Make a small room something special

Downstairs loos..or indeed small upstairs loos..can be made inviting by a bit of designer thinking, which means texture, quality materials and expert installation

This cloakroom in a London house was designed by Roselind Wilson Design. Roselind says small WCs offer a chance to be creative and she suggests making big bold choices. And as with all interior projects, look to use sustainable, durable materials such as FSC-certified wood and wallpapers, porcelain tiles and eco-friendly paints. Use water-saving taps/loos, LED lighting, and why not visit an auction to find interesting pendant lights. Pre-used, pre-loved...auctions/car boots sales/antiques shops are the eco way to go.

Decorating a cloakroom can often feel more daunting than tackling a bigger space. How do you get the layout right? What if the scale doesn't work? But Roselind Wilson, creative director at Roselind Wilson Design, believes that a small WC actually gives you the chance to unleash your creativity. 'To create impact in a small space, there needs to be a memorable feature that really grabs your attention. This might be a striking wallpaper or the use of bold colour. You need to be braver than you might be in other areas of the house.'

For the London project featured here, Roselind went for a scheme that features texture, straight lines and contrasting finishes, creating a small room with character, warmth and opulence.

Tantalising texture

The client specified a luxurious and opulent look, says Roselind. 'So we opted for a textural theme dominated by stripes set against a warm palette of brown, gold and bronze.' A combination of striped porcelain tiles and woven wallpaper was used for the walls, along with a grey marble countertop and striped wooden veneer for the vanity unit. The overall feel is one of warmth, welcome and comfort.

'We used a variety of textures – fabric, metal, wood and porcelain – to achieve a look which moves from modern minimalist to something much warmer and more welcoming. The mix of textures add to the tactility of the room and invigorates the senses.'

Super stripes

A striped motif is a key element in the design, featuring pale porcelain tiles on the walls and the wood veneer on the vanity drawer fronts. ' A stripe adds such a pleasing geometry to a room and it's also one of the few 'patterns' that can work alongside itself in various scales,' says Roselind. The simple bronze tap for the vanity unit also ties in with the clean, contemporary lines of the striped surfaces in the room. The balance between the contemporary elements and the more classic touches – the plant stand, towel rail and decorative light – adds to the welcoming and homely feel.


One of the most challenging aspects of this cloakroom was its unusual shape caused largely by its understairs location.To maximise space and reflect as much light as possible, Roselind commissioned a custom-made mirror with an antique brass frame to go above the vanity unit, reaching up into the highest section of the room. 'Given the compact size of this cloakroom, we opted to allow the mirror to expand the full width of the wall so that it could reflect the beautiful textures and finishes. We also allowed a 50mm gap all the way around between the mirror and the wall so that the textured wallpaper could add to the effect the mirror creates.'


Create a focal point

In a small space it's important to include a feature that really grabs your attention and makes an impact. 'In the case of this project, our clients loved the fact that we made the decorative cherub light the focal point of the room. - it was an item they already owned and loved. You don't always have to bring everything new into a space. A cherished possession can become a brilliant starting point for a scheme.'

 Introduce texture

'Make sure you add textural elements to warm up what could otherwise be a bland, soulless downstairs loo,' says Roselind. 'And don't just keep it to one particular material – a variety of different types of texture such as wood, fabric and metal will help achieve a sophisticated result. These contrasts serve to please the eye at every turn.'

Make it memorable

Small can be beautiful and decorating a compact space really is a chance to push the boundaries with patterns or textures you might not think of using in other areas of your home. 


Walls Top half: Jumble wallcovering, Tektura,; Bottom half: Bera & Beren, SAW finish, White, Domus Tiles,; Vanity countertop Technistone, Noble Imperial Grey, The Marble Group,; Basin tap Three-hole mixer with non-swivelling spout, Satin Bronze Finish, CEA Design,; Vanity handles Cadiz Hexagon Cupboard Knob in antique brass waxed, A&H Brass,