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9 June 2021

Small bathroom ideas

Tips and inspiration for tiles, bathroom suites and accessories that will help you make the most of your space.
Kate Martin
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 0.7m, but you can buy tubs measuring 1.5m, 1.4m or even just 1.2m long. If you're considering a small bath, take a look 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 the best and worst bathroom companies are, 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 major changes need to be made 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.

Visit our page on bathroom suites for more tips on buying small fittings, such as space-saving sinks, for your bathroom.

Read our guide to hiring a bathroom installer for tips to find the right person for the job. Alternatively, you can use our Which? Trusted Trader search tool below to find reliable bathroom fitters in your area.

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 floorspace that unit is taking up, especially if it goes all the way to the ceiling. 

You can get ones that are both a cupboard and shelves, giving you flexible storage options. Again, these come in different depths, 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 are typically smaller than standard-sized units.

Head to our page on bathroom furniture for more on the different types of furniture and 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 bigger, as will glass or even mirrored shelves.

You could also consider using cubes, which can be arranged to create a design feature, and corner shelves 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 using 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 be folded 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 may also be an option if you have a cupboard you don’t need next to the bathroom.

Very small bathroom ideas

If your bathroom is exceptionally small, think carefully about what you must have included. A sink and toilet are essential, but do you need a shower or bath, or do you have another bathroom? Also consider:

  • 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 - this might seem counter intuitive, but it will create a dramatic and enveloping feel.
  • Keeping it light - going the other way and keeping everything bright will make it feel more spacious, even more so if the room people enter from is darker.
  • 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, to flood the room with natural light.
  • Using 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 is 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.