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When you’re pressed for space in your bathroom should you try and squeeze a bath in? Should you prioritise a decent standing shower over a bath? What you need to consider when designing your small bathroom:

Be generous with your basin. There is nothing worse than having a basin that is too small and not fit for purpose. Very small basins have a tenancy to spill and splash as well as having other limitations - do you like to wash your face under the tap? Think of how you like to use your sink and make sure that the size can accommodate it. Often sizing up your basin slightly has little impact on the overall layout and you’ll be grateful for it later when you’re not slipping on a wet floor after washing your hands.

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Use the right size tile. People have a tenancy to think that a small tile will make their spaces look bigger but the opposite is true - it’s all about the ‘visual noise’ created by the grid. Don’t be frightened of using a large format tile for a more seamless look, or choose a medium tile - just avoid mosaics. If you want to use a smaller tile then choose an area to use it on rather than the whole room. Choosing a grout colour that closely matches the tiles is another technique you can use to soften the grid.

Keep the floor clear. If you’re short on space then float-mounting your sanitary ware will give the appearance of a more space as well as making the space much easier to clean. Win win!

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Less can be more. If having a separate bath and a shower means that you are severely compromising the bath and shower then consider choosing either / or. Personally I couldn’t live without a bath. So if you're like me then an over bath shower could be a good option and there are lots of ways to optimise this (I feel another blog post coming on...). For example, consider having a vintage wooden stool to step up on rather than having to hoist your leg over the wall of the bath. Or if you opt to go with a shower-only room then embrace the space as wet room to really maximise the feeling of space. Add a seat to to give it a more spa-like feel. Always consider yourself at your most tired and what you would like in this scenario from your bathroom experience.

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Go freestanding. There is a tendency to box everything in when you have a compact space, but it can make the room feel smaller. Sometimes you are better off going with a more freestanding approach with your design to make way for more ‘negative space’ in the room, allowing light to travel further and to bounce off more surfaces. Softening the geometry means that your eye is less drawn to edges given the impression of more space. 

Pebbles, a small Fishermans cottage @pebblescornwall . Photo by Felix Speller.

Consider distributing your bathroom amongst other spaces. Could you take the bath out of the bathroom and into a master bedroom to create an open en suite? Tubs looks great in the centre of the room or in front of a fireplace or looking out towards a window. Even just a corner in a bedroom can be enough. If you go down this route make sure that you really invest in it - go for a statement freestanding bath so that it becomes a real feature in the room. If you’re really pressed for space inside your home you should also consider putting a tub in your garden. Especially if having a bath is an every-so-often rather than daily activity for you. Make sure that it is private (or can be made private) and free of neighbouring lines of sight so that you can bathe uninhibited. Put it under a pergola or use a sail if you need to protect your view. Vintage roll tops baths look great outdoors and you can be less precious about them if they’re in imperfect condition. 

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Avoid clutter. Remember that you need somewhere for those daily consumables. If you don’t have the space on your sink to accommodate hand soap and toothbrushes this then put a little shelf above the sink, or build in a niche (which is a shelf inset into a wall), or have a cupboard for toothbrushes if you don’t want to see them on the side. If you keep them by the sink put them in a nice pot to consolidate them. Have a place for everything and only keep out what you really need. Wall-mounted soap dispenser holders can also work really well in this environment to keep your surfaces clear. Be sure to think about this at the planning stage so that you know exactly how the space is going to look and work.

Plan enough storage. This follows on from the point above about reducing clutter. You can never really have enough storage, but consider borrowing from space in another part of your house rather than using prime real estate in your small bathroom for those items that you don't need to access daily. Towels and toilet rolls can often be accommodated within a guest bedroom or hall cupboard, keeping the bathroom free to be a bathroom rather than store room. 

Flip the door. If your door opens inwards, consider flipping it to open it into the hall instead to avoid it clashing against something in your bathroom each time you go in. It is a particularly bad idea to have an inwards opening door if it means that you have to move out of the way in order to be able to close it. A pocket door is a more sophisticated option if budget allows as they completely tuck away inside the wall cavity taking up zero space inside or outside the bathroom.