How to Choose a Bathroom Layout

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Designing the ultimate dream bathroom can be exciting. From choosing the bathtubs to bathroom vanities, and even choosing the tiles, there are a lot of components that can help create an amazing bathroom.

However, deciding on which tiles to place and the style of your bathroom vanity is actually part of the finishing touches. The first part of achieving the ultimate dream bathroom is choosing your bathroom layout. Because when it comes to building your ideal bathroom it starts with the planning. Although this step may sound like a lot of work, and sometimes it really is, it will definitely be worth it in the end.

Not only will this help you move faster and more efficiently, but it will also help you avoid making any huge mistakes along the way. Because at the end of the day, your bathroom not only has to look great, but it must also be fully functional.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Layout

Who will use the bathroom?

This is a crucial question when planning your bathroom. For example, if you live alone then you would only have to consider your own bathroom routine and needs. However, if you share a bathroom with your wife, you’ll probably have to consider placing two different sinks and vanities which will take up more space.

At the same time, if you are sharing your bathroom with your kids, you would also have to consider that. 

How will the bathroom be used?

Another crucial factor that you have to consider is how will the bathroom be used. This is because, as mentioned above, your bathroom must not only look pretty but it must also be fully functional as well.

In order to answer this question, you have to recall your bathroom routine. You have to remember the flow of your morning and evening routines. For example, if your wife does her makeup in front of the bathroom vanity, you might have to place it near the window for natural lighting. At the same time, it is also possible that she might need to have a chair placed in front of it. 

Another question to ask yourself is if you will want a bathtub in your future bathroom. Bathtubs take up a lot of extra space and you might have to plan around that as well. 

How much storage will you need?

If there’s one prevalent problem for most bathrooms, it’s the lack of storage. Unlike other rooms in a house, bathrooms typically have limited storage space. This is why it’s important to consider this when planning the layout.

If you or your family is used to having your toiletries and linens stocked inside your bathroom, you might have to include a cabinet in planning your layout. 

Steps in Planning a Bathroom Layout

Step 1: Measure everything

The first step to planning your ideal bathroom is to know the exact measurements of your bathroom. In order to make accurate plans, it only makes sense that you know the size of the space that you are working with. 

You can always use your trusty measuring tape to take the measurements. However, if you’re not completely comfortable in doing that, then you can always ask the help of professionals.

Step 2: Decide on your fixtures

After taking your measurements and familiarizing yourself with the space that you have to work with, you can now begin with listing down the fixtures and components that you would want to include in your future bathroom.

What is your overarching vision and theme? Which functionalities must your bathroom have? What are your wants and what are your needs? Is storage space high on your priority list? 

It is completely understandable for most homeowners to get carried away in this phase. You have so many ideas floating in your head and would only want the best for your bathroom. That being said, you have to be able to separate your wants from your needs. Rather than focusing on what you want,  you have to focus on how you can create a practical and functional bathroom. 

You might have to consider letting go of some fixtures that are not necessary. 

Step 3: Functional zoning

Once you are done taking your measurements and choosing your fixtures, the next step is to create a scale plan for your bathroom. This step will require you to be extremely thorough and accurate. You have to consider the impact of each item you’ll be including in your bathroom. 

Functional zoning focuses on organizing functional areas around a core item. This ultimately gives you more open space to work with. Here are a couple of functional zones that you might want to consider: 


Arguably the most used feature in your bathroom, it is also one of the fixtures that you would definitely not want to be the focal point of your dream bathroom. You can choose to hide your toilet behind the entry door or place it between your bathroom vanity and a wall to help hide it better. 

Should you have more space to work with, you can definitely consider creating a separate and dedicated room for your toilet, hiding it behind a glass door to still give you a feel of open space.

Alternatively, you can also make sure you’re getting a toilet that’s smaller or has a more compact design. Many brands offer smaller, or compact elongated toilets like Kohler, TOTO, or Gerber.

Bathroom Vanity

A bathroom vanity is a large piece of furniture that most bathrooms will need. Aside from it providing additional storage, it will usually include a sink and a countertop as well. Some bathroom vanities even have a mirror. 

When deciding on your bathroom vanity, look back into one of the first things you considered which is who will be using the bathroom. This is where you decide on whether you will need a single or double sink. 

Shower and Bathtub

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when planning the layout of your bathroom is if you’ll be needing a shower, a bathtub, or both. Depending on the space that you have as well as your budget, you have to decide if spending the extra hundred dollars for a bathtub is practical and realistic.

Step 4: Combine steps 1 to 3

After you have gone through steps 1 to 3, the last step is to combine everything you have planned and considered into making an actual layout. In doing this, you have to remember that you have to maximize every inch and corner of your bathroom.

Here are some of the most widely used bathroom layouts:

Full Bathroom

A full bathroom can have center or side layouts. 

Full bathrooms with a center layout are ideal if you want to have easy access to the different components in your bathroom. This will usually feature your toilet and sink placed along one wall and have your shower or tub placed along another wall. 

On the other hand, a full bathroom with a side layout is designed to have all of your sink, toilet, and shower or tub places along one single wall. Ultimately, this will give you more open space. 

Versatile Master Bathroom

This bathroom layout is ideal if you are sharing a bathroom with someone but have limited space.

Similar to that of a center layout bathroom, you will have your vanity, sink, and toilet placed on one side of the wall and opposite of your tub or shower. The only difference is a tub is framed by an alcove and is designed with shelves for additional storage space. The walk-in shower next to it is usually open as well. 

Pro tip: If you have decided to have both a shower and a tub placed separately in your bathroom, it would be best to place them beside each other in order to reduce the number of plumbing lines your bathroom will require. 

Large Master Bathroom

Considered as one of the luxurious bathroom layouts, this layout will require you to place your main bathroom components in a space that is no less than 10×12 feet. You can place your bathtub underneath a window so that natural lighting will help make it the focal point of your bathroom. 

This will also feature a double vanity and sink which makes it ideal for couples who share a bathroom.  On top of that, this will also feature a walk-in shower with a glass shower door. You can opt for a clear glass shower door if you want more open air. However, if you want to prioritize privacy, you can opt for a frosted door. 

The final touch to this bathroom layout is creating a small room for your toilet. This adds more to the privacy of your bathroom.

Final Thoughts

Planning a bathroom takes a lot of hard work and preparation. However, if you spend enough time planning and ensuring that your plan is foolproof, it will save you a lot of time and energy in the future. Whichever layout you choose to go with, the ultimate goal is to end up with a bathroom that not only looks good but is all fully functional and suited for all of your needs.


Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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