A (big) small bathroom renovation

The before shots for this small bathroom almost speak for themselves — not the relaxing space you would hope for and that antibacterial soap is not fooling anyone that this is a hygienic space! 

The room is pretty tiny but not unusually so — 1.9m x 2.4m (7'2" x 7'11"), with no real prospect of stealing space from elsewhere.  The sanitary ware had been lined up along one wall to minimise pipe runs to the soil pipe outside the window.  I'm all for efficiencies but this did mean that the basin overhung the bath and that anyone washing their face would be faced with the toilet staring up at them. The position of the bath under the skilling ceiling made installing a shower almost impossible.  The suite was extremely dated, the vintage wallpaper peeling off the walls, the lino cracked and hardened. No heating apart from the death-trap contraption above the door; if opened vigorously, the door collided with the bath; oh, and the window was riddled with dry rot.   Apart from the period door, there was nothing worth saving. 

Here's what we did:

  • Repositioned the bath to sit alongside the door, which enabled us to use the full ceiling height to install an over-bath shower. The wall space at the end of the bath provided a place for a wall hung heated towel rail
  • (Tip: if you have a similar arrangement with a hinged glass shower screen above the bath, and want your bathroom to feel more spacious, fold the screen back against the wall when you've finished using it — it may be glass, but it still takes up space visually!)
  • Rehung the door to open the other way — this enhances the sense of space as the door no longer blocks the view of the room when you enter
  • Sited the basin on the wall to the left of the door. Giving it its own space creates a more user-friendly experience and provides wall space above for storage / a mirror.  By choosing a wall-hung design, we kept the floor beneath free, which again makes the room feel wider
  • Chose a corner toilet, with minimal alteration to the position.  In general, running pipes for a WC is more costly and complicated than those for basins and baths so, where possible, it does make sense to keep a WC in its original position. People can be a little unsure about corner toilets but they can be really useful in a small bathroom because diagonal lines are the longest in the room  and so allow more space for standing/sitting (just imagine how cramped this room would feel if the loo faced directly into the side of the basin). 
  • Chose the same finish porcelain limestone effect tiles in two different formats for interest without breaking up the space (30x30cm for the floor and 30x60cm for the walls).  We did not tile the room all over as this can appear cell-like in a smaller room, instead the walls around the bath were tiled to full height, while the other two were tiled to dado height to form a continuous line  backsplash behind the basin.  I am not generally keen on 'fake' finishes but porcelain is almost completely maintenance free compared to genuine limestone and looks very effective. 
  • Installed underfloor heating.  If you don't have the luxury of a generously sized bathroom, it should at least feel luxurious when you use it — tiled floors can be chilly and underfloor heating is very cost effective in a small space. 
  • Added a combined mirror / storage unit above the basin, a pale basket for extra bits and pieces and a clock — a less usual choice for a bathroom, but really useful if you have children you are trying to hurry out of the house (don't spend too much on it though as unless your ventilation is hardcore in the extreme it will eventually rust and need replacing). 
  • Added a high spec extractor fan and replaced the rotten window with a hardwood version to avoid a repeat of the dry rot incident (N.B. dry rot is a serious issue which requires extensive remedial action and cannot be remedied by simply replacing the rotten wood as it can live in and spread through the surrounding masonry. Seek professional advice.)
1. Ikea Molger storage mirror  2. Icon Airflow 30 circular extractor fan 3. Ikea Molger shelf  4.  Mr White Numbers Clock, Karlsson 5.  Micron 36B Beige porcelain tiles, Imola 6.  Techno 120 300mm fixed shower head, Bathstore 7.  Triple control vertical thermostatic shower valve, Bathstore 8.  Premium 50 single basin, Catalano 9.  Mala Rattan drum storage table, Artisanti 10. Dynaset single ended steel bath, Kaldewai

1. Ikea Molger storage mirror  2. Icon Airflow 30 circular extractor fan 3. Ikea Molger shelf  4.  Mr White Numbers Clock, Karlsson 5.  Micron 36B Beige porcelain tiles, Imola 6.  Techno 120 300mm fixed shower head, Bathstore 7.  Triple control vertical thermostatic shower valve, Bathstore 8.  Premium 50 single basin, Catalano 9.  Mala Rattan drum storage table, Artisanti 10. Dynaset single ended steel bath, Kaldewai

Kitchen islands for narrow spaces

I have been working on several kitchen projects lately - maximising living space seems to be at the forefront of people's minds as moving up the property ladder is becoming nigh on impossible in some parts of the country (believe me, I know!).   Incorporating an island is a great way to enhance the functionality and flow of a kitchen and, especially if it incorporates a hob or sink, can really help avoid those tight corners where everyone seems to gather at the same moment to make some toast / empty the dishwasher/ fill the kettle. 

source: 1909 Kitchens

source: 1909 Kitchens

Of course we'd all love something the size of this beauty, from 1909 Kitchens, but given the preponderance of Victorian and Edwardian buildings in our housing stock in the UK, with a long, thin kitchen at the back of the house, I'm guessing that this is not an option for most of us! 

Even if your kitchen is narrow though, you may still be able to fit in an island -- here are a few ideas and thoughts to help you figure out if it's possible.

source: Granit Architects

source: Granit Architects

Firstly, an island does not have to be particularly deep.  This one is only one unit deep - c. 63cm with an allowance for the counter (although the work surface does overhang), or alternatively, units designed for wall hanging can be used on the ground.  Placed back to back, these would create an island of c. 75cm deep.  Positioning a sink in an island in this way will require more tailoring of the cabinets, but it can be done. 

source: Roundhouse Kitchens

source: Roundhouse Kitchens

An alternative approach would involve using standard depth base units and backing them with shallow customised shelving for books or additional storage.  This is particularly useful if you want your island to house a hob or sink or if it has a living or dining area directly in front of it,  as it creates a 'buffer zone' between you and your guests or any small children. 

source: Cochrane Design

source: Cochrane Design

The island above is again apparently only the depth of a standard base cabinet.  In a multi-functioning room, creating a wrap around the island means you don't have to look at the dirty dishes while enjoying your dinner party! 

source: ServiceCentral Australia

source: ServiceCentral Australia

If you would like to incorporate some seating into your island, I think the above is a clever solution, giving more space for the stools than they would have received at the end of the island. An 80cm wide drawer unit has been placed across the end of the island, perpendicular to standard depth cabinets.  The 20cm difference creates an overhang to house the bar stools. This arrangement also means someone can reach into the drawers without getting in the way of someone working at the sink. 

source: welke.nl

source: welke.nl

This would also work where the space available is long and thin - although bear in mind that bar stools are only good for informal eating (can't see why you couldn't step the height of the surface down to a more regular table height though). 

source: Paul Massey Photography

source: Paul Massey Photography

source: Harvey Jones

source: Harvey Jones

Many kitchen ergonometric guides will suggest a gap of 100cm between an island and other units or a wall.  In a narrow kitchen, I think 90cm is still perfectly workable for most circumstances, particularly if you give due consideration to the position of the fridge-freezer and dishwasher, which tend to be crunch points.  Remember that you space will feel more expansive the more of the floor can be seen, so a footed island will always look less imposing that one that sits firmly on the floor and even a recessed kick plate, such as that in the image above, will make a big difference. 

Lots more kitchen inspiration on my Pinterest board

Contact me if you would like help in planning a kitchen that works for your needs and space.