Design Notes Archive

Small Spaces, Big Changes

Small Spaces, Big Changes

Small bathrooms that require washing capabilities beyond the powder room sink can be tricky to configure, whether it’s an awkwardly laid out cube or a narrow galley. I learnt this first hand after renovating a small square bathroom that housed several oddities to maneuver around. It was an exercise in ingenuity so I thought I’d share my top five insights: 

  1. The key to maximizing square footage, and fitting in all your essentials, is planning, planning, planning. The absolute first step should be drawing your floor plan to scale and experimenting with multiple scenarios. Once you’ve settled on one, draw elevations as well - a rendering of how the room looks at eye level will quickly reveal if your plan is working or not. 
  2. A quick and easy trick is to refit the bathroom door so that it opens outwards rather than into the space. I’ve done this on more than one occasion and it instantly opens up the room with minimal cost and effort.  
  3. Consider moving the plumbing. It’s an added expense but it gives you the freedom to completely change the room around. Sometimes all it takes is flipping the washstand to the opposite wall to give you the space for a larger shower. 
  4. Don’t let a window dictate where the shower can go. If you replace it with frosted glass in a water-resistant frame, you can put a shower right in front of the window and use the tiled sill for toiletries. If replacing the window is not an option, you can fabricate a roller blind with outdoor fabric or a retrofitted shower curtain. 
  5. Consider a neo-angle shower. They went out of fashion for a while but with today’s frameless glass they’ve come a long way back. Most glass suppliers carry stock sizes as well as fabricating bespoke enclosures to your specifications. In a tight space you can go as small as 800mm but for comfort I’d suggest a minimum of 900mm if you can.

Once your new bathroom is planned down to the last nut and bolt, I have one last word of advice – order everything before demolition commences. Materials always take longer than expected so I even like to take it a step further and have everything in-house before a single tile or floorboard is removed from the existing space. The absolute worst is to gut the bathroom and then discover your tiles are on backorder!

Monika, Editor, Design Notes