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help designing a master bathroom 13'x5'

14 years ago

Hello! I would love some help figuring out a design for a master bath that we're thinking about having added to our home. We currently do not have a master bath and will be carving some space out of the master bedroom to make the bathroom. I want the bathroom to include a stand-up shower with a glass door, a double vanity, and a toilet (obviously!). I'd love to have the toilet in a separate little room, but it isn't necessary. The design is complicated by the existence, in the back right corner of the room, of an access panel for the tub plumbing for the adjacent bathroom. I imagine that this will have to stay put.

Any ideas on how to work around that and to make this space into a really nice bathroom?

Comments (39)

  • 14 years ago

    I would seriously consider one of two options:
    1) Move the pocket door to the right so that it's more centered in the space.
    2) Get rid of your access panel. I asked our code enforcement guy and here where I live they are not required. We opted to do without for our new shower. if this bathroom is over a basement and you have access below, you can put your shut-off valves there. You just want to be sure your plumbing in the wall is super well-executed, thoroughly pressure-tested, etc and that you are OK with the fact that you'll have to rip the wall open on one side or the other in order to change the valves at any point in the future.
    Moving the door is my vote.
    That would allow you to put a toilet alcove and maybe a narrow linen closet at the right-hand end and keep the access panel.

    Double vanity on the long wall, and 3 x 5 glass shower at the left-hand end of the room.

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  • 14 years ago

    So if you cannot possibly move the door or the access panel or widen the room, this is the best I could come up with. The little linen closet will not be very useful as it's tight access, only 24" alongside the shower (although you could do what we did and lop the corner of the shower off at 45 degrees, creating a bigger space to pass there). But without moving the door or panel, I just don't see where else you could possibly fit a decent sized shower than that corner.
    This gives you a 5 1/2 foot long vanity and a 3x4 shower.


    Here, if you can move the door over 3 feet, you get a GREAT shower (3 x 5) and a 6 foot vanity, and a seperated toilet alcove....


  • 14 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Stacey. I'm at work so don't have time to do a more detailed drawing of the rest of the room, but the issue with moving the door is this: we will be placing a run of the IKEA PAX closet system along the south wall (the one with the door), which will add about 2 feet to the whole thing. There is a window along the west wall that is closer than 2 feet to where I have placed the door to the bathroom. So if we moved the door over to the right, we would have to put closets on the space to the left of the door, but those closets would overlap the window. I would like to avoid, if at all possible, moving the window to keep costs down.

    I can make a detailed diagram of the room when I get home. There may be another way entirely to configure the room to have both closets and a bathroom.

    What about taking what you did in your second diagram, but moving the sinks all the way to the left, and then putting the shower between the sinks and toilet, but turned 90 degrees? Does that make sense? Will that be too tight?

  • 14 years ago

    I should add that we are carving this space out of a bedroom that is 18x13. If the bathroom is 5' wide, and then we add the 2' closet to that, it will take 7' out of the room, making it 13x11'. I don't want to go any smaller than that, and actually I don't think we could because it would interfere with the entry door to the room.

  • 14 years ago

    I'd like to see a more detailed drawing of the whole bedroom space...

    If I'm understanding your question.... 5 feet wide is , in my opinion, not enough to have both a shower and enough room to pass by it. You really need 3 feet for the shower and at least 30" -preferably more- to pass... (see below) All this is just my opinion, of course, based on research for my own remodel.

    A narrower shower will feel too tight (I can really attest to this. Our new shower is 36" wide interior (so the whole thing takes up 41" when you include the curb) and -seriously- I cannot imagine it being any smaller! We also have a smallbathroom (13' x 6'4") so I had to cram stuff in and make compromises. Which is just to say I'm not coming from a McMansion, new-build, palatial bathroom mentality....

    So a 3-foot wide shower would leave less than 24" to pass by to the toilet. That's just too tight. It might even be violating code in some way. You could probably get by with 30". In a lot of places, a hallway or passageway needs to be 32" by code, I believe. I would check with your code inspector to be sure. It would be a huge bummer to build it and have him tell you to rip it out!

    if it isn't violating code, and you want to try for a narrower passageway, I'd recommend mocking it up full-size. We did this for our bathroom plan; we got some large sheets of cardboard and taped/propped them to simulate the space in question, and walked through it (in my case it was the toilet alcove width.)

  • 14 years ago

    Could you use the shallow-depth PAX units to the left of the door??? I thought they came in two depths, 24" and 12" or so. it would not be quite the same as a flat wall of closets, but it would SIGNIFICANTLY improve the bathroom versus having the door all the way to the left.

    You would still get about 7 feet of full-depth PAX, plus 3 feet of shallow PAX to the left of the door.

    Another option -if you really want the aesthetics of the wall of PAX, is to recess the shower into that wall and have the shallow PAX behind it. That would let you get the toilet and 3 feet of shower width along the righthand wall. The shower could be 4 feet long (with corresponding 4 feet of shallow PAX) or preferably 5 feet, though you lose more closet space that way. The vanity would be on the wall opposite your as-planned door. It's not the best layout IMHO, though...

  • 14 years ago

    What if you moved the closet to the opposite wall, like so:

    I'm assuming that the left wall is an outside wall and that the right wall contains the door to the bedroom. If the door to the bedroom is on the bottom wall, then move the closet to the right wall. You will still have 11x13 for the bedroom area and 2x13 for the closets.

  • 14 years ago

    Okay, I'm back! Had to get home and get my son settled before I got a chance to come back to this. Here is the entire room, though not totally to scale. The relevant measurements are there, though:

    I know the photo is a little small. If anyone has trouble reading the writing, the measurement on the left is 6' 1.75", and the one on the right is 8'6"

    Suero, that is an interesting idea, and I thought it was great...until I remembered that there is a window on that wall, too. Oh well!

    Stacey, that is a good idea about the shallow Pax closets. I will want to check out what kind of interior fittings they have for those closets to see if it will work with our storage needs. You are definitely right that the shower will not fit the way I suggested earlier.

    I should say that we are not planning to stay in this house for too long (maybe 1-2 years or so), so I don't want to do anything too weird that will hurt resale. Although I think a master bathroom is more helpful than potentially weird/small closet space is harmful.

    I'll also say that we are just in the planning/thinking stages of this project right now, and I'm trying to get a feel for if it is even feasible to put what we want in the space we have. Our house is only a 1.5 bedroom house, and the full bath that we do have is tiny and is driving me crazy.

    So does this new information help at all?

  • 14 years ago

    It does help, yes!

    Are there any other closets that the master couple can use nearby?

    How many bedrooms and bathrooms, total, do you have?

    What sort of market will you be selling in? What I mean is, will people be moving from, like, old Victorian apartments with little-to-no closet space, or from relatively new built places with normal closets?

    I've thought a lot about these issues, since the house that we are renovating was only meant to be a 3-year house for us (though that looks likely to change given the lack of rebound in the housing market!).

    The "standard" I think for a master bedroom is 5 linear feet of (2-foot-deep) closet per person. So, your original plan with the 2-foot PAX provides that, but the bathroom just doesn't fit.

    While a master bath would definitely be a great thing (can't quantify that better not knowing how many total bedrooms you have), I am not sure its worth deleting normal closet space. It looks to me like you may not have room in the bedroom for dressers with the king bed and Pax units, so that makes the closet space even more precious.

    What's the rest of the floor plan like? Would it be possible to achieve your goals in some other manner? (like can any space be stolen from any other adjoining spaces?)

  • 14 years ago

    The house is a 3/4 bedroom (the 4th being in the basement) 1.5 bath townhouse. There is a small full bath on the second floor and a 1/2 bath on the first floor. Basement is finished but has no bathroom at all.

    There really isn't any other space in the house to carve into a bathroom. If there is no way to fit it into the bedroom, we just won't add one.

    We're in a Baltimore suburb, and the house is a starter home, so my guess it that someone buying it will be coming from an apartment or another townhouse. There really isn't any other closet space to use that wouldn't be borrowing from another bedroom. So while it would (kind of) work for us to use the guest room closet for ourselves, I wouldn't expect another family to be able to do the same.

    If we did away with the access panel, we could make the bathroom fit, right? It could go something like this:

  • 14 years ago

    Yes, that's by far the easiest thing to do. That's why I asked about whether there's plumbing access under the floor (is this on the first floor or second?)

    I would make sure the valves and connections to the tub next door are in excellent shape before you do this! if there is tile on both walls (new shower and old tub) it would be a real bummer to have to open one of those up to fix any leaks or change the valves. Maybe you want to pre-empt that possibility by changing the valves in the other shower now, if they're older?

    By the way have you looked at Ikea's Godmorgen vanities and sink tops? They have some very nice ones in various sizes. I was impressed...

  • 14 years ago

    That's right - I knew I forgot to answer something! This is on the second floor, so there is no access under the floor. I will definitely have the faucet and everything replaced before closing up the access point. They are original to the house, which is now 22 years old. So yeah, those will get replaced.

    I have looked at the Godmorgen vanities, although not since thinking about doing this project. (I'm kind of an Ikea junkie and go there all the time! We have an Ikea kitchen, too.)

    Thanks so much for all your help in thinking through this! I really appreciate it.

  • 14 years ago

    Just another thought to toss into the mix: Since the existing bath, which is too small, is right next to the proposed new bath, what about instead enlarging the existing bath to make it so you don't hate it?

    Or, another twist if you really want/need 2 bathrooms: enlarge bath #1 and make a smaller bath #2 (like the typical 5x8).

  • 14 years ago

    If you want privacey for the toilet/shower area you could add a wall and pocket door between that area and the vanity.

  • 14 years ago

    Here's another take on the room, but it's a bit cramped with a king sized bed. You could place the bed on the large window wall. If you do, It would look reasonable if you had a wall of curtains to disguise the off-center arrangement of the bed and window.

  • 14 years ago

    Here's another take on bathroom and closet. No room for double sinks, but the overall layout is not as cramped, and you get a walk-in closet with at least 10 feet of usable space.

  • 14 years ago


    I like your first idea! Too bad that window is there :( If its a regular sized king, that's about 6' 4" wide, so if my math is correct that leaves 28" on either side of the bed. My DH has 28" on his side of the bed, and it doesn't feel all that squished. With a queen bed it would be better...

    I also tried to make a walk-in closet fit -rather than the PAX units- but just couldn't get it to work right!

    I'd definitely be interested in seeing a floor plan of the entire area, including the adjacent bathroom, to see it weedyacres's idea might work...

  • 14 years ago

    Suero, I'm intrigued by the second idea. I'm going to have to give it some thought.

    I don't have time to do a floorplan of the rest of the second floor tonight, but may be able to get to it tomorrow. I really appreciate all the help.

    I don't want to just expand the first bathroom because part of my reason for doing this would be to get the house a second bathroom so that when we sell, it is a 2.5 rather than 1.5 bath. We also just had the 1st bathroom redone (not totally, and it wasn't too expensive), so I don't really want to mess with it. That bathroom is the standard 5'x8'.

    Also, I want to post a photo of an inspiration bathroom that I found. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I found it. Does anyone care to make a guess at the dimensions of this bathroom? I think it looks kind of close to what I'm working with, although of course I don't really know.

    (I reversed the photo to make it similar to the layout I would have if I followed the layout that I posted above.)

  • 14 years ago

    That bathroom (gorgeous, BTW) is wider than yours. I would say it is 6 feet wide.

    Figure a toilet is usually 28-30" long. Shower doors are typically 28" wide, and there looks to be another foot of glass to the left of the door before the toilet starts.

    But that is an interesting thought as far as being able to keep your access panel in place. You could conceivable simply make a 2-foot wide "dead zone" in that corner, with a removeable wall panel next to the toilet (it can't be a proper closet with a full-height door since no access due to the toilet, but for valve access maybe you just pop off the panel and squeeze into the 2-foot x 4 foot space? And hope you have a skinny plumber!)

    Like this:

    It irks me to waste that space there for access panel access though!

    - The simplest thing to do is to let it be dead space. You just have a painted wood panel there that's held in place with screws or hidden heavy-duty velcro. If needed, pop it off, squeeze around the toilet, and go in there to work on the plumbing (it could also be access to your new shower plumbing.)

    - If you want to get fancier and have a good carpenter, you could optimize at least the top section as storage by having it built so it's a ~24" deep cabinet up top, with removeable shelves and back, and a removeable panel below. That would allow you to use some of the space as storage.

    - If you don't care about access, the shower flips 90 degrees and spans the whole wall.

  • 14 years ago

    Here's a 5-foot-wide bathroom...Mrs. Limestone's gorgeous vintage bathroom is 5 feet x 10 feet, I think:


  • 14 years ago

    The real problem with the layout is the access panel. What I think you need is just access to a shutoff valve for the other bathroom. Investigate whether you can put in a pipe from the existing shutoff valve that will run along the wall to the toilet area. That way you won't need a narrow dead space, and the shower can be nearly 5 feet wide.

  • 14 years ago

    Hi, we are also consideing remodeling our master bath which is about 14 x 14. The OP does not mention a bathtub. We currently have a jacuzzi bathtub and a 4 ft. shower. My idea was to eliminate the tub altogether and move the shower to where the tub is making it almost a 6 ft shower if not bigger. My DH says that will reduce our resale value because we no longer would have a full bath in the master suite. Any thoughts from our realtors out there?

    Also, I would love to post our layout for your do you do that?

  • 14 years ago

    You need to host the picture somewhere on line, then copy some code to paste it in here. There's a FAQ somewhere how to do it. I know there;s one on the kitchen forum. But first the photo needs to be online already (photobucket or similar).

    As far as tub/resale, you might want to start a new thread about that. I asked several local realtors what they thought and the consensus was that if there's another good tub elsewhere in the home, it's "okay" not to have one in the master, especially if it gives you a great shower, but it sounds like at 14 x 14 you can easily fit both. Maybe get rig=d of the behemoth jacuzzi and add a lovely drop-in soaker or clawfoot or other freestanding type instead. Takes up less room but still gives you a bath option.

  • 14 years ago

    Suero, that is an excellent idea and I will talk to the plumber about that (if/when we get around to doing this). That seems to solve the problem with minimal stress.

    Stacey, that bathroom from Mrs. Limestone is gorgeous!! Wow. It isn't my personal style but it is well executed and really classic. Plus it makes 5 feet look totally workable! Love it.

    I did a (not totally to scale) floor plan of our entire second floor (leaving in the plan that I did before of the proposed bathroom, mostly because I was too lazy to take it out):

    And for fun, here's a photo of our current bathroom after we remodeled:

    As you can see, it is small enough that it is tough to get a good picture of the whole room. I also notice that it looks quite similar to that other bathroom photo that I posted. Ha!

  • 14 years ago

    Well I can see that you definitely don't want to consider moving/changing anything in that bathroom: great remodel! Is it a Toto Aquia toilet? We just installed ours and really love it.

    I do think your plan as drawn above is really the best way to go. Suero's plan for the shut-off valves is a good one, although it ONLY addresses shut-off, not valve replacement, so I would definitely make sure you are happy with the valves in the small bath before you tile in your new shower. What's in that original bathtub area? Did you already put new tile on the walls in there?

    And think about where your new showerhead will be. If you tie the supply into the other bath's, then the new remote shut-off's you're adding as Suero suggests can shut off the new bath, too. And if you put the showerhead on either the bedroom or other bathroom wall, you could always access the valves through the drywall if you ever needed to change them.

    Oh- that brings up another thing: exterior walls and supply lines. Where in the country are you? If you're someplace that gets cold, I would advise NOT running any supply lines in those outside walls. Our master addition was built that way (Maine) and the pipes froze. Very very bad!!!!! Even with insulation and in a 6" wall, they still froze on really cold nights. When we rebuilt the bathroom we ran all of the supply to fixtures located on those walls under the floor instead. Oh, I remember, Baltimore. You might be OK? I would definitely get a couple different opinions from different plumbers though.

    But anyway- if you put the shower plumbing on the exterior wall, just remember you have no access to it except through the new shower tile. We tiled ours in (there's tile on both sides of the wall) so we're taking that chance ourselves. But we do have shut-offs for the whole bathroom accessible elsewhere.

  • 14 years ago

    I also think your original plan is the best. Is it possible to move the shut off valve higher up? Above the level of the tile in your shower?

    Great remodel-very spa like.

  • 14 years ago

    See, now here I'm going to have to reveal my ignorance. When you say valves, you mean something other than the faucets, right? When we redid the bathroom, we didn't change the bathtub, which is tiled in boring 4x4 ivory tiles. They aren't my favorite, but they were in fine condition and not too offensive, so we left them. We didn't even replace the faucet, so if/when we go forward with this, we'll replace everything for that tub before closing up that wall. We have a very trustworthy plumber who I will consult with about all of this.

    It is a Toto Acquia toilet, and we really really love it. I plan to use it in any/all future bathroom projects. I really want to get a Washlet too, so in this remodel we're going to make sure to place an outlet for one.

    The outside wall of the house is actually a shared wall with the townhouse next door, so there shouldn't be a freezing risk. Good point, though! I think I would like to put the shower plumbing on the wall that the closets will be on, so that if we really need access, we can move the PAX closet out of the way. Not easy, but better than ripping the tile out.

  • 14 years ago

    Also, I keep meaning to ask: is there a link to see more photos of Mrs. Limestone's bathroom? I'd love to see more of it.

  • 14 years ago

    staceyneil, I'll check the kitchen forum for the exact info on posting a layout. Thanks.

    We actually have two other bathrooms with tubs...not huge but standard size tubs. We are considering a free standing tub or a corner soaking tub for the remodel. We have several layouts drawn up so I'm definitely going to try to get them posted here.


  • 14 years ago

    Water shut off valve (at some convenient location)


    Thermostatic control valve (behind tile) controls shower temperature


  • 14 years ago

    So you have two issues: the shut-off valves need to be accessible in case you have to shut of water to the bathroom to do repairs, have a leak, etc. That's what's in the access panel in the corner of the room that we're trying to find another place for...

    The shower valves are behind the handles ("trim"), behind the tile, inside the shower wall. Since you're considering doing away with the access you currently have and creating a finished, tiled wall on that wall, you want to be sure that all the plumbing in there is in top notch shape and won't need replacing soon.

    In a situation where there's just drywall on the other side of the tiled wall, it's not a big deal to cut out the drywall, replace the valves, replace the drywall, finish and repaint. Doing the same thing on a tiled wall is a lot harder and more expensive. You just need to think about how you'd handle that scenario in the future (for your new shower plumbing) and if I were you, and you have the budget, I'd go ahead and replace the valves in the old shower, from the back of the wall while you're reno-ing the new bathroom. (Although I have only done this from the front/tiled side, I am pretty sure it can be done from the back side without damaging the tile) Then you won't need to remove the old bath's tile at all.

    Your old bathroom probably has the sort of showerhead/handle/faucet/valve that comes all together as a kit... but in your new shower you're likely to be buying seperate valves & trim. It's kinda confusing, depending on what you're adding (just a showerhead and one control? Or, also a handshower or body jets?) Keep in mind when you start shopping for these parts that if you do it a la carte from Kohler, Grohe, etc, you need to get a valve and trim (that's the guts and the shiny handle) for each component. I was dismayed at first because I found the picture of the handle I wanted on an online plumbing store and thought to myself, well, that's not too expensive!... it was like $100... and then realized that was the TRIM ONLY and I still needed the valve which was another $200!

  • 14 years ago

    Hi Yillimuh, I've seen your Nexus BB bath over at the ikeafans website and our Nexus BB project blog is over there as well that we're working on right now. Your bedroom/bathroom dimensions are almost identical to mine. Our bath is 5'6" wide x 13'4" long. We also had to make our bedroom smaller by building closets. Your entry door to the bedroom, as well as your bathroom are all in the same location as ours. We have two windows on the wall where your large one is, and our king size bed will go in-between.

    We did what suero posted above with the closets on the opposite side of the room. After building the closet, it left us with a 12'7" x 13'9" bedroom. We will have approx. 34" to 36" on each side of the bed.

    I think Suero's idea about the shut-off in the other bath is a great idea so you wouldn't have to worry about the access panel. Our small homes need all the space we can get!! Hopefully then you can put the door at the end and have the remainder of the wall for the PAX like you intended.

    I'll be following your progress!


  • 14 years ago

    If you are concerned about replacing valves inside the tile without access to the valve, be aware that there are several manufacturers who make exposed thermostatic valves. The valves are outside the tile. Only the hot and cold supply lines are inside the wall. Grohe, Hansgrohe and Hudson Reed all make such devices. Google "exposed thermostatic valve".

  • 14 years ago

    Laurie, that is so funny! I love Ikeafans but find the site hard to navigate since they redesigned it a while ago, so I don't post over there much. I actually haven't been very happy with the Nexus B/B in the bathroom. The finish has chipped away in a few places where things have dripped on it. It isn't a bathroom product, so I guess I shouldn't be upset, but it is a bit disappointing. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it at this point.

    Suero and Stacey, thanks for the help with the valves. I will be sure to have everything replaced before closing it up. It will just have to be a part of the budget. Our house was built on the cheap and that plumbing is original to the home (22 yrs old), so I don't trust it to last much longer.

    I think I've done about all the internet research I can is time to call my plumber and handyman and get some estimates! Eep!

  • 14 years ago

    So I had my handyman come out and take a look at the bedroom to get an estimate for adding the bathroom. He had some good things to say, but the whole process was stymied by the discovery that the waste pipe for our upstairs bathroom appears to be 2" instead of 3". So if we're going to add a bathroom, it looks like we're going to have to run a new waste line from the second floor down to the basement. He's going to get his plumber to come and check it out and see if there is a workable plan that doesn't involve tearing up too much of the house.

    I'm not surprised that the plumbing isn't up to code. I have heard from neighbors that they have found various other problems similar to this. I have no idea how the house passed inspection when it was being built (1988), but I'm not pleased at all.

    So, we'll see!

  • 14 years ago

    Oh, bummer.
    I was wondering whatever happened to your plans. Please keep us updated!
    Good luck,

  • 14 years ago

    Well, the plumber came out and found our drain line - it turns out that we do have another 3" drain line in a different area. So the bathroom is a go!

    I ordered (and received) some mosaic glass tiles from (thanks for that link, stacey!). They have discontinued the Art Glass line, so they are on a good discount. However, the 1" white tiles were discontinued, so I had to go with the tiny mosaic tiles. Anyway, we'll use these for the shower and the wall behind the toilet and sinks (tiled up to 4' on that wall). The vanity will be a Godmorgon double vanity from IKEA. I'm still trying to decide on a floor tile. I might use the same dark gray slate that we used in our other bathroom.

    We're going to have the handyman start work on it in July. I'm so excited!

  • 14 years ago

    Happy to know that everything is a go! Please keep us posted about all the details!