Step by step guide to a small bathroom design

Designing a small bathroom is always a challenge.

The reason is pretty simple: to design a functional bathroom means to respect some common dimensions of fixtures and space between them.

Now, there may be a lot of things you want to place in a bathroom. But the key is to start simple. And basically, a bathroom consists of three elements: a toilet, a sink, and a shower. Maybe, in the end, you’ll have a toilet, a bidet, a bathtub and double sink – it depends on the size of your bathroom as well as your preferences. But if you think about it, those are just variations of the three basic elements. At the beginning of a design process, you have to start with the minimum number of elements.

Bathroom layout organization

When organizing a bathroom layout, besides positions of the three basic elements, you have to consider the door and the window (and not just their position, but also their opening), as well as a proportion of the room.

Also, keep in mind:

  1. Shower area should be at least 80 cm wide and 80 cm long
  2. Usable space around the toilet should be no less than 80 cm wide (this means that the distance between wall or another fixture and axis of toilet is 40 cm)
  3. Usable space around the sink should be around 90 cm (the distance between wall or another fixture and axis of the sink is 45 cm)

Ninety centimeters wide space is usually enough for people to walk through, and to do simple tasks, like brushing teeth or shower. But, you are designing a small bathroom, maybe even an extra small bathroom, and while it is important to know the rules, you are allowed to adapt these dimensions to your situation, as long as they still make a functional bathroom. So try to keep as close to those numbers as possible.

We prepared few most common bathroom layouts, so take a look at them, and think about which one is the most similar to your bathroom.narrow-bathroom-solutionsThese gifs are an amazing way to illustrate how the door position affects the layout organization. If you have the opportunity to relocate the door in order to achieve better organization, do it. Not just in the bathroom, but in any room. Relocating the door usually results in more space for any kind of furniture that has to be placed against the wall, like closets. Which ultimately means more storage space and a clutter-free apartment.

Small bathroom remodel | design ideas and layout organization tips with floor plan options
EO arquitectura – Alan’s Apartment Renovation // photo: © Adrià Goula

Try to imagine how could your bathroom be organized, don’t just settle for current state and spend your time and money on beautifying something that isn’t functional. Change what bugs you. If you decide to remodel your bathroom, you should also simplify your everyday life through interior design.


Please note, except the window and probably the door (depending on how deep you want to dive in remodeling), everything else can be moved around – just keep in mind our tips about technical limitations during a bathroom remodel.

Small bathroom remodel | design ideas and layout organization tips with floor plan options
Living room // RÄS – la Carme // photo: © Adrià Goula

Since it is the biggest, shower area needs special attention. To be precise, the partition between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom needs special attention.square-bathroom-solutionsWall partition is a great solution. It is easy to maintain and you can design a niche in it, for shampoo bottles and other shower accessories. But, if there is no place to put the shower but in front of the window, you should probably choose glass partition to let the natural light into the bathroom. Also, we would probably use glass partitions in small bathrooms to make them feel spacious.


Small bathroom remodel | design ideas and layout organization tips with floor plan options
Living room // RÄS – la Carme // photo: © Adrià Goula

Take a second to compare these two bathrooms from amazing La Carme apartment by RÄS. Pay attention to the position of windows and how it affects shower areas. Also, notice how wall partition in the first bathroom is used for the sink and mirror. When designing a bathroom, you have to get creative.


More on this subject you can find in our post about shower design.

Adapt the bathroom layout

Once you decide on positions of the main elements, think about the ways you could upgrade that simple solution and adapt it to your needs. Now is the time to think about additional elements, the bathtub, bidet, storage space, double sink and/or washing machine – especially if your bathroom isn’t too small.

We have an amazing collection of inspiring bathrooms on our Pinterest board.

But don’t forget interior design combines aesthetics with functionality. There may be some functional solutions you won’t find pretty, but the goal is to get inspired not only by what you like but what you think might work for you.rectangle-bathroom-solutionsIt’s ok to be fully focused on functionality at the beginning of the designing process, but it is never too early to start thinking about details. To tell you the truth, we believe that details are the real reason you like or dislike an interior.

Details and materials in bathroom design

While searching for inspirational bathrooms, pay attention to details of those you really like. We often say that details are everything, but also, everything is the detail. The combination of tiles and faucet is a detail. Wall color and material of the mirror frame. Shape and size of the sink. Tile pattern and texture. Lighting fixtures and their positions.

Small bathroom remodel | design ideas and layout organization tips with floor plan options
Adam Wiercinski Architekt – K103 // photo: © Przemysław Turlej
Small bathroom remodel | design ideas and layout organization tips with floor plan options
AKTA studio – Apartment in Basanavičius st., Vilnius // photo: © Leonas Garbačauskas

Is it the combination of warm and cold colors that you like? Or the neat tile pattern that evokes a feeling of calm? The contrast of soft natural wood and sharp black edges of bathroom fixtures?

This may sound like exaggeration or even too much unnecessary work. Truth be told, you can remodel your bathroom without this step. But you are here in an attempt to design your bathroom. Not just to organize – to design you bathroom. And for that, this step is crucial.

Small bathroom remodel | design ideas and layout organization tips with floor plan options
i.s.m.architecten – TDH // photo: © Luis Diaz Diaz
Step by step guide to a small bathroom design:CIAA - Icaraí Apartment
CIAAIcaraí Apartment // photo: © Thiago Almeida *featured photo
Small bathroom remodel | design ideas and layout organization tips with floor plan options
NimTim architects – Westbourne Gardens // photo: © Megan Taylor

The only true way to learn about interior design is to learn HOW to look at the photographs of beautiful interiors and to learn WHAT to look at. To realize what makes the difference and what doesn’t. To understand why those architects and interior designers did what they did. To read what they say about spaces they’ve designed.

And of course, to read few simple, useful and inspirational tips to help you design functional, clutter-free and beautiful bathroom. Guess that’s why we are here for. And we would love to hear your questions in a comments section and to see your progress on Instagram.

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4 thoughts on “Step by step guide to a small bathroom design

    1. We can’t wait do publish a post about a bathroom remodel, maybe in a before-and-after form. But remodels always take time, so we hope you’ll stay tuned 🙂


  1. Wow, this is simply beautiful… I can’t imagine to do something like that all by myself, but I think I’ll try 🙂 Do you know any free software which could help with designing process? I was about to call a renovation firm (home expert) to ask about a project and renovation, but maybe I’ll manage to do some of the work and then call them 🙂


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