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Do you love your tiny en-suite? Thinking about adding one (4x7ft).

last year

I’m looking to add an en-suite in my existing primary bedroom, it would be against a wall that has a main bathroom on the opposite side so plumbing will not be problematic. Intention is to have a separate bathroom so kids can use the main one, but also it might be attractive to home buyers down the road. It would be no more than 4 feet wide and probably 7-8ft long (not against code). I would also be adding a (west facing) skylight or light tunnel so it’s brighter. The entry would likely be a pocket door.

Here are some inspirations (sorry don’t have credits for the beautiful designs pictured).

If you have a tiny en-suite, do you love it? Did you add one and have some lessons learned?

Thank you!

Comments (36)

  • last year

    I thought our ensuite was tiny at 5'x8'. It's okay. Better than only one bathroom to serve 3 bedrooms.

    do you have a drawing of how you fit this together? this is our bathroom which I've always considered near bare minimum...



  • last year

    You might have a problem with toilet clearances at only 4 feet wide.

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  • last year

    I used the ikea bathroom app to give an idea of what it might look like, for scale only. I made the en-suite 4x8. Placement of vanity and toilet is likely not accurate. Also couldn’t figure out how to make the shower, which will have a glass swing door. And I was thinking shower should be 3x3, with a 1 foot wide (narrow) storage cubby area next to it.

    My concern is what does it feel like to be in such a Tiny en-suite, is it a little uncomfortable to be in a narrow space or is it just nice to have, perhaps skylight will make a difference.

  • last year

    WRT clearances I found this information online - “Toilets should have at least 15 inches clearance to side obstructions such as walls, tubs and showers. Measurement is from the center of the toilet. Toilets and sinks should have at least 21 inches (more in some jurisdictions) clearance in front.” So I think it will be okay according to building codes.

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    Would you consider having your vanity on the East wall and the toilet beside the shower? This is the layout I have in my ensuite. With a place small like this, you mostly can't avoid the view of the toilet anyway so at least if you place the vanity on the East wall, you will have more counter top and more storage.

  • last year

    This is the most clever of smallest possible showers, IMO, but you need approx 60 x 66...



  • last year

    Ah that is clever, unfortunately I’m stuck with a 4x7 or possibly 4x8 space. So I was hoping someone might have a similar sized washroom and can speak to it what it’s like, or what could be done in a better way. The pocket door would be on the long side opposite the toilet and vanity, which would have to remain in the one side of the wall.

  • last year

    The En-suite in my Master Bedroom is 48" X 58" plus a walk in shower. I love it when it's time to wash the floors. Otherwise I wouldn't mind if it were a bit larger. The door swings out and the light switch is on the bedroom side of the wall.

  • last year

    I’d be thrilled to have one!! all i have is a tiny powder room as second bathroom. this would be a big upgrade lol. we did a 19” depth wall hung toilet in a 45” depth space and it’s adequate. i’d do a wall hung toilet if you have space/money for it. the only thing i’d be concerned abour is vanity size. if it’s too small i might rather have a half bath. i’d rather have my toothbrushes/toiletries easily accessible and shower in the famiky bath than not have good space to brush my teeth.

  • last year

    We have a 5x8 ensuite. i brainstorm constantly on how I would expand it. Nevertheless, I’m so glad we have it, despite it’s compactness.

  • PRO
    last year

    Code minimums are not the comfortable minimums. 48” is shallower than the smallest commercial toilet enclosure that you have to straddle the toilet to close the door. It is a very bad idea to spend 80K and end up with the uncomfortable code minimum.


    5x8 is a minimum for a hall bath for a reason. And 10x10 for anything considered a ”primary” bath. You are not even designing an adequate hall bathroom. Or adequate basement shower bath.






  • last year
    last modified: last year

    P.S. Our bathroom door swings out into the bedroom too.

  • last year

    Post a 2d rendering of the space including what's nearby. There might be another solution.

  • last year

    I’ve commented on another similar post and am getting similar feedback, looks like it’s too small. Or I omit the sink or toilet or shower.

  • last year

    If you have only one master bath, adding an ensuite with no shower would be good.

  • last year

    i just wanted to add that our last home had a tiny 1/2 bath attached to the master, and while obviously better to also have a shower, having the private sink/toilet was much better than not having anything. As far as whether its worth it to add one, not sure there.


    We currently have a 5x9 master bathroom, with fixtures all in a row. 4’ across would be tight, agree to definitely have the door swing out.

  • last year

    We just stayed in a hotel with a 4x7+ bath. It must be grandfathered because three fixtures aligned would require 90" or 7'6" and it was a couple inches shy.



    We also have a 4x7 ensuite. The door is across from the toilet so the 90" is not necessary, as the sink is on the 4 foot wall in a shallow vanity. The shower is rarely used, we use the bigger bathroom most of the time, but it is there for when it is needed, and of course the sink and toilet are used regularly.

  • last year

    Thank you palimpsest for the image and your experience with a washroom of the exact size I’m considering. It would be okay in Ontario from what I’ve been told.

    Thanks everyone else for your comments! :)

  • last year

    We have a tiny ensuite added by the previous owner. We do not belive it is to code--the toilet is probably too close to both the wall and the sink and the sink is probably six inches from the 36" square shower. The shower has a corner entry, because there would be no other way to access it. There is only room for one towel bar and a 24 inch vanity, so not a lot of storage there. I would have been happy if they had omitted the shower and made a 1/2 bath with plenty of storage. We have a vintage secretary in our bedroom outside the bathroom to hold toiletry supplies and towels, because of the lack of storage in the bathroom. BUT--a tiny ensuite is better than no ensuite at all, in my opinion, even if it's only a half bath.

  • last year

    The entry would likely be a pocket door.

    In a situation where every inch matters, consider that a pocket door requires a deeper wall. I'd vote for a plain hinged door ... that swings into the bedroom. Our bathroom door swings into the bedrooom, and it's not a problem at all.

    With a place small like this, you mostly can't avoid the view of the toilet anyway

    Pretending toilets don't exist /hiding them in closets is silly anyway.

    i’d do a wall hung toilet if you have space/money for it. the only thing i’d be concerned abour is vanity size. if it’s too small i might rather have a half bath.

    I was going to suggest a wall-hung toilet.

    Yes, you want to try to get a decent-sized vanity ... but, if you can't, add a deep medicine cabinet for storage. Maybe one above the sink + a second one on the adjacent wall. You can get them 6" deep.

    Adding a GOOD half-bath might be better than a HO-HUM full bath. When I was a kid, it was very common for the master to have a half-bath.

    5x8 is a minimum for a hall bath for a reason. And 10x10 for anything considered a ”primary” bath. You are not even designing an adequate hall bathroom. Or adequate basement shower bath.

    You have to work with what you have.
    Post a 2d rendering of the space including what's nearby. There might be another solution.

    Yes! Often another set of eyes can see something new.

    Without having seen the whole house plan, I wonder if you might be able to place the vanity /sink in the bedroom ... leaving only the shower /toilet for the enclosed space?

  • last year

    Not a pro. Our first home had a very small master bath and I’ve used many tiny en-suite bathrooms around the world. It’s a no brainer for me — I would much rather have my private space, even if it’s tiny.

  • last year

    The previous owners of our 200 year old house took a 4x8 corner of the large master bedroom and made a bathroom. We remodeled it, using a 48” wide bypass shower enclosure of 3/8” glass to save floor space. Yes, it is small but I am happy to have a full shower. DH is a woodworker who built a 30” vanity with three full width drawers for lots of storage. He built a matching recessed cherry medicine cabinet. To solve the problem of wet towels, I bought a heated, timed towel warmer to hang over the toilet. We had white tile installed on the floor, the shower, and from floor to chair rail height. It certainly is not as spacious as our previous 15 x 15 bathroom, but it is a welcome and very useful part of our home.

  • last year

    Cozy is a small price to pay for convenience.

  • last year

    My parents’ had a 4x8 master bath. my present home had no master bath and two very small full baths so I am accustom to smaller baths and found they function just fine. A few years ago when planning to carve out an area for us to add a new primary bath to our hundred year house we found it was not much more to add an addition over a side sunroom that would provide a 13x8 bath verses a 5x8 one and we got to keep our master bedroom size aswell. I love now having a bigger bath and find using my home‘s smaller ones far less plessant . Meet with an architect and contractors to explore all options and pricing before settling on a small bath.

  • last year

    My ensuite is about 5x8 feet. I redid all fixtures last year with the same footprint as the existing blue tiled dungeon. Much brighter and happier now. 42" vanity with offset sink gives more counterspace. Toilet is to code (15" clear each side). The linen closet it a bit awkward to get to BUT it holds a ton of stuff. Door swings into the room and lays against left wall.


  • last year

    I would much rather prefer a small master bathroom than none at all or even a powder room. If you can legally do then I don’t think you’ll regret it. Maybe look into a wall hung toilet and a zero entry shower will just a stationary glass panel for the shower to save room. Also, I’d keep the shower the full 4’ length.

  • last year

    The idea that the "master bath" needs to be a room as large as if not larger than the master bedroom and be this overwrought luxurious space has gotten kind of ridiculous.

    Agree. Bathrooms need to be right-sized ... big enough for comfort, not so big that they're overly-difficult to keep clean.

    The linen closet it a bit awkward to get to BUT it holds a ton of stuff.

    My 24" linen closet is amazing and quite enough for everything we need to store. Space well spent.

    a zero entry shower

    I don't think you'll have the necessary space for this.

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    48" x 84" is plenty of room for an ensuite and I doubt it will feel cramped if managed correctly. When doing a small bathroom, you should consider being a bit creative and spending a bit extra where appropriate but it will be fine. I spent much of my working life in countries where 4x7 for an ensuite would have been considered generous and I never felt cramped in them even though my wife and I are both quite tall. However, I think it is important to think in non-standard ways when faced with non-standard sizes.

    Here are some specific suggestions that I would advise.

    (1) In my experience a comfortable shower is the most important thing to making an ensuite work, with sink being next, and toilet being last. So find a decent shower size. I would do at least 48" x 32" and possibly even 48" x 36".

    (2) Lose the vanity cabinet. A big wooden block in the middle of a small bathroom is going to make the space feel cramped even if it really isn't. There are several decent options such as wall mounted basins or basins that set on a frame. A wall mounted basin with a teak step under it would feel open and allow you to cheat the clearances (not code, just comfort). It will still feel rather open even though you are quite close to the sink in reality.

    (3) Use a carrier mounted toilet if it is in the budget. It will save you 6" even over a compact toilet but there are also several one-piece toilets that are quite compact and would work but a carrier mounted toilet will give you a few more precious inches.

    (4) Use a recessed storage (between the studs) cabinet to add some storage space for bathroom items you need. There are several options that you can reasonably purchase or just have a finish carpenter build one.

    ----

    In my opinion, the codes are inadequate for thoughtfully designed small spaces. They were just not designed for compact living and haven't responded particularly well to it. Were this my bath I might fudge the clearance to the sink by installing a smaller sink for the inspection and replacing it with a larger basin afterwards. Again, not advising that, but I would consider it.

    ---

    Just a note... @Mrs Pete wrote, "In a situation where every inch matters, consider that a pocket door requires a deeper wall." - Pocket doors typically fit in a standard 2x4 wall. I just replaced a standard door in a 2x4 wall with a kit from Johnson's hardware and it is quite nice for the price point and fit fine in a standard wall.

  • last year

    I feel validated. Thank you! I was beginning to think I was going crazy and this might be an awful idea. The concern was if it was going to feel so small that it wouldn’t be worth it (it’s going to be costly regardless). Like @bry911 and others mentioned it’s all about how we use the space! I’ve attached a 2-d rendering I made on a “free” app (display of measurements is not free 😒). The en-suite is approximately 4x8.

    Thanks so much everyone! And happy new year :)

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    I live in a country where real estate is incredibly expensive and the typical en- suite is the size of the one you planned. And this is an advanced European country, no third world dump.

    Typically the door is a sliding/ pocket door to save space

    Looking at your plans, can you change the entrance door to the bedroom to a pocket door, so that you can give the shower just a couple more square feet, so its a bit more comfortable.

    Since leaving the US I have become more aware of how incredibly spoiled we are.


    Also something done often here(truthfully in bathrooms that are even smaller then yours) is tiling the whole room as a wet room with a slope to the drain end then there is no shower door

  • last year
    last modified: last year

    Could you move your bedroom door? ... The space behind the door could be another small closet.


    If your initial idea was to steal some space from your bedroom entrance without moving the door, you have to make sure that the entrance is not too small otherwise you won't be able to get your furniture in or out of your bedroom.

    BTW, do you use both sinks in the other bathroom? If not, you could use this space to place a tub/shower combo (30" wide) or have a bigger shower.

  • last year

    My husband actually suggested we add a closet, but without moving the door. Moving the door and putting in another closet and increasing en-suite would be nice! The return air vent is on top of the door so will have to think about how much more it would all cost. Good to have options!

  • last year

    I wholeheartedly agree with adding a bathroom. My own goal is to convert four bedrooms and two baths to three bedrooms and three private baths. I am interested in your post to learn things. I like your proposed layout with the vanity as focal point. This positioning allows you to have a full base cabinet if you want, without shrinking the space visually. And in a master bath, you likely need the afforded storage. Of course a floating vanity will make it look like you have more space, even if you stick the bathroom scale under it. Maybe make it the same tone as the wall to help it blend in though and not jump out at you. It would help the entire space visually to color coordinate the bathroom with the bedroom.


    To add more storage, I will suggest a couple ideas that worked for me in my existing small bathrooms. Keeping the vanity counter clear will help make it look spacious, especially since it is the focal point of the room. Have 2-3 storage shelves over the toilet for baskets with your makeup, extra tp, lotion, extra roll of paper towels, whatever. I also put a basket on the tank to store even more stuff, so choose a tank with a flat top. Another is to have a trio of shelves in the shower on the wall opposite the showerhead. They hold so much in-shower stuff. I used stick on wire ones I got on Amazon and love the way everything dries and doesn't get moldy or soapy. I imagine you already planned for a medicine-cabinet mirror for more storage. You may be stuck with overhead lighting, but maybe you are young and beautiful and don't have my wrinkles. :-) Wrinkle are why we made side-lighting. I haven't seen side-lit medicine cabinets, but they would be worth looking for. The great thing about small bathrooms is everything is within reach or close enough. So, though it might not appear to make sense to have stacking towel racks for drying used towels across from your toilet, they are close enough and really the only wall space available, especially with a pocket door. I imagine before a shower I would fold them and place them on the vanity to grab when I was done, then hang them back to dry. I'd also close the toilet lid before flushing though. 


    Some people feel like a small space feels cheap and therefore depressing. I don't, but I like the idea of compensating with high-end components. A top-end toilet with a heated bidet seat and skirted base, for example, will make your space feel luxurious. Or a wall-hung toilet? Luxurious towels are nice too. You can make your towel racks heated. Have a great lighted vent. Get radiant-heated flooring. Get a heated anti-fog mirror. Color the room with dark jewel tones and have lots of artificial lighting. Try canned ceiling lights in the shower ceiling, vanity lights, an overhead vent with light, and even some lighting in the toilet area. Pack that room with luxury and it won't feel small. Whatever dark color you use for the shower, continue it out beyond the glass on your back wall to prevent choppiness. Not everything in the room has to be dark. You can still have a white toilet, white towels, a white counter if you want. Just tie it in with the bedroom to mentally make a bigger space. 


    Speaking of the bedroom… The bathroom light will shine on the bed. Can I suggest turning the bed with the headboard at the window so the light doesn't shine on sleepers? This may make you cringe, but it affords you advantages. Currently it creates wasted space by the windows. If the head of the bed is at the window you now have additional useful space. For example, you have room on both sides for floor to ceiling shelving functioning as uber-nightstands. You have room at the foot of your bed for a bench to sit on while you don socks and underwear, AND if it is a storage bench, that's where you can store clean replacement towels near the entry of a bathroom too small for storing extra towels. It also creates space for a pair of dressers on the walls near the closet. I agree that you probably could use more clothing storage, but don't see space for it, so maybe room for two dressers is the next best thing and now you have room by your closet for two dressers instead of one. If you agree there are reasons to move the head of the bed to the window, the next concern is how to deal with the blocked light. The answer is more lighting. You can have light-blocking draperies for night and open them during day. You can get a slatted see-through headboard. You can use mirrored-shelf etageres for your nightstands to bounce light up or mirror the wall around your bed to create visual space you can see through the shelves or etageres. You can install mirrored french-door-look gridded closet doors to approximate a walk-out balcony. You will want to make the closet wall a beautiful thing to look at, since it is now opposite your headboard. Maybe a tall fake potted plant with an up-light by the dresser would help. Or if it's all too fake, an up-lit meaningful tall sculpture and reeded or textured closet doors instead of mirrors. Maybe a lot of dimmable canned lights in the ceiling, like stars in a night sky. A small room can be very luxurious so you don't feel cheated.

    I hope some of these ideas have helped.

  • last year

    Forgot something. If you continue dark walls to the bedroom for drama, with your bed in it's new position, the room will seem longer and the bed will be the main focal point as it should be. As such, it's quite dramatic to have the bedding and draperies behind it and your storage bench all white or some other bright color.

  • last year

    We decided ultimately to postpone en-suite building due to unforeseen reasons but will revisit this post in the future. Thanks so much KL, those are some great ideas and good pointers to make the most of our “small” space :)