By Barbara Schmidt
Is there a traffic jam in your bathroom? Do you find yourself bumping into your family or the walls while brushing your teeth? If so, it may be time to make your bathroom more functional by rethinking how you use the space.
According to Better Homes and Gardens Web site, www.bhg.com, a standard size bathroom is 35 to 80 square feet. A typical master bath is 100 square feet or more. While it may be small compared to other rooms in the house, this standard space can really open up when you combine your personal preferences and style with how you want to use the bathroom.
Assessing Your Bathroom’s Space
When working with homeowners to create a new room plan, I often start out with the big-picture question: “In a perfect world, what would your bathroom feel like?” In the past, answers have been “like the outside brought indoors” or “like a cottage on the lake.” Hidden in both of those answers was a key to a successful room plan -- the concept of space. You can use the same square footage to create an open, shared space or a private, cozy space. The difference is how traffic patterns and designs can work together to result in a completely different feel.
When you’re reassessing your bathroom’s space, ask yourself the following questions to pinpoint a design that is the most functional for you.
* How many people will use this bathroom? Will they use it at the same time?
* Rethink the essentials. Do you need double sinks or a bidet in the guest bath?
* Take out fixtures that do not meet your functionality. If you are adding fixtures, look for adjoining space to add to your bathroom. Closets and fifth bedrooms are great options for more space.
Another great idea to thin out traffic in the bathroom is to add a sink to another room. American Standard came up with the clever idea of adding a round countertop sink in a glass makeup table in the bedroom.
This not only saves space in the bathroom, but it also allows for more privacy by splitting the areas into two rooms. The single-mount faucet is a simple, sleek option that blends with updated traditional and contemporary styles.
How much privacy do you need?
Should the toilet be placed in a separate room? Popular in the ’80s and ’90s, separate water closets have become a standard in new home design. Many bathroom designs tuck the toilet into a corner or separate space, out of sight from the bathroom’s entrance. If space is still an issue, a half wall or glassed partition can give the feel of more privacy without gobbling up square footage.
What is your bathing routine?
Do you need a shower or a tub or both? If there are multiple bathrooms in your home, there may be the opportunity to simplify function in one or more to open up space. One of my clients wanted a double steam shower instead of a tub for the master bath. This decision created space that they wouldn’t have used with a tub. This client then installed a soaking tub in one of the guest baths for smart space savings and resale value.
How does this bathroom work in the overall house plan?
Do you need to move entrances or change doors? Simply changing a hinged door to a sliding pocket door can convert a tight space into plenty of room. When I worked on the bathroom design and layout with American Standard's 2003 Ugliest Bathroom Contest winner, I encountered a doorway that seemed out of place. We moved a hallway entrance from the master bath into the master bedroom for more privacy. And to save space, we used a pocket door instead of the original hinged door.
In addition to asking yourself these questions, you can assess your bathroom through the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s online questionnaire at www.nkba.com. In particular, the last survey section about room orientation is another tool to help you rethink your bathroom space and function.