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fabulatrice

Ideas for small bathroom

fabulatrice
6 years ago

Hi everyone,

I mentioned this bathroom already in my post in the kitchens forum where there is more discussion of my house. I thought I would ask here for ideas about the bathroom!

Context: Our house is a 1924 craftsman bungalow, about 1200 sq ft. Our family consists of 2 adults and 2 school-age kids (and 5 cats :-) We plan to stay in the house for a while, barring unforeseen circumstances.

We have a very small bathroom, which is typical in these houses.....

The bathtub is my favorite feature, it is the original cast iron, big and deep enough that you can really lie down and soak. It is set into the floor so that the bottom is about level with the floor. The wall around the tub is tiled.

Other than the tub, the bathroom is cramped, especially when more than one person is using it. As you see, when you sit on the toilet your knees are under the pedestal sink and you get a beautiful view of the plumbing underneath the sink. There is no storage or shelving, only the original medicine cabinet behind the mirror. We put a small wheeled cart in between the toilet and tub so that we have a space for some bathroom stuff and magazines. More bathroom stuff is kept in the hall closet outside the bathroom door.

Although the bathroom is functional, we want to replace the pipes throughout the house (which are original to the house) which makes it a good time to update the bathroom.

We have thought about enlarging the bathroom by stealing space from the bedroom and hall closets that are on the other side of the long wall (sink wall). The opposite bathroom wall (on the tub side) can't really be changed because of the structure of the house. We prefer not to move or change any other rooms/walls in the house.

Below, I am including an approximate layout of our house (not perfectly to scale). I outlined the bath and neighboring closets in pink. The closets are about 31" deep inside, and this is not counting the thickness of the wall between bathroom and closets.

We have a huge wardrobe (Ikea PAX) in the 11x11 bedroom, along with our king sized bed (this is the parents' bedroom), and we don't use the bedroom closet except for storage. We do use the hall closet for lots of things, though.

Comments (48)

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    This was the first idea I had, which leaves the bathroom in a really odd shape, but gives more space for the sink, and puts the toilet in its own alcove which isn't directly facing the door. (That is one of the annoying things about our current bathroom.) Storage could be above the toilet and under the sink.

    The bedroom closet obviously becomes very small, but currently, that part of the closet isn't much use anyway because it's not very accessible (we just have boxes there) so we use a big wardrobe instead of the closet. We do find the hall closet to be very useful.

    I don't know, maybe this idea is too weird but it seems like it would be practical?

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    And this was the second idea I had, which is to steal a slice of the bedroom closet, and then bump the other side of the closet out into the bedroom a little. This would give the bathroom more room, make a more usable bedroom closet (wider and shallower), and not take too much space from the bedroom.

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  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    With the above, I imagined putting the stuff in the bathroom this way. I don't think I am being very creative here... I feel really clueless about bathroom possibilities. I've pretty much always lived in old houses with the original bathroom layout, so the only experiences I have had with "modern"/updated bathrooms have been in hotels...

  • homepro01
    6 years ago

    Is this the only bathtub in the house? Are you comfortable with eliminating it?

    fabulatrice thanked homepro01
  • sloyder
    6 years ago

    I would just swing the toilet so it is next to the sink, my bungalow is this way.

    fabulatrice thanked sloyder
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    homepro, it's the only legal bathroom in the house. The previous owners put a half bath in the basement without permits, and that one is not to code (ceiling is too low).

    sloyder, I agree turning the toilet would improve the bathroom slightly, thanks! It would still be really cramped for our family though, as we often have more than one person in the bathroom. I'm curious, do you have a similar floor plan to ours?

  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    6 years ago

    Have you considered just adding a minimum size half bath in the area of that master closet? I assume your main bath is only too small when more than one person needs it.

    fabulatrice thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    benjesbride, that is something we did not think of. Do you mean using the area of the existing bedroom closet, eliminating the closet, and also taking some space out of the bedroom as above? It's an interesting idea. For our family I think it would be better to enlarge the existing bathroom, since usually multiple people are in the bathroom by choice, if someone just needs to pee they run downstairs.

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Hmm, I guess it's possible that as the kids get a little older, we will not have so many people in there at once, since everyone will want to be alone in the bathroom? Maybe our problem will go away?

  • MizLizzie
    6 years ago

    I have to say, I think your first idea best accomplishes your goal. I rather like the loo tucked back into the cubby.

    fabulatrice thanked MizLizzie
  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    What is the distance between the front of the tub and the sink wall. Is it 40"? If so, you can't have a permitted toilet on the existing sink wall, you won't have enough clear floor space between the tub and the front edge of the toilet.

    what happening in the basement below the bedroom closet? Could you put the toilet there and just eliminate the upstairs closet?

    fabulatrice thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The distance from the sink wall to the tub edge is 41" (I just ran in there to check :-)

    For your second question benjesbride do you mean the closet belonging to the 10x13 upstairs bedroom? Or the closet belonging to the 11x11 main floor bedroom?

  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    6 years ago

    The bedroom above the bathroom labeled 10x13. Could the bathroom extend into that space?

    fabulatrice thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Under the closet of the 11x11 main floor bedroom is crawl space with dirt floor.

    Under the closet of the 10x13 upstairs bedroom (in the oddly shaped area that intrudes into the bathroom space), this is a little more complicated and I'll have to go look at it again to explain it.

  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    6 years ago

    I'm heading out the door, but here's quickly what I was thinking...

    fabulatrice thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    In the irregular shaped area cutting into the bathroom, below the upstairs closet, there is a small space behind the wall of the basement hall, with latched door giving access. On one side of the space, you can see the bottom and side of the bathtub, and the plumbing of the bath and shower is accessible there. The ceiling of the basement is around the level of the main floor bathtub faucet, if you can visualize that, so this little space is maybe 2' high at most (I didn't measure exactly)

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    benjesbride, in your picture are you also expanding the bathroom out into the hall?

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    After walking around and looking at all the rooms, I think we would lose a lot by completely removing the upstairs bedroom closet. Even though that closet is small, it's actually very nice and usable as it has built in shelves inside on its left wall (in the irregular space between the main floor bathroom and upstairs closet on the house plan). Also if we removed the closet, in order to add back any closet space in that bedroom we'd have to cut into the room by the entire depth of the new closet which seems like a lot of lost space. On the other hand if we steal space from the downstairs bedroom we wouldn't have to cut so far into the room.

  • Karenseb
    6 years ago

    I like your second idea best even though it makes your bedroom smaller. I would want a 3 foot wide vanity and leave a space of 32 to 36 inches width for the toilet. So that wall backing up to the bedroom closet would be about 6 feet.

    Is there any way to access the 2 foot high space under the upstairs closet from the bathroom and install a couple of drawers in that space next to the tub. You might have to square off the corner. Then again it might not be worth it if you can't make the drawers at least 24 inches wide.

    fabulatrice thanked Karenseb
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Karenseb, I've thought about installing drawers there, it's a good idea. But actually my fantasy for that space is to put a cat door in the bathroom wall, and then in the small space on the other side (basement side) put a litter box accessible from the basement for cleaning! That would be really useful for us. It's hard to find good places for the litter boxes, and with 5 cats we need several boxes. Currently we have one enclosed litter box cabinet in the entry and one in the main floor bedroom, and we also have an extra large litter box in the basement hall. Adding a litter box portal in the bathroom would probably allow us to eliminate the litter box cabinet that's currently in the bedroom, which would be nice.

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    How about this, without changing any walls, turn the toilet as suggested by sloyder, and then make a wall of shallow cabinets (I'm thinking 9" which would just barely leave space for the window and its molding), with cutouts for sink and toilet tank,

    The sink would stick out of the shallow cabinets like the picture below which I took from this example on thisoldhouse

  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    You don't have room in 70" to have a toilet across from the tub. If you're going to get permits for your work. The minimum clear floor space between a tub and toilet is 21 inches. I think the last time I checked the smallest toilet was 26" from wall to front of lid, but I could be wrong.

    This illustrates the minimum and recommended dimensions:

    ****

    If your drawing is to scale, I think you could fit a toilet in an alcove next to the tub without moving the hallway wall. You'd probably want to change the door swing so you couldn't see the toilet from the dining room, though:

    A toilet requires a minimum 30" of width. I'm not sure how much space you have to play with in the area of the bathtub plumbing and the bedroom closet. It's possible a toilet could fit in between the existing bathtub wall and the existing hallway wall.

    The minimum height requirement for the ceiling above a toilet it 80", so you might not have to lose the bedroom closet completely; maybe just the bottom 3 feet on one side?

    fabulatrice thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Thanks for all those dimensions benjesbride!

    Ok, suppose I were to recess the sink/toilet wall by about 9" (into the main floor bedroom closet space), I would then have 50" from that back wall to the tub, which is enough for a toilet and the minimum space in front of the toilet.

    The main floor bedroom closet could then be opened up along its wall and the doorway replaced by sliding doors, leaving the closet with about 24" depth.

    There should be plenty of side to side space on the sink/toilet wall, especially if it's recessed. In this drawing there is 80" width on that wall, leaving the space for the hall closet. If the toilet takes up 36" width that still leaves 44" for the sink area.


  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    And yes, we definitely want to do this to code and with permits (everything we have had done on the house has been with permits), so I really appreciate your advice in planning :-)

  • Karenseb
    6 years ago

    With your last plan you will still see the toilet and you might as well leave it next to the tub where it is now and try to do a semi recessed sink like you show. Closets should be deeper than 24 inches for hanging clothes, at least 26 inches deep. So the closet on the left of the sink could be deeper for hanging clothes and the part of the closet behind the sink could be shelves or drawers. That would preserve your bedroom space and most of your closet.

    If you were able to remove the upstairs closet and relocate it to on the shared tub wall upstairs, then you could put the toilet in that alcove next to the tub similar to what Benjesbride suggested. Would be really nice if you had room in that space (at least 54 by 30 inches), to take the walls down between the entire "closet alcove" and have the toilet in it's own space facing the end of the tub wall.

    Building on your first idea of using some of the bedroom closet space, if you could steal at least 12 inches, you could put the toilet and sink on the wall and extend the closet into the bedroom. You might be able to fit a 42 in or 48 inch vanity in the space. I'd aim for 32 inches of width for the toilet and make sure the door swings in toward the tub and clears the vanity. Maybe do a 19 inch deep vanity.

    fabulatrice thanked Karenseb
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thanks Karenseb!

    With your last plan you will still see the toilet and you might as well leave it next to the tub where it is now and try to do a semi recessed sink like you show.

    It's not really a problem to see the toilet, it's just that in the position it is now, a person on the toilet is staring right out into the hall when the door opens. In our house, when there are no guests around, people often forget to knock before coming into the bathroom, and also people often fail to close the bathroom door when they use the toilet. So it's not uncommon for a toilet-sitting person to be frontally exposed to people in the hall (and also people in the kitchen, because the kitchen's door to the hall is opposite the bathroom door)

    I tried sitting sideways on the toilet to see how it felt to sit that way, and it felt more private. I think it has something to do with the parts of the body that are exposed to the door. When you are turned to the side, the person at the door mostly just sees the side of your leg which is not as uncomfortable (to me anyway) as the frontal exposure.

    But I don't want to overemphasize the awkwardness of the toilet position, since this isn't the most important thing to us. What is more bothersome is that it feels too cramped in the bathroom the way it is, and also there is no bathroom storage and no convenient place to put frequently used items (such as electric toothbrushes).

    Anyway -- If it would be better to add 12" to the bathroom than 9", and the bedroom closet needs 26" depth, that would mean the sliding doors of the closet on the bedroom side would be pushed into the bedroom by 6" or so. Do you think that would work OK? I'm not sure if it would feel really unattractive and awkward, or on the other hand maybe it would feel consistent with the house's other built-ins that are partly recessed into the wall and partly protruding. ?

  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    6 years ago

    can you speak to why the toilet next to the tub wont work? A 66" vanity with one sink would significantly increase your storage and give you floor space for two without changing the main floor bedroom closet.

    What is the vertical distance between the main floor and the upper floor? As i wrote above you might only lose the bottom half of one side of the upper bedroom closet.

    fabulatrice thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    The vertical distance between the main floor and upper floor is only 40".

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    The reason I don't think it would work to put the toilet next to the tub is that I think the necessary changes to the upstairs bedroom closet would be worse than the changes to the main floor bedroom closet. Even if the upper part of the upstairs bedroom closet could be preserved, it seems to me that it would be weird to open the upstairs bedroom closet door and have large obstacles right there, blocking the other side of the door. Also, that room is my daughter's bedroom, she is not quite 4' tall and can only reach the bottom half of her closet.

  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    But I do want to thank you benjesbride for the idea and your efforts to fit the toilet into that space!

  • MizLizzie
    6 years ago

    What about a wall-mounted toilet? Nameeks & Toto have some. Maybe just the tank compartment could bump into a closet or something? BTW, you can do a drill-down search by toilet depth measurement on Build.com. (And I did find some shorter ones that had standard tanks, but you'd want to confirm those measurements, as Build does make mistakes.)

    fabulatrice thanked MizLizzie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    How about this? I tried Karenseb's idea of recessing the toilet more than the sink and then making the bedroom closet two different depths.

    This would have minimal effect on the main floor bedroom itself, I think I would not even need to change the existing closet door, just add another door next to it? The change would improve the bedroom closet significantly, by making the space more accessible. I even have 2 other original 1924 doors that I removed from their doorways (kitchen/DR doors), maybe I could use one of those for the 2nd door.

    Above the toilet there would be enough depth for some storage. Around the sink, the existing bedroom closet is 31" deep so it could lose up to 5" and still have 26" for clothes, and/or the sink wall bathroom shelves could be recessed into the stud space a few inches, or something like that... anyway, it would make a big difference to have some shelves around the sink even if they are only 4-5" deep.

    The effect on the bathroom would be to add a little more space to move around in the room (even a few inches would make a difference), add some storage on the wall, and make the toilet feel less cramped and slightly more private. Does that look like it would work???


    (The wood / tile textures in this picture are just to visualize more easily where things could be -- I haven't really thought about the colors / finishes for this bathroom :-)

  • Karenseb
    6 years ago

    That looks good to me. I wonder if you could do a recessed medicine cabinet above the sink for toothpaste, etc? Make sure to hang double rods in your hanging space for twice the storage.

    fabulatrice thanked Karenseb
  • writersblock (9b/10a)
    6 years ago

    Is the 24" in front of the toilet in line with your local code?

    fabulatrice thanked writersblock (9b/10a)
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    writersblock, I believe the minimum is either 21" or 24", I have seen both numbers quoted online, but I don't know for sure about our local code so I put this wiggle room in the drawing. We are in the SF bay area (where houses cost too much, sigh).

    In our house, all family members and immediate relatives have short legs so the minimum is more than enough for us :-)

  • Huntingflower
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have almost the same setup as you only in reverse with the bathtub pulled forward to the door and the toilet is in the cut out on the far wall. Here is what I am doing this summer for a reno. Similar to this picture only to the right across from the sink is where my tub currently is inset into the wall (I am ripping that out and putting a walk in shower. ) Notice the very shallow sink. You could do a wall mount faucet as shown or one off to the side

    [https://www.houzz.com/photos/small-powder-room-victorian-powder-room-san-francisco-phvw-vp~149425[(https://www.houzz.com/photos/small-powder-room-victorian-powder-room-san-francisco-phvw-vp~149425)

    If you don't want to take space from the bedroom. Though you are lucky to have that option - mine is really limited to the space I have. Good luck!

    fabulatrice thanked Huntingflower
  • zorroslw1
    6 years ago

    Maybe a pocket door if possible? It would free up some valuable footage. In our new build, I had a pocket door installed in the master bath. The original door opened up and hid the linen closet.

    fabulatrice thanked zorroslw1
  • MizLizzie
    6 years ago

    I think a pocket door is a great idea. Some work to frame it, but they are so nice. My sis has one going into her master bath and I envy it every time I see it.

    fabulatrice thanked MizLizzie
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Thanks everyone! Unfortunately I can't put in a pocket door, due to the house layout (on one side there is another door, on the other side is the middle of the upstairs bedroom closet).

    Huntingflower, that's a beautiful picture. It looks like there is storage hidden in the floating vanity, maybe a drawer on the end facing us? and one on the far side of the sink? It's hard to tell in the picture. I look forward to seeing pictures of your bathroom when you do it! Good luck to you too!

  • sloyder
    6 years ago

    Unfortunately bungalows were designed to maximize space for their size, so there is very little extra space unless you build out. My bungalow is that way.

    fabulatrice thanked sloyder
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Yes that's actually something I like about our bungalow, when I'm not remodeling the bathroom :-) I like to live in a smaller house because it feels more cozy and friendly to me, I like how much it packs into the small space and how I don't have to walk down long halls to get anywhere. Also I like how the rooms are just open enough to each other that they feel connected, but they are still distinct rooms (rather than an open plan kitchen/DR/LR which I don't like so much). And I like the low-ish ceiling (8'3") because it doesn't make me feel so short!

  • homepro01
    6 years ago

    Fabulatrice,

    I think your last plan maximizes the space with all the constraints possible. I have some suggestions for more storage in the bathroom.

    1. Consider a wall mount toilet which will be 22" deep.
    2. Consider Ikea Pax closet organizers for the closet in the bedroom behind the bathroom. These can be 15" deep or 24" deep. They come with a variety of door options or you could add your own.
    3. Consider a recessed medicine cabinet. I like the Robern 6" deep cabinets because it can hold a lot of stuff including toilet paper rolls, etc.

    Good luck!

    fabulatrice thanked homepro01
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Thanks homepro!

    I will definitely look into the various toilet options -- thanks for the link! (and thanks to Jancy and MizLizzie who had some suggestions too :-)

    I do already have a giant Ikea Pax wardrobe on one wall of that bedroom because the closet is not very accessible as it is right now. I configured it with a lot of drawers and love it!! One thing I especially like is that I put 2 rows of "flat" drawers in the middle and these are great for things like jewelry, keys, passports, stamps, documents, etc.

  • H B
    6 years ago

    I don't know if this photo helps but we have an American Standard sink in this cabinet (and that is an elongated toilet next to it). Just for how much sink might stick out, etc.

    fabulatrice thanked H B
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Thanks H B! That looks a lot like what I was thinking of.

  • Karenseb
    6 years ago

    I thought some more about your small bathroom where every inch counts. I think you could do a 24 inch deep closet for hanging clothes and maybe a little less if you are extremely careful and check how much room your clothes use when hanging. You want to avoid having hangers and clothes hitting the back of the closet or interfering with door closure.

    I tried to get a more detailed layout with wall dimensions and door swing. Is your bathroom door 28 inches or 30 inches or something else. I think you are right to keep the door swing as you have shown, HB's photo looks really nice. You want to make sure your door clears any vanity protrusion or your door stopper keeps it from hitting the vanity. How long is the wall your bathroom door will swing against?

    fabulatrice thanked Karenseb
  • fabulatrice
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Hi Karenseb, our clothes don't take up a whole lot of space, they could totally fit in 24" depth. Our coats hang in the foyer, and anyway they are not very bulky because of our warm climate. We only get the big winter coats out of storage if we are traveling somewhere cold. I just want to make sure that we don't destroy the closet by making it unusable for any future residents of the house. If 24" is acceptable then that would be fine for us.

    I will try to take more detailed measurements of the doors, walls, and interior closet dimensions tonight. Thanks for your help!