Before you get started with your bathroom remodel, we’ll acquaint you with some of the basics in our Ultimate Bathroom Design Guide.


1.       Who is the primary user?

If it’s a family bathroom, you’ll need to design for several people standing at the same vanity, giving plenty of space there and on the floor for movement.  You’ll also want different types of spaces for children and different spaces for adults. Do you need rails near the toilet, a floating sink, a shower bench, or a low-threshold shower base? These primary questions will determine the rest of your design, no matter the size and shape of the room.

2.       Type of bathroom

A basic bathroom consists of a sink, toilet, shower, and tub. Each of these is considered ¼ of the bathroom. Removing these creates different design needs for the people using them. When using our bathroom design guide, you’ll want to consider the following types of space:

  • Master: This large bathroom will only house two people on average. You have the most room for creativity in this bathroom. Be careful not to waste space while accommodating both people’s needs.
  • Full:  Similar in size to a Master bath, a Full bath is designed to accommodate heavy traffic rather than two people. This is likely to be a family bathroom used by children and relatives.
  • Three-Quarter: These bathrooms have no tub, but will have a shower. Like a full bath, they should be able to handle family or overnight guests using them.
  • Half or Powder Room: With no tub or shower, these bathrooms only serve one purpose. Because they accommodate guests, they need to be an attractive space with lots of ventilation. These should be designed similarly or as a complement to the adjoining rooms since many people will see this bathroom.

3.       Layout

Color and design can do a lot to open a small bathroom, but you’ll want to make sure the actual space isn’t claustrophobic. Make sure you have room to get out of the shower or tub.

Determine where your drains, lines, and vents go. It may be most cost-effective to line up the sink, toilet, and shower along one wall, but it can be the most limiting.

4.       Furniture

Your essential furniture can enhance your bathroom or make it feel cramped. You can place showers, baths, or sinks in underused corners to save on floor space.

Shower types

  • Stall: This common shower uses a door to prevent water from splashing out. Use clear rather than frosted glass to enlarge the look of your bathroom. You can also install a Roman shower, which does not use a door or curtain. You may have seen these in hotels as handicap-accessible showers.
  • Combo: In a three-quarter bath, you’ll often find a tub with a shower head installed. These range from utilitarian to luxurious with an overhead sprayer and different settings on the shower head.
  • Wet room: Here, there is no contained shower area, essentially making the whole room your shower. These rooms require attention to drainage and a foul air trap.

Tub types

  • Claw-foot and Freestanding: Uncommon but elegant, these are great for large bathrooms. Their shape also helps create interest where a square tub might not. The bathtub or shower is, after all, the focal point of a bathroom.
  • Corner: These also look good in a master bathroom. These save a little more space than freestanding tubs while still being large enough to accommodate multiple people at once.
  • Three-Wall Alcove: These small bathtubs are ideal for combining a shower and tub together. They take up very little space, fitting into a wall with tile or other wall treatment on three sides to help it stand out. Their simplicity does not mean they have to be boring!

If you’re not tight on space, try a round or curved bathtub, vanity, or sink. Breaking the square pattern of many bathrooms makes the space more eye-catching.


Sinks are essential to a bathroom space, but they can take up precious standing or storage room. Pick a sink that allows you to maintain your storage space, especially in a small bathroom.

  • In small bathrooms, wall-mounted sinks allow storage underneath without installing it into a vanity. Classic-looking pedestal sinks save on space as well.
  • If you’re using a vanity, self-rimming sinks are the easiest to install and drop down into the vanity. In contrast, undermount sinks install from beneath and give a little more counter space. Or, go with a vessel (a sink bowl that sits atop the vanity) for a very modern look.

The Door

Make sure that the door leaves space and comfort, and that it won’t potentially hit occupants, especially if it’s near the toilet or shower! You can also use a sliding door if you have the wall room to save floor space while letting in air and light.

Join us next time for part two of our bathroom design guide, including Lighting and Design to enhance your basic bathroom space into something fantastic!