Advice on Master Bath Plan for New Construction Home?

ahkimDecember 15, 2013

We are building a new home and in the next few days, I need to finalize my floor plan. At the last minute, we decided to replace the tub with a larger walk-in tile shower. I would appreciate any comments on the current plan. The shower is nearly 8 feet long which is huge! The plan makes it look like the bathroom is too empty, but maybe that's ok.

Some questions:

1. The current plan is a walk-in shower with no glass. You can't see into the shower other than the opening. Should I consider a glass wall instead?

2. Are there any fixtures that I should consider having the builder install? For example, installing a secondary shower head would be very costly to do after the fact.

3. I'd like to do a heater fan or heat lamp, which works better? What's the best placement? I live in MN so on cold days, it'll be nice to have.

4. The builder can put in a normal door instead of a pocket door to the bathroom, which is better?

5. Any other changes that you recommend?

I don't have a budget and would prefer to spend nothing, but we hope to live in this home for the next 20+ yrs so we want to do things right.


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It's much too large for a room where you spend such a small amount of time. And the shower is also too large for comfort and will be drafty and cold. The closet is awfully large as well. Perhaps you can reduce the square footage overall and enjoy the smaller initial expenditure as well as lower utility bills every month to heat and cool the excessive space.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 12:07PM
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I was going to say the same thing about "drafty and cold". I don't know how big the bedroom is, but if it were me, I'd shorten the whole bathroom (and therefore the shower and the vanity) by at least 2'. I'd also plan for a door on the shower. We had no door on our [California] shower for about 20 years -- I don't know what we were thinking, this is not the tropics. I was so happy (and warm) when we put on a door when we remodeled. I also don't see the point of a pocket door (admittedly, I don't like them in general. They're useful where you need a door and don't have the space for a regular door, but why a pocket door when you clearly do have the space?). Lastly, if you don't have at least two showerheads, and 2 or 3 people showering together, what is the point of such a large shower (our shower in our previous home was about 4 x 6 and we regular showered at the same time).

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 12:29PM
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Heck, if you have the space for a WIC that size, I say keep it! I'd love for mine to be that large.

I do think that a shower of that size might dominate the bathroom and be unnecessary - with the space you have, I think you could fit in both a shower and a separate tub if you wanted.

Here's a couple quick sketch-ups of other ideas:

Moving the window could give you some more flexibility, but you could also leave it where it is. Given the size of your master walk-in, the linen closet may not be needed which is why I eliminated it in one of the sketchs.

Just different ideas. If you want to go with just a shower and no tub, then I'd suggest making the shower smaller due to some of the reasons above and maybe splitting the vanity into a "his" and "hers" on opposite sides of the room.

It all depends on how you live.

With regards to your actual questions:

1) I'd probably look at doing glass wall for the shower. If you go with the huge shower, it might be a little "cave-like" with the length with no glass... or you could do a not-quite full height wall as another option to let more light into the shower.

2) Install all the fixtures you want when you build it - doing the valving, plumbing, etc later will be must more difficult. Two shower heads for a 8' shower would be a must...

3) Not sure on the heater fan or heat lamp -- though radiant heat flooring might be a great touch for those cold days.

4) I prefer regular doors as well - pocket doors are "ok" when you don't have space for anything else, but are always a little bit of a pain.

This post was edited by kjo_tx on Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 15:45

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 3:39PM
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What size is the toilet area? I'd consider making that area a bit larger. That way you can store TP, have a small wastebasket, etc.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 7:33PM
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Thanks everyone for the replies. I shouldâÂÂve noted that this isnâÂÂt a custom home builder. I picked a floor plan but they are allowing me to make some modifications so changes to room sizes might not be possible.

Seems like most people think the shower is too large, after some thought, I tend to agree. Very good point about being cold and drafty. ThatâÂÂs one of the things I hate most about winter; getting out of a warm shower and back into the cold. ThatâÂÂs a big reason why IâÂÂd like to put a fan or heat lamp.

DEKEOBOE - the toilet area is not yet determined. But based on the current plan, itâÂÂs close to 3 feet wide if the shower is 8 feet.

KJO_TX - Thanks for posting the sketch-ups. ItâÂÂs kind of funny; you actually sketched the original plan which had the shower and tub. One of the other reasons why IâÂÂd like to eliminate the tub, it allows me to retask that money to pay for a tile shower. ItâÂÂs equal in cost, about $2000.

So, the question is, if I make the shower smaller, say 6-7 feet, what do I do with the extra space???

IâÂÂll be posting later in the new construction section for general advice about the layout, but hereâÂÂs the layout of the entire upper level to give an idea of how the space is being used.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:57AM
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So the list of changes includes:

1. Change pocket door to regular door
2. Reduce shower size down to 6-7 feet or less
3. Glass door and/or glass wall
4. Make toilet area about 3â wide

By the way, here's the original plan which shows the tub. At this point, I still think I want to remove the tub.

As I mentioned in my previous post, what do I do with the extra space if I make the shower smaller?

This post was edited by ahkim on Tue, Dec 17, 13 at 2:18

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 2:16AM
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i would probably see if i could turn the toilet so it faces the shower and add some length onto the toilet area and add a door- possibly pocket... that would leave you with ~ a 6' shower.
i would definitely add a 2nd shower head- or rather a hand shower on a bar-makes cleaning and showing tots/animals much easier!...
what i found really made my shower draftier/chillier was when i changed the shower from 3 enclosed walls to 2 walls and 2 glass walls that did not go to the ceiling... that let in much more cold air-- or rather let much more warm air escape the shower in the winter... i don't know if having a door at the end of an 8' area would make it that much chillier, but having a glass wall certainly will, imo.
i wouldn't have a pocket door into the bathroom, but possibly would consider one into the closet... i don't know how you plan to have your hanging/shelving space arranged... i personally don't think there is such a thing as a too large closet, btw!!!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 10:08AM
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How about putting your shower on the short wall with a transom above. You could do a 42" by 54' shower with two vanities and a toilet room with pocket door.
If you and your husband have different schedules and hate light leak from closets and bathrooms, you do a hall with closet off the Mbrm leading to a walk-in closet and bathroom. You could store long/rarely worn garments behind doors in the hallway. I'm not sure you want all pocket doors, but that is what I would want (good quality). I usually leave doors open, so I like that they are out of the way, but available.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:05PM
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Karen - what a great sketch and concept! I like the idea of combining the closet and bathroom in your 2nd sketch. Very interesting. I'm going to think about it. Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:31PM
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Thanks ahkim.
I wonder what the closet is shown in the open loft area?
Could that space be added to your closet area?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:42PM
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The closet is removable but we left it so that if the next owner wants to convert the loft to a 4th bedroom, it would only require a wall and door. Also, we thought the closet would be nice for storage of misc item like a vacuum.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:46PM
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I was thinking of relaying out your closet, but I think you are right to keep it as a possible 4th bedroom although we recently sold a home with 3 bedrooms and an office with no closet with no problem. Our home appealed to older people.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 1:51PM
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Before I offer any advice, I'll ask a question and offer a comment:

1) The question: Laundry? I don't seen an upstairs laundry. You have plenty of room to incorporate one in the master bedroom suite. It's probably one of the better things I did when I built my own home almost 20 years ago. Doesn't necessarily have to be on the master side. It could be over by the two other bedrooms.

2) The comment: I have a 5' by 8' walk-in shower (no door). It's not at all cold or drafty. I'm in CT.

I lied. I just took another look at your overall floor plan while scouting out a location for an upstairs laundry and something caught my eye. So another question:

3) Why the double doors leading onto the Master Bedroom? To me, double doors are advantageous for opening up rooms for added light, for sight lines and traffic, etc. Your double doors lead into the side of your bed. If they are something you really want, no worries. Just making sure the doors are something you want and not something the designer/builder/architect wants.

If you want to retain the double doors, I'd recommend looking at Karenseb's second drawing. The change to the passageway from the bedroom to the bath/closet affords you more wall on the left side of the room. It would allow you to move your bed from the right wall of the bedroom to the left wall of the bedroom, away from the double doors.

Just a thought. Or a couple of thoughts.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 3:17PM
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Karen - I sketched up your concept and it looks like a good option.

I really like it. My only concern, is it weird there is an open view to the toilet from the closet space? Maybe I should move the toilet down and the shower up? Any other thoughts?

How about this? remove the pocket door from the bedroom and move it to entry to the bathroom?

Yes - an upstairs laundry might be nice. But I would want access from the main area, not from the master bedroom.

As for the double door, that's from the builder plan. I could go either way.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 1:53AM
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So here it is with the pocket doors moved and some comments.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 2:07AM
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what are the bathroom and closet dimensions?
the last plan you have drawn up doesn't seem to make use of your bathroom size... the shower looks alittle small --if the shower is ~48x34 like the builders plans specify- i would try to have closer to 4-4.5 x 5-6....
i also would try to better enclose the toilet in a bathroom that size--- alittle privacy is nice if you have space for it...don't need a door, but to block direct eye contact when you're both in the bathroom is nice, imo!
don't know closet dimensions but i would much rather have closet space rather than a bench--- a chair in the bedroom (or closet or bathroom) can be used for putting on shoes if you like to sit to do that... it seems like the closet area should be better utilized- i don't think i would want reach in closet with doors right next to the walkin--- i would want it all one closet...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:32AM
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I wouldn't put the bench outside the closet only because I think it won't be well-used in that location. One alternative would be to use that reach-in closet as the linen closet (disclosure: I'm not a fan of linen closets IN bathrooms). Then do away with the linen closet in the bathroom -- maybe just make the vanity longer.

I agree about enclosing the toilet. In our previous home, we had a pony wall between the toilet and the entrance. In our last rental, the toilet was enclosed in a little room - really liked that, and it seems like you have room for it.

I actually do like the last overall design with the entry that goes into both the bathroom and the closet, but separately.

Dimensions would be helpful!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:32AM
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It is hard without actual dimensions,but maybe this would work. Your linen would be outside the bathroom. Your view from the bedroom into the closet would be more hidden. Your toilet would be more private and you have room for a bench. I like that you could have two windows, If privacy is an issue, perhaps you could save money with transoms. I love windows in a bathroom. I liked Mongots idea of moving your bed to the bathroom wall. I don't know if noise could be an issue with the bed backing to the faucets, but at least you'd have a choice.
The shower could be 48 by 60 inches if you keep the toilet privacy wall to about 30 inches in length.
I am wondering if you could get by with one door going into the master bathroom/closet . Or a door into the bath and one into the closet, none on the hallway.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 2:21PM
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Here's another idea with enclosed toilet room and separate stand alone vanities. I really like separate vanities when possible. If you can do a pocket door to the toilet room and a window in there, you'd still get light in the bathroom. You could add transom over shower or small vanity; or two narrow windows on either side of small vanity. Or you could turn the smaller vanity so that it is on the closet wall facing the shower and out a larger window where the vanity sits. I like the hall idea and not looking directly into your closet as you enter the bedroom.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 4:55PM
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another thought: If you want more light in your shower, you could do a half to three fourths pony wall on the shower/toilet wall with glass on the top. You also could just do no door on the toilet room and or a pony wall next to sink. Less privacy, more light.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 5:52PM
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Wow - good stuff. I'm swamped at work so my responses might be slow. I'll try to get dimensions.

A couple notes:

1. I mentioned a bench, but it's not necessary, just a space filler.

2. Karen - I like the privacy of the pocket door for the toilet - good idea.

3. I haven't considered doing a separate vanities. What is the benefit? My only concern is the cost will likely increase.

This is becoming a much more difficult decision - but it's going to be a better layout as a result! Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 6:30PM
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Ok, so I just got some rough pricing back from the builder for option 3 and 4. See image.

I'm leaning towards option 4 and my thoughts are:

1. We prefer a single vanity as opposed to a split.

2. Would be nice to incorporate a pocket door to cover the toilet area, not required though. Maybe the toilet needs to be moved.

3.There is a cost to have the architect update the drawing again but $2250 seems like a lot since I'm not really adding much. I suppose there is a cost when going custom.

4. I'm realizing that having a warm area to dry off after a shower is important. So either I have to enclose the shower with a glass door or have a heat/fan light just outside the shower. Ideally, the walk-in shower is large enough to dry off in the shower.

Also, here are the dimensions I scaled using bluebeam.

*I initially wrote 9x11 but it looks like there is a bit more room than that.

*Combining the bath and WIC gives me nearly 12x17.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 3:58AM
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Here's a summary of three options A,B,C with dimensions.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 5:32AM
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I flipped a couple of more things around in the bathroom, mainly the toilet and the shower. I wanted to reduce or eliminate the wall on the left as you enter the bathroom in your original plan, especially with the first sink immediately on the right.

I increased the width of the shower a bit, previously the width was a bit disproportionate to the length.

The first has an open bathroom plan, the second a few more walls to hide the toilet and to add linen storage in the bathroom. The bathroom linen doesn't have to be built in. You could have a free standing piece of furniture there instead.

I slid both bathroom windows over a bit as well.

I also tweaked the closet area a bit. Tried to make the closet entry traffic pattern a bit less zig-zaggy. The closet area linen could be for linen, or could be shelves for clothes/shoes etc.

Just a few more ideas:

Open plan first (few walls). The water closet isn't a true closet, you can't close off a space less than 30" by 60" in size:

Closed plan (more walls):

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 10:18AM
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I wouldn't buy a house without an enclosed MBR toilet. I also wouldn't by a home with a smallish shower. Not that my opinion matters much, but I prefer your options that include those with the double shower heads, and would easily ditch the tub if the trade was a large shower and enclosed toilet.

Good luck with your build.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 7:07PM
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I agree with nightowlrn.

I have a question: why did your original plan not have a closet for the toilet? I have yet to see a new house in my area that does not have this - it is very much expected where I live.

My thoughts are if you are going to have only a shower, then it needs to be a focal point - shower heads, bench, etc. - and large - to keep it warm, use a high shower enclosure maybe one with a transom at the top.

A 9 foot vanity is pretty long. I would put a tall cabinet at the end instead of a linen closet.

Put a cabinet above the toilet for personal storage so you don't have to leave the toilet closet.

I like the way Karenseb changed the entry through the closet. That makes it feel more like a custom home. You may have room to put a bench with storage underneath or maybe an island in the center of the closet.

I like mongoct's 12/20 closed wall plan. Eliminate the linen closet and add a stacked cabinet on the vanity next to the door or maybe between the sinks or where Karenseb put it at the other end of the vanity next to the window. Deck out the shower and add a cabinet in the toilet room. Just my opine.

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Fri, Dec 20, 13 at 20:28

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 8:06PM
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This is really hard. At least you have some choices. I personally do not mind NOT having a toilet room. (I have one now, but not in the last house). If you can fit one in, it may appeal to a few more people. ( When we sold, we had 3 people wanting our home and it had no toilet room). Our tub sat under two corner windows with a wonderful view. So if you would rather a big shower than a tub, make sure you get the shower you want.
I like Mongot's 2nd option, but would leave out the linen cab next to it. Hang your towels and add a small bench there.

Supposedly, the door on the toilet room should swing out, but the one on house that we own now does not. If you leave it closed all the time, it does not matter. If you like it open, it will block your window.

Also I noticed that on some of your drawings, you have lost 6 inches of your 9 foot 6 inch length. That space would make your shower much larger.

Of your drawings, option B appeals most to me. Option A closes up your space and C wastes too much space. If your shower can be enlarged to 42 in or 48 in by about 5 feet, that would be really nice.
I added a couple of other ideas. I personally like two vanities better than one. The cost should be similar if the total size is the same.
Option A1 cuts back on vanity size, but you get a linen and toilet room.
A2 has 2 vanities. I still like stand alone vanities for the style.
Option 3 gives you more vanity space on one wall, but I don't know if an angled door is the best option. I'd probably do drawers on the end of the long vanity by the window. More light.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:42PM
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I know this thread is about your master, but your second bath caught my eye. It is set up to where only one person can use it at a time, unless they are a couple. Is that your intent? I just see you having problems when you have teenagers. You may want to separate the toilet and bath with a door and take the vanity down to one sink. Also, try to get as much storage as you can because the bath will be shared by 2 people - cabinet above toilet, smart drawer placement under sink and rest of vanity, 2 medicine cabinets on both walls perpendicular to the mirror, inset shelving opposite of vanity, etc. Teenagers can have a lot of stuff. You may also look at placing the sink to one side to leave counterspace for another person to put on makeup or style hair. I remember sharing a bathroom with my brothers. And boys can mess with their hair as much as girls. Food for thought.

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Sat, Dec 21, 13 at 14:25

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 2:02PM
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Just wondering if you've considered adding a fireplace, maybe in lieu of a linen closet? Perhaps it could add warmth as well as relaxation. (But I'm just a layman so I really don't know). Pass through fireplaces are intriguing but could have privacy issues, depending on the positioning

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 11:27PM
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So I sent Karen's option A1 to the builder for pricing.

We decided that a enclosed toilet room is now near the top of our list.

So any final comments?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 3:05AM
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Toilet centerline to each adjacent wall is minimum of 15", so the minimum width for a WC is 30".

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:25AM
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Thanks. I did some reading and adjusted the toilet room .

So here's the final unless someone sees an issue.

Thanks again to everyone for their input. We're pretty excited about bathroom/closet layout. I think it's unique but very functional. Construction begins soon!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Just wanted to thank everyone again. Construction started a couple weeks ago. Here is the final plan. I think it's a unique design - it'll be exciting to see it in person!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:29AM
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