5 ingenious bathroom hacks to get a better layout

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Sometimes a smart bathroom hack is just what you need to solve your layout dilemmas. Bathroom design may be far from a formula when it comes to choosing finishes and styles, but when it comes to where things go, these are the tried and trusted ideas. on which many designers fall back.

The problem is that when working with small bathroom ideas, you might have a clunky floor plan or something in the wrong place that wreaks havoc when it comes to perfecting your layout. If you work with the right interior designer, they should be able to fix the problems in your space, but if you go it alone, you might need a little help.

We asked five contemporary designers for their biggest and best bathroom hacks when it comes to getting the layout right and taking a good look at narrow, tiny and awkwardly shaped bathrooms to learn from their challenges.

Bathroom tricks to make the most of a small or cluttered space

There are recurring problems when it comes to fitting out your bathroom properly. These include the position of windows, where to place a tub and shower, and how to incorporate all the design elements you want when space isn’t on your side.

You might find yourself playing a game of Tetris with all the different accessories you want to include, but is there an idea you haven’t considered that might revolutionize your layout.

Maybe, and maybe one of these five ideas is what you’ve been looking for.

1. Opt for the custom-made bathtub to adapt to a narrow bathroom

a small tadelakt style bathroom

(Image credit: Huxley Architects)

Installing a tub in a small bathroom may be a priority for you, but it’s not always practical. Even if you opt for a scaled down miniature bathtub, its success depends on the measurements of the space you are working with and the amount of space that will potentially be wasted.

“The dimensions of the bathroom really prevented the use of a standard bath in the design,” says Richard Huxley, founder of Sydney-based Huxley Architects. (opens in a new tab) and designer of this modern and clever bathroom idea. “By designing a bespoke bathtub, it could adapt perfectly to the space and we could also play with the geometry of the room; having the bath provide a counterpoint to the floating shelves opposite the framed marble vanity in the center.

In order to obtain a coherent finish, the architect used a tadelakt lime plaster on the walls and the custom-made bathtub. “It was important that the bathtub belong to the room and not dominate the composition,” says Richard. “By making the bathtub like an extension of the wall, it became sturdy enough to belong, while respecting the other elements of the room.”

“That’s the beauty of designing a custom tub, it’s flexibility and uniqueness,” he adds. ‘You can specify any suitable finish you want. You can design a tub of almost any shape or size, or meet site-specific constraints with a design that a standard tub simply couldn’t solve.

2. Operate a window in a shower stall

a wet room with a screen above the window

(Image credit: West One Bathrooms)

The placement of existing windows can present a real problem for your bathroom layout – moving them as part of a renovation is expensive and disruptive, after all.

The question of whether a window should be inside a shower room or an enclosure is often a big design issue, as there are a few issues that come along with it. A modern PVC or aluminum window will work well in a shower stall, but old wooden windows will suffer in this space. Likewise, your window treatment options are limited, with privacy glass being the only real choice for a shower window.

However, in this West One Bathrooms design (opens in a new tab)A clever bathroom hack has been created to solve the problems presented by a layout that saw the window in the shower cubicle – an inverted shower screen.

“The room was compact in space and the customers wanted a large shower, the only place this could fit was under the window,” says Louise Ashdown, design manager at West One Bathrooms.

“To overcome the problem of a window directly into the shower, we came up with a hinged frosted glass panel to cover the window, this protects the woodwork and also allows for easy cleaning.”

3. Storage recessed into the walls

a small bathroom with built-in mirror storage

(Image credit: Anson Smart. Design: Smac Studio)

A minimalist style bathroom is the perfect choice when you’re dealing with a small space. No doubt it will help the room feel more restful and streamlined, but you’ll still need to find storage space to keep the bathroom clutter-free.

Storing vanity mirrors is a brilliant way to add concealed space, but as a small bathroom storage idea these can sometimes feel bulky and intrusive. Then consider recessing a storage mirror when designing your space, so that the mirror itself appears flush with the wall.

“In this project, we were dealing with a family, so we needed storage for the shaving cabinets – but we recessed them into the wall and covered with glass in the front,” says Shona McElroy, Founder of Smac Studio. (opens in a new tab). “Mirrors have become modern and highly functional design elements.”

4. Place a mirror in front of a window

a bathroom sink in front of a window

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

If you can’t find a workaround to have your pelvis located somewhere other than in front of a mirror, that begs the question – where do you position the mirror?

“The natural place for a bathroom mirror is above the sink, but when the sink is placed in front of a window it presents a design dilemma,” says interior designer Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. (opens in a new tab). “Solutions include mounting a mirror to one (or both) of the side walls. Another option is to attach a custom swivel mirror to the vanity counter and ceiling, as shown in the shower room of this Chelsea townhouse.

“The beauty of this is that the mirror can be turned on its side when not in use, so it doesn’t block the light or view too much,” says Irene.

5. Add a Divider for a Broken Plane Design

a small bathroom with a broken plan layout

(Image credit: Katie McCrum Studio)

Small bathroom layout ideas usually focus on fixtures and fittings around the edges of the room. It makes sense as a way to create the most floor space, but could you fit more functionality into your small space if you took a different approach?

Inside this bathroom by interior designer Katie McCrum (opens in a new tab), a room divider has been created in this narrow bathroom allowing for a more creative layout. Not only in the bath and shower in a wet room enclosure, but the layout also allowed for double basin sinks without creating a “corridor” of fixtures. Vanity mirrors have also been placed over the Crittall-style divider screen.

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