminated mirrors and reflective surfaces such as gloss cabinets, tiles, or floors.'
3. Trick with tiles
The amount of space you have in a little bathroom and what the eye perceives aren't necessarily the same thing. Play with the boundaries of perception in a small bathrooom by tiling the side of your bath and the wall with the same design, it's a great small bathroom tile idea plus it makes it hard to distinguish where each begins, thereby making your space feel larger.
'Even in small bathrooms, many people aspire to a freestanding bath to create plenty of wow and a focal point that instantly makes the room seem more luxurious,' says Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs. 'However, budgets and space constraints mean this isn’t always an option, yet a standard fitted bath can be just as interesting when it comes to bathroom design, particularly if you decide to dress it up with tiles.'
'Bath panel tiling is exactly what it says on the tin; it is adding tiles to the side of your bath, whether in the same or contrasting style as the rest of your bathroom. The process involves using specialist tile backing board which won't warp and requires a bit more effort than using standard bath panels, but it is often worth the extra effort.'
4. Keep to a cool colour scheme
If you're in a quandary over how to decorate your small bathroom ideas, just keep things 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.
'Neutral décor in the bathroom has always been popular, however even more so in smaller spaces,' says Ruth Foster, Interior Designer at Victoria Plum. 'Adopting light shades like taupe, cream and white will create a lighter and brighter bathroom, making it appear larger than it really is. If you keep this in mind when choosing the colour of your wall and floor tiles, you can create a warm and harmonious design with timeless elegance.'
5. Work in a wet room
A stylish wet room idea 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.
'When it comes to showers, a separate shower can often be considered a luxury if space is tight,' notes Barrie from BC Designs. 'However, there are a couple of clever ways around it including wet rooms and folding shower screens that take up much less room than a typical shower. Wet rooms tend to not need enclosures or bulky shower trays and can blend into the aesthetics of the rest of the room.'
'We’re seeing a growing trend for folding shower screens. These can easily be folded back when the shower isn’t use, helping to create a sense of space as well as the ability to easily use other products during family bath time such as a bath.'
6. Dare to go dark
While the general advise for small bathroom colour ideas is to decorate with white to create a bright and airy feel, there's no denying how fabulous on-trend darker paint shades can be. There's also an element of cocooning and ambience that comes from using darker paint colours in smaller bathroom ideas, so it is very much a choice of personal taste.
'Although it might seem a bad idea to use dark colours in a small space, there are ways to implement it without it looking gloomy!,' notes James from Sanctuary Bathrooms. 'If you want to go dark on the walls, add pops of light colours through furniture and fittings. With botanicals set to be big in 2023, try a dark green with some accessorising plants in various shades to add dimension.'
When using dark paint and tile choices, the use of reflective surfaces can be invaluable for welcoming light to bounce around the space, to stop it feeling too flat and restricted – because dark colours absorb light, making the room feel more closed in and smaller than it really is.
7. Build a false wall shelf
It might seem counterintuitive in a small bathroom, but building out a half-height false wall in your bathroom, will mean you can hide all the ugly soil and water pipes needed for your loo, plus create a shelf to house your prettier accessories too.
Once tiled, you'll never even know it wasn't always there! Houseplants (fresh or faux) will look great lined up along the top, plus there's space for artwork too.
8. Go grand with faux panelling
Panelled-effect walls are the perfect small bathroom idea for adding a period feel that won't take up too much valuable space. Simple portrait panels are an easy way to add character or, for a more ornate look, try a ribbed effect.
Stick to a unifor colour palette of dark colours over the panelling and wall above. This will make the space feel cosier, but it won't detract from that important feeling of space we want to preserve in a small bathroom.
9. Make the most of wall space
In this luxe bathroom, a shower over the bath will make the most of small space. It is a staple bathroom design for the simple reason that it works.
The trick to making this style look chic than your standard shower bath is to elevate the tiles. Consider stacking metro tiles vertically for a unique twist, or go a step further and dabble in marble. Innovations in shower panels, like at Shower Wall mean you can get the marble look but for less, and much easier to clean too.
10. Mix and match materials
Make a feature of your bathroom basin and match it to your walls. Here, Avalanche Marble, priced from £924 per m2, Cullifords covers the top half of the wall, which butts up against a textured, concrete lower.
The basin sits on the same marble block, which cleverly ties the two looks together. A well positioned shelf adds to the linear look and provides additional space for accessories.
11. Opt for a (faux) living wall
Bring some greenery into your small bathroom in a big way, with a living wall. Perhaps a little tricky to do with real plants, but a panel of faux foliage will give you the same effect and is much easier to maintain. Saving surface space, it will create a stunning feature on your wall and bring a touch of the outside, inside.
12. Choose floating vanities to maximise floor space
Mounting your vanity to the wall and leaving the floor space beneath clear of clutter, will make your space feel larger and less boxed in. Opt for a vanity with plenty of storage for towels and toiletries and choose a basin that sits neatly on top. Gold hardware and smart accessories give this bathroom a spa-hotel feel.
13. Use mirrors to open up the space
Hang a large mirror, (or two or three) over your bathroom basin, to bounce the natural light around the room and make the whole bathroom feel larger. You'll be surprised how much a mirror can open up a space and is the number one trick used by interior stylists to make a room feel larger. Go big, go bold and make a statement no matter how tiny your bathroom is.
14. Invest in a slimline trolley
Add a neat storage cart to your small bathroom ideas, like the Nissafors black trolley, £25, Ikea for a clever bathroom storage idea. It can be wheeled from bath, to basin to shower so you won't need to double up on supplies or storage space. Choose a small or slimline design that can be tucked out of the way when not in use.
15. Create a sense of space by defining zones
Use the method of zoning to make your small bathroom ideas 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.
16. Position taps on the side of a sink
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.
17. Create the illusion of space with an oval bath
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, bathroom plant ideas and more.
18. Think like an expert
Architecturally and visually, it is best to keep any small bathroom ideas 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.
19. Work in a wall-mounted unit
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.
20. Utilise wasted wall space for a towel rail
Elevate your radiator to free up floor space, but go one further and position it above your bath or toilet to make the most of an otherwise unused section of wall.
'We’re always being asked how to make the most out of a small bathroom,' says Dan Nezhard, director at UKRadiators.com. 'Our first recommendation is to look at investing in heated towel rails, or wall radiators in general. If you can remove a bulky, low-sitting radiator, it’ll open up a lot of space and instantly make the room feel bigger.'
Choose a type of towel rail based on the size of your space, and if you want to drill holes into your walls. There are plenty of designs to choose from, including floor standing, wall-mounted and over the door options.
21. Keep colours light for awkward layouts
The general rule of thumb for small bathroom ideas is to keep your colour pallet light and bright. 'If you want to make your bathroom appear bigger than it is, opting for lighter colours on the walls is going to work in your favour,' says Dan from UKRadiators.com. 'Lighter colours will reflect the light and in turn, make your bathroom feel more open and airy.'
Lighter shades of whites, neutrals and greys are all ideal to open up awkward narrow and small layouts, to bounce the light onto all walls to avoid any dark corridors or corners
22. Add alternative decoration with tiling
Avoid overwhelming a tiny bathroom with too many different decorating themes. But that doesn't mean your bathroom has to be devoid of personality. This pairing of hexagonal and Metro tiles adds 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.
23. Wall-mount the taps
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 to keep the space neat and tidy.
24. Use the same tiles on the floor and walls
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 from Victoria Plum.
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.
25. 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.
26. Distract from the size with feature wallpaper
Wallpaper will make a statement in any room and the bathroom is no exception. A downstairs cloakroom is a prime space to use a quirky bathroom wallpaper idea, 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 within your small bathroom ideas. Fit a sheet of Perspex as a splashback behind the basin to prevent water damaging the wallpaper.
27. Reposition your shower valve
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.
28. Stick to a monochromatic palette
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.
29. Have recessed shelving built in
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.
30. Place a shelf for storage above panelling
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.
31. Make space beneath the eaves
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 conversion ideas 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.
32. Factor in a slipper bath
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 your small bathroom ideas, the latest roll-top baths are available in smaller dimensions.
'A lot of people are under the impression that they might have to forgo a bath but that really isn’t the case these days,' reassures Barrie from BC Designs. 'Dinky models start from just 1200mm up to 1500mm which is still considered compact. While small in length, you’ll generally find that they are deeper to help ensure a luxurious soak.'
'It is important to try and leave around 100mm either side of your bath. It stops it looking cramped and also means you can get down the side to clean it as well.'
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.
'Semi-pedestal basins are the perfect solution for homeowners that want to save space, without exposing pipework. Semi-pedestal basins are wall-hung, they conceal all pipework, and they don’t reach the floor, making a bathroom appear more spacious. Attaching to the wall, semi-pedestal basins provide a slim and sleek bathroom feature that compliments a variety of trends,' says Faye Froy, Brand Expert at Burlington
What colour should I use in a small bathroom?
'There are no definitive rules between colour choice and bathroom size, what’s most important is that the palette you select reflects the mood you wish to set and works with the rest of your home,' says Ed from Mereway Bathrooms.
However, if you're looking for some steering, there are some colours which are hard to go wrong with in a smaller space.
'Pastel shades are great small bathroom ideas as they help to maximise light,' advises James from Sanctuary Bathrooms says. 'These are great for walls, but can also work with standard white walls in the form of your furniture and fittings.'
'Consider creating a colour palette of around 4 complimentary colours to stick to for all your bathroom décor to avoid clashing and create a harmonious small space. Bright, fresh tones are always great for small bathrooms too, as they can really help ensure the light gets around the room to make the space appear bigger.'
How should I layout a small bathroom?
'A common issue with small bathroom ideas is the lack of space for toiletries and fresh towels' notes Eds from Mereway Bathrooms. 'Utilise the storage around your sanitaryware; cupboards will keep things neatly tucked away but remember to introduce a segment of open shelving too to add a visual relief that still provides a place to put things but helps the space feel airier. Keeping storage all within one area will bring a focus to the layout and let you move around more freely.'
'Consider going wall-hung with your fittings and fixtures,' adds James from Sanctuary Bathrooms. 'Lifting everything up off the ground provides extra space and extends your floor outwards, making it look bigger.'
'If you’re low on space, a shower enclosure that opens out into the room is going to be a problem. Sliding door shower enclosures are perfect for these occasions, as they don’t require any additional room to operate. If you’re really low on space, a wet room can be a great option because it removes the footprint of a standard shower, making the space appear bigger.'
'In terms of baths, these can be tricky to include in smaller bathrooms without minimising the floor space,' admits James. 'However, you can find smaller sized baths that will accommodate smaller spaces nicely. Freestanding baths are also not off the table, however you might enjoy less free space around them which could reduce the visual appeal a little.'
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Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.
- Jennifer EbertDeputy Editor
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