Outdoor toilet ideas: 11 styles, including composting designs
These outdoor toilet ideas are functional and stylish and will extend the use of your backyard
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If you've been thinking about outdoor toilet ideas and whether to add one to your plot, you've come to the right place.
As with outdoor shower ideas, outdoor toilets are super useful to own. After all, not everyone wants to traipse back up to the house to use the restroom – particularly if you're busy entertaining or ticking off your garden chores.
As James Roberts, Director at Sanctuary Bathrooms (opens in new tab) says, 'Whether you're a busy botanist, host a lot of outdoor parties, or like working out in your yard, an outdoor toilet could just be the perfect addition to your garden when you spend a lot of time outside.' Plus, if you go for a composting toilet, they're great for upping your sustainability credentials, too.
Intrigued to know more? We've rounded up some stylish outdoor toilet ideas, plus plenty of advice, to help you decide on the best solution for your space.
11 outdoor toilet ideas to recreate in your backyard
From characterful cabins to chic outdoor rooms – these outdoor toilet ideas will soon want you wanting one of your own.
1. Add one to your garden office
With the huge increase in people working from home, dedicated garden offices have become a popular backyard addition. It's the perfect solution to get some necessary peace and quiet away from distractions, and nowadays you can find super-smart custom builds complete with power, lighting, and heating.
However, breaking your workflow to trek back up to the indoor bathroom will be inconvenient, especially during inclement weather. But, with the help of a qualified plumber, you could have one installed as a partitioned room, complete with a sink and maybe even a shower. That way, your office space can even double up as a handy guest suite when friends and family come to visit too.
2. Double up with a shower
Speaking of showers, we love this neat design. To the left is a composting toilet, and to the right, a small yet perfectly formed shower, complete with a curtain for privacy and hooks for hanging towels. The clear roof will allow plenty of light in while keeping the rain out, and the stylish wooden structure will complement all sorts of surroundings.
If you're looking for outdoor bathroom ideas for a smaller space, this is the ideal solution.
3. Make it your own with charming details
Just a few homely touches can make the world of difference to any space – interior or exterior – and that goes for outdoor toilets too.
This scene has tons of character with its oversized floral decor, wall hanging, and potted plants. We love the vintage-effect stain on the timber, too, plus that toilet roll holder is a clever storage solution for maximizing the use of space.
4. Complete your outdoor toilet with a sink
If you love to entertain or have a large family, then perhaps a duo of outdoor toilets is a sensible approach, situated in matching outhouses. Or, add a toilet to one, and a shower to the other.
A centrally-positioned outdoor sink will finish the bathroom set-up – this rustic bowl may be simple, but it has a minimalist charm. Again, think about storage – it could be as straightforward as a few well-placed hooks for hand towels.
Add smart paving or a deck underfoot to define the zone further. This pale hue contrasts nicely with the wood.
5. Add a natural edge with a woven wicker door
Using an outdoor toilet evokes a 'getting-back-to-basics' feel. And what better way to enhance the vibe than with a rustic structure made using traditional methods?
Woven wicker adds textural interest and could be perfect for the door – as seen here. And these walls, made from timber, add an extra authentic appeal. The result is a beautiful, characterful design that easily blends into its natural surroundings.
And, if you like the idea of really embracing nature, it's worth considering some outdoor bathtub ideas for your backyard, too. Relaxing beneath a clear blue sky – or one full of stars – in a tub of warm water is a surefire way to soothe the soul.
6. Smarten it up with a lick of paint
One of the easiest ways to smarten up your outdoor toilet ideas – that is, if you're going for a wooden outhouse style – is with a lick of exterior wood paint.
Go for bright white, bold red, and on-trend charcoal, or try a more subtle scheme of soft creams, sage greens, or dreamy blues. Choose tones that mirror other areas of your backyard for a sense of harmony.
We love the heart-shaped window in this structure too which adds whimsical charm. If you need extra privacy, you could always add a small, lightweight curtain on the inside, or a pane of frosted glass.
7. Pep up an old Porta-Potty
Think Porta-Potty and you probably think of festivals. But, if you're looking for budget ideas for your outdoor toilet, you might be able to find a secondhand one going cheap, ready to be spruced up.
Aside from a good clean, you could decorate it as you wish with paints, or even some checkerboard tiles. Granted, it's a quirkier approach than most, but if you like a more eccentric style, it could be a good fit.
8. Go for characterful designs
This beautifully-crafted design is a feature in itself and is bound to be a talking point.
We love the double doors and structural shape. And with optional solar lights, sink, and hand sanitizer dispenser, it can be kitted out to suit your needs.
Simply add a coat of wood stain or paint for a personal touch and pop it somewhere practical ready to use.
9. Opt for an open-air scheme
For warmer climates, an open-air bathroom can work perfectly. This one includes a traditional toilet, urinal, sink, and washing area.
Wooden decking, smart paving, and cobbles add a pleasing variety of textures underfoot, while ceramic pots dotted throughout the scene make pretty finishing touches. Plenty of plants nearby add to the jungle-like theme.
If you're eager to bring more tropical garden ideas into your plot, then this could be the look for you.
10. Style up the interior
Even a toilet can be made to feel cozy and luxurious if styled in the right way. A vase of freshly-picked flowers, plenty of paper, and a chalkboard all add to the appeal of this set-up.
We love the map design around the toilet seat too. And for composting toilets, when it comes to the 'soak' (more on that below), be sure to keep it in something stylish – whether that's a deep, ornate tray or a vintage planter.
11. Keep the look contemporary
Love a contemporary style? You don't have to sacrifice the look for your outdoor toilet ideas, even if opting for a waterless model.
This neat system will fit into the smallest of spaces, so is perfect for tiny homes, narrowboats, caravans, camper vans, and shepherd's huts. A standard-size seat keeps it comfy to use, and there's a built-in fan and efficient ventilation system to prevent any unwanted odors. There's also a light that comes on to tell you when it needs emptying.
The gray walls, mini sink, and wooden shelf finish the on-trend scene beautifully.
How do composting toilets work?
'If you've been researching making your home more eco-friendly, you have likely come across composting toilets,' says Bailey Carson, Home Care Expert at Angi (opens in new tab). 'As they don't work through traditional plumbing, composting toilets can also be more economical than connecting to a sewer or septic tank.' And, there's the 'added benefit of ultimately creating a compost that can nourish your trees and shrubs,' as the team at WooWoo Waterless Toilets (opens in new tab) says.
They're a great option for sustainable gardens – but how do they work?
Basically, a composting toilet will naturally break down human, solid waste into compost. Done correctly, it's hygienic and simple.
The team at Free Range Designs (opens in new tab) advises adding a handful of worms, plus a bucket of kitchen or garden compost or animal manure to the bottom of whatever vessel you are attaching to your toilet to collect the waste – this will get it off to a good start and speed up the process.
Next to the toilet, you will need to provide a box of what's known as 'soak', plus a scoop. 'This could be sawdust, straw, wood chips, shredded paper or earth,' they advise. One scoop of soak should be added to the toilet following solid waste. 'The soak is very important for a healthy (and odor-free) compost pile,' says the team. The carboniferous material is needed, otherwise excess nitrogen (which 'humanure' has a lot of) is released in the form of ammonia which smells very unpleasant. Soak also absorbs liquid and introduces oxygen, all of which help to get the balance right for decomposition.
Some composting toilets are designed so that urine is separated straight away. It can be collected elsewhere for disposal (or for fertilizing nonfood plants when diluted 1:10 with water). Or, it can be released into the earth through a 'soakaway', where it can be used to feed fast-growing trees such as ash and willow, as Free Range Designs explain.
If you collect the solid waste in a wheelie bin – the approach suggested by Free Range Designs – 'the composting process will take around a year to fully break down into useable compost. However, it will break down much faster if it is emptied into a standard composting box, which allows the air to circulate and aerobic composting to happen more rapidly,' they add. 'In a composting box, the compost should break down and be usable in about six months.'
Once it has been left to decompose for the required amount of time, all the pathogens will have been destroyed and the compost inside is safe to use. 'Human pathogens don't like conditions outside the human body, so almost all will be dead after a few hours,' says the team. They explain how there is one type of roundworm egg that can survive a year-long decomposition period, however, so to reduce any risk, they don't recommend using the humanure on your vegetable garden.
You can find out more about composting in our guide.
How do you maintain a composting toilet?
There are a few top tips to maintain a composting toilet, according to the team at Free Range Designs:
- Add an extra handful of worms and another bag of garden, kitchen, or animal compost periodically to your wheelie bin or bucket that collects the solid waste, to speed up the process.
- You can also add an extra scoop of soak from time to time.
- If using a urine separator, be sure to give it a regular clean to keep flies and unpleasant odors away.
- Don't forget to empty the collection vessels before they get too full. If using a wheelie bin, you'll need to have a second one lined up. Once full, the first one can then be left to stand for a few months before being emptied into a composting box.
More top tips for installing an outdoor toilet
- 'If you're looking to install a toilet in your garden or outhouse, this is normally very straightforward to do; you just need to make sure you've got planning permission, freshwater, drainage, power, and ventilation,' says James Roberts, Director at Sanctuary Bathrooms. Of course, if you're opting for a composting toilet, you hardly need any of these factors at all, although it's always worth checking with your local authority for planning implications.
- 'Style-wise, make your outdoor toilet a standout feature in your garden by repurposing a beach hut or shed to act as a striking cubicle,' suggests James. 'Alternatively, go for a more subtle approach by making the outhouse and the interiors blend in with nature, including using earthy elements such as bamboo, plant life, and moss walls or an eco-roof.' You can learn more about green roofs in our guide.
- You'll likely need to provide privacy for your outdoor toilet, so don't forget to factor this in during the planning stage. This could mean opting for frosted windows or ensuring you provide a lock on the inside of the door, or it could simply be a case of positioning it somewhere secluded in your garden.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.
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