Tips For Designing A Compact Bathroom

November 26, 2014
Tips For Designing A Compact Bathroom

Do you feel like you can never truly fall in love with your small bathroom? A compact bathroom might seem like a tough place to renovate, but with some tiny bathroom design tips and a little creativity, you can start to love your cosy bathroom. Below are some of the best ways we’ve found to cleverly redesign a compact bathroom space so it becomes an area you’ll adore.

Use Illusions When You Renovate a Small Bathroom

This is obviously a compact bathroom, but it is jammed packed with clever design ideas that make the most of the small bathroom space. James is a serial renovator, over many a room he’s developed an eye and an understanding for what works. In other words, he knows how to renovate and design a compact bathroom! When it came to updating their second tiny bathroom, James used his experience to maximise the use of space, and to make sure the compact bathroom worked well and was a really enjoyable bathroom 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.

Bathroom Renovation before shot

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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

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.

Bathroom Demolished

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Essential Bathroom Items

On the wishlist for the 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 toilet
  • Create a lighter, brighter space.
  • Improve ventilation
  • And did we mention, easy to clean?

The Whiter, the Brighter for Your Small Bathroom

When you walk into the 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.

With the final design, James placed the vanity, toilet and shower all along the left hand wall.

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To make the most of the compact bathroom space he 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.

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 your products. Plus, there is an elegance that simply radiates from all the brightness. 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.

Tip for Your Small Bathroom Update — Look for Opportunities to Cleverly Add Space

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.

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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.

Risk Taking

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.

This is a great example of what can be achieved with a compact bathroom; thoughtful, practical, and really stylish.

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Tips For Renovating A Compact Bathroom

Here are some of 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 this 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.

  • 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.

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.


Compact Bathroom Shopping List: Get The Look


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