Balancing practicalities with aesthetics can be a tricky task when it comes to planning a space-challenged en suite, so we’ve compiled a handy guide on to how to maximise every nook and cranny without compromising on style
1. Size matters
Most en suites don’t come with the luxurious proportions of a family bathroom, so fitting in the key components can be a challenge. You’ll often be contending with sloping loft ceilings or awkwardly positioned walls, so it’s important to plan the layout carefully to maximise the available space.
Customised built-in solutions, such as shelving or cupboard space, is often the best way to do this, as you can create something bespoke that won’t leave any gaps.
Tucking a WC or small basin into an alcove is another way to be smart with your layout if you’re short on space, but remember to be wary of the ceiling clearance to avoid daily headaches!
2. Space savers
Look for a compact bathroom suite when it comes to kitting out an en suite. Sanitaryware is available in a wide range of designs and styles to suit different spaces, so opt for pieces that take up the least amount of space and won’t eat into the room unnecessarily.
Back-to-wall or wall-mounted WCs are ideal for smaller bathrooms, as the cistern is hidden in the wall and so the whole unit has a small projection. The same goes for choosing a basin, too; slim designs will sit neatly against the wall if you have a narrow room, or go for a corner basin if you’re short on wall space.
3. Floor plan
When planning the configuration of your bathroom suite, take into account where the door will be positioned and which way it will be hinged. If a regular door will swing awkwardly into the en suite, you could consider opting for a folding or a sliding door instead, which won’t eat into the precious floor space.
If you’re working with a sloping ceiling where this may be trickier, it’s worth speaking to an architect to help come up with a practical solution to suit your needs.
4. New heights
Working with awkward ceiling heights is a common problem when it comes to designing an en suite. Loft bathrooms often have sloping ceilings, following the roofline, so plan the layout of the room so that the ceiling interferes as little as possible with the day-to-day functioning of the space.
Where possible, use the spot with the highest clearance for your shower, so you don’t end up feeling cramped or enclosed; a walk-in shower or wet room can work well in these tricky spaces, as it removes the need to fit in a whole shower enclosure and you can simply divide off the area with a shower screen.
5. Smart storage
Bathrooms are prone to becoming cluttered spaces, so factoring in plenty of storage is a key part of the design process and the same applies to en suites. Don’t waste space beneath a basin; add shelves or choose a vanity unit with built-in drawers or cupboards to hide away bottles and containers, whether this be with a floor standing unit or a wall-mounted piece to save floor space.
Towels and robes will also need a dedicated spot to be stored, so find an out-of-the-way place to position hooks or cubby holes. If you’re lacking in wall space, fix hooks to the back of the door, or invest in a shower screen that comes with an attached towel rail.
6. Hot topic
In very small ensuite bathrooms, where the whole room is likely to be affected by steam from hot showers, consider tiling all the walls for easy maintenance and to prevent damage to painted walls.
Tiles can be wiped down to remove mould much more easily than paintwork, so this practical choice will save you time and money later down the line.
7. Splash out
Depending on the size and layout of your en suite, you may be able to squeeze in a bath instead of, or as well as, a shower. There are numerous compact baths on the market, designed for more limited spaces, so it’s not something you necessarily need to rule out.
Narrow and shorter freestanding baths are available if a regular tub simply won’t fit, or you may want to consider a corner bath to avoid wasting any space.
8. Design decisions
When it comes to designing the interior of your new ensuite bathroom, it’s important to make it feel connected to the adjoining bedroom for a cohesive look.
The two spaces are closely linked, so continuing a colour palette or design theme between them will help to create a seamless finish. Pick out accent colours from the bedroom, for example, to echo in your tile choices, or simply choose a material that can be used in both rooms, like brass or marble.
Metro dark grey wall tiles, £15.99 per square metre; Victorian Centro Budapest floor tiles, £23.99 per square metre, both Tile Mountain
9. Lighten up
Ensuring your bathroom has sufficient lighting is another key part of the design process. Some en suites can feel dark or lack a window, so you’ll need a light source that provides strong light to brighten up the space.
LED spotlights are practical for bathrooms and their flush design means they won’t hang down into the room and take up valuable space. Illuminated mirrors are another good option for applying make-up or shaving, and some even come with built-in de-misting panels to prevent the glass from steaming up in humid conditions.
10. Sketch up
Once you’ve decided on the different components for your new en suite, it’s a good idea to mark everything out on the floor so you can clearly visualise how the room will look.
It can be difficult to imagine the dimensions of sanitaryware without physically seeing their size in the room you’re designing. Chalk or masking tape should do the job and you’ll be able to get a clearer idea of how much room you’ll have when using the space on a day-to-day basis.
Read more: Home renovation: 5 tips for 2020
Read more: Indoor gardening: Get the light right
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Loading up next...