Designing a Full Bath
Get tips for creating a space that stands up to a lot of traffic
The children use it, overnight guests use it, and for homes without a master bathroom, the full bath (or family bath) is where all the action happens. It’s a high-traffic space, and for this reason, functionality is the theme. The bathroom must work for everyone. And that’s a tall order.
When planning a full bathroom remodel, take the time to seriously review how you use the space and set goals for your remodel so you can stay on track as you make important decisions about floor plan, fixtures, tile and more.
Questions to Ask
As you begin to plan and design your full bath, keep these questions in mind:
- Who uses the bathroom, and how old are they? (Children?)
- How many people use the bathroom at one time?
- Do you need a bathtub in this space? If you choose to not include a tub, is there another bathroom in the house with a tub?
- How many sinks do you want in the bathroom?
- Do you have enough storage?
- Is toilet privacy a necessity?
- What appliances do you use, and are there enough electrical outlets available?
- Do you bathe children in this bathroom?
Right-height countertops. Rather than counting on step stools to boost small children up so they can reach the sink and faucet, consider lowering the countertop, suggests Ellen Rady, designer/president, Ellen Rady Designs, Cleveland, Ohio. “But of course, kids grow...”
Low-maintenance materials. Be careful what material you choose. “I would incorporate quartzite materials that are durable,” recommends Lori Carroll, president, Lori Carroll & Associates, Tucson, Ariz., adding that the price of some granite surfaces are comparable and suitable for family bathrooms. But avoid overspending on flair when function is the main theme in this space.
Durable fixtures. If children use the bathroom, “don’t choose high-end plumbing fixtures that won’t hold up to yanking and pulling,” Carroll points out. “Choose faucets that are easy to turn on and off, and easy to clean and maintain.”
Functional hardware. Even drawer pulls can make a bathroom “work” better for a family. “Choose vanity pulls that are easy to get your fingers in and out of, and be sure that drawers open up easily,” Rady says. You might opt for soft-close drawers.
Tub-shower combo. A space-saving and economical choice is the traditional bathtub-shower unit for families who depend on the full bathroom for their “house tub.” (The master bath might be equipped with just a shower.)
Make it a double. For households with children, be sure everyone gets their own drawer for storing toothbrushes, etc., and ideally separate sinks. Jack-and-Jill bathrooms are still very appealing for this reason.
Ample storage. Full bathrooms are often the “hall bathroom” in a traditional home with upstairs bedrooms, and you need a place to store linens. In layouts where a linen closet is positioned outside of the bathroom in the hallway, Cameron Snyder, president, Roomscapes Luxury Design Center, Boston, Mass., likes to open up the wall so there is access to the storage from the bathroom. “You don’t want to walk out of the bathroom to get a towel,” he says. Hotel shelves built into the shower above the shower head are a storage alternative for smaller spaces.
- Tile is easy to clean, so use it generously (on walls, floors).
- Vanity tops can go economical-functional in the family bathroom with laminates that are patterned to look like solid surface materials; or for a higher price tag, quartzite materials (CesarStone, Cambria and others).
- You may decide to integrate laundry into family bathroom by incorporating a stacked washer-dryer unit (clothes won’t stay on the floor long that way).