When you design your own bathroom, you take on an ambitious yet rewarding project. Our guide to planning a beautiful bathroom layout offers essential tips to create a space that meets all your needs.
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Whether you're remodeling or building from scratch, designing the perfect bathroom layout involves a lot of excitement—but also requires thought. To bring your dream bath into focus, take time to assess your needs and devise an efficient layout. With a smart strategy and bathroom dimensions in place, it's easier to set a budget, hire contractors, and shop for beautiful finishes.

To pull off a successful bathroom remodel or build, a functional floor plan is key. To determine space-planning requirements, answer the questions below to fully understand how you'll use the space. For an existing bath, assess the pros and cons of the current layout. For a new bathroom layout, think about how your dream space would function.

white and green bathroom
Credit: John Bessler

Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Bathroom Layout

These important considerations can help you determine the best way to lay out your new or newly-remodeled bathroom.

Who will use the bathroom?

Will two adults share the primary bathroom during the morning rush hour? Is the bathroom only used by the occasional guest? Are children who need assistance the primary occupants? Will you bathe a pet in the tub?

How will it be used?

What kind of activities will go on in the bathroom on a daily basis? For example, will you require a place to sit and apply makeup? Will the room house laundry facilities? What can be done in a shared space, and what requires a private area? Do you prefer separate shower and bath areas? Would you like a tub that accommodates more than one person? Do you want the water closet to have its own area?

Where will things go?

Will you store your toiletries, cosmetics, etc. in your bathroom? Where should they be placed for easy access? The answers to these questions can give insight on how much open floor space you need to navigate around the room, what size tub or shower makes sense, whether two sinks are necessary, and more.

When crafting the perfect bathroom layout, don't underestimate the importance of storage. Even in a petite bath, you can find storage solutions in addition to the the vanity cabinet by adding a toilet surround, over-door shelving, or a recessed medicine cabinet.

Popular Bathroom Layouts

With this information in mind, you can begin to place the key elements in your layout: the tub, shower, toilet, and sink(s). Not sure where to begin? Check out these popular bathroom floor plans below and see which one fits your home and needs best.

Space-Smart Bathroom plan

Three-Quarter Bath Layout (No Tub)

With only one sink and a shower, this is a hardworking plan for a guest bathroom. All plumbing on the same wall saves labor and supply expenses. If visitors use or see your bathroom, consider what's visible from the doorway.

small bathroom plan

Full Bath Layout

One of the most common bathroom layouts is a 9x5-foot space with a vanity, toilet, and tub/shower combination lined up next to each another. This narrow floor plan makes an efficient option for a small space. It also helps reduce construction costs with all the plumbing fixtures contained on one wall. Often a full bath has space for a roomy vanity or a double vanity.

To personalize your space, consider a furniture-style vanity or contemporary floating vanity instead of an off-the-shelf cabinet. Opt for a console-style sink with open floor space below to make the room feel bigger.

Another space-expanding tip is to replace the tub-shower combo with a large shower. Without a tub to stop your eye, the space feels larger. If you have a tub in another bathroom, gaining a plus-size shower in a primary bath can increase the perceived value of a primary bedroom suite.

master bathroom plan

Versatile Primary Bathroom Layout

When you need to share but space is limited, this primary bathroom layout makes perfect sense. It places plumbing fixtures on two walls with the vanity and toilet on one side and the tub or shower on the opposite wall. An alcove with end shelves frames the large tub for added storage, and the double vanity conserves space with shallow ends. Plus, the walk-in shower saves you money because it doesn't require a door.

This configuration typically offers more vanity size and style options. Including two sinks (or a double vanity) is a nice benefit for a shared primary bath. Choosing a single, bigger vanity offers more countertop space and storage.

If you prefer to have a separate tub and shower, put them side by side to reduce running additional plumbing lines to each area. If you require additional storage, opt for a large walk-in shower or a shower-tub combo and outfit the rest of the wall with a tall linen closet.

Master Bath Floor Plan

Large Primary Bathroom Plan

For a more luxurious bath experience, spread out your main bath fixtures in a 10x12-foot space (or larger). Place the bathtub under a window for a pretty focal point. Double vanities work well in primary bathrooms, allowing each person their own area.

Dedicate space on a third wall for a walk-in shower. Or opt for a glass shower door, which makes the bathroom feel more open and light. If you prefer more privacy, a frosted door in a tiled shower adds cozy and stylish vibes.

Closing off a small compartment for the toilet provides extra privacy, while maintaining the decorative appeal of the space.

Dream Bath Plan

Dream Primary Bathroom Floor Plan

For the ultimate primary bathroom layout, incorporate architectural elements, such as bay windows, to serve as a dramatic backdrop to a freestanding bathtub. Place vanities on opposite walls to give everyone their own space to get ready without bumping elbows. If you have a long wall for a spacious vanity, consider lowering a 24-inch section of the countertop to create a dedicated makeup station. Leave space below the countertop open to store a stool or chair so you can sit while grooming.

A walk-in shower with a space for drying off keeps water contained in one area and reduces wet floors. A separate toilet area improves privacy and offers an distinct spot to store bathroom essentials.

More Bathroom Layout Ideas

Large or small, every bath needs a good floor plan to shine. Here's what you need to keep in mind when planning a design, as well as small bathroom layout ideas that make the most of every inch.

small bathroom with black and white tiled floor
Credit: Edmund Barr Photography

Bathroom Layout with Privacy

If you have a generous space, a separate toilet compartment in your primary bathroom layout offers privacy, but it does have drawbacks: Solid walls make the overall room feel smaller, and many people find toilet closets to be claustrophobic.

Enhance privacy and comfort simply by placing the toilet out of the direct line of sight (off to one side of the doorway or protected by the vanity). This can make a "big difference mentally," says Lori Jo Krengel, a certified primary kitchen and bath designer in St. Paul. One of her favorite options is a privacy panel made of tempered glass with a sandblasted design that obscures views without blocking light. "It's beautiful, and it takes up very little floor space," she says.

symmetrical double vanity bathroom marble counters
Credit: John Bessler

Bathroom Layout Vanity Ideas

Every bath needs a sink, but choosing between one sink or two for your arrangement deserves some pondering. "Think about how you use the bath," Krengel says. "If two people are actually getting ready at the same time, and both need the sink, then two sinks make sense." Otherwise, consider having two roomier grooming stations (with a completely separate makeup vanity, for example) and just one sink to share for tooth brushing and hand washing.

"You can tailor the storage to each person's needs and maximize the space if you don't need a second sink," she says. (Plus, you'll have only one sink to clean.) Don't forget good vanity lighting. Sconces on both sides of the mirror produce less shadow on your face than a single light from above.

bathroom with tub
Credit: Stephan Julliard

Bathroom Layout with Tub

If you enjoy soaking, a separate tub is a welcome luxury. A bump-out tub bay is a popular bathroom layout idea, but you can also bump in, creating a central tub flanked by built-in storage or compartments for a shower and toilet. Not everyone prefers a tub, however. These days, many homeowners are trading their underused whirlpool or tub-shower combo for a more luxurious walk-in shower. Most real estate experts agree: As long as you have at least one tub in the house, it's OK for resale purposes to eliminate any others.

bathroom with white tile and shower corner
Credit: Jim Franco

Bathroom Layout Costs

Ultimately, your bathroom layout will depend on what space and budget permit. Remodeling costs tend to soar when you start moving plumbing lines. Just switching an adjacent sink and toilet could set you back $1,500, Krengel says. "Moving the whole vent stack is the real big-ticket item," she says. "If you have to do that, it could be $5,000 to $10,000."

Whatever the size of your bath, keep in mind that the more walls that contain plumbing pipes, the higher the price tag. If you're building new and budget is a concern, limit plumbing fixtures to one wall. If you're remodeling, try to keep load-bearing walls where they are and avoid rerouting plumbing and electrical lines. In cold climates, be wary of pipes in an exterior wall; they can freeze, burst, and cause costly water damage. In all cases, remember that varied rooflines, curved walls, arches, bump-outs, and other character-enhancing features will drive up your total price tag.

How to Plan Your Bathroom Design Style

With the layout in place, you can begin to think about design. Collect images of bathrooms you like and find the common themes to determine your style. Are you a fan of minimalist bathroom design or is a luxurious bathroom more your style? Do you love the crisp, clean look of a white bathroom or is a timeless blue bathroom more appealing? Heading to the store with a clear vision will make it much easier to whittle down the bathroom paint color choices for cabinets, hardware materials, and other finishes.

white bathroom dramatic beaded-board ceiling
Credit: Michael Partenio

General Bathroom Planning Codes and Guidelines to Consider

Adhere to these bathroom codes and recommendations to ensure the space will function efficiently.

Bathroom Door Entry Planning Guideline

The clear opening of a doorway should be at least 34 inches wide. This requires a minimum 2-foot-10-inch door. If the existing structure precludes changing the opening, then a minimum 2-foot door works. It's also important that no entry or fixture door interferes with another door or the safe use of the fixtures and cabinets.

Bathroom with dark brick and marble
Credit: Annie Schlecther

Recommended Clear Bathroom Space

Plan a clear floor space of at least 30 inches from the front edge of all fixtures (lavatory, toilet, bidet, tub, and shower) to any opposite bath fixture, wall, or obstacle.

Code Requirements:

  • A minimum space of 21 inches must be planned in front of the lavatory, toilet, bidet, and tub.
  • A minimum space of 24 inches must be planned in front of a shower entry.

Bathroom Planning Guidelines for Single Lavatory Placement

The distance from the centerline of the lavatory to a sidewall/tall obstacle should be at least 20 inches.

Code Requirement:

  • The minimum distance from the centerline of the lavatory to a wall is 15 inches.
  • The minimum distance between a wall and the edge of a freestanding or wall-hung lavatory is 4 inches.

Bathroom Codes for Double Lavatory Placement

The distance between the centerlines of two lavatories should be at least 36 inches.

Code Requirement:

  • The minimum distance between the centerlines of two lavatories is 30 inches.
  • The minimum distance between the edges of two freestanding or wall-hung lavatories is 4 inches.
angled corner shower with floor-to-ceiling aqua tile
Credit: Gordon Beall

Recommended Shower Size

The interior shower size should be at least 36x36 inches.

Code Requirement: The minimum interior shower size is 30x30 inches or 900 square inches, in which you must be able to fit a a disc 30 inches in diameter.

Guidelines for Toilet/Bidet Placement

The distance from the centerline of a toilet and/or bidet to any bath fixture, wall, or other obstacle should be at least 18 inches.

Code Requirement: A minimum distance of 15 inches is required from the centerline of a toilet and/or bidet to any bath fixture, wall, or other obstacle.

small bathroom with black and white tiled floor
Credit: Edmund Barr Photography

Toilet Compartment Recommendations

The size for a separate toilet compartment should be at least 36x66 inches with a swing-out or pocket door.

Code Requirement: The minimum size for a separate toilet compartment is 30x60 inches.

Bathroom Planning Guidelines for Storage

Provide adequate, accessible storage for toiletries, bath linens, and grooming and general bathroom supplies at the point of use.

Bathroom Lighting Tips

In addition to general lighting, task lighting should be provided for each functional area in the bathroom (i.e. grooming, showering).

Code Requirement:

  • At least one wall-switch light must be provided. The switch must be placed at the room's entrance.
  • All light fixtures installed within tub and shower spaces should be marked "suitable for damp/wet locations."
  • Hanging fixtures cannot be located within a zone of 3 feet horizontally and 8 feet vertically from the top of the bathtub rim.

Comments (1)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
December 2, 2018
Excellent article! I was looking for general code information without having to read our entire building code.