This Is the Practical, Pretty Small Space Bathroom Trend You Didn’t Know You Needed in Your Life

published Feb 8, 2023
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wet room style bathroom with freestanding tub, shower, brown floors, white tile walls
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The latest bathroom trend that’s been making a major splash in today’s homes? Wet rooms, which essentially combine a bath and shower into one tiled space with the shower head out in the open, allowing the entire bathroom to function as the shower enclosure. Common in Europe, wet rooms are making their way stateside, where they can take small bathrooms to the next level, especially if you don’t have much room for a shower, since you don’t have to worry about accommodating bulky shower doors or any extra hardware.

“Wet rooms have certainly grown in popularity these last few years,” says designer Grey Joyner of Grey Joyner Interiors. “I find that my clients like the overall look for their bathroom and the ease with which they can access a shower.” Adds Danny Spears of Captex Construction: “With a dedicated wet room, clients are able to spend as much time relaxing in the room as they like, without having to leave the area to grab shower necessities or worry about getting the floor wet.”

Wet room features

What exactly should your wet room entail beyond a shower and/or tub, if you have the space for both? According to Spears, an ideal wet room contains natural light in the form of a window, bench seating, and ample storage. Luis Murillo of LMD Architecture Studio appreciates when wet rooms also have skylights or a view of the backyard. “Let the space flow to the outside, and let nature come in,” he says.

The benefits of wet rooms

Wet rooms can significantly transform a standard bathroom, making it appear more serene and grand even it’s small. “Wet rooms are a space-efficient way to evoke the relaxing feeling of a large spa bathroom,” says Barrett Cooke of Arterberry Cooke. “They are great space savers, and wet rooms are perfect for small or awkward shaped bathrooms,” says designer Tamarra Younis of Union of Art Interiors. “As you are not as confined to the standard sizing requirements of showers and tubs, you can create a much more open, airy, and uncluttered bathroom layout.”

The wet room truly has the ability to make everyday rituals feel a bit more glam, Younis says. “The idea of the wet room has evolved from being something that was thought of as more practical and utilitarian to being the epitome of at home, spa-like luxury,” she comments. “Who doesn’t love the idea of being able to hop between your fabulous oversized tub into your open shower outfitted with massaging jets, rain shower head, and full steam system without even having to towel off?”

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Wet rooms can also make it easier for those with mobility issues to bathe. “Accessibility is key in all rooms of the house, especially a bathroom,” Joyner notes. “A wet room allows someone to take a shower without having to step into or step over anything that could be a hindrance.”

Plant lovers may also appreciate having wet rooms in their homes. “When not in use, a wet room doubles as the perfect place for those delicate tropical house plants we all love, elevating the entire room to a beautiful, airy tranquil refuge,” Spears says.

Designing your bathroom to accommodate a wet room

Sold on turning your bath into a wet room the next time you renovate? You’ll want to ensure the space can accommodate a wet room layout properly by taking these function- and aesthetic-related steps when choosing and installing materials. “Visually, the spaces are open to each other, so continuous materials are helpful to create a cohesive look,” explains designer Jessica Risko Smith of JRS Interior Design. “A floor tile that carries into the shower without a transition is key.”

For proper drainage, you also need to consider the grade of the floor that you’ll be laying your tile on. “Here you must account for slope in the shower, so your floor tile needs to be small or be available in multiple sizes,” says Smith. Rather than install a traditional vanity, opt for one that is floating. That way, “you won’t need to mop up after damp feet right away,” Smith adds.

What to keep in mind prior to installation

Looking to install a wet room of your own? It’s important to keep a few key logistics top of mind. “Having proper drainage and properly installed tanking systems are extremely important to nail for the function and longevity of a wet room,” Younis says. “Think of it as an indoor swimming pool: Your wet room will need to be specially sealed.” She advises hiring a pro to ensure that all goes smoothly with what is known as waterproofing or tanking. “This is the process of adding an extra layer of protection between the walls, floor, and the tiling you use in the wet room,” Younis explains. “This is key to ensure that you won’t spring a leak and damage any of the surrounding dry areas within your home!”

Lastly, you’ll want to be mindful about the type of tile you install in your wet room. As designer Christina Kim notes, “While wet rooms provide a great opportunity to show off uninterrupted runs of a great tile design, it is important to consider the slip resistance of the floor tile selection, since it’s easier to slip on wet floors.” However, it’s easy to address this issue head-on. “If you don’t want to slip when you are reaching for the soap, you may want to consider looking at tiles that have a little more texture, or you may consider applying an anti-slip sealer to your tile after installation,” Younis says.