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How to Fit a Cloakroom Under the Stairs

Make the most of the space below the stairs by tucking in a handy extra loo

Katie Levell
10 July 2017

When you’re thinking of ways to use the area below the stairs, it’s worth considering the option of reinventing the space as a neat downstairs cloakroom. Don’t think you can squeeze one in? Just take a look at these spaces. Plus, there are some handy tips on the key things you will need to consider before you take the plunge.

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Do your homework
One of the very first things you’ll need to look at when investigating the viability of an under-stairs cloakroom is your plumbing. Do seek the advice of a trusted plumber, who will be able to assess where the soil pipes currently run in the house, and how easy it would be to access them, or whether it would be necessary to lay a new pipeline. You could be looking at extra costs to dig under floorboards or across a driveway, so this should definitely be your first step.

The alternative is a macerating toilet, which wouldn’t require such hefty pipework, but still has other implications. This type of loo sends waste to a macerating unit positioned at the rear or in the wall. The waste is liquified by high-powered blades and exits through a normal pipe attached to the main drain line. Macerating toilets themselves are often more expensive than standard ones, but you would save money on the installation.

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Go in sideways
Perhaps the most common arrangement for an under-stairs cloakroom is with the toilet tucked away below the sloping ceiling and the basin on the facing wall. This means that the first thing you see when opening the door is the basin. It’s a workable layout because the greatest head height is where you would stand to wash your hands, and there will probably be space to fit a mirror above the sink as well.

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Head round the bend
Got stairs that twist and turn? It’s still possible to make the most of a little niche – just keep in mind the points where you’ll need a lot of head height and then allocate sanitaryware positions accordingly. The landing point where the steps stop and change direction can provide a level ceiling below. If the space is small with structural details that intrude, you can opt for a simple white décor to keep things bright and not too fussy.

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Enter in another way
In a more modern home the staircase may well be positioned differently, allowing access to the cloakroom below via an alternative route. Here, the loo is still nestled under the stairs, but the doorway to the room is at the tallest point.

The space for the basin moves to a side wall in this layout. It is necessary to ensure that the basin is slim in depth, so as not to protrude too far into the room. There are some very sleek basin designs on the market for just this purpose – often as wide as most hand basins, but half the depth. Consider also whether you will leave the pipework visible, as they’ve done here, or if you’d prefer to hide it within a useful storage cabinet.

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If you don’t have it, create It
Some stairways are open underneath, which gives a nice airy feel to a hall. It is possible to preserve this openness while also cashing in on a section of the space. For example, here the owners have decided to close off part of the under-stairs area for a loo and basin (and a small angled storage space to the side as well). The remaining open space still has room for an elegant chair, and the pale walls and woodwork help everything feel spacious.

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Factor in some storage
It is possible to squeeze your WC and basin into a space no bigger than a cupboard, as well as including some storage if you choose a vanity unit that combines both. By installing a unit like this one with integrated storage to hide away spare toilet rolls and cleaning products these homeowners have maximised a very slim room, creating a space that feels carefully considered and neatly styled.

Discover expert tips for making the most of a cloakroom

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Opt for bespoke
When you’re starting a project from scratch, it’s possible to plan exactly the right amount of space you need for your under-stairs loo, and sort out any plumbing issues at the outset.

This simple white staircase sits against the exposed brick wall and has allocated a nook for a loo and basin. As it has been custom-made, the designers have also been able to fit in a useful cupboard further along for storage.

Find architectural tips for creating a wow staircase

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Work with what you have
It’s more than likely that you’re going to discover pipework or utility meters under your stairs – and it probably won’t be possible, or practical, to move them. It will be a challenge to find space for everything, but you can play it to your advantage. Here, they’ve nestled the basin on top of boxed-in pipework.

Make sure that meters are boxed in with a waterproof covering, but they do need to be accessible so include an access panel or door.

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Slide it away
A lot of under-stairs closets open on to quite narrow hallways, where doors can get in the way. A great solution is to install a sliding door that either slides into a pocket in the wall or across to one side.

Have you installed a cloakroom under the stairs? Share your photos and experiences in the Comments below.
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