How to Plan a Bathroom Layout for a Functional Space
Whether you're remodeling or building new, designing the perfect bathroom layout is an exciting and thoughtful process. To help 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.
A functional bathroom floor plan is one of the keys to building and remodeling success. To determine space-planning requirements, answer the questions below to shed light on 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.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Bathroom Layout
These important considerations will help you determine the best way to lay out your new or newly remodeled bathroom.
Who will use the bathroom?
For example, will two adults share the primary bathroom during the morning rush hour? Is the bathroom limited to occasional guest usage? Are children who need assistance the primary users? Will you bathe a pet in the tub?
How will it be used?
What activities will be done in the various parts of the room? For example, will you require a place to sit and apply makeup? Will the room also house laundry facilities? What activities can be done in a shared space, and which require 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 in its own compartment?
Where will things go?
What items need to be stored in the bathroom, and where should they be located for easy access? The answers to these questions can shed light on how much open floor space is needed for navigation 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 more storage solutions than just 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 the room: the tub, shower, toilet, and sink(s). Not sure where to begin with your bathroom layout? Check out these popular bathroom floor plans below and see which one fits your home and needs best.
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 will use or see your bathroom, consider what they will first notice from the doorway.
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 one another. This narrow floor plan is an efficient option for a small space. It also helps reduce construction costs because all of the plumbing fixtures are contained within 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.
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 of the room and the tub or shower on the opposite wall. The large tub is framed by an alcove with end shelves for added storage, and the double vanity saves space with shallow ends. The walk-in shower saves 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 bigger vanity offers more countertop space and storage below.
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 crave 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.
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 are a favorite feature in primary bathrooms, allowing each person their own area.
Dedicate space on a third wall for a walk-in shower. A glass shower door will make the bathroom feel open. If you prefer more privacy, a frosted door in a tiled shower is cozy and stylish.
Closing off a small compartment for the toilet is a nice feature and provides extra privacy, while maintaining the decorative appeal of the space.
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 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 throughout the rest of the bath. A separate toilet area improves privacy and offers an out-of-the-way spot to store bathroom essentials.
More Bathroom Layout Ideas
Large or small, every bath needs a good floor plan to shine. Here is what you need to keep in mind when planning a design, as well as small bathroom layout ideas that smartly utilize every inch.
Bathroom Layout with Privacy
If you have a generously sized 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 a toilet closet claustrophobic. There are other ways to enhance privacy and comfort, including tactics for small bathroom layout ideas. Just placing the toilet out of the direct line of sight (off to one side of the doorway or protected by the vanity) 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.
Bathroom Layout Vanity Ideas
Every bath needs a sink, but choosing between one sink or two for your bathroom 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 Layout with Tub
If you like 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 niche flanked by built-in storage or by 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 a second tub.
Bathroom Layout Costs
Ultimately, your bathroom layout will depend on the constraints of your space and your budget. 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 then find the common themes to determine your style. Are you a fan of modern bathroom design or is a country-cottage bathroom more your style? Do you love the crisp, clean look of a white bathroom or is a bold, brilliant red 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.
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 is allowable. It's also important that no entry or fixture door interferes with another door or the safe use of the fixtures and cabinets.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 a disc 30 inches in diameter must fit.
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.
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).
- At least one wall-switch-controlled 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.