Clearly, if you survive the stress and strain of a home remodeling project, the results should enhance your life. Your home should be easier to live in. A bathroom addition or remodel is a project that will have a definite daily impact on your personal or family lifestyle: If you have teenagers or young children at home, an additional bathroom can mean the difference between morning yelling matches and sibling harmony. A guest bathroom or powder room can give your guests much-needed privacy and an escape from piles of bath toys.

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This family bathroom has the toilet and tub/shower in a separate room from the vanities to make it easier for multiple children to use the bathroom at the same time. (Kevin Bunnell, Renovation Design Group)

Not all bathroom designs are created equal. Various bathroom layouts are used to achieve different results. Here are some of the most common bathroom types:

Master bathroom: The master bath is part of the master suite, connected to the bedroom or the closet of the suite. It is intended for the private use of the bedroom’s occupant(s), and may include a separate shower and tub, two sinks, and a toilet — often within its own room. For years, having both the stand-alone shower and tub were de rigueur, but it is becoming more common to see only a shower in the master bath.


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Mind you, this is usually a very luxurious shower, including seating, multiple shower heads, possibly a steam system, with the whole thing surrounded by frameless European glass walls. The master bath generally costs more per square foot than other bathrooms in the house, due to more deluxe materials (flooring, tile, etc.) and plumbing fixtures, and is usually the largest bathroom in the home.

Powder room: “Powder room” is a fancy name for a guest bathroom. Also called a half bath, this is typically a small bathroom, which houses only a sink and a toilet. A powder room needs at least 16 square feet of space. Code requires that you provide 30 inches of wall space each for the toilet and the sink, so if they are side by side the room must be a minimum of five feet long.

This bathroom’s primary function is to serve short-term guests — therefore a powder room is generally located near the front entry or another public area. A powder room can be elaborately decorated, serving both a functional and decorative purpose in your home.

Family half bath: Some floor plans will include a half bath near the garage entry, possibly in conjunction with a laundry or mudroom. These tend to be more practical in design and finish than the powder room. This half bath provides a place to clean up from outside work or play before entering the main part of the home. Only larger homes tend to have both a family half bath and a powder room, so generally this bath would also serve guests, but in a less formal way.

Family bathroom: Assuming you have a master bathroom for the use of the parents, a family bathroom is for other family members and is located off the hall serving the adjacent bedrooms. The family bath may include one or two sinks and a bathtub, shower, or bathtub/shower combination. Separating the sinks from the toilet and shower allows more than one person to use the room at the same time. This type of bath requires at least 40 square feet.

A “Jack and Jill” bathroom: This type of bathroom is located between two bedrooms. Each bedroom has an anteroom with a sink, and both anterooms share a center room with the toilet and shower and/or bathtub. There is generally no direct entrance to this bathroom from the hall.

Guest bathroom: This is a bath associated with a guest bedroom, and in this instance, a half bath is not sufficient. You will need at least a three-quarter bath (sink, toilet, and shower) or a full bath (sink, toilet, bathtub/shower) connected to the guest bedroom to provide for the needs of a more long-term houseguest.

Expect your remodeling budget to be about $8,000 to $12,000 for replacing a bathroom in its current location. A powder room would be proportionally less, while installing a new bathroom or relocating an existing one would be more due to additional framing, plumbing and electrical costs. As mentioned before, a master bath is generally more expensive, in the range of $12,000-$20,000 and up.

When adding or relocating a bathroom, you have to consider plumbing issues — specifically, the drains. Water supply lines are small and flexible, but drainpipes are larger and must slope correctly for proper drainage. Drainpipes for tubs, showers and toilets are larger in diameter than that of the sink, and p-traps are required below the floor to prevent sewer gas from gaining access to the bathroom. These elements will probably not fit within the floor joist height and may require a lower ceiling in the room below the new bathroom. You will also have to carefully plan the route of the sloping drainpipe as it connects back into the sewer stack.

When designing a bathroom, visual and acoustical privacy needs to be taken into account. If you can see the toilet from the living room, front entry, master bed, or any other significant space, go back to the drawing board and try again!

Bathrooms can be one of the trickiest spaces to design, as there seems to be an endless number of details to coordinate. Choosing the many finishes and fixtures involved can also be challenging. We recommend the assistance of a design professional to help you meet both your aesthetic and budget goals, and to make sure this critical room functions to its maximum capacity. When your project is completed, you will be thankful multiple times each day that you made the effort to get it right.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the Principal Architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at Send comments or questions to as*@Re*******************.com

Carefully consider design for bathroom remodel