Do you feel like you could never truly fall in love with your small bathroom? A compact bathroom may seem like a difficult area to renovate, however, with some small bathroom design tips and a little creativity, you can start to love your cosy bathroom.
Knowing how to approach a teeny tiny bathroom can often be perplexing. Rest assured though, there is always a solution every challenge! We undertook some investigation work to bring you the best advice from two people who are in the know. Cue James our case study; a serial renovator who over many a room has developed an eye and an understanding for what works. In other words, he knows how to renovate and design a compact bathroom!
We also sought the advice of bathroom design consultant Michelle from Bourne Bathrooms. Michelle has lots of experience working on small bathroom remodels and has shares her expert insights with us.
Our guide below takes you through some of the potential challenges a small bathroom remodel may face how to tackle them. We also highlight the best ways to cleverly redesign a compact bathroom space so it becomes an area you’ll adore.
Small Bathroom Challenges
In the case of James' bathroom it's clear to see the bathroom pictured is quite compact, however, it is jammed packed with clever design ideas that make the most of the small bathroom space. When it came to updating this tiny bathroom, James used his experience to maximise the use of space. The goal was to make sure the bathroom functioned well and was a really enjoyable space to use.
Before the update the small bathroom had a shower over a small clawfoot bath, a corner vanity, and a toilet tucked behind the door. There were challenges with getting safely in and out of the shower (visitors and kids), no counter space, and slippery tiles. It just wasn’t a functional bathroom space.
On James' wishlist for new bathroom was:
- A walk in shower for easier access
- A hand held shower
- Glass shower screen for easier cleaning
- A new vanity – with storage for towels etc underneath and counter space on top.
- Bigger mirrors above the vanity
- Retain the in-wall toilet
- Create a lighter, brighter space.
- Improve ventilation
- And did we mention, easy to clean?
Planning A Compact Bathroom Design
With the decision made to completely revamp the compact bathroom space, James drew up a plan. The first thing he decided was to rehang the door so that it opened up onto the wall instead of into the room. Immediately there were more options for better use of the small bathroom.
Originally the plan was to keep the toilet, shower and basin in roughly the same locations to reduce the amount of major plumbing work required. But after many a sketch it soon became apparent, that although adding to the budget, moving the plumbing would allow for a much better end result.
Maximising Natural Light in Small Bathrooms
The other really big ticket structural item was changing the orientation of the window. Originally there was a vertical window above the basin. This presented two issues – the first was water from the re-positioned shower possibly getting into the timber frame, and the second was privacy. James decided early on to reposition it. The new window opening was raised to avoid privacy issues and made horizontal.
This visually changed the small bathroom space and made it feel wider, as well as letting in lots more natural light than the original one did.
To make the most of the compact bathroom space James built out a stud wall off the original double brick walls to fit an in wall cistern for the toilet. This then reduced the amount of floor space that the toilet took up and makes it easier to move around the room. Into the bathroom stud wall cavity James also created a recessed tiled shower shelf for shampoo etc in the shower.
Small Bathroom Colour Scheme
When you walk into James' finished compact bathroom now, it’s a beautiful, crisp white space and now feel more spacious. Remember this is just an illusion, but it’s an amazing one. Light colours really do make any space feel bigger. What’s really clever though are things you don’t notice until you are using the small bathroom.
Michelle of Bourne Bathrooms advises to keep colours light. The whiter the brighter! Even if you love dark colours, make sure to only use them for accents. The greater the darkness, the more cramped your compact bathroom will appear.
''Dark colours can give the illusion that the room is smaller, using lighter tiles or throwing in some natural raw products, such as a timber top or shelving or a light concrete finish will help to open up the space'', says Michelle.
Create Illusions When You Renovate a Small Bathroom
Michelle suggests that the best way to create an illusion of space is to incorporate a wall hung a vanity.
It will instantly make the room look bigger and makes the vanity appear as if it's floating. | Michelle, Bourne Bathrooms
Vanities are the one of the most important assets to a bathroom, they need to be functional and present well as it is usually where the eye is drawn to. Michelle recommends working out what you have in your current bathroom and how much storage space you will need. This will help you decide if a wall hung vanity is preferred or if a floor-standing option is better for extra storage.
Custom Bathroom Furniture
Michelle also advises that when planing your bathroom to not only consider the layout but to also think about the scale and proportion of the furniture and fixtures you choose. In some instances it's better to select a product that can be customised. Off-the-shelf products can have limitations and might not always meet your requirements in terms of the colour, finish or size.
For example; if the vanity you may have your heart set on is too deep or too wide choose an option that can be customised. This provides far more design flexibility and offers the opportunity to create something unique. Bourne Bathrooms have a great range of vanity's that can be customised. Their Timberline vanity units have a wide range that can be customised to any size, style or design. Plus you have the advantage of choosing a wide open on tops including stone, megamite stone, timbertops, built in ceramic or poly marble tops.
Bourne Bathrooms can also create custom sized niches and tile trays to suit small bathrooms and are a of Faucet Strommen who are flexible with creating custom finishes such as black & rose gold mixers, they also have the ability to customise towel rails to suit small bathrooms.
The advantage of customising is that you are guaranteed to get the style, design and finish you are dreaming of. | Michelle, Bourne Bathrooms.
Saving Space in Bathrooms
"Another great idea is to recess a mirrored cabinet (if you have the space available in the wall), or create a simple look using timber shelving cleverly mounted on the free space on the wall which will offer more space for storage" Michelle explains.
Michelle suggests using Inwall toilets as they are fantastic space savers for a small bathroom, plus they offer neat, discreet and sophisticated look which won't compete with the other elements in a bathroom.
Hint: Mirrors Make Compact Bathroom Spaces Seem to Grow
James is clever when it comes to using mirrors. Magicians aren’t the only ones who know how to make use of these common household items! Above the vanity a large mirrored storage cabinet is fitted into the recess of the small bathroom stud wall. Notice how much light and space it seems to add! Adding the stud wall allowed James to add a lot of storage space to the bathroom and maintain a very clean line.
This is probably the key to why this compact bathroom now feels so spacious. There is now lots of storage in the wall hung vanity, cosmetic and toiletries storage in the mirrored cabinet, as well as a spot in the shower for products. Plus, there is an elegance that simply radiates from all the brightness.
Small Bathroom Layout
Some people get into a trap where they think their space needs to be symmetrical. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The trick is to use every space available, even if it means your room isn’t perfectly symmetrical. For instance, the vanity top was especially sourced to have the basin off centre to the right hand side. This gives the counter space on the left, close to the powerpoint – perfect for when you are drying your hair. The vanity is positioned just out of the corner. By doing this the vanity appears to float off the wall.
The other advantage – there is a gap for hanging the hair dryer and fitting the bin in. The shower space works particularly well, and it has two shower heads fitted.
With the final design, James placed the vanity, toilet and shower all along the left hand wall, to create a seamless look and maintain flow.
A hand shower is fitted closest to the shower opening , which is just perfect for when you are washing kids hair and want to stay dry. The feel and sound of the shower is important to James, so he chose an overhead rain shower. No prickly fine shower spray here.
The bathroom is all white and James used 300 x 600mm white tiles to emphasise the sense of space. The floor are non-slip charcoal textured tiles.
Everything in this compact bathroom is carefully thought through – the height of the mirrors for both children and adults, the positioning of the heated towel rail in relation to the newly moved door, even the depth of the drawers.
Underfloor Heating to Cleverly Add Space
The only risk James took in this tiny bathroom was with underfloor heating, a product he had never used before. On the recommendation of his builder he decided to install it despite the additional cost and his concerns about what if something went wrong with it? The underfloor heating is a real luxury, so warm underfoot – especially when it even goes under the tiled shower base.
And the other upside the bathroom floor dries very quickly and if space is of a absolute premium, negates the need for a heated towel rail or radiator which can be bulky.
This is a great example of what can be achieved with a compact bathroom; thoughtful, practical, and really stylish.
Tips For Renovating A Compact Bathroom
Here are some more of Michelle's and James' tips for helping you achieve your perfect compact bathroom, regardless of the size of the space you are working with:
Take the time to plan the space carefully – once the space was gutted James cross checked his design by drawing the plan onto the walls and floor to confirm everything would work well.
Find an experienced sales person who knows their product. The in wall cistern is a big part of what makes James' bathroom successful, but there are installation restrictions with the product that required some design changes early on. Without an experienced salesperson to point these out, this may have created some issues during the build. Reputable companies such as Bourne Bathroom understand the product, and we do their best to understand your needs and can develop a functional and stylish option for a small bathroom.
Despite the floor tiles James chose being labelled as non-slip, he brought a sample home and tested it. After living with slippery floor tiles in the old bathroom, he wanted to make sure!
And of course, find a builder and tradespeople you can trust, and who is conscientious. A recommendation is of course the ultimate. Bourne Bathrooms work with many highly regarded builders, tilers and other tradespeople that they can recommend to the highest standard.
We think you'll agree, James's careful and thoughtful approach has resulted in the perfect compact bathroom to be enjoyed by all the family.
House of Home would like to thank James and Michelle from Bourne Bathrooms for sharing their experiences and invaluable knowledge with us.
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