White bathroom interior with an open shower concept

Designing a bathroom layout: Interesting facts you don’t want to miss out

There are a lot of steps in the bathroom designing process. You need to decide your budget, create bathroom floor plans, find the right lighting fixtures, create the perfect look with the help of colors and textures, and finally hire the right person to put your plans into action.

Deciding the layout is an important step in the process, and one which many people have trouble with because they don’t know the basics. In today’s blog we’ll discuss how to design a bathroom layout, and furnish you with information which will help you make an informed decision.

Plumbing is key

The first thing you need to understand when creating your bathroom layout plans is the fact that it can be really expensive to move plumbing lines. It’s advisable to leave the plumbing exactly how it is, and work your way around it if you still want a reasonable budget for renovation.

To give you an idea of how expensive it can be, you’d be spending roughly $1500 if you merely want to switch an adjacent sink and toilet, and moving the whole vent stack could cost anywhere between $5-10k.

If you’re building a new home from scratch, having a single wet wall (i.e., wall with the plumbing lines) is the most cost-effective option. The more wet walls you have, the higher the costs mount. Avoid having pipes in an exterior wall if you’re in a colder place – the pipes can burst during the winter. Discuss your needs and expectations with a licensed plumber.

Wet walls – how many?

Assuming you aren’t limited budget-wise, you need to decide how many wet walls you actually need. Having a single wet wall is cheap, but it severely restricts your options. If you want a spacious shower, multiple sinks or a large vanity, you’ll need more than one wet wall.

Generally, two are plenty – having plumbing lines in parallel walls gives you a lot of options when it comes to your bathroom floor plans, and opens up the possibility for a walk-in shower, closet, vanity and more. In such a layout the sinks are usually on one wall, and the shower and toilet share a wall.

Screening the toilet

Most people don’t feel comfortable if their toilet is in direct view from the entrance. So, we need to figure out a way to screen it. The simplest idea is to use the bathroom’s door as a screen. That is, position the toilet in such a way that it’s beside the door. This would mean that once you walk in and shut the door, the bathroom is immediately to your left or right. Placing it behind the door might be awkward.

If this doesn’t work with your existing plumbing (or if you want something prettier), a glass partition might work well. A tinted 4-foot glass partition, if placed strategically, will act as the perfect screen and provide plenty of privacy without making the floor plans complicated or taking up any space. Another option would be to have the vanity and toilet on one wall, and use the vanity to screen the toilet.

Screening the shower

If you want a screen for the shower, you can either get a walk-in shower with a door, or a simple glass partition. The partition would have to be bigger than the one for your toilet, so it’s likely to feel a little clunky in the space. Sliding doors are a good idea for those who want a full door, but it may make the shower area feel a little claustrophobic.

Now, unless you’d feel uncomfortable without a screen you should seriously consider the idea of an open shower. You get used to it over time, and the bathroom feels a lot more spacious. This is certainly something worth trying in your master bathroom layout.

One sink or two? Vanity or no vanity?

Double sink vanity with two wall mirrors with lots of store space

These are simple decisions up to you, so we’ve lumped both together. Our job is to ask questions which prompt you to think. Can you afford the plumbing and changes required in getting two sinks or a vanity (in case they aren’t already a part of the layout)? If yes, continue reading below.

The master bathroom layout is generally a lot more luxurious in most homes, so if you think you’ll need either of these and can afford it, go with it. For instance, if you’ll have two people getting ready at the same time and both need a sink, two sinks make sense for you. On the other hand, if your use of sinks is going to be limited to hand washing and brushing, maybe having a single sink (and a dressing table on the opposite wall) would make more sense.

If you want a vanity, all you need is space. If space is in short supply, consider having a compact vanity and using a grooming station on another wall for getting ready (and keeping your items).

What about a tub?

Bathtubs are becoming a little obsolete now, with many people using them only if they’re combined with a shower. If you only use the tub a couple times a year, you may want to get rid of it altogether to save on space and simplify your bathroom layout design process – not to mention knock back costs.

If you like soaking, however, there are some beautiful bathtubs available on the market. We would recommend sticking to the existing plumbing and finding something that works with it, but if your budget is large you can play around with the layout.

For your master bathroom, you might want to go all-out with a fancy tub with water jets. Situating it near a window where it gets plenty of light might be a good idea.

Bathroom lighting

Finally, we move on from the subject of plumbing. Bathrooms have lighting zones that consider where light is needed, and how much. The shower and sink need to be well-lit, for example. It’s a good idea to research lighting zones and make sure your bathroom is illuminated correctly – although in small bathrooms (10’x10’ or so) a bright ceiling-mounted LED light is more than enough.

Windows are important!

You absolutely need to include a window or two in your bathroom layout. So while the bathroom should (and must) have an exterior wall, the pipes shouldn’t be in it. A window is important so the space gets light, and so moisture and smells can escape. It is the toilet, after all – bathroom fresheners exist for a reason, and sometimes they aren’t enough. You also need fresh air, or the space will get musty and damp.

Door slamming into furniture

When you buy (or make) the furniture, make sure it’s designed with the door dimensions in mind. You don’t want the door grazing your beautiful quartz countertop, or slamming into wooden furniture during the rainy season. Leave a clear 1-foot gap, minimum. Ideally you’d want a bigger gap, because when entering or leaving you don’t want a piece of furniture ready to thwack you in the shin.

Have enough storage

The important word here is “enough”. You don’t need the bathroom to double as a store room, but you also don’t want to start using the sink for storage. For some people, a towel hanger, a rack and a couple corner shelves are all that’s needed. Some others might want a linen cupboard, vanity or a small wardrobe. Outline your storage needs beforehand and design the bathroom accordingly.