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leigh_sandison

combining 2 bathrooms in house with weird layout

Leigh Sandison
7 days ago
last modified: 7 days ago

Hi there! I live in Toronto in a 100 year old house that's weird :). The main floor has a large bathroom with shower. The upstairs has two small bathrooms each with a shower, neither with a window. The ensuite to master is 5x6ft, the 'guest' bath is 6x6ft (and there's probably a foot of dry wall between them).

We have a toddler and are hoping to have another next year and bathing babies in showers is not ideal. Also, the upstairs used to be split into two apartments, so to get to my office at the front, from my bedroom in the back, I have to walk through my closet and my son's room.

I'm hoping by combining the bathrooms we can not only have a tub and a way better and more spacious layout, but also gives another option for getting around the upstairs (especially when second baby comes).

Everything I've read says don't combine the bathrooms for resale value. We're planning on staying in this house for at least 10 years, and I feel like the no tub, wonky layout, tiny master sink (can't wash my face at the sink because elbows hit shower and wall) makes it a bit of a different situation for us. We also have a large nice shower on the main floor, so we really don't need a third shower, we really need a tub!

Option 1:

I am thinking we could have a double sink and a toilet in the master area, one bathtub / shower, a toilet, a double sink in the guest area, and then a pocket door that you can open or separate depending on if guests are there. I've put in my amateur layout below, this layout means no toilets are moved, no doors are moved (just guest door goes out instead of in).

Option 2:

We leave the tiny master bathroom as is, and put in a tub along the 'back' wall of the guest room.

What do you think? Preference? Are there other options I'm not seeing?

Thanks so much for your help!!



Layout of upstairs



Master bath



Guest bath (toilet behind door)



Option 1 - pocket door





Option 2 - only update tub in guest bath


Comments (52)

  • partim
    7 days ago

    2 staircases?

    I would get an architect in there, someone with some imagination. My cousin's wife is an architect with a small Toronto firm and she's done some really creative work. Let me know if you'd like her contact information.

  • suzanne_m
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Assuming that you can use the 'unknown' rectangle and you can steal some space from your bedroom and you can demolish the 1ft thick wall and the space between the two bedrooms can be used and your office is at least 8'4" wide, this could work. There are a lot of ifs that need to be answered.


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  • Fori
    7 days ago

    Nice, Suzanne! Maybe swap the closet for the bath in the hopes that there is a window on that wall.

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    Thank you all!


    The 1ft space between the bathrooms is because the back room was built after the front of the house and there may be brick through some of that interior wall.


    What is the big rectangle between your WIC and your ensuite? That's my partner's closet.


    What is the space between bedroom 2 and bedroom 3? That's a linen closet facing the hall and one closet each in the two bedrooms.


    The downstairs bathroom is really lovely and just got redone before we bought it last year so figure we might as well fix the crummy upstairs bathrooms if we want a tub.



    Suzanne, really cool creative thinking. Thank you for putting that time and thought into my question :).



    Unfortunately, we're a young family with a new mortgage so don't think we have even close to the budget for a full gut of staircase and restructure of the upstairs (gotta live within our means!). Just need a tub for baby and toddlers.


    Thanks everyone for your thoughts!


  • partim
    6 days ago

    This inexpensive option may not fit your needs, but when we've travelled in Europe we've stayed in homes that only have showers. With their smaller city homes it's very common. I've seen toddler tubs that are bigger than baby baths, that fit in a shower. They're either inflatable or foldable, and have a drain. I just googled and they're available in North America too. One example https://www.stokke.com/USA/en-us/bath/stokke-flexibath/5361.html

  • acm
    6 days ago

    I don't understand your pocket door version -- one side doesn't have a toilet? or that side doesn't have a shower? I mean, it does mean that somebody can use the showerless toilet when somebody else is showering in the tub side. Actual guests could use the downstairs shower. But will your kids have no need for privacy as they age?

  • acm
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    Honestly, looking at the floor plan, I think the best way to blend functionality and space is to make the office into the hall bathroom (with a tub/shower combo), expand the master into the current hall bath to get a nicer layout, and then make the remaining 1/4-1/3 of the hall bath space into an office set-up behind closet doors. Maybe like one of these:


    Ojai, California Projects · More Info



    Organic Modern Mountain Home · More Info



    Cole Street · More Info


    This is more expensive in terms of new plumbing and so forth, but i think it would work better both for you and for eventual resale! And depending on how you laid out the new master bath, you might be able to have a door on the hallway end, to skip the closet walk-through entirely!

  • suzanne_m
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    Personally, what would bother me the most as a buyer is that you have no hallway to reach to the other bedrooms. I understand that with a mortgage (and a young family) you cannot do it all at once. So in your case, if a bathroom is more urgent than a hallway, make sure you plan ahead of time where would the hallway go if you do the bathroom first. I like acm's suggestion to use the office for the bathroom and I may have ideas of how you can add a hallway to reach the bedrooms later on but I need to know how wide is the space between the South wall to the bedrooms.

    Have you thought about moving your office on the first floor?

    Could you steal some space from your bedroom? If so, how much?

    EDIT: Another option could be to do a hallway and one bathroom instead of the 2 bathrooms. For example, it could be your own bathroom and have a tub with the intention of changing it for a shower once you have the budget to do the other bathroom. Your little kids could use your own bathroom in the meantime OR it could be that you do the family bathroom with a tub where you and your husband use until the time you are ready to do your own bathroom.

  • partim
    6 days ago

    You might find it helpful to look at Sarah Susanka's books about "Not so big" living. She's an architect with a series of books, including her original "The Not So Big House" and later ones including one specifically about renovation, and others such as Not So Big Living. It's not about micro-houses, but more about the best use of space in a home, according to your specific needs. Lots of ideas about multi-use rooms. She'll help you think about "I need a good space to do...XXX" rather than "I need a dedicated room to do...XXX".

    The Toronto Public Library has them to borrow for free. Reserve them and they will be delivered to any branch you choose. https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/search.jsp?Ntt=susanka

  • suzanne_m
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I am thinking that maybe you could start with the kids' bathroom which is not that far from your bedroom (so you could use it until you do your ensuite) and do the hallway at the same time as the kids' bathroom. I have no idea if this would fit since I don't know the dimensions of any of the rooms.


  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    I really, really like this idea! Our bedroom is big so not worried about cutting space out of it - whereas the other rooms, including the office are quite small, so feels tough to cut into them.


    I'm going to share this, and all your ideas, with my contractor and see what's possible.


    Thank you all for your good thinking and time!

  • Mindy Thomas
    6 days ago

    Are both sets of stairs necessary?  I like Suzanne_m's idea but would add that if you could eliminate those steps in your bedroom, you could take the master bath all the way across to include where the closet currently is and create a walk in along the wall where the stairs are with the door near the end by the bathroom.  You'd need to come out a minimum of 4 feet to accommodate one side of racks, 6 feet would give you two sides of racks.  You would still have wall space for dressers or a bed on that side.  Otherwise, a long reach in closet would work if you didn't have the square footage to give up and didn't need the wall space.   Obviously your budget is the main factor to what I'm proposing, maybe done over time, but would definitely be a plus for resale.

  • marylut
    6 days ago

    Hello, Leigh, for better bathroom layouts, have you considered adult WC (2 sinks) kids WC (1 sink) and shared shower tub? A pro would do a better job of presenting how this could work for you, but here is the basic idea.

    Leigh Sandison thanked marylut
  • marylut
    6 days ago

    To address your issue of better traffic flow, you could move the office to the master wing and use the second staircase to access the kids’ wing (see above pic). You will probably want to wait til the kiddos are school age to do this, but you can devise a long term floor plan now and work towards it a bit at a time.

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    Hi Suzanne (and all you other great thinkers out there!),


    The master is 17.5m x 15.5m.

    The 2nd and 3rd bdrs are both 10m x 10m.

    The office is 8.5m x 8m.


    The back stairs are not necessarily needed from up top if we have a hallway, but the tenant accesses her apartment in the basement through the stairs below so we couldn't take advantage of that stair space on the main floor in terms of it being open (but potentially could be an interesting pantry!).


    @marylut what a cool idea! I've never heard of that before!


  • marylut
    5 days ago

    Leigh, keep in mind a new toilet within 10feet (3meters) of existing toilet can use the same toilet stack, but further away requires a separate toilet stack and more money (but may be worth it if best floor plan layout option). Also keep in mind that renovations near existing features that violate your current local building code (such as stairways too narrow or too steep) may require fixing those violations. My previous home had 2 staircases and we used them all the time (we had a gaming TV in our loft (which you are using as an office).

  • marylut
    5 days ago

    I like simplicity of Suzanne’s option and it doesn’t cut your bedroom off from kids’ BRs.

  • marylut
    5 days ago

    One tiny change to Suzanne’s plan above, either switch pocket door to slide to the right, or run the tub plumbing on a different wall.

  • suzanne_m
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    I agree with marylut. Based on her recommendation, I edited my comment above and changed the direction of the door.

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    Hi everyone! You all rule so much! Here are the dimensions of most of the spaces in inches, and also identifying a few unknowns I failed to put in detail earlier.


    Tbh, we actually really like the back stairs to our own bedroom. We thought we wouldn't, but we do. I quite like the idea of ripping out the walk in, my partner's closet in between, and the two bathrooms and putting a hallway and everything else in there.


    Thank you!




  • marylut
    5 days ago

    keep in mind adding a 3 ft hallway across the guest bath requires a 4 inch thick wall, and this reduces the quest bathroom width from 6 ft to 2ft 8 inches.

  • suzanne_m
    5 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    Here's one of the previous layouts I posted with the new measurements you gave us. There is a 4'0" tub on the market:

    https://www.bathdepot.ca/en/lewis-48in-x-32in-alcove-bathtub-right-side-drain-bap-2866r.html

    You don't have a WIC but you have more storage than what you currently have.


    OR

    You could have a more spacious bathroom if you are willing to reduce the size of your bedroom. There might be a possibility to add a window between the 2 sinks. Note that the gray rectangle is just a filler. You don't want your toilet too much recessed when the space is narrow (2'6") because it becomes harder to clean at the back.


    Also, I moved the toilet more in the center in the kids' bathroom, for you to have room to assist your toddler when bathing. I just realized that it has to be a tankless toilet as you need at least 22" clearance in front of the toilet.

    It seems to me that the 2 toilets could be aligned and maybe use the same plumbing as they are less than 10'0" apart (but I am not a plumber, I don't know if it applies here).

    Leigh Sandison thanked suzanne_m
  • marylut
    4 days ago

    Building on Suzanne’s great idea, this modification gives you master bath with double vanity and 4 ft x 4 ft square shower, bigger closets for BR 2 and BR 3 to keep pace with growing kids, keeps 1 toilet as is and the new toilet for master within 10 feet to share toilet stack.

    Leigh Sandison thanked marylut
  • marylut
    4 days ago

    I don’t know Toronto building codes, but here hallways must be at least 36 inches and sink, tub, shower, and toilet must have at least 30 inches in front to stand.

  • suzanne_m
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    I don't know if you are set on a WIC but here's an idea (similar to the layout you really like but with few changes needed because of the measurements you gave us);


    You can let go of the cabinet in your bathroom and have a 5'0" long row in your closet (instead of 4'0").

    OR

    You could have a longer vanity:


    One advantage with the first layout is that you have a shorter walk to the bathroom if you need it at night.

    One advantage to the second layout is that your bedroom (supposing you place it on the West wall) is facing a wall long continuous wall instead of a door and two small walls.

  • marylut
    4 days ago

    I thought the guest bath was 6ft x 6ft? If it is really 7’4” that makes a big difference and allows for 3 ft wide hallway into master BR

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    Good morning! Okay so upon further reflection, I realized I left out a key detail which account for the sizing discrepancy you're noticing in the guest bath @marylut. There is a wall in between the front half of the house and the back half. It's 21inches. The master bath is 5' x 6' within the existing walls, and the guest bath is 6' x 6' within the existing walls. I had my contractor make a hole in the drywall and confirm it's not brick between the bathrooms (at least where he made the hole). However knocking on some parts of the wall, in bedroom 2 it's definitely not hollow. Not sure if there are supporting beams or old brick. If it's brick we're either in for a really rough/expensive reno, or we're stuck with only being able to cut into the master bd and between the two existing washrooms (which more or less I think all of your designs have been showing, so that's great).


    The other key thing to note that I've updated is where the back stair case comes up, as well as the sliding patio doors in the bedroom.


    I'm really digging the idea of the hallway along the back wall, and the two bathrooms taking up the rest of the space between the master and bdr2. In your latest designs @suzanne_m I don't think the closet along the back wall of the master would work because there aren't that many options for a wall for the bed, so maybe would be better along the wall at the backstairs are on? I feel like we have a lot of space there.


    I'm so excited to share your thinking with my contractor, thanks again for all of your input. As I'm sure you can tell from my changing diagrams, I'm an extreme novice.




  • marylut
    4 days ago

    Thanks for additional info. I apologize that I missed other measurements you posted. I am working on plan to expand the office so it can be possible 4th BR (for resale) in a phase 2 renovation. You want to consider long term family home in short term so you don’t need to undo anything you do in phase 1.

  • suzanne_m
    4 days ago

    Where do you suggest to put the closet: on the wall where there is the stairs or on the wall beside your current bathroom or you don't mind which wall? Also it is critical to know how big is the 'hallway': is it 6'0" or 7'4"?

  • marylut
    4 days ago

    Here is my idea for adding value by having 4 BR home…done in phases as budget allows. Although I am thinking you may not want a toddler/child in BR 3 with access to patio.

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    I just remeasured and the hallway is definitely 88 inches, and the front stairs are 32inches across.

    Egad! I never even thought about not wanting a toddler to have access to patio doors! Good call!


    @suzanne_m I think the closet is probably better near the back stairs, esp because the bottom left corner of the room (as we're looking at it in the diagram) gets the least amount of direct sunlight so the best for sleeping.

  • suzanne_m
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    For this layout to work, you need to have a 4ft long tub. and a tankless toilet? Are you ok with that?

    Is the bedroom 2 11'0" x 9'8"? If not, you won't be able to have a 3'0" hallway and a 4'0" deep bathroom unless the 17'4" measure you showed us on the West wall of your master bedroom is incorrect.

    I am not really sure of the position of your front stairs. The bedroom's wall is in its original location (aligned with your current closet. If you add 11'0" (length of the kids' bathroom), how much space do you have between the top of the stairs and the bathroom wall (red circle)?


  • suzanne_m
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    If you prefer not to have a tankless toilet, you could do something like this:

    You could also have a longer tub. It comes in 54" x 2'6" but the vanity in your ensuite becomes smaller and the shower slightly bigger.

    https://www.homedepot.ca/product/kingston-brass-aqua-eden-jenny-54-in-acrylic-right-hand-drain-rectangular-alcove-bathtub-in-white/1001506051?eid=PS_GOOGLE_D29B%20-%20E-Comm_GGL_Shopping_PLA_EN_Bath_Bath_PLA_EN__PRODUCT_GROUP_pla-297623692937&gclid=Cj0KCQiAoY-PBhCNARIsABcz771ADVVtydsYT7_pSuK9OkHd39AkWWboOXDPLRmQDPuVIo6di3lHnbEaAu89EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

    Of course, if you were to go with any layouts, you need to double check all the measurements. I can tell you from the start that my software draws walls 4" thick but the reality is that a wall is 4.5". So you already have some adjustment to make.

  • suzanne_m
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Here's a new one. I cannot say I like it that much because I am not too crazy about angled walls and your shower is small (though bigger than what you currently have I believe). The advantages are that you have a standard tub, a window in your ensuite and a bit more closet storage:

    Note that on your original layout your WIC is 6'3, the bathroom I drew is 6'4". I don't know if this causes a problem.

  • suzanne_m
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    One last idea (at least for tonight). Your bedroom is a bit of a odd shape (maybe you can put a dresser) but you get a very spacious family bathroom with a standard tub (you can even keep the toys on the deck at one end of the tub). You get a decent ensuite and a generous size hallway closet. You need to be careful when you open the bedroom door in case someone is getting out of your ensuite. Again on a 4'0" deep bathroom you will need a tankless toilet.

    If you find you have too many doors you may eliminate the hallway closet but personally with small spaces I favor functionality over aesthetics.

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Thanks Suzanne!

    The space between the top of the stair and the bathroom wall (red circle) is 27inches. Extremely tight! I've updated with more sizing. I realized I managed to get the 2nd bdr width wrong previously.


    I also should mention our office used to be the upstairs kitchen and we spent a fair bit of cash removing all of that (as well as putting carpeting through the front rooms), so it could be a nice liveable space with no gas pipes etc, so that's also why I really like the ideas of messing around with the bathroom and master bed spaces and not really touching the front of the house.


    I really like the second to last one because I like the idea of the hallway going direct from the top of the stairs. The last one I think we don't have the room for the coat closet, now that you know how tight it is at the top of that hallway? Though that would be really nice because we don't have a coat closet on our main floor :) (yes our house is very very strange, my contractor always says its' the weirdest house he's ever seen. It started as a halfway house a hundred years ago and the guy who lived here for the last 50 years was a handy man and would slowly add pieces to the house over time. Interesting for sure!)



  • suzanne_m
    3 days ago

    I might have another idea. I will have to try it later.

  • suzanne_m
    3 days ago
    last modified: 3 days ago

    Your bedroom is on a small size but you get two good size bathrooms, a little closet for linen for the family bathroom, a decent amount of closet storage in your bedroom and a hallway closet (which I am not sure you have room because of the stairs not far from it). The hallway inside your bedroom is long because I wanted to get the door further away from the closet so no one is hit when someone enter the bedroom (mind you that in all the layouts I posted there was always a long hallway).


    I think I exhausted all my ideas. Can you tell me the ones you like the most and among those can you tell me what things you would like to be fixed? Maybe I can work on these and try to fix them.

  • suzanne_m
    2 days ago

    Is that possible you give me the length of your backstairs (blue line) and the length from your patio door to the front stairs (green line)?


  • marylut
    2 days ago

    Since you don’t have coat closet on main floor, could you convert the existing upstairs hall linen closet into a coat closet and then store bathroom linens inside the bathrooms? If the linen closet is really 44” wide, that would make a good coat closet with rod over rod for jackets.

  • suzanne_m
    2 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    Again, a variation of one I posted. I am trying to give you a hallway closet.

    - Is the closet at 27'1" from the West wall too close to the stairs? If so, can you verify if the measurements in orange are correct?


  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    2 days ago

    Hi Suzanne and Mary, We're getting somewhere :) (well you are!). I like this one the best.





    Is it possible in the master bathroom to move the toilet so the tank is against the new closet. Then expand the shower all the way along that wall. Do you have room to extend the vanity to accommodate two sinks if it's turned sideways along the bdr 3 wall?


    Will get those updated measurements asap (daycare has been closed last two days because of the snowstorm)!

  • suzanne_m
    2 days ago
    last modified: yesterday

    Actually, I don't really need the measurements of the stairs at the back. Instead, can you measure from the bedroom 2 wall up to as far as you can go towards the stairs? I would like to make your bathroom as large as possible. I do need the other two measurements in orange though.

    The wider the bathroom, the wider the space allocated for the toilet can be which means that you may not need to have a filler behind the toilet which also means that you may be able to get a window.

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    yesterday

    Hi Suzanne, Okay I have the measurements you're looking for, and happily, the measures along the left side of the house and along the right side work out to be exactly the same (as you'd hope :)). The same can't be said of the front and back of the house, but if you look at the house from the outside, it does look a bit more narrow in the back.


    The three measurements in orange, from top to bottom are:

    back wall to end of stairwell in master: 162

    back wall of bdr2 to end of stairwell in master: 80

    back wall of master to front top stair: 372




    I don't think I'm missing anything but let me know if I am. Thank you!

  • suzanne_m
    yesterday
    last modified: 22 hours ago

    This shows the layout with the new measurements.

    Note that the shower is enlarged. I would think that if you make your shower 2" shorter, you should be able to recess the toilet on the back wall and add a window. A 2'10" width is a bit narrow with full height walls on each side for cleaning but I think it is feasible. My powder room has a standard size toilet (seat is at 17" from the floor and it is rounded) and one side is at 1'3" from the wall (the other side is the vanity). I do the cleaning in my powder room but I must say my head is really close to the toilet when I clean the floor ... at least I clean the toilet before the floor ha! ha!. I think if you need to service the toilet, 2'10" with full height walls on each side should be ok but it is something to ask your contractor. If you make your shower 3'6" x 3'6", you can have a window and the cleaning and service the toilet should not be too much difficult. That would be my recommendation.

    This is the layout with the toilet on the closet wall and the vanity against the bedroom wall. Personally, I would not recommend it. You have very little space when you get out of the shower or when you stand in front of the sink.


  • marylut
    yesterday

    Based on the new measurements, it appears there may be a firewall between the front and back of the house (if it was two units at one point) and maybe a void between the master bath and partner’s closet, and a void between the guest bath and BR2. Will be interesting to see what behind the walls gets discovered during demo!

  • suzanne_m
    yesterday

    Hopefully Leigh can have all that information before the big demo otherwise she may have to go back on the drawing board and that might not be too fun to live inside the house with all walls removed.

  • Leigh Sandison
    Original Author
    yesterday

    ah wouldn't it be nice to never have to clean floors or toilets! :)


    Good call re too little space with the double sink on that final diagram, you're right.


    I think this design is going to work really well. Especially because we can tackle it in two stages:

    stage 1: both old bathrooms out, and hallway, kids bathroom and closet put in.

    stage 2: closet and access to Logan's room out, and master bathroom and master closet in.


    Oh! And Mary - the guy who used to live here and did his own building was a fireman! We also have two balconies (no other house in our entire neighbourhood has balconies), apparently for easy escape from fires!


    I'm hoping there are gold bars in the walls to help pay for the renovation :).


    Thank you so much for all of your help, I'm really happy with this design!

  • suzanne_m
    yesterday
    last modified: 4 hours ago

    You have room to make the kids' bathroom a little more spacious if you want since you have 4'6" between the hallway closet and the stairs. Also, I have to put small doors for your bedroom and bathroom because you need a bit of wall for the door trim. If you can have bigger door it would be better especially for the bedroom. Moving furniture in an out is easier (or make it even feasible). You can make a special order for a 2'4" wide door. It might be worth considering it. I know a 2'0" door for the bathroom is fine. I have three bathrooms in my house with a 2'0" door.

    Good luck! Let us know how it is going with the walls. I hope you find gold bars and not too much cement to take out.

    EDIT: You might want to slide your pocket door in your bathroom the other way. It would allows you to mount a towel bar right beside the shower (you can't put screws in a wall where a pocket door slides in).