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Planning a bathroom

Small bathroom ideas

Article 4 of 4

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Small-bathroom ideas from experts and owners, for inspiration and advice on how to make the most of a small bathroom.

Many bathrooms are small, so how can you make the most of every inch of space?

Read on for our small-bathroom design ideas to help you create a functional and luxurious small bathroom that'll be the envy of your friends.

We've also included tips on what bathroom owners wish they hadn't done to their small bathrooms, so you can avoid the same pitfalls.

Small bathroom tactics

We asked 3,982 bathroom owners in February 2018* what tactics they'd employed to make the most of a small bathroom. 

Which? members can log in now to see the top tricks that bathroom owners have used, their advice based on what's worked for them as well as their biggest regrets. 

If you're not a member, you can gain instant access by joining Which?.

Bathroom units and bathroom storage

Built-in furniture and vanity units, which go around or under a sink, are a good way to make the most of every inch of space. 

Corner units are one of the most effective of the many built-in options. These can be full-length shelves, cupboards or even vanity units with a corner sink. You can also get corner toilets, too.

It's also worth thinking about combination units that join a sink and toilet together. These use the often-wasted space between the two and can also include additional storage options inside, such as a loo-roll holder.

Look out for 'cloakroom' units, as they are typically smaller than standard-sized units. Wall-hung units can save floor space and give the impression that the room is bigger than it actually is. 

Visit our page on the best bathroom furniture brands to find out how bathroom owners rate the big-name bathroom furniture brands – there's nearly 23 percentage points between the top and bottom-rated brands.

Besides furniture, there are lots of other, and less expensive, storage options. Think about building or using recesses or windowsills for shelf storage, and storage baskets or wire racks for the corner of the bath help to keep toiletries tidy.

You could also consider installing shelves – glass or rails for towels will make the room look bigger – or hooks on the walls. 

And what about the space under your bath? It's possible to get cupboards made, or make them yourself, so that you can store items in the space usually just hidden away by a bath panel.  

Small bathroom suites and small shower-room designs

Standard baths are usually 1.7x0.7m, but you can buy ones measuring just 1.2m long. 1.4m and 1.5m lengths are also common. You could also consider a corner bath if that helps with space.

If your room really is too small for a bath, fitting a shower cubicle, particularly a corner one, instead of a bath will free up a lot of space.

A wet room – a fully tiled shower room that doesn’t have a screen or shower tray – can also be a good option if you’re pushed for space. However, if the bathroom is very small, it’s advisable to have a screen or curtain so that your towel, toilet and loo roll don’t get wet. See our guide to the best electric and power shower brands to find out which shower brand owners rate highest.

Small sinks can be as little as around 30cm wide instead of as much as nearly 70cm. Slimline toilets start at around 30cm wide. Choosing a wall-hung toilet can make the space feel bigger.

Small-bathroom regrets

We asked people about how various aspects of their bathroom layout works. A lot of elements work well for people - but some are certainly worth thinking carefully about.

  • Only 45% of people we asked believe the amount of bathroom storage they have in their bathroom works very well, while 40% think it only works fairly well and 5% not very well at all. 
  • Of those who have shelves in their bathroom, 51% said they think the amount of them works very well, while 42% said it works fairly well and 5% not very well at all. 
  • Of the people who have drawers, 57% say that the number they have works well, and 37% say it works fairly well. Only 5% said it doesn't work well at all.
  • More than half - 61% - of people with cupboards or units say that the size of them works well, while 36% said it works fairly well and 2% not well at all.

To make sure you don't make the same bathroom design mistakes as others, we've collated bathroom owners' regrets, so you're not left frustrated.

Log in or join Which? to see all the comments and tips. 

Creating a new small bathroom

Adding an en suite or extra toilet can make a big difference when you have visitors, not to mention adding value to your home. Look for dead space in your home, that you aren’t using for anything important, near the waste pipe. 

For example, you could use the space currently taken up by fitted wardrobes in a bedroom, or divide a big room with a partition wall. Another option is to take space from two rooms rather than one – easier if the walls you want to use are partitions rather than structural. 

If you want an extra loo downstairs, under the staircase, or an area divided off of the kitchen or utility room, are popular places to build one.

Many bathroom companies provide online tools that enable you to design or mock up a new bathroom on screen to see what it could look like. Our bathroom brand guides explain what tools each brand offers.

(*In February 2018 we asked 3,982 Which? members about the bathroom suite (bath, toilet and sink) and bathroom furniture they bought in the last ten years and their experiences with the brand. The quotes are from when we asked 2,391 bathroom owners back in May 2016).

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