Door in the way of vanity, plus tub length question

CurlyMoFebruary 10, 2013

First time poster! I've browsed these forums a lot looking for help, tips and inspiration, and now I have a question of my own:

My husband and I own a 2 story 2 BR 2.5Bath condo. The upstairs front (guest) bedroom has a builder's grade bathroom which I hate. The tub is... weird with a shower door (hate- although admittedly helpful when giving the cats a flea bath), there's a builder's grade mirror, cheapo sink and shower faucets, terrible vanity lights and a vanity that by all accounts makes no sense.

I'm planning on remodeling the whole front bathroom myself (much to my husband's dismay) and my main question is about the vanity. Our current one is only 30 inches tall (!), 21 inches deep and 37 inches wide. Because of how the bathroom is positioned the door to the bathroom opens to the front of the vanity. Because of this, the door when open sits in front of the vanity so you can't pull the drawers out all the way without shutting the door. We don't use the bathroom much, but it infuriates me nonetheless.

I also think a 37 inch vanity (at least the one we have) just looks.... too wide for the size of our bathroom (and it doesn't help that it's way shorter in height than it should be). So I'm at a bit of a loss at to what to do. I can't change the layout of the bathroom because of the neighbors and we'd have to re-arrange all the pipes which just won't happen.

So do I buy a shorter (in width) vanity that I keep away from the right wall and therefore the door so that you can actually open all the drawers while the bathroom door is open? Doing so would then leave me with a gap of a few inches (6 or 7 if I go with a 30 inch vanity) between the vanity and the wall. I don't want a vanity that's any shallower than the one I currently have because I think the 21 inches is a good fit and it'd have to be like 16 or 17 inches to get the drawers fully open.

I can't make the bathroom door swing outward because then it would swing into the bedroom (big no-no). I even thought about installing a pocket door which would solve the issue entirely- but from reading this forum it seems like people aren't for having a pocket door in a guest bedroom.

I was considering getting a vanity with an offset sink so that the counter space looks more.... reasonable. But I'm still stuck with the issue of drawers not opening fully unless the door is shut. Does this actually bother anyone else or perhaps am I just over-thinking this? Any advice? Would a 6-7 inch gap on the right of a vanity between the wall be an issue? I like the vanities with the open shelf at the bottom and if you had a swifter or a broom I don't think it would be too difficult to clean in that space...

Second question:
A girl I knew in college redid her whole bathroom with the help of her husband and father and I'm looking to do something very similar because I just LOVE LOVE LOVE how it turned out. Her tub especially is amazing, and available at Home Depot. My question is- how do you know if the tub will fit? I measured the tile to tile opening in my shower and it's 58.5 inches. How can I tell if a tub that's 60 inches will fit without first ripping out all the tile and cement board (or whatever is under the tile)? I'd hate to demo the bathroom only to find out that the tub I actually ordered doesn't fit. Help?

Sorry it's a lot- thanks in advance for any replies!

My bathroom vanity issue:
See how close the door is to the vanity?

From another angle:

Attempting to open the drawer:

Drawer fully open with door shut:

Frontal shot before we moved in:

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There's no point in getting another vanity with drawers, so I'd look at pedestal sinks. There are wide-topped ones that have a good amount of space to make up for lack of counterspace. The toilet would feel less crowded. You'd have some floor space for a waste basket.

I'd use a mirrored medicine cabinet, recessed if possible. You can put a shelf under the medicine cabinet, glass or otherwise. With double towel rods, you're covered for two sets of guest towels. You can put a basket on the toilet tank for TP. If that's not enough storage, you'd have to add some over the toilet. Not my favorite place for cabinets or shelves though.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:47AM
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We used 19" deep vanities in all three of our bathrooms. In the guest bathroom, it was a necessity--the room is long, but narrow, so the doorway dictated how deep we could go with the vanity. The original bathroom fixtures included a 17" deep (F to B) wall hung sink--no vanity underneath. We loved the vanity's look and style so much, we decided to use smaller versions(less wide; 24" W vs. 31.5" W) for our other two bathrooms (different wood, stains, handles). We had a local guy build the vanities. They are modeled after the Sonia Europa (?) vanities. Ours are taller (36" with the sinktops; we used the Sonia sinktops for all three), which not only are more comfortable to use (less bending while washing up!), but also allowed us to maximize drawer height and open storage space.

Anyway, if you use a less deep vanity (from F to B), you gain at least some space between the drawer fronts and your bathroom door.

I do have to open (completely) or fully close the bathroom doors in order to fully extend the drawers, but I don't find it to be a big deal. Generally speaking, unless I am showering or using the toilet (in which case, I am usually not opening and closing drawers), I keep the bathroom door open all the way.

I agree with may_flowers re: recessed medicine cabinet. We have "standard" depth Robern medicine cabinets in two of the bathrooms, and their 6" deep version in the MB--I can store a lot in that one!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:05PM
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What about a vanity with drawers on the left instead of on the right? You may not be able to open the cabinet door all the way but it would open up most of the way before colliding with the door. A spacer between the vanity and the wall would also help. An offset sink would not really help the situation. If you get a vanity with drawers on the left to eliminate the drawer-door issue, a new problem arises as the sink is in front of the door and the user feels crowded. Drawers on the right puts you back in the same situation you started with. For these reasons, I think 36" vanity, centered sink, drawers on left is your best option to solve the current issues and gain as much counter space as possible.

As far as vanity size, I think 36" is fine in that space. I think the mirror is throwing things off visually. Ideally, you should have a backsplash on the back of the sink (a 4" one made of the same material as the countertop is just fine). The mirror should then be slightly narrower than the sink and hung centered over the countertop. You'd be surprised the difference that can make.

The 30" vanity height you have is still considered standard. 36" height (same as kitchen base cabinet height) is considered comfort height. You can definitely upgrade with your new vanity to the comfort height. Note that you may want to upgrade the toilet to comfort height as well so you don't have such a height differential between the two fixtures sitting next to each other.

As far as the tub length, simply measure from wall to wall in front of the tub just enough to clear the bullnose tile & baseboard, running lengthwise. Odds are the tile, mortar and backer are making up the difference in length and you actually likely have 60" which will fit a standard tub.

I'd also see about replacing the toilet paper holder with a European style one on a hinge so that the paper roll only sticks out as far as the diameter of the paper+roll. This will make the area between the vanity and the tub less crowded visually. Another option is to relocate the toilet paper holder all together to either the wall opposite the toilet or behind and to the side of the toilet--either of these options would also allow for a recessed toilet paper holder. Or you could go for a free standing one.

Hope these ideas help!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:17PM
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I agree with cat_mom about considering a shallower vanity if you want drawers. They're available like that from a number of different vendors, from ikea on up to duravit and suchlike, depending on your budget.

I think that tub in your link is the Kohler archer? I expect it would fit, since it sounds like you have a standard alcove tub now--builder-grade usually doesn't involve odd sizes. Check the measurements the way mydreamhome suggested.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:31PM
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If you are doing alterations to your bath's plumbing and electricity, for a multi-family dwelling, you will be required to use licensed professionals for that portion. The rules are different than if you owned a single family dwelling. The consequences for not doing a job correctly can me more dire for a multi-family dwelling thus the more restrictive requirements.

And be SURE that you understand how to create a proper waterproof enclosure for your tub before beginning the project. There are several methods, and this is very DIYable, but you need to be sure that you fully understand them, as that's the most crucial part of the job.

If this will be a guest only bath, I'd actually suggest doing a shower only rather than a tub/shower combo. Unless this is the only tub in your unit. And I agree with putting the drawers on the left of the vanity unit. That will give you the most space. Although, if a guest is using that bath, they WILL have the door closed. So, yes, for some things here, I think you are over-thinking.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Thanks for all the great suggestions!

@Green Designs- thanks for the info about the professionals. We'd probably do the work ourselves but call someone into inspect it (my husband is an electrical engineer and an amazing diy-er). Unfortunately we cannot remove the tub completely because it's the only one in the unit (master bath has a whirlpool tub and a stall shower) and as the area is mostly families, they'll need somewhere to bathe their kids.

@writersblock and cat_mom - thanks for the idea about a shallower vanity- I'll have to check them out to see if I like any. Yes- thats the Kohler Archer tub.

@mydreamhome- I'll have to remeasure around the tile and add some space for the wall- hopefully it'll be enough!

@may_flowers - I do like the idea of a pedestal sink, I'd just be concerned with storage. Maybe a wall-mount sink with a cute storage shelf underneath? We'll see if I can sell my husband on one!

I definitely like the idea of a shallower vanity too now that I've googled for them- It would definitely give me more space to open doors or drawers. I'll have to look at those when I'm out and about. IKEA definitely has some good ideas! I'll also have to look more into left-drawered vanities.

The husband promises that once I'm done with my CPA exams, we can start on the bathroom- July can't come soon enough!

Follow-up question: If I went with a shallower vanity, as many of them on my quick perusal are less than 36 inches wide, would I still mount it up against the back and side wall, or would I leave a gap so that it's more evenly spaced in the room? Say I get a 26 inch wide vanity, I've got an extra 11 inches of space, and I don't know if that would look weird if the vanity is up against the corner, then a foot of space between that and the toilet.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:38PM
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If you do a 24" wide vanity, and butt it up against the side wall, it won't look weird at all--that's how all of ours are! That's how most are laid out with bathrooms our size (in this area at least!). You actually want that foot of space between the toilet and vanity. NKBA guidelines (and possibly code???) are to have 15" from the center of the toilet to whatever is on either side of it; be it vanity or tub/shower. We just make it (or thereabouts) in our tiny MB. We wanted to mount the tp holder on the wall between the toilet and vanity, as we did in the other two bathrooms (rather than mounting the holder on the side of the vanity), and had to bias the holder closer to the toilet, instead of centering it in the space, so we'd have enough clearance to slide a full roll of tp onto the holder. Something to keep in mind.

For pics showing our vanities and layouts, I linked to my Photobucket albums below. You can find our renovated guest (downstairs) bathroom album, and before/after albums for our hall bath and MB via this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: cat_mom's bathroom albums

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:21PM
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If a pedestal is out because you need storage, and I think you would, then consider a shallower base, but then would the sink be too small?

If you can live without drawers look for a cabinet with sliding doors.

If you need drawers, put them on the left. You'd still be able to open the door on the right.

What about a pocket door to the bath. Is that expensive?

I don't think you gain anything with an open shelf on the bottom. The space is too small to actually see that "look", unless you're in your bedroom.

I don't think you need to shrink the width because you'd lose the already limited countertop. Your friends vanity is in a tight space, but still looks great.
Don't pull the cabinet away from the wall on the right, that would create an awkward dust catching space that would look like a mistake. And an offset sink would look just as odd. Plus do you really want your head any closer to the wall or the toilet when you're brushing your teeth?

Can't help you on how to measure for the tub, but hopefully the people at Home Depot or wherever you buy it could tell you that. Otherwise you might need a little help from some pros rather than a total DYI.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:42PM
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60" tile-in alcove tubs appear to be 58-59" long when installed - you have a 60" tub now. I would keep a tub there, not a shower (you can shower in a tub, but not vice versa) unless you never use the tub. Sink cabinet, go to 18" depth and/or drawers on left, or open shelves on one or both sides. I like the Ikea cabinets too (which are often 31-1/2" wide (80cm) which adds back some of the space you lose with the shallower depth. Left-offset sink bowl may work well here, like this 36"w granite top w/offset bowl sold at Home Depot ($264)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 3:35PM
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If you want to keep most everything the same and just alter the vanity, then I'd recommend what some of the others have written:

Move the drawers to the left and the cabinet to the right. Instead of having a single cabinet door, two doors for that opening might clear the bathroom door when it is open.

Though the proportions are not correct (your drawers would be wider and your doors narrower), a mirror version (drawers on left, doors on right) of this vanity is along the lines of what I was thinking of:

As to a tub fitting in a space, your measurements seem fine. Typical tile is about 1/4" thick, plus 1/8" for thinset. Backer board is a half-inch thick. So the sum thickness of two typically tiled end walls would be 1-3/4" thick. 58-1/2 + 1-3/4" gives you a quarter inch of wiggle room for a 60" long tub.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:26PM
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My first thought was something along these lines. I have one similar to this in my powder room. I think the open bottom visually creates more space in the room making it look less crowded. The flip down door has enough space for extra toilet paper, soap, some hand towels etc. Towels could be stored on the bottom shelf.

This one is from Pottery Barn and kind of pricey, in my opinion. I bought mine from Costco a few years ago in store for considerably less, but I don't see it on their website now although I have seen it in warehouse a few times since then. PB also has it pictured on their website with a basket on the bottom to store items. The Costco one came with the basket.

Here is a link that might be useful: PB vanity

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:14PM
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Hello, my first post also and hopefully it will give you a fresh perspective....all the responses in this thread are thinking about the vanity....what about where the door goes? I have had a challenge in my den has no door frame, but through searching the web have seen this work for bathrooms. I can't explain it better than this gardenweb post. You can buy the hardware for lesss than $100, door for less than $30 and have money for a new vanity. Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: gardenweb

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:15PM
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Many small baths have the same problem as yours with the door and the vanity. I think the pocket or sliding door is a good idea. I don't think a smaller vanity pulled away from the wall will make the room look bigger, either. Small spaces on the sides of vanities tend to be a pita to clean. You have so little counter space already, I would be hesitant to make it smaller. A shallower vanity might help, though. MIne is 19" and those extra inches make the room feel bigger. The real problem is the big mirror, which makes everything look out of balance. A vanity with a matching mirror/inset medicine chest would be ideal.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:37AM
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I was thinking to suggest a pocket door as well. Alternatively, can the door swing the other way?

Depending on what kind of vanity you get (such as custom or semi-custom), if you have the space, you could put some filler between the drawers and the wall so that the drawers clear the door. Then run the counter all the way to the wall still. That will make the vanity feel like it's the same size because the top still spans the space, but gives you the clearance needed between the drawers and the door.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 11:06AM
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