Knowing the type of bath that is going to be built and the physical properties of the space that it’s going to be built in are the first steps in the process of sorting out fixtures. A half-bath in a converted walk-out basement might need an up-flush toilet; an elaborate master bath might call for a designer one-piece toilet, a bidet, a whirlpool bath, and a steam shower. But whatever the type of bath, usually the biggest design hurdle is space — simply finding enough room for everything can be tricky. Seldom have I seen a bathroom that is too big, but I’ve seen plenty that have been shoehorned into some pretty small spaces. Everything seems to fit until someone tries to use it.
Certainly the most common plan, the full bath—with one sink, one toilet, and a combination bath/shower—provides all of the essential services and can be fit into a 5 x 7 foot space. There is some room for varying door and sink placement within the basic 5 x 7 foot footprint, but there isn’t much. Window placement is also a bit of a problem with this plan. Windows can be placed above baths, but this isn’t an ideal location because water splashing on the window trim and sash will quickly penetrate into the wood, causing rot.
Often called powder rooms, half-baths are an economical and space-saving alternative to full baths in public areas of the house. Sometimes they can be combined with laundry rooms, and they can be squeezed into spaces as small as 4 x 4 & 1/2 foot, yet still maintain recommended minimum clearances for the toilet and sink. Because half-baths are often intended for use by guests, they are usually placed near the living room or dining room. This placement can be a problem if the door to the bathroom is strategically located. For example, I once built a half-bath that was part of a remodelled kitchen/dining area. Though I carefully soundproofed the walls, the bathroom door opened directly into the dining area; there just was no other place to put it, though a future addition was planned that would later provide better access. Except for the noise transmission through the doorway, the bath functioned well and served its purpose, but the homeowners were relieved when the new addition (and new doorway to the bath) was finally built.
Three Quarter Bath
While a bathroom with just a shower enclosure instead of a bath doesn’t really save a lot of space over a bathroom with a full bath, it does provide extra room within the same footprint for shelving or a linen cupboard. A three-quarter bath may be just the thing for certain families. While families with small children still need a bath for bathing, most adults and older children use the shower because it is faster. There is still nothing quite like a nice hot soak in the bath, but how many of us have time for that?
Once a bathroom has more than minimal room and can accommodate more than the basic three fixtures, then I think it falls into the category of master bath, whether or not it is attached to a master bedroom (though it usually is). The luxury of having plenty of room to work with makes a wide range of fixture configurations possible, but high on the wish list of most people now is a whirlpool bath and a separate walk-in shower. Working couples, seeking the amenities of the good life that two incomes should provide, want the indulgence of a whirlpool bath, but the reality of working long hours makes a shower a practical necessity for the morning rush hour.
Master baths have long had multiple sinks to accommodate more than one person in the bathroom at any one time. But sometimes it seems that having side-by-side bowls just means having one extra sink to keep clean, while having an extra sink in a separate area may make more sense. If there is room for a partitioned area for the toilet and a separate sink, you can give a master bath the ability to offer both multiple functions and different levels of privacy for more than one user.
Other Bath Options for your Bathroom
Outdoor showers aren’t very practical in the UK, but I know that if I lived in a warm climate, I would have one. Showering outdoors in warm weather is the next best thing to a swim and a real practical way to keep humidity out of the house in the summer. An outdoor shower would never supplant a primary bathroom, but you might consider one for a home in a warm climate.
One type of bath that would work as well in the UK as anyplace else is the wet-floor bath. Instead of a separate and raised shower enclosure, this type of bath has a waterproofed (generally tiled) floor slightly sloped toward a central or offset drain. The shower valve and showerhead generally are mounted on the wall furthest from the toilet, and usually (but not always) a glass panel separates the shower from the rest of the bath. A wet-floor bath has the advantage of being readily adaptable for accessibility because there is no shower tray, and the lack of enclosing shower walls allows the entire room to fit in a relatively compact space without violating fixture clearance guidelines.
Not quite so exotic as the previous examples, combination laundry /bathrooms serve a dual role and are a good way to bring the washer and dryer out of the kitchen. There are a number of different configurations possible that make room for both appliances and, in some cases, a separate laundry sink as well. If there is enough space, another option is to make room for an exercise area adjoining the bath.All information correct at date of post