Small bathroom layouts – 14 ways to arrange a snug washroom

Compact washrooms and small bathroom layouts don't have to compromise on style or functionality – we have living proof...

A small bathroom layout with white bathtub with geometric bathroom flooring area, bath table, black statement faucet and bathroom storage ladder
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Small bathroom layouts are an enjoyable challenge for some of us, and a nightmare for the large majority! But, rather than despising your diddy space, relish in the fact that you can rely on the Real Homes team to come up with some create ways to arrange your scheme wisely.

Small bathroom ideas are something we're well-versed in. From snug city WCs and under-the-stair cloakrooms, the need for social and private housing means that toilet rooms, shower enclosures and bathing areas need to be thought out carefully.

So we've rounded up our favorite small bathroom layout ideas for you to see. From interior tips to trick the eyes, to corner furniture that can be squeezed into the finest of spaces and mirrors that seem to magic up more room – these viable options can help you to reinvent your restroom.

Small bathroom layouts that are practical and stylish

'The family bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home,' says Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs

'It needs to be both practical and live up to the task at hand with busy bath times but also be stylish and offer adults and grown up a space where they can relax and unwind.'

'One of the most important things to consider in a family bathroom is the layout. Getting it right from the start will mean that you have a bathroom that works for the whole family.'

'Don’t think about how you use your bathroom currently, but how you’d like to use it in the future and use that as a starting point. If your layout isn’t quite right, think about the ways you might be able to make small but effective changes.'

'The other thing to think about is how you might use your bathroom might change over time. Just because you don’t need a bath or shower right now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future so think carefully about what you might require to future proof your family bathroom.'

'While there are many bathroom products that may be required in a family bathroom, it is normally crucial that a bath makes the list. Freestanding tubs work for the whole family and if space is tight, there are smaller versions available including ones at 1400mm in length.'

1. Save space with a shower over bath combo

A grey bathroom with shower over bathtub setup with multicolored shower curtain and statement chandelier lighting fixture

(Image credit: Future)

If you're arguing with your partner on whether to have a shower or bath in your ensuite bathroom – it is totally possible to have both. In this grey and white scheme, a ring-shaped shower rail has been installed above the tub to offer a two-in-one washing solution.

As you can see, adding character doesn't come at a cost of losing valuable space either. The colorful shower curtain and chandelier don't cut into the floor plan. Instead, they add a vibrant personality to the place, and create height.

2. Set on separates? Squeeze in a tiny tub

A traditional bedroom with very small pink freestanding rolltop bath in bedroom

(Image credit: Albion Bath Company)

If the shower-over-bath solution doesn't float your boat – make use of every square inch with by investing in a roll top bath in a bedroom. 

Boujie and intimate, this small bathroom bathtub means that you can have a soak while your significant other showers next door. A perfect romantic bedroom idea for couples that we've fallen head over heels for.

3. Envelop your powder room in a busy print

A powder room with oval brass-framed mirror and statement black and leopard motif wallcovering

(Image credit: Cole and Son)

A powder room is perfect for a quick make-up check before guests arrive, and a convenient place for tradesman and others to pee without necessarily going into your main family bathroom.

But if you want your small bathroom layout to stand out – consider investing in a statement wallpaper. Now – don't fret on the advice that busy prints can make the space look smaller. If anything, stand-out motifs can create a cozy and intimate scheme, and we think you'll agree that this Leopard Walk wallpaper, from Cole and Sons is wild.

While some camps say that a light and airy scheme should be adopted to enhance the space, there's also a school of thought that dark designs can disguise how weeny your WC actually is.

4. Be strategic with your storage

A white bathroom with bathtub, brass faucet fixture and modular shelving

(Image credit: Nest)

When looking at small bathroom organization, you might find it challenging to store all your toiletries and cosmetics. Add a partner's manscaping materials, and bubba's bath bits and it can all get a bit chaotic. 

So it's important to find appropriate storage solutions to create a clutter-free space that's still family-friendly and functional.

'In a small room, utilizing valuable wall space is a must and with a large collection of modular shelving solutions, such as mirrored cabinets, sliding door cabinets and open shelving, there is a style suitable for every scheme,' says Peter Erlandsson, Co-owner and director of Scandinavian-style furniture company, String Furniture.

'Add accessories such as hooks, organizers and rods to give bathroom accessories a place of their own.'

5. Add large tile panels on the back wall

A small bathroom with large scale marble-effect tile panels and pink free standing bath with chandelier

(Image credit: BC Designs)

If you're looking for tips and tricks on how to make your bathroom look bigger, the good news is that you don't need uber-expensive lighting, a CGI studio, or the need to remodel your home. Thankfully, big bathroom tiles can create a beautiful backdrop and give the illusion that  your washroom is wider than it actually is.

'Large format replica marble tiles are a major player within bathroom trends at the moment and for good reason,' says Cutchie.

'They provide a sleek finish as the size results in far fewer grout lines – perfect for limiting the build-up of mold. It is also myth that large format tiles should only be used in large rooms. In fact, smaller spaces are perfect for them as using oversized tiles can trick the eye into thinking the room is much larger than it is so are perfect for en suites or smaller shower rooms. Large formats and panels will reduce grout lines for smooth, easy-to-clean surface with less spaces for mold to build up.'

The lighter backdrop of the centrally-positioned pink freestanding bath, also creates a whimsical airiness in this area.

6. Use mirrors and reflective surfaces on the back wall

A french-style bathroom with reflective roll top freestanding bath and mirrored wall

(Image credit: Malcom Menzies)

'Mirrors can be used instead of windows, if your bathroom is lacking this feature, to create the illusion of space by reflecting light,' says Adam Chard, Victoria Plum.

'You’ll ideally want a large mirror but this should not be so big as to dominate the space. You can always buy a medium sized mirror and consider using mirrored wall tiles in a border or pattern to increase the light reflecting capabilities of your bathroom. You can even go the extra mile and choose a bathroom mirror with lights, which will help to boost the illusion of more light and space in your bathroom.'

As a design trick, position your small bathroom mirrors to 'face' a window – this way it'll reflect the exterior space to let the outside in.

'Mirrors above baths is a trend that is growing. Place a mirror in a horizontal position on the wall above the bath,' adds Sophia Charalambous, founder and owner of Bathroom Origins.

'This acts as a focal point and instantly makes a room look much larger.'

7. Buy space-appropriate storage for awkward corners

An under the stairs downstairs toilet with white toilet, blue half-tiled wall and corner vanity unit

(Image credit: Victoria Plum)

Having a hard time planning your downstairs toilet? One expert suggests paying extra-special attention when shopping for furniture for this space. Sure the best vanity units might ooze style, aesthetic appeal (and might even be on sale), but if they don't fit or you're shuffling after your trip to the toilet – it's not worth the inconvenience of playing interior Tetris.

'When space is at a premium you need to be cautious with what you buy. Cloakroom bathrooms typically don’t require larger units like baths and showers, so stick with toilets and washbasins instead,' says Chard.

'Corner basins are perfect for a cloakroom and can be matched with a corner toilet to make great use of space. If you’ve got a fairly generous cloakroom bathroom then a close coupled toilet should fit in comfortably. If you’d rather keep everything compact then our space saving back to wall toilets and wall hung toilets are ideal.'

'If you have items which cause clutter, like bottles of household cleaner, consider installing a cloakroom vanity unit. There are plenty of slimline designs available which fit small spaces.'

8. Make mirrors work harder with multiple light sources

A black bathroom with marble large panel tiles and hexagonal small tiles with wall scone, hanging pendant lights and floating furniture

(Image credit: Dunelm)

If you're brave enough to opt for a dark bathroom scheme, you'll have to be careful with your small bathroom lighting to ensure you can use the space practically on a day-to-day basis. In this design by Dunelm, a wall scone has been partnered with hanging pendants and positioned near a light-reflecting mirror to provide ample task lighting in this small bathroom layout.

More than just a glam touch, the brass finish on the mirror frame and lights pay dividends to a snug arrangement.

'Lighting is one of our favorite ways to decorate with brass,' says Richard Skelton, e-commerce and brand director at Utility Design.

'Opt for brass finishes on your lighting to really illuminate the room. When light reflects on the brass it creates a gorgeous halo effect, giving your space a really ambient, golden glow.'

9. Carve out a shower space in an alcove

A white bathroom with a grey shower inside an alcove space and large arch mirror

(Image credit: Nest )

You may have heard the idiom: 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' and that's exactly the approach many of us take to alcoves. While some homeowners see it as a hindrance, others see opportunity.

So you can only imagine our eyes when we saw this small bathroom shower design. With pumice-esque wall paneling, this is one way to create a spa-like small bathroom layout.

'People are investing in their homes and want to create their very own sanctuary and place to escape and what better way than creating your very own spa in your home,' says Darren Allison, managing director at BC Designs.

10. Ditch a cubicle for wet room flooring

A wet room with blue chalky wall paint decor, brass shower head fixture and wooden beam ceiling

(Image credit: Future)

When designing a small bathroom layout, it's okay to feel protective of your snug space, forgoing bulky bathtubs and style-cramping cubicles. Instead, you must want to create a wet room which will allow you to take advantage of the full floor plan. This chalky navy wall-effect is the perfect balance of modern and smart.

'Wet floors and wet rooms are a great way of maximizing the space that you have available and enable you to completely change the look and feel of your bathroom.' says Nick Graville, sales and marketing director at Kudos Showers.

'When it comes to showers, a separate shower can often be considered a luxury if space is tight,' agrees Cutchie.

'However, there are a couple of clever ways around it including wet rooms and folding shower screens that take up much less room than a typical shower. Wet rooms tend to not need enclosures or bulky shower trays and can blend into the aesthetics of the rest of the room.'

11. Use a screen to zone comfort breaks and shower space

A bathroom with white toilet, white tiled backdrop, overhead rattan cylindrical shelf, concrete grey shower with black framed shower frame and black freestanding bath with hanging plants

(Image credit: Future)

As well as stopping water from spraying everywhere, a shower panel can act as a divider to zone distinct areas of your small bathroom layout. So, if you're a busy parent who just so happens to be showering when your child desperately needs a comfort break (convenient... Not!), you can at least have some privacy.

The divider also means that you have the opportunity (if you wish) to create two differently-decorated spaces. For example, on the left is a contemporary white scheme with overhead small bathroom storage (clever!), and on the right a biophilic, yet slightly industrial, clutter-free concrete jungle.

12. Buy bespoke furniture for a loft bathroom

A loft bathroom with bespoke mirror, wide bathroom vanity and white freestanding bath

(Image credit: Future)

'Space constraints in your home may mean, when it comes to a new bathroom, the only way is up. You’re not alone. Turning your loft into a bathroom is fast becoming a popular choice,' says Chard.

'If you're looking at making the most of a relatively small space, you might want to base the whole design around a shower. Curved shower enclosures are a great solution for unconventional spaces, but for those looking for a modern edge, walk in shower enclosures have a wide range of uses and adaptations.'

'Even in the tightest of spaces, you can usually make room for a bath, especially where a sloping roof may make it impractical for a shower.'

'The sloping ceilings in most lofts offer both challenges and opportunities when it comes to storage. Fitting bespoke cabinets to complement the flow of the room can be effective but expensive while the clever use of items, such as toilet and sink combination units, can offer practical solutions that look fantastic, whatever the design and size of the room they’re in.'

13. Zone a bedroom bath with bathroom flooring

A white bathtub in a bedroom with geometric bathroom flooring area, bath table, black statement faucet and bathroom storage ladder

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

If you're small bathroom layout only leaves space for a shower, but you're blessed with a large bedroom – create a bathing corner in your boudoir.

Creating a distinct space couldn't be simpler. By introducing waterproof bathroom flooring to contrast against your carpet or laminate, you can design a beautiful bath time backdrop. We love this trendy design that's made up of geometric grey and white tiles, a generous tub, black statement faucet, and that gorgeous statement bath table. 

14. Liven up your layout with a feature shower wall

A small bathroom with pink wall decor and shower wall with floral decorative feature

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to the bathroom paint ideas for small bathrooms, we're often advised by interior experts to opt for pale and neutral shades, in order to err on the side of caution.

But, if you do fancy adding a bit of interest and femininity, a floral shower wall can add a fancy flair to your small bathroom layout and draw the eye to the back of the room, so that you and your guests take in the full depth and breadth of your bathroom.

This feature tile design is perfect for renters for those afraid of commitment. If you do get bored of the motif, you can remove the patterned slabs and replace them with plain plates.

How do I layout my small bathroom?

'We’re seeing a growing trend for folding shower screens.' says Sally Cutchie, marketing manager at BC Designs.

'These can easily be folded back when the shower isn’t use, helping to create a sense of space as well as the ability to easily use other products during family bath time such as a bath.'

Christina Chrysostomou
Christina Chrysostomou

 CHRISTINA CHRYSOSTOMOU: DIGITAL WRITER, REALHOMES.COM

The newest addition to the team, I am a Digital Writer at Realhomes.com and joined the team in June 2021.

Living in close proximity to Epping Forest, I am spoiled for choice with lush green spaces and also have a lovely English garden complete with a floral melange of roses, lavender, jasmine and an apple tree in my 2-bed ground floor maisonette.


My interior style is…

Quite the juxtaposition, my home is a 'coordinated hodgepodge' of the latest interior styles. However, featuring lots of white and grey decor, oak doors throughout and an upcycled rustic shelf made from a ladder and two wooden planks, the Scandi Chic trend dominates my home.

I'm also a massive fan of multi-functional broken plan design. My living room space is an office by day and social space to relax on evenings and weekends.


My next project...

I love entertaining family and friends and often extend my hospitality to include an overnight stay. So my next project would be to renovate our guest room with a boutique hotel style scheme to create a luxe-looking space.


My lust list...

Appearances are everything in Essex, so a huge statement floor length mirror is on the list! Failing that, a lovely vintage Persian rug would also add some color and culture to my sitting room space. Having been stuck indoors during lockdown, I'm a woman consumed by wanderlust. 

So all in all, I think the real answer is - a blank checkbook?


Special interests:

I'm a sucker for high street and designer brand collaborations. I think they are a great way of getting your hands on a statement piece at an entry-level price. 


Follow me:

Instagram: @stinachrysostomou

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