The Smallest Room...

As part of the continuing ‘beautifying your home both inside and out’ series, I thought I would focus this week on the downstairs cloakroom (or, being a bit more blunt, the toilet under the stairs) - it’s a fairly short blog this week, but that’s because it’s a fairly small room. That said, for me this is a room that often receives much less attention than it deserves. So, why does such a small space merit more of your tender loving care (or design flair)? Well, firstly, it is often the WC in your home that is used by guests, which for most people is a good reason in itself to spruce it up a bit (and to make it consistent with the design standards you set elsewhere in your home). Secondly, when you actually think about it you will probably find that this is a toilet that is used fairly frequently by you and your family (based on the fairly simple assumption that deeply ingrained laziness sets in when watching telly and the downstairs ‘loo’ is usually quite close to the living room). Thirdly (and most importantly from a design perspective), because these are typically very small rooms, it is one of the few spaces in your home where you can be really bold and indulgent (without having to spend an absolute fortune - to be honest, in many homes you could probably get away with using a tin of paint for an Airfix model to decorate the cloakroom...) - ‘bold and indulgent’ doesn’t mean being ‘gimmicky’ and buying the best or most quirky toilet and sink in the world ever, but you can be much more extravagant in your colour choices and in the finishes you use (without adversely impacting the overall look and feel of your home). If you can successfully make visiting a cupboard under the stairs a memorable experience (obviously for the right reasons), then you have got your design just right... When thinking about colour schemes it is worth bearing in mind that the cloakroom is typically a space that people may visit frequently but don’t necessarily spend a lot of time in (and it is quite small relative to other rooms in your home) - as a consequence you can get away with either very dark or very bright colours - don’t be scared to go with something that you may consider to be a bit experimental - I have seen some fabulous all black or grey cloakrooms, but equally, I’ve seen a few painted in really bright colours. And just in case you were wondering, both colour schemes worked very well.

(Image from Clockrooms4U)

As I mentioned above, it is also a space where you can be a bit more indulgent without spending a fortune - what I mean by this is that it is usually such a small space that you can use high end wall coverings that you wouldn’t be able to afford in most other rooms because it would be prohibitively expensive - so, think fabulous textured tiles, stone cladding (not like the 1970s) or super luxurious wall coverings.

In addition, a well proportioned mirror (or mirrors) is always a must in a WC, but do take time to consider different ways of using their reflective properties to give the perception that the space is larger than it actually is - for example, think about creating an infinity room (may not be ideal if it is configured directly facing your toilet - there are some things you only want to see once, if ever...). Also, don’t overlook the impact of built in joinery; consider incorporating alcoves for candles (or other objects) above your WC - as well as giving more definition and contrast to the wall, it’s a great way of using dead space (and alcoves are relatively simple to put in place if the workings of your toilet are incorporated behind a false wall).

Finally, if your space is very limited, consider using slimline toilets and corner basins (widely available and surprisingly functional) - both will save space and help create a compact cloakroom suite that still feels somewhat spacious.

Whatever you decide to do with your downstairs ‘loo’, be bold, make a statement and have some fun!


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