9 most common ensuite planning mistakes to avoid

Be sure you steer clear of these design disasters to ensure a bathroom of your dreams

bathroom with white hexagonal tiles wall bathtub grey wash basin and designed floor
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Having your own bathroom adjoined to your bedroom is the ultimate luxury. And knowing the ensuite planning mistakes to avoid will ensure you're clued up before designing yours.

Ensuites often make the most of smaller spaces already next to your bedroom. They can also be built retrospectively. This is done by slicing off some of the floorspace in your bedroom, to create a dreamy addition. While you might have already begun gathering small bathroom ideas, it's important to also know the things you don't want or need, plus the mistakes other have made.

Start by measuring your space and being realistic about what you can fit into it. Ensuites are often bijou spaces and while you want your bathroom to provide you with everything you need, you need to remain level-headed during the planning process.

'One of the biggest mistake homeowners make when it comes to bathroom makeovers is trying to cram too much into a small space,' says Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs.

Follow our ideas, plus top tips from the experts, to avoid any ensuite planning pitfalls.

Ensuite planning mistakes to avoid

1. Choosing a bath that's too big

bathroom with white and blue wall window bathtub and designed tiles floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Trying to fit a big bath into a small space could ruin the look of your ensuite from the very start.

'People will often try and fit large footprint baths into small spaces,' advises Barry. 'Ideally baths need at least 100mm round each of the edges to help clean and maintain it. However, if you want a bath in a smaller en suite, this can still be achievable. There are several models out there that are 1400mm, which is smaller than a standard shower, and can be the perfect solution.'

Perhaps you'd rather ditch a shower altogether (as there might already be one in the main family bathroom) so you can use the space to fit a full size bath instead. It's your ensuite, so you do you!

2. Forgetting storage space

bathroom with white wall shelf mirror on black tile wall and wash basin

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Rachael Smith)

Forgetting bathroom storage space is a common ensuite planning mistake to avoid, especially in a small space. Of course you'll want your bathroom to be a relaxing haven, clear of clutter and a minimalist style is popular. But be realistic about what you need to store and plan in some storage space for toiletries and extra towels.

Under basin drawers, recess shelving and even hooks for bath robes will all help to keep surfaces tidy and organised. You could also add in some freestanding furniture to help solve your storage dilemma if needed.

3. Skimping on hardware

bathroom with brick wall brass tap white shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

When it comes to hardware in your bathroom, such as taps, showerheads, plugs and loo roll holders, it's worth making an investment as cheap alternatives can look just that!

Barrie advises: 'There are certain items where it pays to invest. One of these is Brassware. Anything that has any moving parts (which can easily break) is not an area to skimp on as cheaper versions are often not built to the same quality and don’t last. Mid-high end brassware can also ‘lift’ a bathroom and can make cheaper items such as sanitaryware look more expensive.'

4. Bad lighting

bathroom with white wall mirror wash basin and wall lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Kasia Fizer)

Lighting is a huge factor for any room in the house, but never more so than in a bathroom. You ideally want to have several light levels that can be controlled separately and all with warm white bulbs. Ceiling spotlights are good for illuminating the whole room, but it's also a good idea to have wall lights on a separate circuit to create a cosy atmosphere for bath time.

Don't forget all bathroom lighting ideas must have an IP rating of 44 to deem them safe to use in this space.

5. Not measuring your space before you begin

bathroom with white designed tiles wall commode and mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

You might look at your ensuite space and assume you can fit in a full size bath, plus a walk in shower, vanity unit and loo, but you need to accurately measure the space first, and think about space for pipes too. Having a shower over the bath could be a good space-saving solution.

'One of the most important parts of planning a bathroom successfully is to get accurate dimensions of your space,' says Amanda Telford, Marketing Manager at CTD Tiles. 'This includes elements such as windows, doorways and even things like chimney breasts. Factor in where the main sanitaryware and furniture pieces are going to be positioned by looking at where the drain pipes and waste pipes are. Look at where the soil pipe is and take as many measurements as possible to draw up a clear and concise blueprint of the space you’re working with.'

6. Neglecting to add personality

toilet with blue designed and white tile wall commode grey cabinet and grey designed tile floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Often we want our bathrooms to be white, calming and serene, as we feel it's the most relaxing option. But not adding colour or pattern to your ensuite could leave you with rather a boring and dull bathroom instead.

Whether you choose a patterned floor tile, or a patterned bathroom wallpaper, or in this case, both, bringing some personality into your ensuite will give in some life and energy, as well as bring you joy.

7. Opting for the wrong tiles

bathroom with blue designed wall shower mirror and towel rail

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

'Your bathroom tiles choice will play a vital part in the overall finished look of your space. But there are a few different things to take into consideration when choosing your bathroom tiles, from visual impact to practicality,' says Amanda.

'Any bathroom floor tiles need to have good slip resistance and be suited to wet areas, this is especially true if you're planning a wetroom.'

'Patterned tiles are great for adding a real statement to a space whilst large format tiles can create a calming and spa-like ambience. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to tiles in the bathroom, allowing you to create a space that's tailored to you and your style.'

8. Leaving floors cold

bathroom with white hexagon designed wall grey wash basin wooden beams on wall designed flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A costly ensuite planning mistake to avoid making is not laying underfloor heating before having your tiling done. Underfloor heating is a great way to gently warm your ensuite, and means you don't need to worry about bulky radiators in a small space. It will also mean that your lovely tiled flooring won't feel chilly underfoot, but it's also worth opting for a shaggy bath mat or rug too, to keep toes extra toasty.

9. Ignoring the potential cleaning regime

bathroom with shower cabin white and grey wall and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

It's a boring thing to think about, but bathrooms need a lot of cleaning to help them stay looking their best, to try to remember this during the planning process. Walk in showers with single panels of glass are far easier to clean than cubicle showers with sliding doors, so opt for the former if you can.

Freestanding baths look amazing, but if they're wedged in a corner, you might find it hard to dust the floor beneath it, that will no doubt build up.

What should you not do when remodelling a bathroom?

Assume you have all the answers! While you might have a clear idea of how you want your ensuite to look, it's the experts that will ensure that this is actually possible.

Barrie advises: 'A bathroom retailer can be worth their weight in gold as they have a wealth of knowledge on how to make elements work together, as well as maximise the layout to its full potential.'

'It isn’t just about the aesthetics of a bathroom, it is about the small but important points that you might not think of. “Is your boiler powerful enough to heat enough water to fill your bath?’, “Is your hallways and staircase wide enough to get a bath or fixtures into your bathroom (you might need to take your window out!)”. “Is my water pressure high or low?” – this will affect what brassware is suitable for your home.'

'There is a lot to think about when planning a new bathroom and an experienced bathroom retailer will make sure all these points and more are covered for you.'

Try to also think about how things will work behind the scenes in your bathroom, as moving things like soil pipes can become expensive.

'Protruding and visible pipes can really spoil the finished design of your en suite so careful planning of pipework including the soil pipe, is essential,' Barrie says. 'Depending on the layout of the property and where the existing soil pipes are, this can be an easy or challenging job. Fortunately, modern flexible pipes and macerators provide plumbers with more options so there is nearly always a solution.'

How do I layout my bathroom?

The main idea of an ensuite is having your bathroom adjoined to your bedroom. This means you don't have to go to an entirely different area or even floor in your house. But think carefully about how you want the rooms to be separated, if at all.

'There is a rising trend for blurring the lines between a master bedroom and its en-suite, but it isn’t necessarily to everyone’s taste, 'says Barrie. 'A great compromise is the use of double doors and frosted glass as a way of merging the spaces as it allows the two defined spaces to feel as one. Strategically positioning a freestanding bath in the centre of the double doors can provide a sense that it is all part of the same room and provides the added benefit of plenty of wow factor. When privacy is required, you can simply close the doors and separate the two zones.'

Once you've worked out how the two rooms will flow together, it will give you a good idea of where to position things in your bathroom.

For example you probably don't want to be lying in bed and have direct sight of the loo (especially when your partner might be using it!) and you won't want the basin to be in the way of the door fully opening and closing.

Perhaps you'd like to be able to see out the window when you're in the shower, or maybe you'd prefer your vanity unit to be by the window so you can make the most of natural light. A top tip before you start work on your ensuite? Think about how you'll be using the space day to day.

Holly Walsh
Content Editor

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.