For Americans traveling to the United Kingdom, one of the most difficult adjustments to make is to our bathrooms (or, as we often prefer to call them, water closets).
They may find the term "water closet" a bit too fitting, with lavatories in many homes being tight spaces with little space to move about.
But whether you are new to the UK or have been born and raised here, making use of the space in a tiny half bathroom can be easier said than done.
Are you looking for ways to make your home's small half bathroom more usable for your family and for guests? Then check out this guide to learn how to take your bathroom to the next level and make your space feel less like a literal closet.
What Is a Half Bathroom?
First, let's clarify what we mean by "half bathroom."
A half bathroom has the bare essentials: a toilet and a sink. Most half baths are around 50 square feet or less and offer just enough space to walk from the toilet to the sink. Because of this, there might not be much space for towels, cosmetics, or other storage.
While a half bathroom can be frustrating to deal with because it's small, its size can also be a blessing in disguise. In a tight place, it's easier to make small changes that have a major impact, and can make your space look and feel bigger too.
Maximize Storage Space
As we already mentioned, half bathrooms can be tight on storage space. Because of this, the space can quickly become cluttered.
And clutter isn't just inconvenient, but it can also be dangerous. Many accidents that occur at home take place in the bathroom, often due to tripping and falling. Because bathrooms usually have heavy porcelain toilets and sinks, falling into one can cause serious injury.
But your bathroom doesn't have to be cramped or crowded. Instead, it just means that you must be creative with how you use it.
Over the Toilet Shelving
One of the most important rules to creative storage is making use of unused space, particularly vertical space in your bathroom. The space over your toilet is a perfect example of prime real estate.
There are a couple of options to consider, ranging from cabinets, to floating shelves, to ladder-style shelving units. These can be great places to store extra toilet paper, hand towels, or washcloths.
Below the Sink Space
The space below the sink is often neglected in bathrooms for storage, and not necessarily without good reason. Leaky pipes and messy habits can cause water to spill on the floor underneath the sink, which is not necessarily ideal for storage space.
But with the right strategies, the space below the sink can actually be effective. For instance, if you use metal shelving, these will not be damaged by moisture. Then, consider storing only items that won't get damaged if wet, like plastic bottles of soap or lotion.
Another often-neglected space in small washrooms is the corner of the walls. Corner shelves can provide the perfect place to leave soap refills by the sink, for example.
While being clever with extra space is important, sometimes classic solutions are the best option. A simple wall cabinet on an unused wall can be a good use of space.
And, if you don't already have a towel rack in your bathroom, you can install a wall cabinet that has a towel rack attached. This kills two birds with one stone!
Speaking of killing two birds with one stone, you might also consider wall decor that serves as extra storage. Shelves in interesting geometric patterns can add a more interesting feel to your room while still being practical.
Sometimes, depending on what you're storing, shelves aren't ideal. Towels, for instance, sometimes fall off of shelves when you stack them.
This is where a rolled towel rack can come in handy. These racks offer spaces where you can easily store rolled towels in a way that looks much neater and orderly.
Woven Bins and Wicker Baskets
If you have extra floor space in your bathroom, a small woven bin or wicker basket can be the perfect storage solution. These items not only look attractive but are also lightweight and flexible. This means they can be moved easily if space needs to be made for something else.
To switch things up a bit, consider mounting a wicker basket on its side to the wall. This creates an interesting looking shelf.
Question: Have you ever seen a drawer in a bathroom that wasn't an overflowing mess?
Chances are, your answer was no. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Drawer dividers can help you make sure that your drawers are organized and that everything you need is easy to find. As an added bonus, the items in the drawer won't move around when you open and close it, which means your stuff will stay where you left it.
The same principle can apply to using a medicine cabinet organizer. You can use these to separate out medicine, hygiene products, makeup and more.
Think About Purpose
As your organizing your bathroom, it's important to keep the space's overall purpose in mind.
Is your half bath primarily for guests? For kids getting ready in the morning? The answer to this question can help direct some of your choices.
Designing a Guest Oasis
If your bathroom is mostly for guests, there are a few things you can do to make the space more amenable for them.
For instance, consider using cabinets and shelving units that have doors. This gives more privacy and makes it so that there is less clutter available for your guests to see.
By the same note, you want to make sure that the items your guests need are readily available on the counter of the vanity. These might include soap, hand lotion, mouthwash, dental floss, cotton balls, etc.
By making these easily accessible, you won't put your guests in the awkward position of needing to root through drawers to find what they need. To minimize clutter, consider using creative storage solutions like mason jars to organize essentials.
A Place for Kids
A half bath can be the perfect spot in your home for your kids to get ready in the morning. The right planning can make it more usable for this purpose.
The key with a bathroom designed for kids is to make sure that there's a clear space for every item that your kids need to use. This will help them develop good habits of keeping their space clean.
Consider mounts on the wall for your kids' toothbrushes. This way, your kids won't leave their toothbrushes on the vanity countertop, collecting bacteria and leaving toothpaste stains.
If your child is still growing, they may need a stool to reach the sink and see their face in the mirror. A folding stool can fit easily into a half-bathroom cabinet or under the sink. This way, it can slip conveniently out of the way when it is not being used.
A Place for You
If your half bath is primarily for your use, the key is to arrange it based on your needs.
For instance, if you plan on doing your hair and makeup in the bathroom in the mornings, you can create organization solutions for this purpose. Shot glasses make surprisingly effective storage solutions for items like hair ties or bobby pins.
If you have a lot of items that you need to get ready, consider organizing them on a tray, rather than in a basket. A basket can easily become a "black hole" where needed items sink to the bottom. On a tray, you can easily lay out everything you need.
And, of course, if the space is multi-purpose, your priority will need to be easy storage. The more storage there is, the easier it is for one person to put their items away to make space for the next person.
Reimagine Your Half Bathroom Today
With these tips in hand, you will soon no longer be embarrassed to direct guests to a tiny, cluttered half bathroom. Instead, you'll have a cozy space that is welcoming to use.
Now that your water closet is redone, it's time to move to other areas of your home. Check out this guide for ideas to make your kitchen more usable by organizing your refrigerator.