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kirsten4224

Small bathroom layout question

kirsten4224
10 months ago
last modified: 10 months ago

I've been posting a lot here lately - thanks for all your wisdom! This is the first time I've ever done a major reno and I want to make sure we get it right.

After having initial plans made, during demo our contractor found a big original closet behind what was the shower (I posted about this earlier but have organized my thoughts more thoroughly here after thinking all day). After brainstorming, we have a couple of options if we'd like to try to utilize that space - each has it's own pros and cons, and I'm having trouble deciding what would be best.

Option 1: Stay with the original plan - in this case, we would have a 60", single sink vanity for storage, not move the toilet or tub location, and probably build some open shelves into the end of the tub.

Pros: Cost - it was our original plan, we're not moving any more plumbing, we get to use our vanity and medicine cabinet that were already ordered.

Cons: We miss out on the opportunity to get a bit more space, the layout was kind of the best we could do with what we had but it did feel like it would still feel cramped and the door opens right into the toilet.


Option 2: Put the toilet in the space where the old closet is. In this case, we would have to get another vanity - the door opens into the hall but that wall run is only 60". In order not to walk into the vanity edge we'd probably have to go with a 36" vanity, and I'd probably go with a pedestal or console sink so it doesn't feel too cramped.

Pros: Toilet is out of sight, we have closed floor to ceiling linen storage (there is currently nowhere to store linens and it's a 1909 house, so the closets in the bedrooms are all pretty small), the tub is not in front of the window. Another aesthetic pro is that we're going for a classic period look as much as we can and a pedestal/console sink would fit in design-wise (not 100% sure if that aesthetic difference is worth losing the vanity counter space though...)

Cons: Potential cost - they will have to frame a floor into an old maid staircase and also deal with supply lines that are running to the furnace (7 in the below picture and the reason we can't expand into that full space). Also the loss of a bigger vanity/vanity surface for a much smaller sink.


Option 3: Leave the linen closet as we found it, and put the toilet in the nook where we would build a linen closet in option 2. It might also be possible to flip the toilet and tub in this picture - I just put them closest to their original plumbing. In that case I'm not sure which would be preferable - probably toilet nearest to the window wall?

Pros: Probably cheaper than option 2, as we won't have to frame or deal with the furnace lines. Toilet is still not the first thing you see when you walk into the room which is nice.

Cons: I'm not 100% sure there is enough space to leave the 30" required for the toilet code in this option, since we have to build a wall with the plumbing. I also don't know if the toilet will just feel like it's in a dark cave nook. The linen closet in this option would also be less usable - it is the upper half of the wall and incredibly deep, but as a result it's hard to access all the space there. We'd need roll out shelves and a stool and it still might feel too deep. Also again the loss of a bigger vanity space.


Budget: We are maybe willing to spend an extra $5-6K for this modification, which is the ballpark our contractor gave us today. Keeping the cost as low as possible would be nice, but this is the only bathroom in a house with 5 people. We're already spending so much to renovate it that it seems worth it to spend a little more if necessary to make it as useful of a space as we can with its size limitations.


Thank you everyone for your thoughts!

Comments (24)

  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    10 months ago

    Hello there. I believe you have put excellent thought into your project. I agree it would be a large oversight not to prioritize this space given the situation. Before I comment I would like to see actual pictures of the space. I want to gauge the complexity of the renovation, both the mechanical aspect as well as other variables first. Is this possible?

  • kirsten4224
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    @InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc. Thanks for taking the time to give me some feedback - here are pics of the bathroom gutted - the frame wall will be pushed back as per the plans. In my next comment I will post pictures of the original in case that is helpful. I don't have pictures of the challenge with the furnace because of its location, but the furnace is behind the remaining wall, and the supply lines run up the back of the stairwell, which is underneath the built in cabinet.




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  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    10 months ago

    If possible can you email me these pictures and if possible can you also provide me additional pictures of this space? As many as possible. My email is info@inno-vision.net. Thank you.

  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    10 months ago

    Interesting project... There seems to be quite a few unfortunate constraints. When the location of the sanitary sewer stack, plumbing venting stack, and of course the furnace location are fully considered, your original design layout, although perhaps not the most ideal, is the most economical, and simply balanced by far. In fact, the modification of the piping seems to be such a chore if other layouts were to be seriously considered, that it really does beg the question of whether the expense to make those changes would really be worth the return on investment at the end of the day. That may actually be more of a personal question that you need to be objective in asking yourself if I can be totally honest.


    However, if I am to comment on which design I prefer personally, I believe design option three to be your best rendition. Design option two is also good, although there is semi significantly more work and construction complexities with this option vs. option three. Either way, I have checked to confirm if you have a 15" clearance from the center point of the toilet to either walls in both design option two and three and have determined you will have approx 16 3/4" with option three and approx 16" with option two. This cuts it tight, but it just clears code requirement so please double and triple check with your contractor that this will be achievable prior to moving forward, should you choose to move forward with on of these layouts.


    In terms of toilet positioning, I believe this should be a critically weighted variable due to several factors. If you position the toilet next to the sanitary stack as shown in option two, I do not believe it would feel like a dark cave nook for one, (consider the window proximity and the ample leg room provided as a result of the proposed tub orientation), but more importantly it simplifies the piping connection due to its close proximity (as you noted) to the sanitary sewer stack. That being said, should the stack still require being re-cut into, despite the close proximity, this will be considered more specialized plumbing work and will in turn come at a greater expense regardless. Furthermore, another factor I foresee, is if there is a stair case that orients underneath the proposed location of the toilet, your contractor would need to verify that the toilet drain piping does not impact the minimum head height tolerances between the finished ceiling level and the stair risers. Plus, the ceiling heights may already in-fact not be to code, given my experience in older homes. Now alternatively, if design option three is chosen, again we have concerns regarding the toilet drainage, given it is more complicated and perhaps not even feasible and/or viable to make the drain connection given this particular layout. Since the joists run opposite the drain piping, the pipe would not be installed within the joist cavity and would likely have to drop lower then the joists and taper gradually towards the stack taking up ceiling space in your basement, and perhaps also requiring opening up your basement ceiling for access.


    In terms of the plumbing venting, your original design intelligently pushed the wall back behind the existing vanity location only, while keeping the wall beside it intact, presumably due to the fact that the plumbing venting stack is located in this wall. Moving this is possibly even more tricky then dealing with the toilet. Consider with the toilet, the sanitary stack remained in the same place, while in the case of the plumbing venting, it would need to be moved if the bathtub is to be pushed back. Given both design two and three contemplate the bathtub shift, you are now dealing with many variables that make your design more complex and expensive and possibly one that can encounter unforeseen issues which cost you more time and money.


    Regarding the vanity, having counter-space provides unmatched utility for both males and females. It increases functionality and overall user comfort, and while I am sure those are givens, it can often become underestimated as to its importance. You may want to seriously prioritize a vanity with as much counter-space as possible for this reason. Style wise, this is completely preferential. If I developed your design for example, I would explore rendering with multiple design styles to determine the most preferable design prior to making a final decision. That being said, given your disposition towards the "classic period look", I would first suggest you consider the very trending contemporary/classic look that is increasingly popular. This style will provide you a targeted elegance while not dating the space. I've used the brass, white porcelain combination and my clients love it.


    In summary, if you are to consider this is the only washroom for five people, and you have already invested significantly in this renovation, and your contractor is reasonable, reliable, and perhaps someone you can negotiate with, it may be in your best interest to keep investing your time into the design development phase until you and your contractor have reached an agreement. I would suggest that you request a formal fixed fee from your contractor as soon as possible for the cost of the mechanical/framing modifications only. If he itemizes the pricing for you early on prior to you making design development decisions, it may really help expedite this process based simply on cost.


    If you have any questions or concerns I would be happy to discuss them with you. I have found your project to be an enjoyable exercise. Thank you, and good luck moving forward.


    kirsten4224 thanked InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
  • suzanne_m
    9 months ago

    Is your vanity 5'0" x 2'0" or 5'0" x 1'9"? If you use the closet, how big in total will your bathroom be? Can the 2.5" also be included in the bathroom?

  • suzanne_m
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    I guesstimated that your bathroom is 7'9"x7'8" once that all interior walls are removed. I also assumed that your vanity is 2'0".


  • suzanne_m
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    It is not clear to me which closet you found. Is it #2 on your initial layout? Is it the back of #7? Also you mentioned that this closet is deep and hard to access things in it. Could you access it from the room (not shown) at the bottom of this layout?

  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    9 months ago

    @suzanne_m I believe I can answer your question regarding the closet, which is located behind the location of the toilet in your design proposal. Your layout looks great btw, and I hope it will be seriously considered. The pocket door is an excellent solution as well for the door issue. My only thought is that the cabinet placement would require moving the venting stack. This trade-off given cost, may not worth it. The bathtub placement, on the other hand, works well to accommodate the close proximity of the current piping while not interfering with the existing pipe venting stack, making it a great option.

  • suzanne_m
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    Thank you InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc. for giving me that information.

    It's nice to hear that the big closet is available for the bathroom. This is another option which I believe would be less costly. I am really not familiar with plumbing but I think moving the toilet on the same 'line' should be less expensive than moving it on a perpendicular wall. I am hoping someone will share their knowledge on this as I am not sure at all about this. If you put the toilet where I drew it, there is kind of a wasted space to the right of it. I suggest a deck for the tub or maybe you have better idea of how to use that space. I also thought of a cabinet accessed by standing beside the toilet. It would have to be about 3'0" from the floor to be able to open the door but it will be a bit hard to reach what is inside. I could store extra toilet paper.

    BTW: I am guessing the depth of the closet.

  • suzanne_m
    9 months ago

    If you want to keep a little closet for your linen ...


  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    9 months ago

    @suzanne_m There is no short answer at this point, the plumbing needs to be carefully evaluated to make a final precise call, but the bottom line is if piping has to cross over joists, the project complexity is being increased significantly. In your most recent layout rendition, it appears you have removed the wall dividing the furnace closet from the washroom. Remember to keep in mind that there is a furnace in that room, more or less, where the toilet you proposed just now is located. This is the reason this space is not available in order to expand the layout. The only potential available space in that closet area, is the existing linen closet located in the location of the toilet in your previous design layout... Keep in mind also, by removing that wall, you now need to deal with the sanitary sewer stack within the wall dividing the existing closet from the existing furnace closet. That modification is pure hell, and the most complicated and expensive of all..

  • kirsten4224
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    @suzanne_m Thanks for those thoughtful renderings - sorry my explanation was not clear - what I think you're referring to as the "closet" (that space where the "7" is in the drawing with the door) isn't actually a closet. It is an old maid staircase that currently has an upstairs HVAC unit built in (the #7) that cannot be moved without considerable expense. We looked into it initially because expanding into that space would solve all our space issues, as per your second drawing, but were quoted in excess of $20,000 to deal with the furnace. The staircase is clearly no longer in use and is walled in from below, and the surprise cabinet was an upper cabinet area that was built into the dead space in the ceiling of that maid staircase. In the second demo picture you can see the cabinet - the lathe underneath it covers the area where the staircase comes up before it makes a 90 degree turn into where the furnace now is (behind the current toilet stack).


    The bathroom with the originally planned bump - out in the drawings would be 90" wide by 90" deep. The addition of the closet area if framed out would give a little bump out of approximately 2x2 - I didn't get the exact measurements yesterday when I was there. I am really intrigued by the idea of the pocket door moved more to the center of the room. On paper it doesn't look as cramped as I imagined it would feel, but it's worth exploring if we can keep the larger vanity. I think based on that drawing, that the toilet would retain the closet space above it. We would have zero wall space to hang towels on in that option, but it certainly does add a lot of storage! In either case I'm feeling like we should 100% have the door moved over so it centers on the room and the window.


    @InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc. Wow, thank you for that detailed response. It was very helpful and it gives me a lot to talk about with my plumber! As to the staircase issue - luckily that staircase is walled off and not in use, so we don't have to worry about encroaching on the headspace. Additionally, I don't have a picture (I'll try to get one next time sometime tonight or tomorrow), but the floor here is unlike anything I've ever seen, there are a variety of different depths with the top joists raised higher than the level of the hallway. Because of the uneven open space underneath, it's entirely possible that the plumber may be able to run the toilet drain pipe under the floor joists, though it would have to connect into the stack further down in that case.

  • suzanne_m
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    Ok. So if I understand it correctly, the bathroom is 7'6"x7'6" + 2'0"x2'0" closet found at the end of the tub. Am I right?

    I have seen in your layouts 2 and 3 that you use the space identified by #2. I understood from InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc. that this space has a venting stack. Is this something you are willing to move? If you prefer not, I think the least expensive layout would be to go with your original plan and put a small cabinet beside the toilet and a pocket door.

    I will try to find other option(s) for you.

  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    9 months ago

    Okay so after an espresso, and further thought, I believe @suzanne_m 's first design option to be the best and let me explain. Firstly, I believe it to be an improvement over @kirsten4224 option 2 & 3 design due to construction costs and complexity to move the plumbing venting, and repositioning of the toilet so much farther, and the gain? a measly 2' x 2' space?.. that may or may not be concealed anyways with cabinetry? and plus, the existing 2' x 2' closet found if retained, will provide the same openness anyways. Now on the topic of the cabinetry, the issue predominantly appears to be this storage dilemma, which I believe I have solved. If we are to consider @suzanne_m 's original design layout, then instead of knocking the wall down where the plumbing venting is, we can use the space above and beside the existing venting so as to frame out a storage compartment that, albeit it being somewhat slender, can be tall and provide sufficient supplementary storage. So in summary, with this option, you have improved functionality, some additional easily accessible storage, a larger vanity, no removal of the plumbing venting, no removal of the sanitary sewer stack, the toilet positioned conveniently next to the existing drain, no removal of the wall/re-framing of the area above the old maid stair corridor etc., and the retaining of this - win the lottery moment - storage area you found by preserving it mostly as is storage behind the proposed toilet location.. That seems like quite the laundry list of Pros.. What are the Cons? Marginally reduced, and easily accessible storage? I think this is an easy decision now. What do you think @kirsten4224.


    The only major complications are the framing at this point. Both for the pocket door, and for the storage cubbies I envision beside the vanity. Both framing can be tricky as the pocket door requires proper clearances, meaning thickening the existing wall, which is originally why I did not suggest it, and the tight framing around the existing plumbing venting stack. Although, each of which are extremely more simple/and cheaper then dealing with the plumbing.

    kirsten4224 thanked InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    9 months ago

    @kirsten4224 Glad to help, I enjoy these projects.


    The sanitary sewer stack may or may not be compromised. In time corrosion can potentially effect the pipe but an inspection and test should prove if yours has been effected and thus, requires immediate replacing. Can you take some photographs of the stack? As I would like to see what it looks like more closely but ultimately, visually it can look ok, it would still require testing. That being said, even with a good test and good visually appealing pipe, as a home owner you have every right to replace something like this even if it is not compromised. It is not uncommon for individuals to upgrade old mechanical systems despite them functioning just fine, however, it is just as common for individuals to keep old systems that function just fine. I am just trying to point out that this is not necessarily a black and white situation, and if it isn't, then it really becomes your choice, and your choice would neither be right or wrong in this particular situation. Cost is usually the deterring factor in a case where a system works just fine.


    The plaster repair should not be the element that is cost prohibitive. Given you already need to drywall and finish every wall in that room, including the same wall that the pocket door is being proposed on, there is negligible total sq/ft of drywall work additional. The only extra repair is a strip around both inside edges of where the pocket door will go in and out from. That may-be 5 sq/ft in total or not much more.. and drywall required to close the old doorway from the outside. If that is say a 3ft door your looking at a total of approx. 21sq/ft more. In total 26 sq/ft extra if I am correct. So have them clarify why exactly it is more drywall repair. If anything the additional work is the framing work involved for a pocket door, as I said in a prior message, however, if you plan to frame the floor inside the "maids corridor" plus have that drywall and plumbing work complete, then that expense should be priced marginally in comparison, so some extra drywall work expense should thus, also be negligible. Although, even with fair pricing, at the end of the day it will all come down to what you feel is worth it for you. This is me thinking out-loud..


    My advice is to have them itemize costs as much as possible. Especially don't except pricing without an itemized price for the sanitary sewer replacement, and if you are still interested, also for the pocket door. I would be tremendously curious as to what pricing your given for each.

  • kirsten4224
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    @InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.The sanitary stack is not necessarily in a compromised state (we did not test it) - a lower section of it going into the basement pipe had been replaced with PVC and the plumber just recommended upgrading it while we had everything open, since if something happened we'd have to tear up a large part of the bathroom. Seemed logical to me, especially given that the basement iron pipe has visible corrosion that I know we will probably need to address in the next few years. I will be getting an itemized bid for everything in the next couple of days.


    The issue with the door is that my house is entirely plaster - true, they are doing drywall on the inside of the bathroom, but the foreman said that with moving the door and the resulting plaster repair in the hallway, plus trim work for new baseboards in the hall, it was easily a project that could be $1500. I honestly don't have a good sense of industry standard for that kind of work, but with the additional plumbing work another $1500 could definitely put it out of reach for us. We'll have to see how the bid comes back!



  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    9 months ago

    @kirsten4224 The most important question then is, did your plumber replace the basement portion of the cast iron stack from the start of the pipe (ie. the elbow fitting underground)?, or did he just replace a fraction of it after the elbow? Such as a intermediary segment between two remaining existing portions? Also, for what it is worth, that pipe looks to be in almost brand new condition... I have rarely seen such a meticulous looking original cast iron pipe. Although, that being said, if it has not been tested and furthermore, based on my comments in the previous message, replacing the pipe is not necessarily a bad option even if in good shape. If replacing this portion means a completely updated sanitary sewer stack, then that is certainly not a bad thing. Even if a portion of the old pipe remains elsewhere, say for example the elbow underground, you can always have that replaced at a later date.


    The cost of approximately $1500 say for the extra work for a pocket door is not overpriced based on industry standards. That being said, I am judging based on my local area (Toronto, Canada) which in comparison to the USA, has typically dramatically higher pricing on average for any labor work. So $1500 in your area may-be more expensive then typical. Even if it is, it would likely be negligible. I would suggest you acquire pricing from multiple trades and/or contractors either way.

  • kirsten4224
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    @InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc. Our quote came back at $5500 for the new option, $3750 of which was the plumbing work, the rest miscellaneous framing and finishing work. We have decided to move forward with that option, as it seemed like a worthwhile expense given the added square footage and better overall organizational possibilities. Re: the plumbing stack - I don't have a picture, but there is just a fraction replaced. The connection of this bathroom's toilet to the cast iron stack in the basement is PVC where it connects, though it clearly goes to cast iron again in the bathroom somewhere in the wall.


    I know it is best practice to get multiple quotes, but at this point we simply have to move forward with what we have. The labor market has been absolutely nuts in our town this year, and it took me many many months to find a contractor that was both available and reputable. We are new in our town so I don't know if it is normally like this or just 2020, but I was shocked to find how hard it was to get anyone to give me a bid at all. At this point the project must be finished in the next month and a half or we will have nowhere to bathe when we move back in - I can't afford any more potential delays!

  • Sissy Mizzell
    9 months ago

    I am kinda in the same boat as you with a pantry. Excited to see your progress. Good luck!

  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    9 months ago

    @kirsten4224 Which design option was that exactly? We went through several variations, I just want to clarify.

  • kirsten4224
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    @InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc. The design that @suzanne_m first proposed, though we will be flipping the tub and linen closet to maintain the left handed tub we already purchased.

  • suzanne_m
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago
  • PRO
    InnoVision Design & Project Management Inc.
    9 months ago

    @kirsten4224 Sounds great. I hope everything goes well. Best of luck with the reno!