Planning A Better Master Bathroom

By Gale Steves, Originally Published in Houseplans.com

The bright white walls and honey-toned cabinetry and floor maximize the airy feel of this master bath by Evens Architects.

Creating the perfect master bathroom is like designing a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces of the bathroom must fit together, and there are many choices in selecting the right pieces for you.

Master bathrooms have doubled in size in the past 30 years. Once the bathroom was simply a utilitarian location, but now it has become a show-off place. Blame this on the giant whirlpool tub introduced in the 1980’s, which single-handedly converted the bathroom into a place for relaxation.  Today with our busy, fast-paced lives, we don’t have time for a regular spa ritual.  Also, many of us are trying to be responsible for our water and energy usage.

Are you a bather or a shower-er? Perhaps you do both.  Since these pieces of the bathroom puzzle take up the largest square footage, it makes sense to determine what your bathing needs are.  The new faster-filling single-person soaking tub can fit into the same space as a conventional tub area and is an upgrade. And if you want to combine the showering and bathing, there are higher-end tubs that have a showering compartment which is separate but used in the same space. Perhaps, for a more satisfying shower experience, you may want to create a shower that is the center of attention. This means you get rid of the tub altogether (Don’t keep the tub for resale value only!)

When you share a bathroom, the next question is about sink arrangement. Design magazines show a double sink vanity so frequently that it has become the norm.  However, if space is an issue, consider gaining counter space by having only one sink instead of two. Most of us rarely use both at the same time.  Where space is not so tight, rather than selecting companion sinks in a single countertop, separate the two into two cabinets with built-in storage in between. That gives each person an individual area without competition.

Equally important is the placement of the toilet.  The toilet room is one option in a larger master bathroom. Be sure to consider separate venting for white noise and odor control. An alternative idea is to place ½-inch thick laminated or frosted glass wall dividing the toilet from the sink area. While not creating genuine privacy, it gives the illusion of separate spaces.

Put all those parts together and you can achieve that bathroom of your dreams within the space you have. Remember that bigger is not always better.

Master Bathroom Planning Guide (sidebar) A few guidelines to get you started with your new bathroom:
  • Before you start the planning process, take an inventory of all the things you currently store in your bathroom.  How many towels and bath linens do you want to be handy? Could some of them be housed nearby?
  • Toiletries can occupy a lot of storage area.  That, too, should be considered in the drawers of the vanity or built-in bath cabinet space. Also how will you handle toiletries in the shower or bath areas?
  • To get control of your grooming electronics, look at a bath cabinet that allows you to plug in directly rather than leaving them on the counter.
  • Storage above the vanity should always be in easy reach.  Mirrored cabinets (built-in or wall-mounted) come in many sizes to accommodate most spaces.
  • Bathroom safety is important because this room can be a hazard, no matter what your age. Slip resistant surfaces, particularly in the wet areas, and grab bars in tub and showers are easy to add during the building process. They are more difficult afterwards.
  • Comfort height toilets raise the height of the seat to 17 to 19 inches. They are easier and safer to use as you get older. A future-proofing investment you can enjoy now.
  • Eliminate shadow or glare with good lighting; think about night lights or sensor lights to avoid stumbling in the dark.   
 
For a collection of plans with a wide variety of great master suites click here.

October 1, 2013