October 14, 2021

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Remodelling a small bathroom: Décor and design ideas

Remodelling a small bathroom can be daunting as it involves building work, which is always messy.

The following guide will help you take the first step towards managing the project with relevant advice for each phase of the process. A more beautiful and functional small bathroom is possible. Just read on to find out how.


Bottega Caliza 59.6X59.6 (Available online & in-store)


Remodelling a small bathroom: step by step

Making the most of small bathrooms is a design challenge that, if done well, can be richly rewarding. There are many good reasons for remodelling a small bathroom in the home: it helps create a more stylish décor, adds value to the property, and can help save water and energy, thanks to greener fittings and lighting.


#1 Small bathroom inspiration

The first step is to create a scrapbook with small bathroom ideas and inspiration for the remodelling project. These can be either digital images or magazine clippings. The important thing is to be realistic with the scale of the project. In other words, don’t try to do too much within a small space. Choose images of fittings, finishes and decorative flourishes that will inspire you. And don’t forget to include water and energy-saving fittings.


RELATED POST: Click here for some bathroom layout ideas


Small bathroom décor ideas

Trends in bathroom design are constantly evolving, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your local showroom and online sites. With a small space, the best approach is to keep the décor simple. That means limiting the number of materials, textures and colours.

As a general rule, use large tiles to lend a sensation of space. With fewer grout lines, the walls and floor are less cluttered and the room is visually enlarged. Reserve small tiles, such as mosaics, for small areas (e.g. shower, backsplash, niches) and use larger tiles to cover larger areas.

Look for clean lines and silhouettes for the sanitary ware. Above all, do not crowd the space. There is an enormous variety of fittings on the market. However, to fully realise their potential, they require space around them. Pin down exactly what you need in the bathroom in terms of sanitary ware. A shower cubicle, for instance, takes up less space than a bath.



Dover Antique 31.6X59.2 (Available online & in-store)

Dover Caliza 44.3X44.3 (Available online & in-store)


#2 Selecting a builder for the remodelling project

Although DIY enthusiasts could tackle this job without a builder, hiring a professional is more than advisable to achieve a long-lasting, quality result. Moreover, the costs of hiring someone are affordable.

For larger projects, a tender procedure is normally carried out to select a builder. However, for a small remodelling job, it’s best to ask for a recommendation from friends and family. Alternatively, you can also search for builders in online directories, such as Houzz or Yell.


Relevant criteria for choosing a suitable contractor are:

  • Respecting the programme timetable.
  • Sticking to project budget.
  • Working in an orderly and safe manner.
  • Having the correct insurances in place.


IMPORTANT: When employing a builder, using a fixed-price contract with a time clause is recommended. Consult the RIBA website for a suitable legal template.


Small bathroom remodellingDIY skills

For the DIY enthusiast, the following skills will be required to remodel the small bathroom: how to tile a bathroominstalling a toilet (close coupled or back to wall), fitting shower screens, fitting bath taps,  installing bathroom furniture, etc. Luckily we have content explaining all these in detail. 



Bottega Caliza 59.2X49.2 (Available online & in-store)

Forest Cognac 22X90 (Available in-store)


#3 Measuring the bathroom 

 In order to come up with a project budget, we need to calculate quantities of floor and walls tiles, together with the fixtures and fittings. It requires knowing how to measure the bathroom accurately. To do so, divide the space into regular rectangles. Then measure each of the walls and the triangulations across those rectangles diagonally. Remember to measure the height of the ceiling as well.


You’ll need the following tools and equipment to get accurate measurements:

  • Pencil
  • Electronic measuring device or a tape measure (with magnetic end)
  • Graph paper
  • Right angle
  • Scale rule


☞ TIP: When you have the measurements, prepare a 1:10 scale drawing of the bathroom using the scale rule and right angle. It means a wall measuring 160cm in length is represented with a line measuring 16cm. Do the same exercise for the WC, wash hand basin, shower or bath, i.e. cut out pieces of paper that represent their relative size at 1:10 scale. These can then be moved around on the sketch to find the optimum configuration.


Calculate areas and quantities

Calculating how many tiles you need for your project can be tricky (especially for DIYers). However, it’s easier than you think. Just follow the steps below and read our tips to measure like a pro:

  • Divide the room into rectangles if it’s L shaped or has an alcove.
  • Measure each regular rectangle separately.
  • Multiply the width by the length for each rectangle and, then, roughly subtract the floor area of the shower or bath.
  • Then, do the same exercise for each wall. Remembering also to subtract areas of doors and windows within the walls.

The objective is to get the overall square area for both wall and floor tiles. This figure should be divided by the square area of the chosen tile to get a rough estimate of the number of tiles needed for the job. Don’t forget to allow an extra 10% to get the final quantity (to cover possible breaks and wastages).




Newport Beige 33.3X59.2 (Available in-store)


#4 Decorating a small bathroom 

Once the overall bathroom artefacts and finishes are chosen, then select decorative flourishes. Accessories and other decorative elements add significantly to the enjoyment and functionality of the bathroom: towel rails, toilet paper holders, wall cabinets, lighting fixtures, plants, shelves, artworks, etc.


Small bathroom colour ideas 

As with the materials, it is advisable to choose a few colours and work within a theme. Complimentary colours can psychologically make a small space appear larger. It is particularly true for colour schemes in the lighter end of the colour spectrum. White sanitary ware looks timeless against pastel and bright colour shades. Fans of stronger colour shades can introduce a more personal touch with accessories and soft furnishings.  



Bottega Acero 44.3X44.3 (Available online & in-store

China Blanco 25X44.3 (Available online & in-store)

Oxo Deco Blanco 31.6X90 (Available online & in-store)


#5 Lighting the small bathroom

 Ideally, the small bathroom will already have good natural light, with an external window providing natural light and ventilation. For a small en-suite bathroom, it may be possible to add a skylight. If the small bathroom is located in the middle of the floor layout and has no windows, artificial light and mechanical ventilation will be needed. Building regulations stipulate the air changes required to remove steam and odours (typically 8 per hour).

FAQs regarding small bathroom remodelling

Every bathroom space is different, so it is essential to get the optimum configuration to get the most out of it. It is especially true for small bathrooms. The easiest way to do this is on paper before any work has commenced by trying out different layouts to scale. Try to apply the following criteria to achieve an optimum bathroom layout:


  1. Avoid an arrangement where the WC is facing the door.
  2. Keep shower cubicles away from external windows.
  3. Arrange the sanitary ware along (or near) an outside wall to facilitate drainage.
  4. Include space for storage in your plan.
  5. Consider a sliding door rather than one that opens inwards.
  6. A wet room might be worth considering if the room is too small.


On average, a small bathroom remodelling job will take 6 - 8 working days. It is a significant time to be without a bathroom, so having a second bathroom is crucial. Otherwise, make alternative arrangements. 

Removing existing finishes and the preparatory work takes up most of the time. But at some point, the sanitary ware will be out of action, making the bathroom unusable.

The lighter end of the colour spectrum is recommended for achieving a spacious sensation for the small bathroom. It applies to finishes like tiles, painted surfaces and wallpaper designs. Importantly this also applies to the colour of the grout for tiling. Off whites, light greys, light blues, and pastel colours will provide plenty of individual expression without feeling ‘closed in’.

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