How do you design a bathroom?

Bathrooms seem so simple to design, don’t they? A shower here, tub there, sink, toilet — done, right?

Well, actually, bathrooms can be very tricky. There must be about a million products that people can now put in a bathroom, anything from steam showers to custom built tubs to waterfalls from the ceiling, that simple no longer applies. Plus, most people want their bathrooms to be more than just a functional space to get washed. It’s the space where you can finally, hopefully, get away from the computer, the to-do list, and everyone else.

Designing a space that really works is tricky though. Especially when you design homes that bump right up against the lot setbacks. If you want to make that traditional shower a steam shower for two, you can’t just push the walls out a few feet. Instead, you have to re-think the bathroom layout, which may change the closet layout, the bedroom layout, etc… You get the picture. I thought it might be interesting for everyone to see some of the steps involved in our latest bathroom design efforts to illustration just how creative we can get when it comes to master bathrooms.

In the first bathroom/master bedroom design you see here, we have a his and hers bathroom setup. This was our first design attempt. You can see that in the bathroom on the left, the tub and shower are in the same room and the tub is a Japanese soaking tub. This opened up the bathroom a bit more as it consolidated space for the shower and tub, but left the bathroom without a full-sized soaking tub.


Here, then, is our second attempt. This time, the tub and shower are again together, but the tub is a full-sized soaking tub. This answered the dilemma from design one, but created a new problem: a long hallway down the middle of the bathroom. We were worried this would make the bathroom feel small and confined.

Here are some sketches we did of this bath in order to try to resolve the smallness problem. We vaulted the ceiling and used a glass door to bring in more natural light through the window over the tub. We toyed with this idea for a while before deciding that the real problem wasn’t the bathroom’s layout, it was how you entered the bathroom in the first place.

To that end, we starting sketching a new design… bathroom version three. This one changed the whole master bedroom layout to accommodate a central entrance to the bathroom that focused on the tub. This would provide for a more grand entrance and a more spa-like space. This version received some happy smiles from the clients… but the idea of entering the bedroom and seeing the side of the bed was not so great. Ideally, you should always look directly at the bed when entering the master bedroom.

And so, I am happy to say, we designed a fourth master bedroom/bathroom suite. I’m afraid I can’t share the final and yes, perfect, bathroom design, as the owners are very excited about enjoying it all to themselves when the house is built. However, I will say that we completely turned everything inside out and started with an entirely new bedroom and bathroom idea in order to make the final version work. We now have two master bathrooms that feature a full tub, no hallways and separate showers, and a bedroom where you can come in looking directly at the bed. The clients are thrilled, we are thrilled – can’t wait to get it under construction.