Wherein you get to Help Design our New Bathroom

Mel and I have been thinking about a bathroom renovation for quite some time now, and what’s really holding us up is that we just haven’t been able to decide what the best design will be. We’ve come up with 3 general options, and we’re hoping you’ll all let us know what you think about each of them. Also, feel free to provide additional options or ideas. Although this is our only bathroom and construction time is an issue, please don’t let that influence how you view the options. We will just have to make other shower/toilet arrangements during construction. Click on all the diagrams to enlarge.

Existing Conditions:
The diagram below shows the existing placement of our toilet, tub/shower, and vanity. Aside from everything in our bathroom just being generally cruddy, the real problem is “the wall,” the non-load-bearing dividing wall that encloses the shower. Its presence alone makes the already small bathroom look and feel cramped, especially if you’re standing in front of the vanity. Removing the wall to provide elbow room while standing at the sink is our highest priority.

Option 1:
In this option, the vanity remains in its original location, but both the shower/tub and the toilet require moving. The main benefit of this option is that it allows a standard 54” tub/shower to be surrounded by walls on three sides while still removing the interior divider wall. This would allow us to create a pretty attractive (and completely standard) shower/tub using any of the established methods (curtains, sliding doors, etc.). This is the largest tub/shower of all the options.  The existing window would no longer be located in the shower and would not require removal. The biggest drawback is that this option requires moving the toilet to a new location. Melanie and I both agree that this is by far our favorite conceptual design, but the uncertainty involved in relocating the toilet drain pipe threatens the feasibility of this option.

Option 2:
In this option, the toilet, tub, and vanity remain in their original locations. The existing 52″x30” tub is replaced with the shortest tub we can find (so far I’ve located a 46.5″x27″ tub – let me know if you find a smaller one…), and the shower head is relocated to the opposite wall. The tub drain pipe will need to be relocated. A wall of some height may still be required at one end of the tub (see example photo below – the wall need not be taller than the tub itself, if we want). The biggest benefit of this option is that it requires the least amount of plumbing modification of all the options. The drawbacks of this option include the following: The window will still be located in the shower stall (unless it is removed, in which case a drawback is the labor required to remove the window and no longer having a window). In this option, we would probably use some sort of track-based shower curtain (see example photo below). We are still uncertain about the space between the tub and the vanity (should a space exist? should we build a half-wall like the photo below, and if so, how wide/tall? Does this accomplish our goal of removing the wall? Should the edge of the vanity extend all the way to the edge of the tub?)

Option 3:
Option 3 is similar to option 2, except that the shower/tub is replaced by a fully-custom shower stall of any dimensions we choose. The space available is too narrow to utilize any standard shower base or corner-shower kit, so the entire enclosure/base would be custom. This option would require moving the shower head and drain and the window would require removal. The benefits of this option include the following: This option does not require moving the toilet or vanity. The custom shower isn’t restricted to 90 degree angles, which may allow us to open up additional floor space (at the cost of less shower space). The drawbacks of this option include the following: The entire shower stall is custom, including the glass enclosure, which may increase costs. The window will have to be removed costing both time and labor & resulting in a windowless room. The biggest drawback, however, is that there would no longer be a tub in the house (not a big deal for Mel and I, but may be a drawback when we try to sell the home).

Ok, so that’s what we’re thinking about.  Anybody got any favorites or additional items we should be considering?

8 comments to Wherein you get to Help Design our New Bathroom

  • Tara

    I like option 1 the best. I think that in keeping the tub you do open the door for additional buyers when the time comes to sell your home. So I guess then I like option 2 also, but 1 is my favorite. I like your idea of doing a track design shower curtain (maybe I'm using the term wrong?) too.

  • Rory

    Some of this depends on how long you'd like to stay in your house. If you're only planning on being there a couple more years then I think Option 2 is the best design. It's the least amount of time, effort, and cost, and it will solve your biggest problem. We have the same layout as option 2 in our house and it doesn't feel cramped at all. However if you want to stay in the house for a long time, then go with option 1. I'd stay away from 3 though if you want to sell, because people likes their tubs.

  • Rory

    Few more thoughts on option 2. As far as the window in the stall, just buy some transluscent vinyl covering for it, that way it doesn't feel so open. I would definitely recommend a small wall in between the tub an vanity,but don't have a space; we have a small space and it's impossible to clean. If you did a small tiled wall half the height of your vanity that should open things up quite a bit.

  • Thanks for your comments, guys.

    Rory, can I ask how you hang your shower curtain? Using an L-shaped bar is an option, but it would probably require a ceiling brace in the corner that wouldn't allow a curtain to be pushed past the brace. So I figured some sort of track system would work best. What sort of a setup do you have?

  • Rory

    We actually have the L shape and it does have a ceiling support in the middle but we got around it by just having two vinyl curtains(one on either side)that you part to enter the shower. It's a little awkward, but when it's closed you can't tell. I also measured my vanity and it's about a foot wider than yours, so that could also be why I don't feel cramped. You could build the small wall to the exact height of the counter though and that would give you a little more work space depending on how wide you tile it.

  • I also like option 1 the best, option 3 seems much too costly in all senses of the word (including resale value). Rory is right, though, option 2 does seem the most cost effect, especially if you're not planning on staying in the house longer than a few more years.

  • Hey! Nice blog. Moving the toilet sounds great but is probably a lot of work slash expensive. I agree you should keep a tub there since it's your only bathroom, and people like their tubs. What about an option #4 where you move the showerhead to the other wall, knock down the existing wall but keep the standard length tub and put in an L-shaped track like in that one photo? Then you wouldn't have to shorten the tub but you'd have the feel of more space.

    Where did you get the photo of that L-shaped track, anyway? Eric's remodeling his basement and we're going to need something like that…

  • Hey Kara, I'm glad you like the blog. Thanks for commenting. The photo comes from this post at a blog called Modern in MN. It looks like it's made out of stuff you can get at IKEA.

    I've also been checking out the tracks at this site.