Dear Margaret… I’m converting my Victorian house and have decided to create a cloakroom in the space under the stairs. This is quite a large area (3.75×2m), but it has no window. I’d like to create a welcoming bathroom for visitors to use. As the space is quite big, I’m running the risk of the sanitaryware looking lost in the space. I’m thinking of building in some storage, to give a more homely feel. Can you recommend a design scheme for me please?
Fiona Sweet, Middlesex
It can be a challenge to create a successful bathroom under the stairs, particularly when dealing with a window-less room. The extra challenge is of course the pitched ceiling. You are lucky in that the space you possess is fairly large, and with a thoughtful design and correct lighting, the sloping ceiling will add character, and the room will feel homely and quirky.
The room allows for a shower in the corner if you wish. Otherwise, the area could be used as a storage or seating zone, which might be useful if this is somewhere where outdoor coats and shoes will be stored and put on. The glass-walled shower I have shown here keeps the feeling of space by leaving the corner visible. If you desire, you could further enhance this effect by using a wetroom-style shower tray, with the floor tiled in the same finish as the rest of the room.
I made use of a big mirror to visually enlarge the space and bounce light around the room. I think a cut-to-size mirror would enhance pretty much any bathroom, and in fact, it is fairly inexpensive to have one cut at a glass merchant. Lighting for the room is simple, shining from above to give natural-looking and even illumination. By extending the mirror to the edges of the walls, the wall is not cut up, which aids a more streamlined vibe.
To give a welcoming ambience to the potentially dark and gloomy space, I have kept the colour-scheme light and earthy: pale wall and floor tiles team with wooden accents for visual warmth, together with a prettily-patterned wallpaper for added interest. Large-format tiles were used because they don’t divide the space up with as many gridlines as their smaller counterparts do. This mixture of surface treatments and colours on the wall causes the sloping ceiling to have less impact.
Furniture-wise, a large cupboard allows towels and loo rolls to be stowed tidily out of the way – a must if you want a neat bathroom that you are proud to let guests use – while a large ceramic rectangular basin on a wooden countertop adds a lovely focal point to the room. Finally, I suggest that the lowest part of the space – right below the bottom few stairs – is kept as storage that is accessible from the hall, and is cut off from the bathroom. In this way you can make use of all the space available.
Sloping roof bathroom tips:
- When you have a pitched ceiling, remember to leave around 1900mm height in front of appliances.
- Covering the upper wall into the eaves with a cut-to-size mirror will help to increase the visual height of a room, so it feels less ‘closed in’.