Much has changed over the years when it comes to our homes: how we live in them, what day-to-day tasks we carry out in them and what we expect of them; but the room which has seen the biggest transformation has to be the bathroom.

Where the bathroom was once seen as a luxury, we now see it as not only a necessity, but also somewhere to relax and unwind. Who would have thought that the room most often missing from a house altogether would one day become one of the biggest selling points. However, despite our passion for stylish and luxurious bathrooms, not all of us have the available space for huge bathing areas. Renovators of older houses in particular often find themselves faced with compact bathrooms, and whilst self-builders may be starting from scratch, it is often the bedrooms and living areas which are given priority in the space stakes.

So, just how do you go about making the most of the space you have available? Thankfully, many bathroom manufacturers are aware of the space constraints that a lot of people are faced with and so have good ranges specifically designed to fit in the more bijou bathrooms out there. Making the most of a small space is about more than just which products you choose, it is also based on thorough planning of how to best use your modestly scaled space and good design. Before coming up with any potential layouts, you should give thought to what you need from your bathroom. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who will be using the room? Is it an en suite, or a family bathroom that needs to take into account the needs of small children? Perhaps there is an elderly member of the family that needs to be considered.
  • Will you need a bath, or would a shower be sufficient for your needs? Or would you ideally like both?
  • How much storage will you need for towels, toiletries and other bathroom essentials?

Once you have answers to these questions, you can begin to think about drawing up a plan. You cannot just rearrange the bathroom layout if you feel it isn’t working, so make sure you get it right from the start. To draw up a plan, measure the internal dimensions of your bathroom, taking doors and windows into account, as well as any features such as sloping ceilings, awkward corners etc. Using graph paper, draw a scaled plan (using a 10:1 ratio). Finally, don’t forget to consider the direction that doors and windows open, or to mark on heating, ventilation and storage space.

(MORE: Bathroom Showcase – 50 Great Bathrooms)


Wetrooms – where the bathroom floor effectively acts as the shower tray – are often one of the first solutions that spring to mind when dealing with a room that seems too small for a traditional bathroom layout. However, they do not always work well in compact areas. Underfloor heating (UFH) is strongly advised to help things dry out quickly and good ventilation is a must. Bear in mind that in a small wetroom all fixtures and fittings are in close proximity to one another — so the room really will be a wet one after showering, including towels, toothbrushes etc. Consider adding a glazed partial wall or screen to contain some of the water.

Things to remember:

Bathroom sizes: Whilst there is nothing in the Building Regulations to dictate how big a bathroom must be, it is advised that around 4.5m² (49ft²) provides a comfortable space.

Bath sizes: Standard rectangular baths measure 1,700 x 700mm. However, they are available in sizes as small as 1,500 x 700mm. Consider corner baths to save space.

Shower tray sizes: Although there is not a standard size as such, 800 x 800mm is fairly typical for a square shower tray

Circulation space: You should also allow around 700mm in front of a WC and basin and at least 1,000mm in front of a bath

Our Sponsors