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How to design an en-suite bathroom

10 tips to help you create a stylish space with ample light and storage

By Paula Woods | 24 February 2022

Creating an en suite bathroom can be tricky, especially when space is limited. There are many factors to consider, from layout to doorway positioning and natural light. These beautiful bathroom ideas and planning tips will help you make an informed choice.

1. Play with scale

Prevent a tiny room looking bland and boxy by using colour and pattern. This update on a monochrome scheme balances navy and white in a 60:40 ratio so that neither dominates the space. The below cloakroom was designed by Katie Malik. Pictured below: Elm Mini basin, West One Bathrooms. Senza loo, Lusso. Vintage Mono floor tiles, 200x200mm, and Heritage wall tiles, 75x150mm, Techtile London. Old Navy paint, Benjamin Moore.

Navy en-suite bathroom with white tiles and white sanitaryware

Photo: Katie Portway

2. Privacy matters

Consider what can be seen from the bedroom when planning the layout for an en suite. If possible, avoid placing the loo or bath facing the doorway, otherwise use an opaque glass screen or build a half-height partition wall. Scheme by Pippa Patton Design. Pictured below: Mozzano bath, L1,645xW741xD502mm, Victoria + Albert Baths.

En suite bathroom with sloping ceiling and freestanding tub with wooden features

Photo: Pippa Patton Design +

3. Room rethink

The minimum space needed for a cloakroom with a loo and basin is 700mm by 1,300mm, and this is with a sliding or outward-opening door. Under-stair cupboards with sufficient headroom and pantries are candidates for conversion. Pictured below: Duravit Vero handbasin, W450xD350xH160mm, Samuel Heath Landmark Pure mixer in urban brass, CP Hart.

Blue tiled bathroom with white square basin and exposed brass pipes and taps

Photo: C.P Hart

4. Take a new angle

A compact corner basin is a useful option in a small room because it won’t project 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. Pictured below: Cloakroom with marble corner basin and wooden peg storage, Kitesgrove

Corner basin in marble on grey wall of en suite bathroom

Photo: Kitesgrove

5. New moves

Partition off a big bedroom by building a stud wall to create a shower enclosure. Building Regulations will apply in any home that requires new drainage and ventilation. SPictured below: ynchronicity right-hand alcove enclosure in brushed brass, L1,600xW800mm, with anti-slip tray, integrated 800mm vanity unit, Onyx Dust vanity top and Natural Halifax Oak drawers, from Roman.

Creating an en suite bathroom can be tricky, especially when space is limited. There are many factors to consider, from layout to doorway positioning and natural light. These beautiful bathroom ideas and planning tips will help you make an informed choice.

1. Play with scale

Prevent a tiny room looking bland and boxy by using colour and pattern. This update on a monochrome scheme balances navy and white in a 60:40 ratio so that neither dominates the space. The below cloakroom was designed by Katie Malik. Pictured below: Elm Mini basin, West One Bathrooms. Senza loo, Lusso. Vintage Mono floor tiles, 200x200mm, and Heritage wall tiles, 75x150mm, Techtile London. Old Navy paint, Benjamin Moore.

Navy en-suite bathroom with white tiles and white sanitaryware

Photo: Katie Portway

2. Privacy matters

Consider what can be seen from the bedroom when planning the layout for an en suite. If possible, avoid placing the loo or bath facing the doorway, otherwise use an opaque glass screen or build a half-height partition wall. Scheme by Pippa Patton Design. Pictured below: Mozzano bath, L1,645xW741xD502mm, Victoria + Albert Baths.

En suite bathroom with sloping ceiling and freestanding tub with wooden features

Photo: Pippa Patton Design +

3. Room rethink

The minimum space needed for a cloakroom with a loo and basin is 700mm by 1,300mm, and this is with a sliding or outward-opening door. Under-stair cupboards with sufficient headroom and pantries are candidates for conversion. Pictured below: Duravit Vero handbasin, W450xD350xH160mm, Samuel Heath Landmark Pure mixer in urban brass, CP Hart.

Blue tiled bathroom with white square basin and exposed brass pipes and taps

Photo: C.P Hart

4. Take a new angle

A compact corner basin is a useful option in a small room because it won’t project 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. Pictured below: Cloakroom with marble corner basin and wooden peg storage, Kitesgrove

Corner basin in marble on grey wall of en suite bathroom

Photo: Kitesgrove

5. New moves

Partition off a big bedroom by building a stud wall to create a shower enclosure. Building Regulations will apply in any home that requires new drainage and ventilation. SPictured below: ynchronicity right-hand alcove enclosure in brushed brass, L1,600xW800mm, with anti-slip tray, integrated 800mm vanity unit, Onyx Dust vanity top and Natural Halifax Oak drawers, from Roman.

6. Open aspect

Creating a wet room is one way to make good use of a small en suite, though it will need to be professionally tanked and have drainage fitted in the floor. Using a limited number of materials throughout the room creates a sense of spaciousness. Pictured below: Royal Natural stone, Lundhs.

En suite bathroom with dark stone wall and flooring and large window

Photo: Lundhs

7. Go streamlined

A sliding or pocket door may free up enough space for a tiny cloakroom or en suite. Fitted storage and an integrated loo and washbowl will also help to make a tight layout functional. Pictured below: Shower room with bespoke joinery and pocket door, 2LG Studio. Countertop basin, and wall-hung loo, Lusso.

En suite bathroom with built in toilet and closet

Photo: 2LG

8. A clear advantage

Let daylight from an adjacent bedroom brighten a gloomy en suite by fitting glazed panels or doors. Choose etched, sandblasted or opaque glass for privacy or install a glazed panel above a solid door. Pictured below: Whole house renovation project, including en-suite bathroom with bespoke metal-framed doors, Gunter & Co.

En suite bathroom with bifold doors leading to freestanding bath and basin

Photo: Gunter & Co

9. Solar channel

Fit a sun tunnel to bring daylight into a windowless en suite or cloakroom. This reflective tube can be relayed up to 6m from roof to ceiling. The supplier or your architect will advise on the correct size and format for your room and roof type. Pictured below: Rigid and flexible sun tunnels for pitched roofs, Velux.

En suite bathroom in powder blue with white square basin resting on wooden side board

Photo: Velux

10. Room to manoeuvre

For a compact layout, choose a close-coupled loo that’s less than 650mm deep. Allow at least 150mm between the loo and the wall or basin for comfort. Rak-Petit wall-hung round basin, W765 x D360 x H140mm, Rak-Joy vanity unit, W400 x D220 x H600mm, Rak-Des loo, W380 x D640 x H820mm, Rak Ceramics.

Wooden en suite bathroom with white fittings

Photo: Rak Ceramics


Outstanding design

Even the smallest room can make a really big impression, says Clara Ewart, head of design at Kitesgrove.

  • Paint walls in a rich, dark colour and contrast with metallic brassware and crisp, white ceramics. For an even more luxurious scheme, clad walls in wood panelling.
  • If you prefer to use a pale wall colour, add interest with a colourful vanity unit or the ceramics and brassware.
  • Paint the ceiling in an eye-catching hue. Choosing a shade that’s darker than the walls will improve the look of awkward proportions in a small room with a high ceiling.
  • Another bold option is to hang a water-resistant patterned wallpaper. Continue the paper onto the ceiling for a cocooning effect. Avoid small repeat patterns as these will look too busy.
  • Similarly, patterned floor tiles add character without overwhelming a small room. Bold geometrics work particularly well.
  • Create interest in pale, tonal schemes with a combination of different textures and finishes.

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