Anyone with dorm style bathroom?

fiveunderfiveFebruary 2, 2011

We are getting ready to break ground on our dream house and have plans to build the space over our 2.5 car garage for our (currently) 4 girls. (Baby #6 is due soon and we do not know the gender). There is a large bedroom with room now for up to 6 beds (each has its own "nook) that could be expanded if necessary with bunks, a large walk-in closet, and a dorm style bathroom that, as planned, will have 2 showers, 2 toilets, and 2-4 sinks. Has anyone done anything like this before? Our girls are very close in age (3 in 26 months) and other than normal sibling stuff, get along well. We are planning a half-wall partition between the two toilets (so if sitting, you can't see over, but if standing up you could), and side by side showers (probably prefab units with curtains so not see through. Just looking for other ideas to make this work.


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The current hgtv dream home has a dorm bathroom that might give you some ideas.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 12:31PM
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Spoken from an only child, I think that would be wonderful! I am so jealous. It would have been my dream to live like that growing up. Congratulations on your growing family.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 10:00PM
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Ooh, sounds fun. Can you post a floor plan? I'd love to play around with layouts.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 8:40AM
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I think only having a half-wall between the toilets is kind of icky. I mean, do you think teen-aged girls will really be okay with that kind of exposure? And what about anyone else that comes to visit or may use the bathroom? Close-in-age sisters or not, everyone deserves some privacy - surely at least while using a toilet.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 12:06PM
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winnipausaukeefan - we've seen that and are actually hoping to incorporate their vanity wall into our bath. Thanks!

ncamy- thanks. I hope they like it :)

weedyacres - Can you tell me how to upload and share a PDF file? That is how I have our plans now. I took a pic with my iphone and I will show that, but it is only the bathroom, and it is poor quality. We are actually planning to change the layout a bit based upon the HGTV dream house bath that the above poster mentioned. I'm not sure how to post more than one pic, so I'll link to that below. We are going to incorporate the towers flanking the vanities like this picture

So as you walk into the bathroom, it will be 2 showers on the left wall, followed by the 2 toilets, then the opposing wall will have something similar to the above link. We are hoping to borrow 2 feet from the girls bedroom so the room will be 10 feet wide, to accommodate someone toweling off in front of the shower while others are standing at the sinks. I welcome any layout advice!

silly_me - I agree that for most people this could be awkward, and we have toyed with the idea of actually making the toilets stalled, though with the current footprint, there is not room for this. As it stands, our family is quite 'open.' Perhaps it is a function of having so much children so close in age. DH is European, so that contributes too, though I was raised pretty much the same way. However, we rarely close bathroom doors (unless non-family members are around). Kids walk in all the time when we are doing our bathroom business, for better or worse (I know this is not for everyone). And our girls right now, at ages 4, 5, and 6 will frequently go to the bathroom together. One will sit on the tub and one on the floor and they chat while they other is on the toilet. All of them have seen me attend to my monthly period, and instead of making this a taboo thing, I have used the opportunity to explain it to them and answer their questions. Again, I understand that this may not be the norm, but when you have 5 young kids, there really is no privacy, so we have all become used to it. The kids do understand modesty (believe it or not) and also understand that in school/public places/elsewhere they close the door. I think the bigger issue is if we were ever to sell the house, but much of the house plans are very customized to our needs and we are building it with the idea that we will be here forever, or at least for the forseeable future. The original plans do have a pocket door between one set of vanities and the toilet/showers in case of guests, and there will also be a guest room bath down the hall, as well as the primary guest bath on the main floor for anyone else to use. I appreciate your input though, and I do agree that your concern is very valid, and probably the more common one :)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 5:16PM
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As the mother of four daughters, I would remind you that teenage girls have a significant need for privacy. My oldest daughter, who once ran around the back yard naked as a toddler, has incredible needs for privacy. All of my girls do. I have three daughters that were born every other year, so I understand close. I also had three kids in a very short span of time, but that intimacy changes as the children become teens.

in our 35 year old house, the girls share a two-room type of bathroom and really, this works great. In the tub/toilet room, which is on a perimeter wall, there is a 60" tub/shower and a toilet, plus a large 30" cabinet. There is also an ordinary window in this room. Two tall Container Store plastic laundry baskets in the base cabinet with lots of TP, then all toiletries, hair do-dads, hair driers, make-up, and wash-clothes in the upper 30" by 42". A black granite counter separates the two cabinets, the top cabinet sits right on the counter. The light fixture also vents the room. In the sink room there are two sinks on a 56" black granite vanity that has two cabinets underneath which hold extra towels, cleaning products and paper goods, plus nail polish and hand soap. The door separating the two rooms is a pocket door. There is a Solatube in the sink room, plus a delicate three-lite fixture over a beautiful inset medicine cabinet which holds most of their toothbrushes, paste, contact lenses, glasses, hairbrushes, cups, etc. I got extra glass shelves from Kohler.

Also in the sink room is a full length mirror which will have a very small vanity table/stool in front of it and there is a simple but beautiful light fixture over this mirror. This is here so that when two girls are at the sink, another daughter can do her hair/face at the petite vanity. The fourth daughter usually stands in the center of the room or does her hair in the other room while chatting with her sisters. Still plenty of intimacy, but plenty of privacy too.

Each of these two rooms is about seven feet wide and about five feet "long." This girls bathroom also works well with guests since someone can use the toilet room privately while others can wash their hands or brush their hair. Male guests use the "boys room." The outer door is also a pocket door but is staggered from the inner pocket door so no one can stand in the hall and look into the tub/toilet room.

All other things being equal, I would opt for excellent bathroom/bedroom built-ins and lots of closets/shelves rather than duplicate toilets and showers. I hope you plan for a bathtub with those showers.

These two rooms really are more than adequate for my four daughters. My three sons share a single room bathroom. Wish I had a double room bathroom for them, but it teaches them the virtue of patience and time management. My three boys share a bedroom too, a bunk and trundle combination in a room that measures 14 by 18'. My girls are in two rooms, in fact, two girls sleep in the same bed.

I have seven kids in all. I would not go with an institutional look in any of the rooms in my home. Your raising children in a family, not an orphanage. Why go for that look? Rather than spending the money on what is essentially a double-bathroom bathroom, I'd rather go with another bathroom elsewhere in the house to accomodate those days when there is a strain on the girls bathroom adjacent to the bedroom. This would add value to the house in the long run.

The difficult years will pass quickly. The temptation is strong to shop or build "in bulk" with lots of little ones. Don't try to over-accommodate your children. Allow them to learn to share and plan their time in an ordinary bathroom. In the not so distant past, entire families, really large families, shared one bathroom and it wasn't the end of the world or even a war zone. People shared. Put the money you save in their college fund.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 5:58PM
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I'm so sorry! I didn't check your link. Our floor plans are very similar. I'd like to give you a link to my lovely Kohler medicine cabinet. Click on the "View Demo" link once the Lowe's page loads, then to the "Gallery" section.

We bought two extra shelves for each cabinet- so each one has five shelves. It's amazing how much they hold. When closed, it looks like a beautiful mirror hanging on the wall. It does cost extra to frame it into the wall, but it's well worth it.

Also, with pocket doors you must plan the location of towel bars and electrical wiring, plumbing, mirrors, etc very, very carefully. Lots of accurate measuring is demanded before you order anything.

Good luck! You have a fun year ahead of you!

Here is a link that might be useful: Kohler Medicine Cabinet

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 9:16PM
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I don't know how to post a pdf, but here's your layout from photobucket:

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 9:59PM
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Now for my commentary:

I'm not real keen on the toilets facing the showers. Even if you are an open kind of family, that's a bit too much IMO.

Since you haven't built this yet, and presumably have lots of flexibility on exact size and shape, what about something like this (sorry, I don't know how to post a drawing):
You've got about 8'6" x 13'2".
-move the door to the center of the long wall.
-put the sinks across from the door, centered on the other long wall
-put the 2 toilets on the left wall, back to back with one facing "up" and one facing "down" (rather than into the room) with pony walls on the outside edge
-put the 2 showers on the right wall, next to each other, with the wall dividing them housing both shower heads

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 10:08PM
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You could economize on your dorm space by using compact wall-hung toilets.

(I've shared a bath with mrs. worthy but never a bathroom, so the whole concept of excretory togetherness exceedeth my understanding.)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 8:22AM
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I don't like it. I like the big vanity area, but I don't like the toilet area. I have a sister and just no way would I want that much closeness. If this is your dream house I would figure out another way. It just seems weird.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 10:18PM
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Thank you for all the advice. While I totally understand those of you who are skeptical that this will work, I also (think and hope) I understand my family dynamics. We did decide to make a floor plan change (we were already working on it anyway). When you walk in, along the right side will be the 3 sinks flanked by two floor-to-ceiling storage towers very similar to the design shown in the Stowe HGTV Dream House dorm bath. The opposite wall will still have two toilets and showers, but we will put doors/stalls on the toilets. DH mocked it up on a 3d design program and we both really like the layout. If I can figure out how to save a pic from that program and get it here, I will share.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 1:45PM
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I was able to upload images from the 3d design program DH used to sketch the new layout. I welcome your comments.

The sink wall is based upon the Stowe HGTV Dream House Ski dorm bath. I'd love to do frosted "something" doors (probably not actually glass) on the toilet stalls, if we can find a non-glass alternative that is not super expensive. Similar to what they did here for the showers.

We will likely do a preformed fiberglass/cultured something for the showers with curtains, because again unfortunately, we can not afford to do framless/tile in this bath.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 12:52PM
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I think that looks great! The only thing I would be skeptical of is the vanity wall. I think it's a perfect location and idea, but it seems like you're not taking advantage of the storage space it could have underneath. If you could do something with drawers then each child could get their own drawer of storage, which would be important when they hit those lovely teenage years :-). That would also allow you to use those cubbies for towels galore.
I would probably go fiberglass for the showers just for the ease of cleaning/maintenance with the kids.

Slightly OT, I wanted to post this picture from the Pottery Barn Kids catalog which I think is adorable for multiple beds in a room, it popped into my mind when I read about what you're doing :-)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 4:18PM
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Why not do two separate bathrooms in that space?
Looking at the floorplan posted by weedyacres:

Put the double vanity at the bottom left at the upper right (where the showers are). Put one toilet and one sink across from each double vanity. Separate the two bathrooms with a pocket door.

Or something similar...
I just don't see why you're trying to turn that huge space into a single bathroom. 8'6"x13'2" is nearly enough for three full baths.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 1:30AM
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Chris - the vanity wall will definitely be standard vanities with undersink storage. It was more the 3 sink/towel tower idea that we are borrowing. I saw that pic from Pottery Barn and really like it. Thanks! Unfortunately, our "dorm" layout is such that the beds actually are cubbied into dormers. There are two opposing dormers across from each other (one on the front of the house and one on the back), and a 3rd space at the end of the room. The entire space is over the garage.
We are thinking of incorporating something similar to this pic from though the ceilings will not be slanted.

eclectic kids design by richmond interior designer Ben Dial

Each bed will be built up with drawers for clothing storage (socks, underwear mostly, as the rest will be hung in the walk in closet), and may have curtains across the bed for privacy, since two will be across from each other and looking directly into each other. The heads of the beds will be separated by the dormer window. The cubbies will be wired for a light inside (our girls love to read in bed), and will also have the "window" cutout at the end to see out and across the room to the other set of beds. Inside will have a shelf or two for books, animals, etc. and we may do a small set of shelves (or a desk?) at the end on the outside.

Tadr - your idea is interesting, but increasing the bathroom numbers affects tax assessments and our sewer needs, even though the actual number of fixtures remains the same.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 8:30AM
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I just wanted to add my .02 having lived with "beds in cubbies" in our previous house. While VERY cute and cozy for the little ones, they are not very user friendly! Changing sheets is difficult at best - and even making the beds is a pain. They never looked like the ones in the PB catalog unless I made them myself...which usually involved bumps on the head and an aching back! It was also difficult to cuddle up together for a book or some extra TLC. I would never go back! It sounds like your dormers, themselves, might provide a little bit of a sense of "own space" without all the expense and limitations of built-ins.

Hugely in favor of beds with easier access on both sides.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 9:11PM
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Hi, We are going to start builing in a few months and I have been having a blast drawing up some plans. We have 10 children, going on 11. 5 boys and 5 girls so far and have decided to have two very large bedrooms/dorm rooms upstairs with seperate cubicles per say. Each dorm will be 20 x 40 and have 4 10 x 10 cubicles on one side and 3 on the other with a bathroom at the end of the 3 cubicles, with the door to the bathroom from inside the dorm, and a 4 foot isle down the middle. The cubicles will be open on one end with a wall at the other and on the sides. The wall between cubicles may only be half or three quarters We are going to put a loft bed in each with desk and dresser, and possible closet at the back or side of the loft bed. I hope I have described it, I have no idea how to get a drawing on here. I am thinking of putting a tub with shower in the bathroom with two toilets (with their own privacy) and two sinks outside the bathroom. And possibly use the cubicle directly across from the bathrooms as a general area with a dresser and mirror, as least in the girls dorm. Also, I am thinking of putting a urinal in the boys bathroom instead of a second toilet. We want them to have their "own" space yet not really be isolated from everyone else. Oh, the 20ft between the dorms in the middle would be for the stairs and a small alcove at the end for a washer and dryer between the two bathrooms.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 11:07PM
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My hat's off to you. Three wonderful girls (4 and under) is my limit :) No advice, but I like your idea. I think it is possible that the poster with teenage girls is right. Teenagers tend to go through a very private phase however they are raised. Your girls may not want to use the toilet together, but if so, they can simply stand outside and wait ;-) I look forward to seeing the finished bath!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 7:00PM
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What a cool idea!!! I have 3 girls. I have decided to use a 5 foot Kohler Brockway trough sink with 3 faucets. Google's pretty neat. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 9:56PM
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