If a poorly planned space is getting you down, rethink its design with smart storage and clever fixtures
Image: Arcade (01322 473 222; arcadebathrooms.com)
Generally short on space, the average UK bathroom rarely works as well as it could. Many are shoehorned into a room where the position of utilities dictates where the main elements sit. However, remodelling the layout doesn’t mean having to rip everything out and start from scratch.
A smarter, sleeker look is often simple to achieve with space-saving furniture, sanitaryware to suit the situation and some clever design tricks. ‘Space can be created from even the most limited area,’ reveals Karen Sperrin, commercial manager at Smiths Briten (0845 634 4321; purebathroom collection.co.uk). ‘Typically, the main waste outlet and water inlet can limit the options available, but with clever planning this can always be altered to fit your design.’
Evaluate your layout
List your needs. While every bathroom is different, there are some common problems – a lack of space, shortage of storage and a haphazard layout. Start by listing the issues with your current bathroom, as well as the things you like about it. It may be that you don’t use the bath as often as a shower, so you could remove the bath to gain some extra space for storage. For now, don’t factor in budget – this process is about identifying what your bathroom needs to work well and can be adapted to suit your spend.
Image: Cue & Co of London (cueandco.com)
Measure up. Next, take accurate dimensions of the room, find out where your water, waste and heating pipes are, and try a few online planning tools to experiment with different arrangements. ‘Layout is a major factor in any successful bathroom renovation,’ says Leanne Martin, head of product at Ideal Standard (01482 346 461; ideal-standard.co.uk). ‘For example, furniture that fits in corners is useful for packing more features into a small space. Could repositioning the basin and WC leave you with room for a freestanding bath, or could a slim-line basin or compact WC free up space for extra storage? Prior to ordering any products, consult a plumber who will be able to advise if your fixtures can be moved and check that the plans you have for your project are possible.’
Reconfigure the essentials. Moving plumbing and soil pipes tends to be expensive and time-consuming. However, it’s often the key to creating better flow within the layout, meaning you may be able to tuck a WC around a corner or make a bath or shower more accessible. When planning, don’t forget details that can go overlooked, such as provision for an extractor fan, where your room’s windows are located and which direction the door opens.
Stretch your space
Clutter-free bathrooms don’t happen by accident, so when you’re remodelling, it’s crucial to include sufficient storage, and banish visual clutter, such as pipework. Try to explore as many options as possible. ‘You could make the most of narrow wall spaces with tall, pigeonhole-style shelves,’ suggests James Holt, co-founder of Holt Construction (020 8878 2555; holtgroup.co.uk). ‘They are wonderfully compact and still allow you to display items. You could also declutter your shower by incorporating recessed panels to ensure your toiletries are close to hand.
Image: Victoria + Albert Baths (020 7351 4378; vandabaths.com)
Key tips before you buy:
- If you’re buying furniture from a range, see it in the flesh before you invest to get an idea of how much clearance is needed for drawers and doors and the amount of space inside.
- Look for wall-hung designs with recesses to conceal pipework – this will free up floor area to create the impression of a larger room.
- Reduced-depth and handleless units will make the bathroom feel more spacious, too.
- For pipework that can’t be hidden with furniture, think about adding a false stud wall that can provide an additional surface on which to mount furniture. Boxing in pipes is an option, but tends to be cumbersome and takes up space that could be given over to something more useful.
Image: RFFP03 Pipe floor-standing shower by Boffi, £2,613.32 at Inox Taps (+34 93 419 6439; inoxtaps.com). Vipp13 pedal bin, £175, Vipp (+45 4588 8800; vipp.com/en)
Smarten up sanitaryware
Baths, basins, WCs and showers take up the most room. While size and shape options were limited only a few years ago, now there’s a huge amount of choice to help you remodel, including compact designs and short-projection sanitaryware.
‘A room that’s overcrowded, with products that are not needed or sanitaryware whose size has been underestimated, is a common issue,’ explains Milena Cox, marketing manager at Catalano (catalano.co.uk). ‘Ensure you think about what size basin and WC will work best. Baths especially need to be carefully measured – many people overlook the basics of simply being able to get a new tub into the home.’
Search for pieces that solve a specific problem, such as P-shaped shower baths that combine the best of both worlds while proving extra room for showering, and freestanding baths that continue down to the floor, allowing for the waste pipes to be hidden below. As an alternative to standard shower enclosure sizes, consider a bespoke area, which can make the most of the available space in awkwardly shaped rooms with recesses, alcoves and sloping ceilings.
Image: Holt Construction (020 8878 2555; holtgroup.co.uk)
Words: Rachel Ogden