Bathroom addition and layout for 1924 bungalow

equest17August 3, 2012

I'm hoping the bath forum works like the kitchen forum and that there are some layout gurus hanging around. We have a 1924 brick bungalow that we have been restoring for the past year. It's in very original condition, to the extent that it has only one small bath on the first floor. We will be finishing out an upstairs space to make a master bedroom and need to make an addition on the second floor for the bathroom. We have renovated a few houses in the past and done several kitchens, but we have never done anything more than a facelift for a bath, so this is all new territory and a little intimidating!

The house:

I have measured the house and drawn a (fairly) accurate blueprint of the existing structure and the proposed gable addition. We're planning the bathroom to be very similar to the existing gable dormer on the front of the house (my small craft room), just extending to the rear (which is north, if it makes any difference).

Upstairs overview:


Since the rear gable doesn't exist yet, everything on my plan is flexible, including room dimensions. I just picked something similar to the front gable, but I have to work with the load bearing walls down below (you can see the first floor plan in the faint blue lines), so I went a little wider.

Layout of fixtures, placement of door and windows, everything is negotiable right now. It won't be a true master suite because we'll have to enter the bath from the hall, but I think that makes the most sense for our layout and usage (I heard Sarah Richardson call this style a "family bath" in her old farmhouse reno).

The bath is drawn at 13' 6" by 10'. We would like a decent sized stand-alone shower. Since it's the only bathroom upstairs, I thought it would make sense to add a tub in case we're ever able to have kids. So the "tub/shower" in the top left corner is my proposed vintage claw foot tub (my software doesn't have an icon for that ;-). I would like two sinks, and would consider a standard double vanity. I happen to have found two tall 38" wide by 18" deep changing tables with good storage that I would like to convert to vanities. They are a great price and I think I can add a small drop in or vessel sink to the open shelf side. I could store towels or other flexible items in front of the plumbing. Does that sound crazy? Otherwise, I think we'd only have a budget for Ikea Hemnes if we stick with two separate vanities. I like the look of pedestal sinks, but we have one downstairs and really need more storage than they offer.



I'm a little concerned about the bathroom door placement and door swing. I would prefer for the door to be centered on the hallway wall, or in line with the staircase. But I can't seem to make that happen. If I scoot it to the left, it seems to crowd the shower (but maybe that's okay?). If I go all the way to the right, I can't figure out how to arrange the vanities. We could consider making the addition wider (we have to take the support beams several more feet to the left anyway to carry the load on the downstairs wall), but then the dormer starts to get asymmetrical from the exterior. I'd also like to plan for some more storage, either free standing or built in, but I'm not sure where. I haven't thought through plumbing access for the shower, but maybe some sort of closet on the north side of the shower wall could contain the access panel and shelving?

We haven't purchased anything yet, but I would like to start searching for vintage items, like the clawfoot tub and windows. We already have a spare original door, but we don't have to use it if the size doesn't work. I'm open to any and all suggestions, even a complete revamping of the floorplan. Feedback please!

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What a fun project.

My first thought is that I am a nut for symmetry. The front gable is centered over the front door. Can the wall load of the bath addition be supported properly if the room was centered on the back of the house?

My second thought is exterior light and sight lines. It is always pleasing if you can see front to back through the house. Would the door to the bath be able to be moved to be directly across the door on the front gable craft room? This would get better air circulation and daylight into both spaces.

Third thought is that you will need a plumbing chase from the second floor to the first. And then to the basement. What is below the proposed bathroom. If it is the kitchen, where are things located? Does your house have a basement?

Next thought is HVAC. You will need a chase for the ductwork as well. Even if you add a new smaller system to only serve the second floor, some ductwork will be needed.

Also, it sounds like you are more of shower people than bath people. Change them around so you can have daylight in the shower. If you have a tub on the main level bath, then I would not put one in here.

Stock wooden paint grade kitchen cabinets work very well in older homes in the bathroom. We used them in our laundry room/dressing room addition. Since they are not frameless, and have exposed hinges, they look correct to the period and are a great price.

Homes the age of your home often had built in linen cabinets with doors and drawers. It would be very easy to do with the stock cabinets. Paint a white enamel trim paint that is super glossy.

I personally have a thing for pedestal sinks in older homes, as I think they just look better; more in proportion. I think that wall hung white cast iron sinks are a good authentic look too.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:04AM
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Thanks for your response Julie. I also love symmetry, but in this case, the proposal may be as close as we can get. The LVL beams have to go over the two light blue walls shown below the bath. I'm already cantilevered out over the one of the right, and I don't know how far I can go. That would be a good question for the framers or GC.

I too was thinking about sight lines, but I was focused on the one from the downstairs foyer and coming up the stairs. That is why I wanted the door all the way to the right. It also puts it directly kitty-corner to the master bedroom door and only requires a step or two into the hall. But I'll think about aligning it with the existing gable door. Either way, what arrangements would work for the fixtures if I put the door all the way to one side or the other? It seems to create a problem fitting on the elements in.

We do have a small, old tub/shower combo downstairs, but I don't really like it. At some point, we may have the finances to renovate it, but since that's not guaranteed, I don't rather not give up the clawfoot tub upstairs. I like to soak every now and again, and if kids are ever in the picture, I don't think I want to try to give them a bath in the downstairs tub on a regular basis. Since I think we have the square footage for separate tub and shower, what would be the reason for losing the tub?

I hadn't thought about switching tub and shower positions. I was thinking about the look of the bath from the hall or open doorway and thought the tub under the windows would look nice. I'll have to consider the lighting question. I know people want to hide the toilet from view and often center a tub for effect, but I'm not sure how to accomplish that in my room.

Plumbing, drain, and HVAC are all planned for. We have a separate upstairs air handler and ductwork is ready to go right into the addition, no chase needed. This bath is directly over the kitchen, laundry room, and downstairs bath, so water supply, venting, drain, etc. are easy and don't limit fixture placement.

We really need some sort of vanity for storage and counterspace, but I agree that pedestal and wall hung sinks looks great in old houses. We'll stick with that downstairs, but we're really not considering them for the new bath. I do like the built-in idea using stock cabinets. Once I get the floor plan nailed down, we can surely find a corner or a nook to place some in!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 8:18AM
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would you be able to use the entry space into the attic to put a door into the bathroom from the mstrbdrm?

you could put the tub in the middle of the tub/shwr wall with a vanity on either end of it. Put the shower where you now have a sink/vanity next to the toilet.

There should be enough space (unless you lengthen the shwr) to put a 12 - 18" deep linen cab (flr to ceiling) along the side of the shower (where you could possibly put another entry from the mstr bdrm). I've use a cab for yrs for my towels and sheets that is 2'w x 5'h x 1' deep. It's worked fine for 1 person. Yours could be a ft wider, a few inches deeper and a lot taller. I did use the top of the cab to store spare tp and kleenex boxes. Having space in the cab for them would be much nicer. Plus you'd have the space in the vanities for storage.

the hall door could be moved to the left to line up with the craft room door.

If the changing tables are high enough they most likely would work fine as vanities.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 2:29PM
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I like the looks of both your vanity choices, but I'll put in my 2 cents worth. I'm a big fan of counter space, so I would try to get a longer vanity, whether with one sink or two. Having just looked for what seemed like months, I finally settled on what to use for the vanity in my remodel. I found some really high quality kitchen cabinets at an architectural salvage store, and bought a 24" wide pantry (now to be linen cabinet), and 3 base cabinets that total 60". I need to do some finishing touchups, for for $260 I feel pretty happy about the money I will save. Also, I like that kitchen cabinets have more efficient use of space than I've seen in the average vanity. The stock vanities I've seen have the tiniest drawers and a massive sink base area, which is often just wasted space. So, if you need storage and can afford the 24" depth, you might look into kitchen cabinets. I've used Ikea kitchen cabinets for a vanity before, and really enjoyed the wonderful drawers and pullouts. Salvage stores can also be a gold mine for good kitchen cabinets.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 4:01PM
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Sophie Wheeler

For the money you will have to spend on this, I'd look at doing a much larger shed dormer that would be able to cover most of the back of the house. That would allow the bedrooms to have windows on two sides as well create nice sized closets on the interior walls for both the existing bedroom and future master. And, it might even cost less than the small gabled dormer because nothing would have to be cantilevered and it's a lot more simple addition. Yeah, the HVAC load would be more, but that's a small price to pay for additional storage space and additional window opportunities.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 4:49PM
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Desertsteph, that's an interesting idea about a second door directly from the master bedroom. One hangup might be the fact that our upstairs only has a seven foot ceiling height throughout (very standard for our vintage bungalow). Right where the back wall of the unfinished bedroom is it starts sloping down into the attic space. I don't think we would have the headspace for a door on the east side of the new gable, and we would have to widen the gable quite a bit to put a door where the attic door is planned and have it enter the bathroom. But I'll look at a carefully and make sure there isn't a way to squeeze it in.

The changing tables say they are 37" tall, but I think that's to the top of the (removeable) rails, so the actual top may be 34" or 35".

KMCG, I hadn't thought of kitchen cabinets as vanities. They are certainly easier to find used or discounted than bath vanities. Great price on the pieces you found! I'll keep my eyes out if we decide on a large single vanity or the changing tables don't work out.

Hollysprings, I respect your ability to think outside the box. However, we really like our house as it is, other than the bathroom situation. It will only take a few LVL beams to support the gable on the loadbearing walls below; cantilevering adds nothing but a little length to those beams. I can't see how a much larger shed roof dormer would cost less or be simpler. Maybe I'm not understanding the situation, but it seems as though reframing the entire back side of the house, reroofing, exterior sheathing and siding, subfloor and flooring, all would be significantly more in quantity than what we are currently planning.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:24AM
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For maximum usefulness, can you separate out the toilet and washbasin from the bathing parts?

Make it possible for one person to be taking a long bath without keeping the others from using the toilet.

I had an old apartment with a "bathing room" and a "toilet room" and it was amazingly convenient.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 3:00PM
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I think it looks like you could use more economy on your layout. Things are kind of added in each corner. I will had a link to a website that gives proper dimensions between elements. I've found it helpful.

I am not a proponent of claw foot tubs :) I like the looks but I think they are too high for kids to get in and out off. And too difficult for some adults. I was visiting my DS, I nearly fell out of their tub, pulling a decorative wall shelf down with me.

I am glad you've shown GW your plans and hope the you get the bath that most meets your needs. I look forward to seeing more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Illustrated Rules of Good Bathroom Design

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 7:07PM
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Thanks Enduring for the bathroom design principles. That was a very helpful website! Using it, I rearranged a few things, and even managed to get the door to line up with the stairs. Or, I could flip the floor plan and have the door line up with the other gable room door.

I love the clawfoot tub centered under the windows, and the fact that the shower wall now forms the partition to obscure the toilet. Also, the door swing in the new position doesn't hit or block someone at the first vanity. Any drawbacks I'm not seeing? Any feedback on the new arrangement in general?



    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:23PM
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The tub looks beautiful under the windows. I like this layout better than your first one.

I think your suggestion of flipping the room so the door will be facing the hall instead of the stairs might be a better layout. I like doors to come out onto larger expanses. The stairs are only 3ft away, seems like too much activity in that area; potential hazard. Instead of the door, there could be a nice focal point on the wall, such as a painting, that one sees as they come up the stairs.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 4:14PM
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If you flip it as suggested, you might be able to scoot the door over just enough to be able to bring the countertop behind it. You could put hampers in the space below, and some storage above. It might be a nice built in look instead of having to put in a stand alone storage area.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Or do a pocket/sliding door?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:26PM
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