Fitting a shower cubicle into a small bathroom
Possibly the neatest and most convenient way of adding a shower to your bathroom is to add a self-contained shower unit within an enclosure. The problem with this is that most bathrooms are built with only a bathtub, toilet and washbasin and were not designed with the addition of a shower in mind.
Why do small bathrooms have so little spare space?
Modern housing is generally built to a price and that dictates both the space allowed for the bathroom and the fixtures that go into it and when it’s a choice between a shower and a bathtub then the tub wins every time. Why? Because people think about showers as luxury extras rather than essential items like bathtubs.
When a builder designs a property they design it so that the bathroom fixtures are spread out to fill the available space. This makes the bathroom look balanced and it will almost certainly result in the cheapest design, which is often the main goal of the builder.
By using all the available space in the bathroom the original designer is able to use larger items if they wish. This can represent quite a cost saving on things like toilets where the space-saving models tend to be the most expensive. The builder also saves money because there will be plenty of space around the fixtures to enable a fast installation.
How to make more space in the small bathroom
Now that we know why there seems to be so little space in the typical small bathroom we might be able to do something to improve matters when remodeling. The original designer probably chose the fixtures for cost rather than space so you can look for smaller items, which will do the same job and rearrange things to fit.
Small, slim-line toilets are available that take up a lot less wall space. Using one of these can result in more available room to add a shower.
If you can live with a smaller washbasin then look for one that is just the right size for your needs. You can get some very tiny models that will fit into the tightest of spaces.
You could opt for a smaller bathtub. I hardly ever use mine now that I have a shower unit but if you go this route try to get one that is deeper than normal. The extra depth can go some way to making up for the smaller length.
Radiator and towel rail
Move the radiator higher on the wall to save floor space. I put mine above the bath and chose a stainless steel product that looks good and doubles as a heated towel rail.
Rearrange the layout
Get yourself some squared paper and play with cut outs of the fixtures to see if you can design a better fitting arrangement. The original design probably allowed plenty of free space so you might have more success than you imagine by doing this.
Use a space saving curved quadrant shower enclosure
You may be thinking of fitting a stand-alone shower enclosure with a square or rectangular base. By applying the suggestions above to your new small bathroom design you might well find that you succeed in freeing enough space to fit one. This is great, if you can do that you’ve won, you will not regret it.
If you can fit a square or rectangular enclosure into your new design then you know that you have done what you set out to do but you might still be a little concerned about how cramped the bathroom is going to be with it installed. Now is the time to look at different types of shower enclosure.
A curved quadrant shower enclosure has a base shaped like a square with two of the sides curved. My calculations show that this reduces the floor area required by the enclosure by approximately 14%, which can make a big difference. You can see my drawings and calculations in the article Small Bathroom Shower – A Space Saving Enclosure
I use a curved quadrant enclosure in my small bathroom and I don’t miss the space inside the enclosure but I am very thankful for the extra space in the rest of the bathroom.