Build in Plenty of Storage

A family bathroom – unlike a master bedroom en suite – has to house not only those toiletries you want on show, but also hide medicines, bath toys, and lotions and potions for the whole household.

Building in plenty of shelving, providing storage space underneath or at the end of the bathtub, creating alcoves within the walls of shower enclosures, creating lidded window seats, and ensuring bath surrounds and window cills are deep enough to take the inevitable clutter they will collect, all help towards a sense of calm.

Think Child-Friendly

Opt for soft-close toilet seats and always go for a thermostatic shower to reduce the risk of scalding. Temperature regulators can also be fitted to the taps. A non-slip surface for baths and shower trays removes the risk of falls, while shower screens with curved edges mean no nasty scrapes or bumps.

Think carefully, too, about the bath design — hauling young children out of certain bath types can prove a little tiresome. Finally, choose a textured floor tile or one with a non-slip coating to avoid any nasty accidents.

“It Needs to be Flexible”

des-ewingArchitect Des Ewing heads an award-winning architectural practice, with offices in Belfast and London, specialising in residential work (

Family bathrooms should serve two functions: be practical and indulgent. On a practical level, if space allows, it’s useful to have two washbasins as kids tend to want to use the bathroom at the same time.

Lots of surface space next to the basin is essential. A vanity unit with an inset basin and a stone surround is an effective solution.

Choose a shower with a large drench showerhead above and a separate sliding rail shower at a lower level for convenience. Wall recesses for shampoo, shower gel, etc. are a clever and practical idea for shower storage so bottles don’t end up sitting around the shower tray making the bathroom look untidy.

Depending on the size of your bathroom, incorporating a separate toilet enclosure is proving to be an increasingly popular feature — and bear in mind that a wall-hung toilet makes cleaning the bathroom floor a little easier.

The bathroom should be a flexible space, where the mood can be easily changed to create a more spa-like ambience should you wish — lighting is the best way to achieve this. A low-level light that comes on with a movement sensor can give the room a soft glow.

Space Planning

There is nothing in the Building Regulations to say how big your bathroom must be; however, if it is to be used by the whole family, begin with the idea that 4.5m² provides a minimum comfortable space and build on it.

While it is tempting to skip a bath, this is not a good idea in a family room. Standard rectangular baths measure 170x70cm, but if you want to save on space without compromising on bathing area, consider a corner model — note that you need a minimum of 100cm in front of a bath.

“Avoid Clutter”

martin-carrollMartin Carroll is the MD of Duravit UK, the leading bathroom furniture and sanitaryware supplier (

The family bathroom has to offer a safe and relaxing environment for a range of ages, needs and abilities. A bath is top of the list for babies and children, but if you are short of space, a compact bath at around 140x80cm could be the perfect solution, and compact WCs are also available.

Install an easy-access shower area with a floor-level shower tray to avoid trip hazards, and include an anti-slip coating. In addition, the shower tray can be chosen in a colour to blend with floor tiles to make the room appear more spacious and to create a wetroom look.

Avoid clutter in the bathroom by choosing a vanity unit for the basin with lots of storage space and soft-close doors, or open shelving. An illuminated mirror is useful and a sensor on/off switch offers easy control for all ages. Choose a rimless WC for easy cleaning with a soft-close lid and an efficient 4.5 litre flush.


Avoid a tight shower enclosure in a family bathroom — far better to have either a wetroom-style set-up, or a single screen to divide the showering area. And remember, while fixed overhead showers look great, including an additional handheld shower makes for easier hosing down of children.

“Don’t Cram Things in”

hugo-tugmanHugo Tugman is the founder of Architect Your Home and Interior Your Home, and is an experienced house designer (0800 849 8505)

The most important tip I can share with you is to keep it simple and resist cramming too much in. It’s really important to think about the space. Many people seem to imagine that they can fill a tiny room with twin basins, WC, bath and shower, etc. leaving no space to even turn around, let alone dry yourself.

If you are a family of shower-heads, only put in a bath if you are thinking of resale and there will be no bath in the house. Small kids need a bath and many people in the market love to have the option, but if you are not thinking of selling, design it for you.

Avoid any 45˚ angles. Corner basins, WCs and baths may seem like a good idea on paper, but they never give a pleasing result in the long run. My tip for simplicity is to think about your bathroom design as a series of simple rectangular planes — instead of a mean little patch of splash-back tiles, consider tiling the width of the wall and instead of a shower screen that stops a foot short of the ceiling, take it all the way up, giving a cleaner and simpler look that will maximise the sense of space.

Plan for the Morning Rush

Twin basins are not just useful in couples’ bathrooms — they also really help out on those busy morning rushes in family bathrooms, allowing for two lots of teeth to be brushed or two dirty faces to be washed. Twin showers and double-ended baths come in useful, too.

“Storage is Key’

jane-burnside-copyArchitect Jane Burnside is author of Contemporary Design Secrets: The Art of Building a House in the Countryside, from Amazon, £20 (

There is no reason why the family bathroom can’t be as individual as the rest of your home. Open plan shower spaces, even big enough for two with dual shower heads, are visually striking, practical for all ages and enhance the feeling of space. Concealed toilet cisterns allow you to create a seamless look and also make them easier to clean.

Storage is the key to a successful, seamless look — floating cabinets with top-mounted basins work well here. Double washbasins and sculptural, freestanding baths make fabulous focus points, too. Heated towel rails will keep your towels dry and warm, but make sure your plumber puts them on a separate circuit so you can heat them for bath times.

Mix Luxury and Practicality

Family bathrooms are practical first — used primarily by children, they should be safe, spacious and ideally incorporate lots of storage to help keep clutter to a minimum. However, utilising modern, luxurious elements, such as flush (or almost flush) shower trays and feature lighting helps to make it presentable to guests and potential buyers, too.

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