enclosed toilet in small master bath

andyinbostonJuly 29, 2010

We are renovating an old home and converting a small room into our master bath. This new master bath will contain a stand-up shower, a two sink vanity, and a toilet. Our current plan calls for enclosing the toilet with full height walls so that one of us can use the toilet in private while the other is using the sink or shower. The enclosed space for the toilet is spec'd at 3ft wide and between 5.5ft and 4ft deep (the wall in front of the toilet is angled). The ceiling is about 8.5ft high. There is a window in the enclosed area. The toilet sits in one of the corners of the room.

Our concerns:

1. Will it feel claustrophobic when using the toilet?

2. The walls around the toilet will make the rest of the bathroom feel small.

Possible solution:

Enclose the toilet with half height walls (pony walls?) instead of full walls. My wife is concerned this wouldn't look right. I've tried searching for examples on the web but have come up empty. Does anyone out there have photos of a similar set-up they could share?

Thanks for your help.

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our toilet was enclosed in a little room with a door...~ 3'x6'. the door swung inward. i personally hated it and never shut the door. this was the 3rd house we've owned that has had the little toilet closet, and this was one bothered me most...i think because this little room was the narrowest at 3ft--felt way too cramped(and, yes, clautrophobic!) with the door. so, we are redoing the bathroom and what i decided to do was take out the door, knock out the doorjamb to the ceiling and extended the wall down alittle more(~6") and just will have a doorway into the toilet area. i would have possibly considered a pocket door, but this will really be plenty of privacy for us.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 2:18PM
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Here's a thread with a pony wall between the vanity and toilet, built by GWer mongoct. He had enough space to put storage in the pony wall, which is awesome but doesn't sound like you have. But it's a good example of how a pony wall can be paneled to look like the vanity. This one looks great.

If your toilet is in a corner, can you separate it with just one wall? (So it would be open in front of the toilet.) I can't quite visualize the room. Can you post a layout?

Here is a link that might be useful: pony wall

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 3:44PM
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Some people hate separate toilets, others can't live without one.

We had a toilet room with a window and pocket door. The door was NEVER closed. When we demo'd...the layer of dust on that pocket door was disgusting!!!

We have 2 other toilets in the house and privacy for #1 isn't an issue. We do, however, have a pony wall between the toilet area and the vanity like the pictured link. I like the extra counter space and a little separation between the 2 areas visually is nice.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 4:44PM
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Just an observation that I made....Recently when looking through hundreds of high design bathrooms, it occurred to me that nearly every bathroom I saw did not have the toilet in a closet. Some of them had pony walls, some had a glass partition and some were just flat out in the open, especially the modern ones with real sleek toilets. Yet regular, "non-designer" bathrooms and many posted on this board have the toilet in the closet. In fact I can almost guarantee that if you post a plan on the home building forum, those folks over there will insist that you reconfigure until you can enclose the toilet. To many it is a minimum standard. To me it would be a dealbreaker...no toilet in a closet. I don't like them. I think they are claustrophobic. Most people I know who have them don't ever close the doors. And lastly, unless you have enough room for a sink in there, I think they are inconvenient and unsanitary. Just my opinion...Some people prefer the privacy.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 5:30PM
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I just have to jump in here because so far everyone above has said they hate the toilet in a closet. For us, privacy is important. We don't close the door unless someone else is in the bathroom, but if someone is, we do. To me it doesn't feel claustrophobic, it feels private.

OTOH, our big ol' shower is glass all around. Some folks feel exposed with that. We don't. Or we don't mind that kind of exposure. :-)

Privacy is a personal decision. You've got to do what works for you.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 5:58PM
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To me it would be a dealbreaker...no toilet in a closet.

And I'm the opposite. If the master toilet wasn't in a separate room or couldn't be enclosed I would pass on that house.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 5:58PM
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It doesn't sound like you'll have enough space in front of the toilet to be comfortable. Most elongated toilets are AT LEAST 30" or longer front to back. Compacted elongated toilets (which are usually one piece) are usually over 27". Roundfronts are about 25"-26". If your toilet room is 48" to 65", you won't have enough space in front of the toilet, at least on the shorter side of the angled wall. Building code requires at least 21" in front of the toilet, and 30" is recommended.

You could save some space by using a wall-hung toilet, but that's a pretty drastic step that would add to your cost and would detract from the traditional look (if that's what you're going for in your old house), and the space would still be tight.

Toilet rooms are practical and can be an asset if not too small, but in this case, I'd definitely go for the pony wall, especially one like MongoCT's.

Here is a link that might be useful: The rules of good bathroom design

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 6:23PM
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Pony walls do not provide much sound insulation or smell insulation. Give me a separate room with a window and/or fan (ours has both). We don't close the door unless we need to, but I sure appreciate being able to close the door if my husband comes in to brush his teeth.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 11:45PM
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Thanks for the responses. An interesting discussion.

To Chicagoans - The toilet is in-line with the doorway into the bathroom so adding two walls is required for privacy.

I have seen many well executed examples where toilets are blocked off by one wall and the front is open. Unfortunately that would not work in our case.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 10:55AM
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I have had both a small pony wall and a small toilet room with a door. In both instances there was no door between the master and the main bathroom. Definitely having a door to the toilet room wins - privacy particularly at night, getting ready in the morning are all much easier with a door to the room.
We just had our bathroom redone including the toilet room. I really wanted something more than a room with a toilet. I tried two different painting methods (yes my husband thinks I am crazy for painting and repainting). On the first I did 3 horizontal stripes - different shades of the same color. It did make the room look wider but was a little too modern for the rest of the bath. The other was alternating vertical stripes (8 inches wide) of flat versus semigloss in the same shade. Wow it really made a difference and defined the room. It looked elegant and brought your eyes up rather than just at the toilet. I also picked up a flush mount chandelier on Overstocks(door clearance and ceiling height were issues) and it just sparkles creating a wonderful room with the ambiance I needed. To close the door is heaven for me. I'll be honest my husband just smiles and shakes his head at the chandelier but he admits he likes it.
We also had a wierd angle behind the door so "moccasin landing" recommended a swivel towel bar (actually a magazine rack at Pottery Barn) that fits perfectly in the space behind the door so I can hang extra towels.
Hope this helps. You can really do a lot with a small commode room. I went from not thinking much of ours to loving it.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:26PM
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