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Last updateWed, 23 Jan 2019 9am

How to make the most of a small washroom

Naturally, washrooms tend to be on the small side. It doesn’t take much space to ‘do your business’, so it makes sense to maximise your square footage by keeping toilet facilities compact.

There are multiple factors to weigh up when choosing the best toilets for your premises, and with 25 years’ experience in the washware industry, I’m well-versed in the art of helping clients make the most of every square inch.

Needless to say, it’s imperative that construction firms and business owners comply with government guidelines, and the HSE has published the below advice on minimum requirements for UK workplaces.

For female-only or mixed-use amenities: 

For men’s facilities, the requirements are:

It’s also crucial that business premises have accessible toilets for the ambulant disabled, and new constructions must comply with the government’s the regulations set out in Section 5 of Document M, Volume 2 - Buildings other than dwellings.

This is a diagram taken from the report:

So, provided you meet the minimum requirements, what finishing touches can you apply to make your cosy water closet feel all the more comfortable?

Creating space 

When it comes to interior design, using neutral colour schemes on walls, floors, fixtures and fittings can give you the impression of more space.

Making white your colour of choice will also allow light to naturally bounce all around, creating a brighter room that doesn’t feel cramped. Additionally, if you install lighting above or around mirrors, the room will be further illuminated.

Talking of mirrors, the more you have, the larger the space will feel, so be generous when it comes to utilising walls. 

In terms of freeing up floorspace, you might want to install a recessed combined towel dispenser and waste bin, which are installed into the wall cavity, removing the need for standalone bins.

Likewise, if there’s enough room within the wall cavity, you should also opt for back-to-wall WC pans, whereby cisterns and pipework are hidden within the wall space, leaving only the pan in view, presenting a minimalist look that can make the room feel all the more roomy.

Obviously, this approach will mean eating into the wall, essentially making the washroom smaller, but the benefit of hidden plumbing can often give the illusion of more space. Every building will be different, so you’ll have to gauge the feasibility of this for yourself. If you feel you can’t install a recessed unit, you could opt for a close coupled WC suite, which still benefits from hidden pipework between the cistern and pan.

For public men’s facilities, trough urinals allow you to maximise space much more than individual bowls, so this would be a sensible choice if you don’t have much room to maneuver.

Ultimately, you’ll always have to make some tough decisions when striking the right balance between saving space and maintaining a level of comfort.

However, there are many initiatives those in the construction industry can take on board when advising clients on how to maximise small washrooms and provide facilities that don’t feel boxed-in.

While there’s much debate surrounding how much open space public buildings need, there’s no denying that intelligent interior design can make even the cosiest cubicles feel comfortable. Follow the tips above, and don’t settle for a bog-standard bog.

Paul Thorn is the MD of Washware Essentials, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of sanitaryware to businesses, schools and hospitals. For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..