For many, having a large bathroom is what dreams are made of. In fact, the UK has some of the smallest new builds in Europe. Research from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) conducted a study and found that new houses in some parts of Europe were found to be as much as 80% bigger than those in the UK.
Another survey, conducted by The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), found that of those questioned, 57% of people said there was not enough storage space, 47% said there was no room for furniture and 35% said there was little kitchen space for appliances such as microwaves and toasters.
Dubbed by The Telegraph as ‘rabbit hutch Britain’ the housing crisis or housing ‘squeeze’ that we see regularly in the UK shows no signs of improvement being that house prices here are determined here by number of bedrooms rather than square footage. So, whilst we make do with our rabbit hutch homes – how can we improve our bird cage bathrooms?
Natural light from the window instantly brightens up the space. Where possible, leave windows unadorned with clear or frosted glass. Light gives the effect of open space so make the most of your windowsill. Remove all clutter and put up some light or pastel coloured sheer curtains or blinds to ensure you are maximising the chances of getting sunshine throughout the day.
In a loft conversion consider installing skylight windows. These are perfect for bringing in as much daylight as possible without worrying about privacy issues.
For windowless bathrooms; choose a lighting fixture that will bring as much of your electrical light into the room as possible. Don’t go for heavy or domineering light shades. If you can, add more lighting fixtures around the room like sconces either side of the mirror, for example. If you’ve got space – hang a large mirror to reflect light around the room and give the walls a fresh lick of paint with some bright or fresh white colourings.
BE CAREFUL WITH COLOUR
Light colours such as whites, neutrals, creams and pastels are ideal for bathrooms. Whites bounce the light around the room whilst shades such as ice blue hues brighten up a monotonous bathroom. Pastels also create the illusion of more space whilst cool shades give a feeling of peace and tranquillity.
Avoid dark walls or dark fittings but if you do want contrast, limit to only one or two items to create a focal point or bring darker or brighter shades in accessories such as towels and mats.
Dark tiles, when juxtaposed against white and charcoal shades can be good for dramatic effect and a hotel-style glamourous vibe but use wisely as it can overpower a small room and cause a claustrophobic effect.
Mirrors are probably one of the best tools around for enhancing a small space. A large mirror in front of the bathroom sink will reflect all of the light in the room and if your small bathroom allows, a mirror that extends over the sink and toilet almost like a feature mirrored wall will give of the hotel-luxury feel.
If space is tight then consider smaller mirrors dotted around the room (in keeping with a cottage of Victorian-type style) or mirrored cabinets or even a medicine cabinet with mirrored doors – all of which should create the same effect.
Chrome finished accessories also help with creating the appearance of space in a small bathroom so consider toilet brush holders, toothpaste holders, and chrome or stainless steel effect dustbins to finish off the look.
BE CLASSY, USE GLASS
A glass shower screen as opposed to a shower curtain will do wonders for maximising – or rather, giving the sense of maximised – space. Glass shower doors are increasingly becoming more and more popular – not only for their sleek and functional contemporary design but also for their hygienic, easy to clean properties.
Stay away from textured glass as it may chop a bathroom design up, create a visual barrier and make it feel like it has an extra wall.
A metallic or glass design in a bathroom will help to catch the light and reflect it around the room.
Create a feature floor by utilising medium to large floor tiles in your bathroom design. Medium floor tiles give the illusion of more space and one of the most popular techniques is through a process called unified tiling whereby the big tiles are laid alongside a grout of a similar colour to create the impression of a cohesive, integrated space.
Blending the tile to the wall doubles the space in a small bathroom. By blending the colour of the tile with the wall, it will create the look of one larger room.
Avoid mosaic style patterns or small, fussy tiles as it will draw the eye in and gives the impression of closing in whereas larger tiles and patterns open the space right up. Again, go for whites and lights and glossy tiles to aid the perception of a big bathroom.
FITTINGS TO FIT
Corner or wall-hung fittings save space, ensure otherwise awkward parts of the room are being used and make the most out of the limited space.
Additionally, pedestal or wall-mounted sinks will also save a lot of bathroom space as opposed to vanity cabinets. Replacing the vanity with a pedestal sink can be inexpensive and will definitely open up more floor space.
For lost storage, utilise the walls. Keep your floor space as free as possible. A couple of wall shelves should help with replacing the space you lost when removing the vanity but keep it simple and clutter free. Store towels and other essentials out of sight in a nearby cupboard or linen closet.
Bulky storage is seriously overpowering in a small bathroom design so if your budget allows, reframe one of your walls and introduce some recess shelving. Sunken shelf space, particularly in the shower can hold all of your showering essentials without encroaching on valuable space within the room itself.
It’s the perfect way of increasing your storage capacity without making the room seem cramped. Practical and visually attractive, towels and toiletries will be kept neatly stored and off the surfaces. For extra oomph, install spotlights to create creative focal points.
These are just some design ideas to spruce up your small bathrooms. If you think there’s anything we’ve missed then be sure to get in touch and if you’ve got a small bathroom that you’re particularly proud of – send us your pics! We may feature them in our next article.