Small bathroom shower ideas – clever ways to work in a shower when space is limited

En-suite, wet room or small bathroom, lack of space isn’t an issue with these neat space-saving shower ideas
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  • There’s nothing like an invigorating shower to get the day off to a great start. But if bathroom space is tight, then coming up with clever and innovative small bathroom shower ideas is a must. And while fitting in a shower above a bath is the obvious solution in a small bathroom, that isn’t the only option available.

    Space-saving shower cubicles, compact baths, sliding doors and invisible shower screens can all help to streamline the layout in a small bathroom to enable more to be squeezed in. While clever tricks with bright colours, wall tile treatments and seamless flooring ideas can all create the effect of opening up a bathroom and making a small space feel less crowded.

    Small bathroom shower ideas

    ‘In a small bathroom, every centimetre counts; everything needs to fit in correctly, so use a bathroom designer,’ suggests Richard Fox, Senior Designer at Ripples. ‘Go for a wall-hung basin and WC and, even in a small bathroom, you can still have a walk-in shower,’ he adds, ‘but it is best to have glass panels. Fit the showerhead at the end of the showering space and make sure the floor has a suitable fall to allow water to drain away easily.’

    1. Open up the space with a wet room

    white tiled shower area with black floor tiles

    Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme

    Forgo the traditional shower tray and bulky enclosure in a small bathroom and open the space up fully by creating a walk-in wet room idea. The flooring area needs to be fully waterproofed and should be laid on a gradient so that water drains away completely.

    With any wet room, you’ll need to decide whether the showering space is to be fully open, where the whole of the bathroom is designed to get wet, or semi-open (like this one) with a half wall and screen so that water splashes are confined to the immediate shower area.

    2. Go big with bright colours

    blue tiled shower with terrazo panels and blue vanity unit

    Image credit: Crosswater

    Bright colours and light-reflective surfaces are a brilliant way of making small bathrooms feel more spacious and airy. But instead of matching tiles wall-to-wall, try using tiles in a combination of colours, shapes and patterns to break up the space and make it more visually appealing.

    Using large format tiles and light-coloured grout lines is a great way of increasing the sense of space in a small bathroom or en-suite idea. Fewer lines creates less of a visual distraction and gives a clean, uninterrupted look that helps open up the space.

    3. Opt for a shower over the bath

    white and turquoise tiled bathroom with shower

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    A refreshing shower makes a brilliant start to the morning, but if a long, leisurely soak is a must-have too, then try combining both and opt for an over-bath shower. Finding space for both a separate bath and shower cubicle can be a squeeze in a small bathroom, but using the same footprint for both is a much better use of space.

    Make the bath and shower area the centrepiece of the bathroom by opting for a standout tile treatment. While white tiles can help increase the feeling of space in a small bathroom, adding a contrast panel of colour above the bath adds punch to the room and helps an all-white scheme feel less stark and clinical.

    4. Save space with sliding doors

    blue tiled shower room with black enclosure and vanity unit

    Image credit: Bathroom Mountain

    Outward-opening shower doors can eat into valuable floor space in a small bathroom, so opt for neat, space-saving sliding shower doors instead. These feature one fixed panel with a second panel that slides back behind it, so require no extra opening space and allow other fixtures and fittings to be positioned nearer to the shower area.

    Alternatively, opt for bi-fold shower doors that fold back on themselves, with no extra room needed to allow the doors to open fully.

    5. Make storage a priority

    white bathroom with shower bath and wall hung storage

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    Storage is key in a small bathroom and can be the difference between a comfortable bathroom space and one that feels cluttered and crowded. Factoring in shower storage at the build stage is a sensible idea. Recessed alcoves, niches and shelves can be built into a stud wall and then tiled to give a waterproof finish and will provide handy storage for shampoo and shower gel.

    Wall-hung storage is another option that can help save space in a small bathroom. Off-the-floor storage frees up floor space and will make a small bathroom feel less crowded . A wall-hung vanity unit is neat and compact and will come in super-useful for storing towels, toiletries, loo rolls and cleaning kit.

    6. Make use of corner space

    with pink tiles and black corner shower enclosure

    Image credit: Victorian Plumbing

    Free up extra floor space by considering a corner-shaped shower in a small bathroom. Much neater than a standard square or rectangular design, the neat triangular-shaped tray will slot into a corner, while the curved sides are less obtrusive than harshly-angled corners.

    Curved doors slide back across the side panels, rather than opening outwards, so that no extra opening space is needed.

    7. Slot in a shower under the eaves

    loft shower with neutral tiles and compact basin

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    Be space-smart by turning an empty loft area into an extra shower room. Creating a second bathroom or small en-suite is a great way of utilising wasted loft space and installing a shower in the area underneath a pitched roof makes a clever use of this awkwardly-shaped space.

    As long as there is enough upright space to stand comfortably beneath the shower head, then installing a shower under a sloping ceiling should be fairly simple. The shower screen or enclosure may need to be angled to suit the space, but there are plenty of companies that can create a bespoke design that’s tailored to fit. As with any loft conversion work, always check building regulations before proceeding.

    8. Squeeze in a shower and a bath

    compact shower bath with neutral terazzo tiles and green walls

    Image credit: Drench

    Combine the luxury of a bath with the practicalities of a shower by opting for a combination shower/bath. A savvy option when bathroom space is tight, an L-shaped design like this offers a full-sized bath, plus a dedicated shower cubicle at one end, all in a single space-saving unit.

    Rather than fussy shower curtains, an integrated shower screen gives a sleek, streamlined look and is super-easy to clean around. Taps can be positioned either at one end or centrally to give optimum comfort when enjoying a soak in the tub.

    9. Blur the lines with a frameless screen

    with turquoise tiles and wood shelf and vanity storage

    Image credit: Tile Mountain

    A walk-in shower is the ultimate in luxury, but you don’t necessarily need a huge bathroom to make it work. Dispensing with the shower door will make a small walk-in shower feel altogether more spacious. A fixed panel can be used to separate the shower from the rest of the bathroom and opting for a frameless screen will create a better sense of flow with no harsh lines to interrupt the view.

    10. Give a small space a focal point

    wet room with black and white shower panels

    Image credit: Matki

    Turning a small bathroom into a wet room can be a better use of space if you don’t mind giving up the bath. Water-proofing the whole space will give a generously-sized showering area and makes a great option for a family bathroom, where splashes by little ones won’t be a worry.

    Plain walls throughout can look a little bland, so why not consider adding a pop of pattern or colour to give the space more focus. Eye-catching monochrome wall panels like these make the shower area and end wall the focal point and help stretch the space so it doesn’t feel too enclosed.

    11. Add storage on the end

    white tiled bathroom with turquoise floral wallpaper

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    Lack of storage can be a problem in any bathroom, but never more than with a small bathroom. Work in extra storage where you can, making use of boxed-in pipework to create ledges and handy shelving or building cupboard storage into empty alcoves and awkward corners.

    Use the area behind a shower or bath where water pipes or a tank might be sited to construct built-in storage. Building bespoke cupboards is a great way of disguising unsightly plumbing work and can be used to create an airing cupboard for towels and linens, as well as giving extra space to stash toiletries, loo rolls and cleaning supplies.

    12. Stretch space with streamlined fittings

    neutral bathroom tiles with glass shower enclosure and pink basin

    Image credit: Matki

    Opting for compact sanitaryware and space-saving fittings will allow you to squeeze the maximum amount into a small bathroom shower idea. Slimline loos and basins and wall-hung fixtures and fittings will save on floor space, while opting for a compact bath that’s narrower and shorter than a standard size can save valuable inches too.

    Consider a walk-in shower with frameless enclosure to increase the sense of space in a smaller bathroom. An all-glass design like this has strategically-positioned screens instead of outward-opening doors, which keep water in while allowing maximum light to flow through.

    What is the smallest shower enclosure?

    When it comes to shower enclosures for small bathrooms, opt for a corner-shaped or quadrant shower enclosure if you’re after a design that will take up minimum floor space. They are called quadrant because they are effectively one quarter of a full circle, with two straight edges at a 90 degree angle and a curved front. Designs range from enclosures with space-saving sliding doors, hinged doors, or sleek frameless enclosures for a more modern look.

    Taking up slightly more floor space than a quadrant enclosure, an ‘offset quadrant’ enclosure will still sit flush in the corner of a bathroom, but is slightly lengthier in shape, so gives a little more space inside for a comfier shower experience.

    Can you put a walk-in shower in a small bathroom?

    With smart small bathroom shower ideas anything is possible. While walk-in showers are perfect for larger bathrooms, don’t rule one out if your bathroom is on the smaller side. Walk-in shower enclosures are available in smaller sizes, going from 1200mm in length upwards, so can be worked into a small bathroom if you are savvy with the layout. Opting for an all-glass walk-in shower enclosure is a clever way of making bathroom space feel less crowded. With no frame to obstruct the sightline, it will let more light flow through and help make the bathroom feel less busy.

    Dispensing with the door is another way of making a walk-in shower work in a small bathroom. A single fixed panel instead of a shower enclosure will take up less space, while still separating the shower area from the rest of the bathroom. Waterproofing the floor and surrounding area might be necessary, but is a small compromise for the luxury of a walk-in.

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