ikea floating vanity unit for small bathroom

15 clever ways to make a small bathroom seem bigger

September 2, 2022

The average UK bathroom size is less than 8 foot squared, but never fear, these small bathroom ideas will help you make your bathroom look bigger and work harder. While it may seem like your options are limited when it comes to small spaces, there are plenty of design tricks, layout options and hardworking pieces of furniture to help you make the most of it. Good Homes shares 15 small bathroom ideas that really will help make the space seem bigger…

1. Uniform tiling

‘Tiling the entire room in the same design is effective in small spaces, creating a tailored look,’ says Melanie Clear, founder and director of Clear Architects. This also works well with recessed shelving – making the whole space look neater, more cohesive and channelling on-trend minimalism.

Also, consider whether you want to add height or width to your space, and lay tiles accordingly: ‘Applying tiles vertically adds depth to the room and gives the illusion of higher ceilings. Laying horizontally, you can optically ‘stretch’ the room out and create the feel of a wider space,’ explains Kamila Chalfin, brand manager at Tile Giant.

white tiles with swirls on walls and floor

Zen porcelain tiles in Gloss and Decor finishes in Natural from Mandarin Stone

2. Walk-in shower

Having said that, when it comes to walk-in showers, it pays to play with your tile style because you have a more floor space to fill. Geometrics such as hexagons are great for creating zoned areas around showers and vanity units. Utilise the unusual edges to create half-height borders and allow them to cascade down the walls for extra visual interest. ‘Being clever with shapes – using hexagonal tiles or mosaic – adds interest without overwhelming a small space,’ says Chalfin.

blue patterned bathroom tiles on floor and ceiling

Sunburst matt porcelain tiles in Sea Blue from Verona Group 

3. Floating furniture

Floating furniture can help create the illusion of a larger floor plan because spaciousness is often perceived by the amount of visible space ,rather than the size of the room. Ideally, opt for a floating loo as well. The installation of a wall-hung WC may require a false wall for the pipework to be boxed in, which is an opportunity to create alcove shelving for display items. Floating furniture also makes it easier to keep your floors clean as dust has fewer nooks and crannies to hide in!

ikea floating vanity unit for small bathroom

Enhet / Tvallen wash-basin cabinet from Ikea

4. Small baths

Think you can’t fit a bath in your bathroom? Think again. There are plenty of baths out there that are more compact, but this Tubby bath from Albion Bath Co is a particular favourite. Narrow, but deep, it’s not your usual bathing experience. But if you can’t live without a good soak in the tub, this could be your best bet.

albion bath co tubby bath pink - bathroom - goodhomesmagazine.com

Tubby bath from Albion Bath Co

5. Savvy shower doors

Large shower enclosure doors are going to be cumbersome in a small space. With a bi-fold system, there’s more frame visible, making the space more visually cluttered and cleaning more awkward. Instead, seek out a style with minimal framing and a clever opening system, like the Arysto Eight infold shower door from Merlyn. It will cost more but the space-saving effect will be worth it.

6. Compact cabinets

When it comes to wall storage in a compact bathroom, you don’t have to opt for deep units. The GoodHome Imandra Gloss bathroom cabinets from B&Q are perfect for a bathroom, as they offer just the right depth for toiletries, but on a wider scale, so you can always easily find what you need without rummaging to the back of the cupboard.

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~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes

b&q bathroom storage range beloya - bathroom - goodhomesmagazine.com

GoodHome Imandra Gloss bathroom cabinets collection

7. Flooring focus

A smaller bathroom also gives you the opportunity to be more exciting with your floor choices. While in a larger space, anything too gaudy can become a bit much, a smaller bathroom means you can experiment and add character through flooring. A patterned design is also thought to make the room feel bigger, and pairs beautifully with white or pastel walls.

Small bathroom ideas, patterned flooring in small en-suite space, goodhomesmagazine.com

Ornamental Girona Blue floor tiles from Tile Giant

8. Recessed shelving

Recessed shelving is a great way to add bathroom storage without adding clutter. For many, one rectangular recessed shelf in the shower will do for shower gel and shampoo, but you could also use the full height of the wall to maximise storage space. This way, you can also add a few decorative items to add character without cluttering. Plus, internal stud walls mean you can recess shelving without losing any floor space.

Small bathroom with freestanding bath and grey tiles with bamboo shelves

Trojan Space Saver bath from UK Bathrooms

9. Over-the-loo shelving

Recessed shelving may not be an option for all, but wall shelves, ladder shelves and tall cabinets still allow you to use the full height of the space for bathroom storage. Wall shelves are especially handy if you don’t have room for a ladder shelf or tall cabinet. And utilising the space above the loo for shelving is a no-brainer in a small space.

Above toilet bathroom shelf storage

Bronx over-toilet storage unit from Next

10. Bespoke cabinets

There really is no better way to make use of small or awkward spaces than to go bespoke. A wall of built-in cupboards with handleless doors painted the same colour as the walls takes up a small amount of floor area, and it appears to recede into the background while providing plenty of storage for towels and toiletries. Opting for a design with a mix of closed and display shelving will help avoid a vanity unit dominating the space.

Built in bathroom cupboards painted in the same colour as the tiles makes a bathroom look bigger

Interior design by Lisa Burke Interiors with Sensi porcelain tiles from Domus

11. Maximise those corners

A compact corner basin is a useful option in a small room because it won’t project too far into the space. Most designs have a single tap hole or none at all, in which case you’ll need to install wall-mounted fittings.

corner sink unit from victorian plum

Mode Harrison grey corner floor-standing vanity unit and basin from Victoria Plum

12. Make use of all space

Think of all the areas in the bathroom that waste space and look to make the most of them with clever furnishings like this Olympia unit from Soak, which incorporates a basin and WC, utilising the space below the basin for storage and that above the cistern as additional surface space.

soak olympia walnut vanity drawer - goodhomesmagazine.com

Olympia bathroom unit from Soak

13. Mirrored finishes

It’s the oldest trick in the book, but mirrors really do create the illusion of space by bouncing around light and tricking the eye as to the boundaries of the space. ‘Mirrored tiles take this a step further,’ says Marketa Rypacek, Managing Director of Industville. ‘Even just using these types of tiles on one wall in the room will increase space perception. Alternatively, why not make an on-trend statement and invest in a mirrored bath?’ Don’t go for mirrors on opposing walls, however, as the effect may be overpowering.

mirrored finish freestanding bathtub

Brooklyn Bathroom Dome wall light by Industville. Photo: @annas_attic_interiors_shop

14. Multi-functional fixtures

When you don’t have room for all the fixtures you need, find products that offer dual purposes for the same amount of space, like this Harmonique Duo design from Vogue. The towel rail has a lift up section to double up as a useful towel shelf, and the unit also includes a radiator.

harmonique vogue radiators dual purpose towel rail for bathroom - goodhomesmagazine.com

Harmonique Duo design from Vogue

15. Go minimalist

It’s crucial to keep clutter under control. ‘Bottles, jars and pots scattered around the room will make it feel cramped,’ explains Jude Tugman, MD at Architect Your Home. ‘Scale your storage design to suit the room and the things you wish to store – oversized or too much furniture will make your bathroom feel smaller. Your best bet is a wall-mounted vanity with an integrated washbasin; this offers the illusion of a bigger floor area while keeping toiletries out of sight.’

small bathroom ideas: minimalist bathroom

Milano Oxley Golden oak wall hung vanity with countertop basin from the Big Bathroom Shop


A message from the editor:

Let us help you create the home of your dreams! Get ideas & inspiration from Good Homes every month, delivered direct to your door. Visit goodhomesmagazine.com/newsletter to sign up for the weekly Good Homes newsletter. Meet the Good Homes team at Ideal Home Show and be inspired by our on-trend roomsets.

~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes