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Home & garden.

9 November 2021

Small bathroom ideas

Tips and inspiration for tiles, bathroom suites and accessories that will help you to make the most of your space.
AS
Adam Snook
Bathroom generic 2 485122

Just because your bathroom is small, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style or function.

From compact baths to clever storage ideas, read on for design suggestions to help you create a space that meets your needs without feeling cramped.

Small bathroom suites and shower rooms

If you’re pushed for space, look for smaller fixtures. Compact sinks and slimline toilets both start at about 30cm wide. You can also get corner sinks designed to fit into tiny spaces.

Standard baths are usually 1.7 x 0.7 metres, but you can buy tubs measuring 1.5, 1.4 or even just 1.2 metres long. If you're considering a small bath, look at one in a showroom first to make sure you can comfortably fit in it.

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

A wet room is another alternative. But if the room is very small, you might need to use a screen or curtain so that your towel, toilet and loo roll don’t get drenched every time you take a shower.

If you’re buying a new bathroom suite, find out which are the best and worst bathroom companies, as rated by thousands of customers.

Floating basins and toilets

If you’re replacing your bathroom suite, consider a floating basin and toilet, with the plumbing recessed into the wall. The extra floor space on display will give the impression of more room.

It’s a good idea to speak to your plumber or bathroom fitter first to find out how much work will be needed to install a floating sink and toilet in your bathroom. It could be an expensive job if it involves major changes to your plumbing.

You should also make sure that the design includes access panels to reach the concealed pipework, in case any repairs are needed in the future.

If your bathroom could do with an update but you want to keep costs down, visit our guide to updating a bathroom on a budget.

Small bathroom storage ideas

Small bathroom cabinets 

Look for shallower cupboards to make them feel less bulky, or find out whether it’s possible to set them into recessed spaces in the walls.

Opting for a tall unit will make the most of the floor space, especially if it goes all the way to the ceiling. 

You can get units that include both a cupboard and shelves, giving you flexible storage options. Again, these come in different widths, so go for one that's slim.

Corner units are another option, as well as shelving - more on this below.

Wall-hung units will save floor space and give the impression that the room is bigger than it is.

Built-in furniture and vanity units, which go around or under a sink, are a good way to make sure you’re using every inch of space.

Combination units that join a sink and toilet together use the often-wasted space between the two. Look out for 'cloakroom' units, as they're typically smaller than standard-sized units.

Head to our page on bathroom furniture for more on the different types of furniture, plus ratings for bathroom units from all the major bathroom companies.

Bathroom shelf ideas

Shelves can be a great way to add lots of storage to your bathroom without taking up valuable floor space. Flick through our gallery to see a range of ideas on what you can do. 

Bathroom shelf ideas gallery

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at


Open shelves are a great way to make a room feel bigger and less cluttered, but still give you maximum storage. 

Floating shelves – where you can't see any brackets – will also help to make the room feel larger, as will glass or even mirrored shelves.

You could also consider using cubes, which you can arrange to create a design feature, or corner shelves, which can be a good way to make the most of every bit of space.

Think about materials, too. Wood will add a warm touch to the room as well as interest, while glass shelves will make the room feel lighter and brighter.

Getting niches cut into the wall to create a recessed shelf will also maximise the usable space. You can do this anywhere within the room, including in the shower or above the bath.

Ladder shelving, where the unit is deeper at the bottom and shallower at the top, can create lots of vertical storage space without taking up as much room as a conventional shelving unit. 

Adding hooks, rails and wire racks can increase your storage options without overcrowding the room.

If you’re a Which? member, log in to find out which companies were rated the best for bathroom furniture.

Small bathroom designs

Consider a folding shower screen

If your shower is over a bath, look for a sectional shower screen, with hinged panels that can fold up to save space.

If you have a shower enclosure or want to squeeze one into a tight space, consider using sliding doors instead of a pivot door.

Use light colours

Stick to lighter shades for your walls, flooring and bathroom suite. These will reflect light and trick your eyes into thinking the room is more spacious.

This doesn’t mean you have to settle for a boring bathroom, though. If your base colour is neutral, you can inject some fun with bright accessories, towels and window dressings.

Small bathroom with white wall tiles, wooden shelving and a wooden bathroom ladder shelf

Tile ideas for small bathrooms

Think carefully about the colour and size of your tiles. Generally speaking, lighter colours will open up the space more.

Although darker colours might look dramatic, if they’re used across a large area, they could make the room feel smaller.

Try fitting large oblong wall tiles in a landscape orientation to make your walls look longer.

Add lighting and mirrors

Make sure your bathroom is well lit to create a sense of space. You could upgrade your existing light fitting or add additional sources of lighting in key areas, such as around the sink.

Strategically placed mirrors can make a room feel bigger and bounce more light around. Hang them opposite a window, or opposite each other in narrow spaces, for maximum impact.

Opt for underfloor heating

Underfloor heating doesn't come cheap, but can avoid the need for bulky radiators or heated towel rails, as well as making it much nicer to walk on tiled floors in winter.

You can choose from electric or water underfloor heating. 

Read our guide to underfloor heating to find out about the different types, and see the pros and cons.

Knock down dividing walls

If your bathroom is split so that the toilet is in a separate room next door, consider knocking down the dividing wall to create one larger space.

This might also be an option if you have a cupboard you don’t need next to the bathroom.

Ideas for very small bathrooms

If your bathroom is exceptionally small, think carefully about what you must have included. A sink, toilet and shower are essential, but can you make do without a bath? There are other things to consider, too:

  • Making a statement – such as with bold wallpaper or a splash of colour – will take people's attention away from the size of the room.
  • Opting for textured materials will create interest and make the room seem luxurious and therefore larger.
  • Going for a dark colour on the walls and ceiling might seem counterintuitive, but it will create a dramatic and enveloping feel.
  • Going the other way and keeping everything light will make it feel more spacious, even more so if the room people enter from is darker.
  • Try using the space around your windows and doors by adding shelves above them and attaching a pull-out mirror.
  • Installing a skylight, if you can, will flood the room with natural light.
  • Use a big, oversized mirror to play with scale and bounce the light around the room.

Creating a new small bathroom

Adding an en suite or extra loo 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 and, ideally, that's near the waste pipe.

For example, you could use the space 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 between them are partitions rather than structural.

If you want an extra loo downstairs, the space under the staircase or an area divided off from 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 to see what it could look like. See our bathroom brand guides to find out what tools each brand offers.

Once you have an idea of what changes you want to make, head to our guide to bathroom installation for tips on finding the right person for the job. Alternatively, use our Which? Trusted Trader search tool below to find reliable bathroom fitters in your area.