Downstairs toilet ideas: how to design a loo with character

The downstairs loo in Max Hurd's London house, decorated by Benedict Foley, is a perfect example of how a large-scale wallpaper can be used to great effect in a small space. The design is Farrow & Ball's ‘Versailles’.

In this Oxfordshire project, the antique dealer and decorator Max Rollitt introduces antiques in unlikely places. A repurposed chair hides the lavatory, while the raised cistern is a good option if floorspace is tight. The floating basin support is painted in a blue shade matched by Edward Bulmer to Mauny’s ‘5785-516’ wallpaper from Zuber.

Tiles can also be a great option for downstairs loos. The artist Natasha Mann has used glossy dark green tiles combined with a William Morris wallpaper in the downstairs loo of her London house, while also framing some of her own handpainted tiles as a piece of art.

In the tiny downstairs loo of this Chelsea house by Tiffany Duggan, a bold wallpaper from Gucci sits perfectly with the Robin Myerscough mirror and brass sconces from Graham & Green.

Panelling in a deep shade of blue livens up this boot room loo in a Georgian house revived by Salvesen Graham, with pretty pink wallpaper (Soane's ‘Seraphic Star Bastille’).

Painting this cloakroom loo a very dark colour, as the team at Retrouvius have done, creates a strong backdrop to make a decorative Victorian loo and vintage washstand in pastel pink pop. Although the sanitaryware is distinctly retro, the room nevertheless feels chic and modern against this dark colour.

Here, Ebba Thott of Sigmar has painted the panelling and door in ‘Lucca’ eggshell, from Sigmar’s Damo collection. The vintage encaustic floor tiles provide decorative detail, while a long, narrow mirror creates the illusion of a higher ceiling. Polished brass fittings add to the glamour of the scheme.

In this loo by Laura Stephens, Cole & Son’s ‘Strawberry Tree’ wallpaper is complemented by a smart blind in a striped fabric that picks up on its colours. White-painted bespoke joinery balances the pattern and showcases the traditional fittings.

A small loo is just the place for an exuberant wallpaper. Using a brass washbasin on a salvaged piece of furniture helps to avoid the bland look that sanitaryware can have, as this room by Retrouvius demonstrates.

The layering of pattern and colour in this Sydney bathroom by Lisa Burdus creates a striking effect. Saffron and cream floor tiles from Popham Design, ‘Scrolling Acanthus’ wallpaper by Soane and a vintage fabric from The Cloth Shop surrounding the vanity unit all work harmoniously to create a room with plenty of character.

A single brass pull handle doubles up as home for a hand towel in this wood-panelled bathroom by Retrouvius.

In Robert Moore’s London flat, walls painted to look like wood panelling bring warmth and depth to the room. Simple black-framed lanterns on either side of the mirror provide a pleasing sense of symmetry. The radiator cover is painted in the same faux-wood effect to blend with the walls.

Old Belgian match labels serve as wallpaper in the downstairs loo of this glamorous London house by Retrouvius.

The principle of more is more is perfectly executed in this tiny space designed by Beata Heuman, which has hand-painted Moroccan tiles on its walls and ceiling (‘Luna’ tiles in sapphire by Bert & May at Fired Earth are similar). Spherical wall lights and a circular mirror provide chic, eye-catching accents.

In Carskiey House, Tom Helme's Scottish retreat, the Fermoie co-founder has extended the cloakroom, placing the WC in the smallest area and using larger spaces to introduce antique pieces, alongside the basin and a mirror on the opposite wall.

This ‘Glass Eye Fish’ wallpaper printed on gold leaf by Adam Ellis creates a dramatic impact and its large-scale design makes the room feel more generous than it is. A corner sink fits neatly into the space, and the gilt paintwork of the vintage table below it picks up on the golden tones of the fish. The woodwork is in ‘Obsidian Green’ by Little Greene.

‘We wanted the room to feel like a jewellery box sitting in the house,’ says Waldo Works director Tom Bartlett. He has contrasted the custom-mixed lacquered deep navy of the external walls with a bright red – also custom mixed – within. Back-painted glass wraps around the lower half of the walls and a simple, modern WC adds to the contemporary feel.

In this bathroom by Barlow & Barlow, Sandberg’s ‘Raphaël’ wallpaper in blue has been used on the walls and on the boxed-in cistern to help it blend in. A sink from the London Basin Company sits on a marble vanity unit, its brass hardware echoed by the tone of the mirror.

‘In smaller spaces, hardware, print and paint colour all have to sing for their supper,’ says Flora Soames, who shows the pleasing effect of a simple but glamorous scheme. The ‘Senzo Spot’ wallpaper from Cole & Son is extended to the ceiling, making the space feel compact and playful. It is complemented by a custom marble sink and unfussy fittings.

Follow us on Social Media