An extra bathroom isn’t just the province of the plush main suite – ensuites are a boon for kids, teens and guests too, enabling everyone to spread out, enjoy some privacy and resolves disputes over vanity time. Retrofitting a new ensuite can be as simple as rethinking your layout, and pinching a little space here and there.
Have a good look round your home and assess where you might be able to steal some space. Can your existing bathroom be split into two, or do you have a spacious laundry which you could convert? Specifically look at areas that are under-utilised. Older period homes often have one large bedroom or a formal dining area where a sizeable chunk can be re-purposed.
The amount of space you'll need will be determined by the style of ensuite you're looking to create. A comfortable minimum is around 2m x 3m for a loo, vanity and shower. When every centimetre counts, you’ll need to check there are sufficient clearances around fixtures and opening doors; a pocket entrance door can save on space.
Share and share alike
A great option for kids and teens is to incorporate two sliding doors so the ensuite can be shared between bedrooms, while walk-in wardrobes can also double as a thoroughfare to a main bedroom ensuite; just be wary of steam escaping from the bathroom and affecting your clothes.
Star in the spotlight
For any compact room, the key to a great layout is maximising space and showcasing the room's best assets. Make an elegant vanity the focal point, and try not to let the toilet be the first thing you see when you open the door. A frameless shower screen will let the eye travel through the space and make the room appear bigger than it is.
Work the vanity
Consider size for a balanced look – you want it to have impact without being overpowering. If there’s room for a double basin and the ensuite is going to be shared, go for it; if not, try offsetting a single basin to one side of the benchtop to create two work stations in front of a mirror.
Use every inch, including the wall cavity where possible. Recessing cabinetry or fitting an in-wall toilet cistern will mean less protrusion into the room and thus more room to move. Keep the floor clear by wall-hanging fixtures, and include plenty of storage as well as hooks and nooks – the last thing you want in a relatively small space is lots of clutter.
If you can, incorporate a window to allow in natural light and ventilation, but if the positioning of the room doesn't allow for it, the next best option is to add a skylight, teamed with a good extraction fan.
In smaller spaces less is more, so keep the palette simple with a single hero piece like a sculptural basin or great light, and limit the colour scheme to one or two hues, aiming for lighter tones that recede visually, and help to create the illusion of space. If the bathroom runs off a bedroom, consider choosing a complementary finish or colour to give the spaces a sense of continuity.