The Smallest Room in the House (or Boat)
We have often looked at how to use the many space-saving toilet and bathroom suites and single units sold by Plumbworld and how they can enable you to squeeze your en-suite or shower room into unlikely spaces.
But how unlikely can you get? Just how small can you go?
In a house, there are some practical minima. But some people seem determined to push (or in this case to squeeze) the envelope. So let’s look at what extremes they have gone to…
In this example, we see how you can squeeze a WC into a space that also needs to house clothes washing arrangements. I recently experienced a barely bigger ‘en suite’ in a flat in Taiwan where a laundry room had been turned into a basic wet room by the addition of a flexible shower hose and a floor drain.
Other examples can be found where small apartments mean people have to sit on the loo to use the basin. Saves time I suppose.
Tight Toilets away from home
But when people say ‘I have the smallest toilet in the world’ they are tending to forget that when we fly on planes, we squeeze ourselves into impossibly tight cubicles with toilets that make a frightening whoosh as the vacuum extractor kicks in. Space utilisation is certainly a fine art for the designers of these modules – how they squeeze basin, waste bin, coat hook, two paper towel dispensers and soap bottle – and now often a nappy changing table – into the unit is amazing.
Less high-flying, but equally ingenious, are the toilet arrangements (or ‘heads’) to be found onboard boats. When I had a live-aboard narrowboat, the builder had ingeniously fitted a shower (with semi-sitting bath), hot and cold running water for the sink and a water-flush, pump-out toilet.
This last item freed us from the grisly necessity of regular carrying of full plastic ‘cassettes’ (lidded buckets) to the disposal station on shore: instead we visited the marinas that had pump-out facilities and the waste was sucked away down a hose. However, holding the material in the boat for any length of time did give rise to odours and the need for regular application of Jeyes fluid. Nowadays the more sophisticated systems have U bends and intermediate holding tanks so that the smell is removed: but woe betide you if you have to unblock a system (our recent yacht holiday in Turkey was marred by such a ‘blocked heads’ incident – with 7 aboard, it was no laughing matter…)
Mind you, boating folk tend to be a hardy breed, and many do not mind roughing it: witness this posting on a forum from a clearly Spartan soul –
“With regard to showering on board, my method is: erect tent over cockpit, we do this every night, gives us an extra room or place to hang wet gear.
Purchased many years ago, a small pump complete with flat pipe and adjustable nozzle (cost a tenner if I recall correctly) – connect to 12 volt system, hang from boom.
Heat water on gas stove, add cold water to suit, pour into a plastic bowl, remainder into plastic bucket. Place in cockpit. Put pump in bucket, wash all over from bowl, switch pump on and rinse off.
Can get a great shower from one bucket full of water, and it all stows away in a small space.”
Can you imagine getting by with one bucket of water for a good shower at home? As with caravanning and camping, we clearly apply different bathing standards when we approach the Great Outdoors.