Need help! Designing a super tiny master bath

piscesgirlApril 11, 2012

We would love some advise on our first big renovation project. Any suggestions on layout or design would be much appreciated. We would like to make the room look as large as possible given what we have to work with!

Our 1970's master bath is super tiny (7 x 7.5) and we can't expand without making our 4 bedroom a 3 bedroom house, which we don't want to because we think it would hurt our resale value, so we have decided to work with what space we have.

The current layout is horrible. Plus we have windows, vents, doors and plumbing in places that challange moving things around. Our neighbors have the same layout and both decided to work with the current layout on their recent renos, so we are leaning towards the same approach.

Here is our current layout:

The door opens inward and is directly in the way of the small shower stall (which is ~36x36)and the small vanity 19x32. There is a wall dividing the shower and toilet area that is quite thick (8") and that is currently where the shower plumbing is. Their is a window on the right hand side that has a floor vent underneath. The wall on the right is also an exterior wall (front wall of the house).

Proposed Layout:

Our plan:

Shower: Tear down the dividing wall between the shower and toilet area and do a glass shower enclosure to open up the room. Move the plumbing to the bedroom wall (door wall).

Toilet: Move the toilet over. Requires going through floor joists, but can be done. Our neighbors did this to make room for a larger shower and they said it was the best decision made. Thinking we can go from a 36x36 to 36x48 shower space.

Door: Change door so it opens into bedroom instead of into the bathroom (can't do a pocket door once we move the plumbing to the bedroom wall).

Vanity: We thought about a washstand concept to open the room, but we really need storage space, so we are planning on running the vanity (19' depth) the length of the entire wall(83") with one sink on the right hand side of the wall (space with no window above, so we can hang a mirror). Again same thing our neighbors did.

Design: Want affordable luxury in a small space.

Vanity - Definately want Calacatta gold marble countertop. For vanity I am thinking one that is lifted off the floor to create a feeling of space. Can't decide on white vs dark. I like the dark woods but think we need to go light for such a small area.

Tile - If my husband had his way we would have marble slabs everywhere, as he likes the flow of natural stone and can't stand when it gets chopped up. I personally think there can be a such a thing as too much marble...not to mention we can't afford slabs of calcatta gold marble is enough for our budget.

As for floor tile I can't decide what size for such a small space. I love the marble mosaics (hex or herringbone) and like the concept of the same tile on the floor and shower floor to make the space seem uniform and larger, but I HATE cleaning grout. Grout is the bain of my less grout and small grout lines would be prefered. Debating between subway in herringbone pattern, larger hex tile, or 12x12 marble on a diagonal with maybe a mosaic accent strip or something. Totally lost when it comes to tile decisions.

Shower tile - Torn between large marble tile on walls or going with white subway tile. Concerned with maintenance of marble throughout the bathroom. Also wondering if that would be too much marble, but then again too much white in the bathroom could look sterile.

Walls: Thinking a traditional white wood wainscotting trim along the lower half of what little wall we have left (around the toilet area) and then painting the top section with a light taupe (same color as bedroom).

I would love any suggestions or tips. We are spending a ton of money on a tiny space. The cost per square foot will be insane. We are overwhelmed and it is hard to visualize what would work best...every picture I see for ideas of what we want/like are of much larger bathrooms.

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Consider marble look porcelain tiles for the shower. The look of marble with the ease of maintenance of tile.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Just a thought - if you're wanting to maximize efficiency and resale, you might consider adding a 2nd sink to that lovely 83" run. There's a lot of images on that feature a sink under a window, with creative uses of added mirrors if need be.

Could a pocket door be installed on the side of the wall with the vanity?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 2:30PM
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One design tip -- I wouldn't put the toilet opposite the doorway because in most baths, it's the least attractive item, and also the one where the most privacy is desired. If possible, I'd put the vanity opposite the doorway so when you glance in, you see something pretty, and put the toilet as 'out of sight' as possible.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 9:07PM
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I would switch the shower and toilet locations if you are anyway going to be moving the plumbing. That way on opening the door you can see the beautiful marble in the shower directly and the toilet will be hidden by the swing of the door. We have a even tinier bath in the basement with the toilet opposite the door but the way door swings, the toilet is the last thing you see.
I also agree with the need for a double sink in that long counter. But then I like symmetry!
All that marble sounds divine.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:05PM
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I love the idea of a floating vanity. Do they make them in traditional designs? You may want to shop around before making a decision on that- I have not found a lot of 19" vanities that I like.

The expansion of the shower will do wonders for the bath, and the glass will make it look much bigger.

I'd also consider adding a second sink.

I would go with big tiles on the floor, maybe marble to match your counter. Diagonal placement would look lovely. So would herringbone, but the grout...

Are you set on a tile floor for the shower? Perhaps a cast-iron shower pan would solve your grout cleaning problem.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:58PM
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Have you already maxed out on your plumbing moving with shifting the toilet a bit? Because if you can do more, you could really start to play with the space.

Like put the toilet where the sink presently is, witha partial wall, and the vanity where the present shower is, and a huge shower across the back wall.

If the toilet is already moved as far as it will go, then your proposed layout is good - I'd narrow the vanity though, with curve-outs for the sink(s). You won't lose storage space because deep inside a cabinet is kind of inaccessible and overlooked, and you will gain floor space and visible space.

(I have to snicker here, as the proud owner of a 4'4 by 6'10 master bath. Super tiny, she says. (snicker) Okay, got that out of my system.)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Thanks so much for all the tips and suggestions.

suero - I have been looking at some of the ceramic look alikes online and they look impressive. The only one I have seen in person was one at Home depot that was at a great price $1.99/sq ft. but you could see the pixels in the print on the stone. I don't think I would mind if it was on the floor, but I think my husband, who is much more picky, wouldn't like it as much. Any brands you have seen that you suggest? I want to go look at the the Marazzi Timeless and maybe the Rodine Evolution this weekend.

tina-ma - I hear you on the double sink. The main reasons why we have stayed away from the double sink is 1) we both never use the bathroom at the same time, not to mention I don't think we both could fit easily into the small bathroom. 2) It would leave us a nice long stretch of calcatta gold countertop to look at :)

sweeby - that isn't the doorway accross from the toilet, thats the window. The door is between the vanity and the shower. I agree with you, I don't like opening a bathroom door and the first thing you see is a toilet.

vinudev_liny - I like the idea of switching the shower and toilet, but this will mean cutting across all the joists to move the plumbing for both the toilet and the shower drain. Will need to see if it can be done and what the extra cost is, but I agree it would look lovely.

hosenemesis - We are not looking at a "floating" vanity but rather a vanity with legs so it is lifted off the floor rather than a traditional base.

The wall for the vanity is 83" and the space to the right with no window is 36" (wall to window frame). If we want to center the mirror on that section of the wall and have the sink centered we will probably want a 36" base. That means we have 47 inches left. I am figuring we could do another 36" cabinet on the right and 11" drawers it center (if 11" drawers are even do-able) and that would give us symmetry.

I am thinking this type of look for the vanity...

but obviously if I use two 36" cabinets the space of drawers would be much smaller and look more like this...

My other thought was to do two large sets of drawers and have it look more like a dresser, like in this photo (but without the center set of drawers).

or we could mix the two and do a cabinet on the right where the sink is and a large set of drawers to the in this photo but obviously in this photo there is another cabinet to the right, which we would not have.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:36PM
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You should check to see how much a local cabinet maker would charge to make a custom vanity for your space. You may be surprised at how affordable it can be. In my area most new homes of all price ranges use local cabinet makers, and that's what we have in our house.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 3:20PM
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I would definitely do a shower pan if you don't like doing grout. You will still likely have tile on the shower walls to get your time in cleaning grout.

Also, don't totally knock me for this, but given that you don't like grout: Have you considered a higher-end vinyl floor? We are getting one called Oracle, it's a deep gray tile look from the Taloga Plus line by Armstrong. Go in person and check some out before you say no. Then you have zero grout lines on your floor.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Your inspiration pictures are beautiful. I like the two 36 with the small bank of drawers, but I love symmetry. That pic looks like a display I saw at Tile Shop. I feel like I've memorized them all, LOL.
If you have one near you, they have a lot of marble look porcelain and ceramic that look very nice to my untrained eye. One display in the Tile Shop near me used real marble hex on the shower floor and porcelain marble look alike on the lower half of the walls--upper half was real marble subway. It looked great!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:39PM
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Firsthome, I think this is going to end up looking great. That houzz photo with the dark vanity with all the drawers has been one of my drool worthy inspirations for a long time. I personally like your idea of doing a long vanity...and would second a custom cabinet maker being a more reasonable $ approach. Maybe also consider a full overlay style which reduces the amount of framing (busyness) between the drawers.

We are finishing two bathroom remodels. In one (guest bath) I used a calacatta porcelain by Pamesa called Andes. That was a surprising very nice looking tile. So nice, I considered using it in our master, but decided to use another calacatta porcelain by Artistic Tile called Exedra. That one is not yet installed, but has a thicker base and an even balance of gray and gold.

Our guest bath has 18 x 18 tiles on the floor and I feel that really opens the 8 x 8 space. Our master is 8 x 11, and will use 9x 18's in a hexagonal pattern on the floor. When we are done (heaven help me I hope it is soon), I'll post pics.

Good luck, but it already sounds wonderful.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Maybe I can help. Our house was built in 1962 and, interestingly enough, we are just finishing a master bath with exactly the same dimensions as yours and pretty much the same layout. All that remains to be done is for the shower door to be hung; that's another story.

As I said, our bath is 7 feet long and a smidge under 7 1/2 feet wide. We also have a window over the toilet, but our wall with the vanity is on an interior wall, so no window there.

The layout for our bathroom is exactly what you have in your plans, with a couple of minor differences. Our shower is 48" long, but only about 32" wide. We put a half wall between the shower and the toilet with a clear shower enclosure on the front of the shower and above the half wall. That provides a little privacy for the toilet area and prevents it being seen from the bedroom while maintaining the open feeling of the clear shower enclosure.

We put crown molding all around the bathroom since the shower enclosure doesn't go all the way to the ceiling and so we weren't concerned about the humidity and the wood. The shower enclosure is tiled to the bottom of the crown molding and there is a bullnose decorative tile with a black pencil accent tile right below it that runs through the shower and extends all the way around the bathroom at wainscot height. We used a white subway tile for the shower enclosure and below the bullnose tile around the remainder of the bathroom. The subway tile and decorative tile form the backsplash above the vanity.

Our plumbing for the shower is also in the wall between the bathroom and the bedroom.

We used a black and white porcelain basketweave tile for the floor, both in the shower and in the remainder of the bathroom. The black accent tile on the walls and the black "dot" in the floor relate well to each other.

Since we don't have the issue of the window over the vanity, we put two sinks in ours and there is plenty of room for them. The countertop doesn't feel crowded at all.

As far as the grout goes, we used white epoxy grout (I don't know the brand) on the walls, and a dark gray on the floor. I've been using the bathroom, other than the shower, for a couple of months now, and the floor is pristine. While white grout was also recommended for the floor, I was too skeptical for that. The dark gray actually adds some definition to the tile pattern and there is no worry about the grout discoloring.

Our vanity is 21" deep which is one reason our shower is narrower. We used standard cabinetry and the cost was relatively reasonable. It was amazing how much this small room cost!

Our bathroom door does swing into the bathroom and into the shower. The only place we could find for towel bars was on the back of the door so we had to be really careful that the height of the towel bars kept them from colliding with the handle to the shower door. We also put a stop on the door so that it doesn't swing into the shower. It isn't ideal but the only way it would work for us.

I don't yet have pictures; I'll try to post some in the next couple of days. Before the renovation, we had a bathtub and a small linen closet on the wall which now contains the vanity and the vanity was where the shower now is. We, thankfully, didn't need to move the toilet.

I hope this has been helpful. While the bathroom is cozy, my husband and I don't generally use it at the same time. But if we did, there really is room for both of us with the double vanity.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 2:45PM
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