Design your ideal cloakroom in six easy steps

Blue-green cloakroom with more traditional sanitaryware

Let me ask you one thing: what do Harry Potter and a cloakroom have in common? Well, easy – they both live under the stairs.

But enough of the bad jokes.

Pink blue cloakroom under stairs

To make best use of available space, why not place your cloakroom under the stairs? This design by CP Hart features the Axor Citterio small Basin mixer, £490, paired with a Duravit Vero side handbasin, £206.40. The soft pink tiles, for similar, try Tile Mountain, and patterned wallpaper make it feel bright.

A downstairs loo is a great, practical addition to your home – but how do you go about creating one? Luckily, I have you covered: here are six steps to cloakroom success, staircases entirely optional.

Cover your bases

First things first: by law – and by that I mean building regulations – your cloakroom will need an extractor fan.

They’re not the prettiest, I hear you, but Siobhan Hayles at Siobhan Hayles Interiors taught me a trick.

Black cloakroom with metallic accents

Black can bring an extra layer of glamour into your cloakroom. If you go this dark, balance the design with a lighter floor, for example wood or laminate. Mirrors help bounce light around, while the gold frames and metallic accessories step up the luxe factor, too – as does the marble countertop Kohler‘s Vox vessel basin, £321, has been placed on.

She fits fans above eye level or chooses one that can be painted or wallpapered over for ultimate blending in.

You’ll need enough space under the floor, too, to allow waste pipe for your loo to run at a pitch of at least 18mm.

Also make sure you have enough floor-to-ceiling height – at least 1.8m – so tall guests won’t have to stand a bit funny when washing their hands.

Sort out the (water) supplies

Aka the messy part, as you will have to pull up the floors.

Try to install your cloakroom as close as possible to the sewer outside – the waste pipe from the toilet should be as short as it can be.

Bonus: less plumbing means less disruption.

Also be aware that if you place your new room under the stairs, you might have to relocate your electric and gas meters and the fuse box.

Traditional-look corner basin

A corner basin, such as this Mistley design, from £668, from The Albion Bath Company, makes clever use of small spaces.

Use your space wisely

Let me tell you this: all a cloakroom needs are a basin and WC, and slimline fixtures make it easier to kit out a space as effectively as possible. Avoid clutter, too, as it’ll only take up valuable room and make your scheme look messy in the process.

But if your space is extra compact, don’t despair – Chris Payne, a senior designer at Ripples, has some advice.

“A compact or corner basin with a single-lever wall-mounted mixer tap works well with a wall-hung toilet,” he told me.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner, but I’ll happily place a basin there.

Choose a vanity

This can drastically change (read: elevate) the scheme’s look.

 

Solid wood vanity with colourful vessel basin

A freestanding vanity can take many shapes, from a full cabinet to a simple table with a countertop. They all have one thing in common, though: paired with vessel basins, they make a winning combination and can make a real statement. Inspired by oriental designs and finished by hand, London Basin Company‘s bright Adriana, £900, would add a fun twist to a monochrome scheme, for example.

“A freestanding table works well with a vessel basin,” Natalie McHugh at NK Living told me.

She recommends shopping around for a more unusual piece of furniture and advises to choose narrower legs, as this will create a feeling of space.

Light it up

Don’t just have a single fitting – give your space the treatment it deserves.

A mix of task and ambient illumination creates a multi-layered scheme that adds to the décor and is guaranteed to wow your guests.

Textured black wall tiles with pink basin on marble countertop

Dark tiles, even if they’re only fitted on part of a single wall can make a dramatic statement. If you want to take it even further, add a basin that’s not the standard white – I love this soft pink. Gemini Tiles‘ Buxy Antracita Hexagon design is priced £32.99 per sq m.

You may also enjoy: Bathroom lighting explained

Wow your guests (and yourself)

If you’re anything like me and love a bit of drama, this is your chance to live out that fantasy to the fullest. Plus, decorating with dark tones will make the room appear bigger, as the light reflects differently.

Alison Johnson at Otta Design told me to look towards boutique hotels for inspiration and be extravagant with materials.

Cloakroom with tropical wallpaper and green wall cladding

Whether your style is more monochrome or all about colour and pattern, a cloakroom is ideal for design experiments. This scheme by Day True mixes more classic features – the high-cistern loo and paneling on the wall – with ultra-modern tropical wallpaper, shades of green, and an industrial-style basin and mixer combination. Cloakrooms from Day True start from £2000.

Personally, tapping into my deep love for Daisy Buchanan, I’m eyeing a black-and-gold Art Deco wallpaper – but there are no limits on your creativity. Do you like birds of paradise? Now’s the chance. Are you a fan of uber-cool geometrics? Go for it. Can your style best be described by calling it an explosion of colour and personality? Put it on full display.

Your cloakroom is the ideal opportunity to have a play with styles and colours, so don’t let anyone stop you.

See? Easy(ish). Just don’t forget to share your incredible spaces with me, please – I’m ever so curious what you come up with.

Featured image: You don’t spend much time in your cloakroom, which makes it the ideal space to be bold with your design – the less time you spend in a room, the smaller the risk of you getting tired of a colour or design feature all too soon. This Heritage Bathrooms scheme features the Victoria high-level WC and sister, £530, paired with the Victoria basin, £285, on the Abingdon washstand in Vintage Gold, £500, with the Glastonbury tap in Vintage Gold, £345, and the Harlesden mirror in Vintage Gold, £145. For a similar wallpaper, try Graham & Brown or Etsy.

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