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Planning a Small Bathroom Space

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 18 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Bathroom Style Corner Console Sinks

Many bathrooms are not as big as their owners wish they were but if you have a truly small bathroom then you need to plan carefully to make the best use of the space. The good news is that there are bathroom fittings you can select that will help you shoehorn everything in without cramping your style.

Map Out Your Bathroom

The first thing to do is to make a scale map of the bathroom as it stands at the moment, or the space where it is going to be, if you are converting an existing room. You can do this on ordinary graph paper or use a computer if you're handy with a graphics package. If you're using paper, then make cardboard or paper cut-outs of the bathroom fittings and move them around on the paper (or screen) to see what works best.

Bear in mind that moving the plumbing supply pipes and the waste outlets can be difficult and expensive so you need to know how far you can go with major changes. Radiators will cause a problem too, so treat them as immovable objects unless you are happy to move them. One trick that might make a difference to the usable space in the room is to reverse the direction in which the door opens. Mind out that it doesn't then cause a safety hazard on a landing or the stairs though.

Allow for Space

When planning the bathroom layout you need to allow for the space around each fitting so that it can be used easily by the whole family. There's nothing worse than sitting down on the toilet for the first time and discovering that you can't close the door because your knees are in the way.

Space requirements around each bathroom fitting are as follows:

  • Basin or sink: 110cm by 70cm
  • Toilet: 60cm in front and 20cm on each side
  • Bath: 70cm x 110cm on the side
  • Shower: at least 70cm in front of the door

Remember also to allow room for the shower door to open, if it is in a cubicle, and 220cm headroom above the bath. That's something to particularly watch out for if you are putting an en suite bathroom in a loft conversion and using space under the eaves.

To Bath or Shower, that is the Question

You may want to consider whether to have a bath at all, or perhaps to have a bath and no shower, or a shower over the bath. There's no right or wrong choice, it depends on what your family needs.

If you are doing up the bathroom as part of a property development project, consider your target market. Young professionals looking for a one or two bedroom flat will be happy with just a shower but a three bedroom house will attract families who would probably prefer a bath.

Look to the Corners for Extra Space

If space is still really tight once you have tried all the different combinations, look at specialist bathroom fittings that can use the corners. There are corner console sinks and basins as well as corner toilets and they are usually very contemporary in style.

Corner toilets will almost certainly have a close coupled fitting between the cistern and the bowl and you will need to make sure that there is room to get the soil pipe to the outlet. Most suppliers will have technical specs for the corner toilets they supply so that you can check out these details before you buy.

Corner sinks, usually mounted on a console, won't be as tricky to fit but you still need to check that it's all going to fit. The waste pipe is narrower on a sink so running it from a corner to the existing outlet is easier than for a toilet. Make sure you pick taps that will work with a corner console sink though, they need to be short spout models but not so short that they won’t reach into the basin.

Create Space for a Spacious Look

The last thing to think about is storage. Of course it's going to be hard to make any storage space in a room that's already small, but if you can create spaces where you can tuck everything out of sight, the lack of clutter in itself will make the room look bigger.

Consider shelves above doors, so they aren't seen when you first walk in, wall mounted cupboards in the space above the toilet and console cupboards for sinks, whether they're in the corner or not. You might even put a door in the bath panel if possible so that you can stuff cleaning products and paraphernalia away in the small space below the bath.

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