Design: Small bathroom ideas & tips

owel rail on door - blog by All Design
Corner sink - All Design blog
Vanity unit with storage space
Bathroom mirrors create the illusion of more space
Large patterned wallpaper

Design: Small bathroom ideas & tips

Designing a small bathroom to be both a functional and comfortable space can feel like a Wordle puzzle you’ll never get right, but if you address the issues systematically you can crack it without losing too much sleep.  Here, we’ve put together some small bathroom ideas and tips to help you through the process.

The big issues...

  • Space
  • Placing a toilet and sink
  • Fitting in a bath and shower
  • Where to put towel rails and toilet roll holder
  • Ventilation
  • Windows
  • Storage

How to make good use of space in a small bathroom

Avoid fighting your space
In a small bathroom with an awkward shape, make the most of the footprint you have rather than fighting it. Rather than feeling limited by the constraints, view them as features which help you decide on your ideal layout for that bathroom.

Replace a corner bath with a standard bath or bath & shower combo
Shower-bath combos can fit into small spaces, with some baths measuring just over 1.5 metres long.

Replace a shower door with a curtain
A shower curtain which goes to and from saves space compared with a glass door that moves in and out. 

Mount the towel rail on a door
Mounting a towel rail on the shower or bathroom door keeps the towels you need immediately handy. The rest can be stored elsewhere. 

Proper ventilation limits condensation and helps prevent mould and mildew which can cause respiratory problems as well as skin complaints. It also prevents premature wearing of bathroom accessories, paint and plaster.

Scottish regulations require all bathrooms to have some source of ventilation - either a window or an extractor fan with total air replacement of at least 15 litres per second/ 54m3 per hour.
If your bathroom only has a toilet, a window alone is fine. In new-build bathrooms with a bath and shower, an extractor fan is required because new-builds are designed to be more airtight than older homes. 

Install a corner or trough sink
A corner sink across from the toilet will maximise your space utilisation in a really small bathroom. Alternatively, a trough sink is an attractive and efficient space solution as they have a low profile and when wall mounted they free up floor space. 

Use a wall-mounted tap
Mounting a tap on the wall allows a narrower sink or vanity unit, which frees up footprint overall.

Use every bit of space
If space is really precious, you need to make the most of areas which seem inaccessible – such as the space beneath the eaves in a loft bathroom, which can be used for storage.

Clever wall design
Walls can be altered to help make the most of use of the footprint you have available, so ask your architectural designer about the options for yours.

Built-in storage
Building storage into the bathroom design makes life a lot easier. E.g. put some storage in the space above a wall-hung toilet or build a cupboard into a wall. 

Use a ledge
If you need to conceal a toilet cistern, use the opportunity to build a shelf above the false wall for storing your toiletries. Shelves don’t have to be huge - as the items you need to store on them are usually small. 

You can create extra shelving space by extending a worktop over the toilet.  This doesn’t affect toilet placement and creates a minimalist look.

Use a vanity unit with a shelf
Sink unit design has evolved a lot over time and even a pedestal-style unit with a shelf can hold towels or other essentials. 

Mount the vanity unit over the floor
A vanity unit above the floor helps the bathroom feel bigger and frees up space for small items underneath. 

Use a round vanity unit
Tight spaces can create sharp corners little ones may bump into. Going for a rounded-style vanity unit avoids the issue. 

No smoke, just mirrors
You can create the visual illusion of your bathroom being bigger by using mirrors cleverly. They’ll also help it feel lighter by bouncing around what light is already there. Practically, even in the tightest spaces, having a mirror stretch across the wall beyond the vanity unit allows more than one person to use it at the same time…if you’re happy to share your bathroom time, of course. 

Use a large-pattern wall design
A big-pattern wall design tricks the eye into seeing the space as bigger than it actually is.


Even if you are not planning a renovation, there could well be some space-saving ideas here for all. Pinterest is a great place to get some inspiration from and if you need some help with your space, please get in touch.  We have designed many bathrooms over the years of all shapes and sizes.

Contact us to arrange a chat about how we can help solve your small bathroom puzzle.


Designing an extension: open plan or broken plan?

Designing your extension: open plan or broken plan?

Designing your extension: open plan or broken plan?

When it comes to briefing an architect or architectural designer on your desired extension, there’s a major design choice you should make before you speak to them – whether you want it to be ‘open plan’ or ‘broken plan’.

Open plan

Open plan in residential architecture refers to an open living space in which two or more spaces for different uses are joined to make a much bigger one by not having the partition walls that would normally divide them. Open plan has become a very popular architectural trend over the years – most of the homes on Grand Designs use it. Structurally, it uses heavy-duty beams to bear the weight of any floors above instead of interior pillars and walls. But open plan isn’t for everyone.

Broken plan

A broken plan, by contrast, is a floor plan in which the living space is divided into different rooms by walls, glass partitions, changes to floor level, a change in materials, or other methods.
It’s a mixture of traditional home design and modern open plan layout but with the aim of retaining an element of privacy and a specific use for each space. The separation element of broken plan is currently proving popular for home-working families, especially where there’s more than one person in the household having to find space to work at home. It’s likely to continue in popularity, as more and more firms look at a blended home-working/office model.

See below the pros and cons of each design type, to help you choose which best suits your desired extension.


Open plan - pros

Here are some of benefits of open plan living spaces:

  • An open plan design provides more opportunities for the people living in the home to interact – because all the spaces are connected.
  • Open plan living allows you to cook in your kitchen and entertain your guests in the ‘dining room’ and/or ‘living room’ space at the same time.
  • It brings lots of natural light into your living space, making your home feel larger, brighter and lighter.
  • It creates a more fluid flow between the various living spaces.
  • It is generally less expensive to build than broken plan.

Open plan - cons

Open plan design comes with some drawbacks:

  •  Tied with the ability to interact easier, comes the issue of lack of privacy. Open plan living, therefore, is not recommended for large families, or if you entertain guests frequently.
  •  Open plan living is also susceptible to noise – both from outside and whatever’s happening elsewhere inside. Reducing the intrusion of exterior noise can be taken into account in the design.
  •  More ventilation in the extension means odours will travel further. So the smell of food from the kitchen will feature in your nearby ‘living room’ spaces.
  •  All the extra natural light and space in an open plan extension can make it more difficult to heat, and of course add to heating bill costs in those cold winter months.
  •  Open plan designs can be tricky to furnish and feel ‘empty’ and ‘cold’ if you have too much void space.

Broken floor - pros

A broken floor plan comes with several advantages:

  • Broken plan living enables privacy for each person using the extension. Being able to work in a room and then leave that room when you’re finished for the day will most definitely help work/life balance.
  • Dividing a room by adding a design feature e.g. an internal glass door, partitions or glass balustrades can provide this separation.
  • It allows you to decorate the living space in multiple styles by adding temporary or semi permanent partitions or half walls.
  • It helps you hide those things you don’t want visitors to see e.g. dirty dishes on a kitchen counter.
  • Like open plan, broken plan design brings more light and ventilation into your extension, making it feel bigger. Rooflights and glass screens can really help to encourage the flow of light.
  • With the likelihood of continued home-working, a broken floor extension is likely to appeal to buyers, if and when you decide to sell your home.

Broken floor - cons

The main disadvantages of a broken plan style are:

  • Constructing a broken plan extension may cost you more than an open plan one – because it will require the installation of partitions such as low walls, levels, steps, screens, and bookshelves. There’s also the cost of different furnishings to consider, which may be used to make it feel more like a broken plan than an open one.
  •  The partial divides in a broken plan can make finding the right balance in the interior design tricky - so you feel neither too enclosed or too open. Both run counter to the concept of broken plan living.



Fortunately, you don’t have to choose open or broken entirely to the exclusion of the other – you can have a partially-broken design.
So you can use a partial wall to create a snug area or still have an open plan kitchen and living room next to one another, but use glass balustrades between them to reduce sound intrusion and create a more relaxing feel.

For these and other considerations, get in touch with this for a free chat about each option.


Get in touch

All Design is a dedicated, friendly team of architectural designers who help people across Scotland find property solutions through carefully considered designs which respond to their needs, the site, budget and planning policy.  We have more than 30 years of experience in the industry and thrive on using a creative yet practical approach to design to improve space for people.

Contact us for a FREE quotation.

Glass balustrades add character and warmth to the home

Glass balustrades add character and warmth to the home

Balustrades come in many shapes and sizes, but glass balustrades add a particularly contemporary feel to the home and can work well with traditional homes as well as modern abodes.

We particularly like balustrades with natural oak newels & handrails with glass panels, like the one below, which we completed as part of a loft conversion project recently. It has added character and warmth to this home in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. The balustrade has become an elegant feature in the hallway and has added significant light and brightness to a previously unnoticed stairway.

Glass balustrade staircase
Staircase Loft conversion

Structural Balustrades

Structural glass can be used without handrails to support the treads of a stairwell. Their beauty is seamless and timeless but of course, all importantly, they provide functionality. An example of structural glass balustrades is seen below in a refurbishment design project that All Design completed on a home converted from an old listed mill in Aberdeenshire. A structural glass floor was also used on the base of the staircase to expose some of the original watermill cogs.


Structural Glass staircase
Structural glass staircase, Aberdeenshire

Outdoor Glass Balustrades

Glass balustrades can also be used outdoors and can look stylish and almost invisible on a balcony or veranda. The glass balustrade below was a feature developed as part of a garage re-design project that All Design completed on a house in Aberdeenshire. It is supported by aluminium posts and glass panels. It makes good use of space and adds to the panoramic views of the beautiful countryside surrounding the property.

Glass balustrade balcony over garage
balustrade balcony garage design

Providing essential safety

Using a glass balustrade on an external balcony provides essential safety, but with a view. Below, is a recently completed design by All Design that includes a chrome and glass balustrade system used as a balcony feature for an extension project in Aberdeenshire.

steading extension

For more information on glass balustrades, please contact us directly.

Planning permission secured for Steading Extension

steading extension design

Planning permission secured for this stylish steading extension

Planning permission secured for this stylish steading extension

Planning permission has now been secured for this styling steading extension in Aberdeenshire, which will add both character and style to this already tasteful property.

The brief was to extend the one bedroom property to provide more living space and two new bedrooms.

Our proposed new East facing, 1.5 storey extension, more than doubles the footprint of the original house. It provides lots of additional light on both floors, a new master bedroom with en-suite and the landing area opens out onto a large glass framed balcony with a fabulous countryside view. There are two new double bedrooms on the first floor and at ground floor level, there’s a new large open plan kitchen/dining/family/games room, which will open out onto a new decked/patio area.


Current steading
Proposed design for steading extension

Stylish steading extension design for Aberdeenshire home

steading extension design

Stylish extension design for steading home

Stylish extension design for steading home

All Design is currently working on the design of a steading extension for this home in Aberdeenshire, which will add both character and style to this already tasteful property.

The brief was to extend the one bedroom property to provide more living space and two new bedrooms.

Our proposed new East facing, 1.5 storey extension, more than doubles the footprint of the original house. It provides lots of additional light on both floors, a new master bedroom with en-suite and the landing area opens out onto a large glass framed balcony with a fabulous countryside view. There are two new double bedrooms on the first floor and at ground floor level, there’s a new large open plan kitchen/dining/family/games room ,which will open out onto a new decked/patio area.


Current steading
Proposed design for steading extension

Conservation and planning granted at “Fittie”

Conservation and planning permission has been granted this week for works at this house in Footdee, Aberdeen.  Known to locals as "Fittie", Footdee is a World Heritage Area and is steeped in history and charm.

Planning has been granted to install new windows and rooflights in this quaint cottage at North Square.  The approval forms part of a wider development of the property to form a new first flo

or by lowering the existing first floor, and re-organising the ground floor to suit modern living standards.  It's an exciting project, so watch this space for updates. 


Fittie, Aberdeen

The difference between a home extension and a conversion

Home extension or conversion

Over time, home owners can find that their living space becomes squeezed, especially so with growing families. The two possible solutions to this problem will generally be to extend the property, or to convert existing space within the property to make it better fit the needs of the owners.

But which is the better option and what’s the difference between a conversion and an extension? Of course, there is no easy answer to that, as it will always depend upon the unique circumstances of each property. However, there are differences between converting and extending, and understanding these differences may help you decide which is the best option for you.

Loft conversion | All Design Aberdeen
Loft conversion.

Why go for a conversion?

Conversions are all about optimising the existing space within your property. This can mean converting a rarely used storage loft space into a much-needed extra bedroom or a family games room.

Lofts can make for excellent living spaces, with the opportunity to use natural light, and they’ll often provide the best views in the house too. When designed and built to a high technical standard, issues such as rain noise and heat loss will also be addressed.  

Garage conversions are also a great way to enhance your property allowing, for instance, a larger open plan family living space or an extra bedroom.

For properties with a small or gloomy garden, a roof conversion to create terrace space can be a fantastic addition; a perfect spot where home owners can enjoy relaxing and entertaining in the fresh air.

For properties with restricted surrounding space, an extension may be unfeasible and certainly unlikely to get planning permission, therefore a conversion may be the only solution for some. Very often a conversion will require only a building warrant and not planning permission.

Additionally, conversions will generally be less expensive than an extension and will take less time too.

Kitchen extension | All Design Aberdeen
Home extension.

Why opt for an extension?

Where the opportunity exists, extensions may be preferred over a conversion.

An extension will increase the size of your property, therefore you won’t face tricky choices, such as whether to sacrifice your garage for an extra bedroom.  Also, there are properties where conversion opportunities are limited or simply don’t exist.

Extensions offer greater design possibilities and opportunities than conversions. While with a conversion you’re largely working within existing space, with an extension, you can create a living space of a size and style that’s perfect for you.

Home owners can also explore options as to where to extend their property: upwards or outwards? Front, back or side? Maybe even adding an additional floor? The possibilities can be vast!

Not all extensions will require planning permission, but when they do, architectural consultants should be able to guide you through the process as painlessly as possible.

Exploring your options

Conversions and extensions can really enhance your property; providing more and better space, making your property more attractive and, in doing so, increasing its value. The best option for your property will obviously depend primarily upon your needs and the opportunities available. Keep in mind, however, that the best solutions may not be obvious, and a little creative ‘outside the box’ thinking may uncover interesting possibilities!

If you’d like consultation regarding extension and conversion design ideas for your property then please contact us.


New ramp provides access to house in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen

Access ramp | All Design

 All Design has just completed this adaptation project in Bridge of Don, Aberdeen.  A new ramp has been fitted to this modern house to provide level access.  Not only is the ramp practical, but it looks great too!


Access ramp

To view other adaptation projects by All Design, please visit our Gallery page.  For more information on adaptations, please contact us directly. 

Kids learn about building design and construction with All Design

Bramble school project

As part of Bramble Brae School’s ‘World of Work Week’, Paul and Audrey Walber from All Design visited the school to deliver a workshop on architectural design and construction.  A presentation was used to discuss architecture, how buildings stand up and explain all the different roles involved at All Design to help make the business a success.
The children were then split into groups and individuals were nominated different roles, such as Architectural Designer, Structural Engineer and Straw Boss.  Groups were asked to provide a sketch concept of a straw tower and then tasked with constructing it, using specific materials, all within a strict timescale.  Any changes to the original concept plan had to be thought through and justified.  Each tower had to stand up to a book test.
Half way through the build, Straw Bosses (Project Managers) met with the client (Audrey) to discuss progress and difficulties encountered.  They then had to negotiate amendments and timescale, if necessary.  On completion, the groups presented the final tower to the Town Planner (Paul) for ‘sign-off’.
The Town Planner measured the towers and asked the groups for justification of any amendments to the original concept designs.  He then assessed each tower and carried out the all-important book test!
The project finished with an evaluation and prizes.
Paul comments: “It was really great fun and encouraging to see just how seriously the children took their roles and how much they got involved. I was impressed with how they used the information covered in our talk about shapes and buildings and applied it to the task.”
“Hopefully the project inspired an interest in architecture and may lead some to consider a future in this exciting industry.”


Kids learn about architecture | All Design

For more information about All Design’s work with schools please contact us.


Conversion Project – Woodstock Road, Aberdeen

Conversion project Aberdeen

All Design has recently completed this conversion project at Woodstock Road in the West-end of Aberdeen.

The project involved adding two new dormer windows to provide two new en-suite bathrooms to existing bedrooms.  Particular care was taken to complete the work in a way that would complement the aesthetic appeal of the building, whilst increasing the internal floor area to make space for the en-suite bathrooms.

Interested in converting a property?  Why not read our recent blog on "10 Benefits of getting a Loft Conversion" or have a look through our Gallery page, where you'll see some examples of conversions that All Design has completed.


Woodstock Road, Aberdeen | Conversion by All Design

For more information, please contact us directly.