Peeing in the pantry? Anyone else

April 16, 2012

We are renovating a 1900's house (actually the 2nd & 3rd floor of a two family) that we are purchasing soon. We actually have a nice sized kitchen for an older home 16' x 13' and right off is an old non used covered porch that we are enclosing. We are putting a 1/2 bath and laundry in there.

The space is long 16' but narrow 5' so obviously nothing can go in front of the w/d or bathroom fixtures.

We do have room right when you walk out into the space for a narrow pantry, 12"x36" or possibly 48". I wanted open shelving unit so this will allow us to store bulkier less used small appliances with out worrying about the pantry door closing. I planned on also storing un opened back up items (canned goods, salad dressing, ketchups etc). I am planning on using Ikea cabinet frames. I could get the ones with the doors, but then worry about things a touch over 12" fitting.

I really thought it was no big deal, not ideal, but in a small city condo you do what you have to to maximize space, even peeing in the pantry. My DH originally thought it was gross and we talked about putting the 1/2 bath else where but this would of required too much work and demo/rebuilding.

The pantry will have heat register as well as four regular sized windows that can be opened to air out.

Is this completely gross? We absolutely need the bathroom and w/d there and this was the easiest place to do it.

Comments (43)

  • mtnfever (9b AZ/HZ 11)

    You'd have a door (possibly solid core...) on the peeing part of the pantry, right???

    How about an exhaust fan? You'll need venting etc for the laundry anyway (but laundry and bath venting don't share).

    I'm sure I'm oversensitive but maybe next time ask about a half bath instead? :)


  • angie_diy

    I'm with mtn: Door before toilet => okey-dokey. No door => deal-breaker.

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  • igloochic

    I have a friend who has a pantry cabinet in their powder room but it's covered with doors. Doors are kind of a "must" for kitchen storage in a bathroom. If I were purchasing and saw open shelves of kitchen items in a bathroom I'd walk out and look for another house. So, Doors are a deal breaker here as well. If you don't want a swing get a barn door setup but get a door.

  • oldhousegal

    I enclosed the old porch in my house as well, and it's turned out to be a fantastic space, so yes, go for it. However, I do agree that you need a door for privacy and to separate the toilet from your kitchen items. I believe the germs from the toilet can really fly when flushed, so might want to either keep the door closed from kitchen storage or put door over storage area.

    I recently saw on an Ikea forum, someone using the door system from one of Ikea's armoire/closets to use as a room divider door that allowed lots of light into the area, but the glass was frosted and gave the area privacy as well. Thought it looked pretty cool.

  • brianadarnell

    In my parents house (1920s) you get to the pantry through the powder room. There's a separate door. Obviously not ideal (especially when you need in there and the powder room is in use) but we got over it. The house has nearly no storage so the fact there's a pantry at all was great

  • marcolo


    In Boston you see a lot of random toilets shoved into random rooms. Mysteriously they never appear on the MLS listing sheet. "Newer toilet in upstairs hallway."

  • ratrem

    I guess my DH was right!! Thanks for all the suggestions and opinions.

    I do not think we have room for a door to separate the two areas, the space is tight. I think the contractor said after drywall we will have 4'8" width. plus it would be tricky to get the w/d in and out with the door and frame there, also the window placement would suffer. We could do a small wall that could jut out to separate the two visually about 24" wide but that might look funny too tall and skinny.

    As for the pantry I guess doors would be in order, it will be about $400 more, but I seems likes it well worth it.

    Marcolo we are in Boston so funny and I have seen those crazy toilets! I promise it won't be in a random hallway. Actually the w/d and 1/2 bath fits the space great it's the pantry part. But we need a space for extra paper towels, cleaning supplies, some small appliances etc. Besides the pantry we only have one small coat closet up front.

    I guess if it ever bothered a potential buyer (we plan on staying a long time) they could easily remove the pantry cabinets. I just do not want to offend any dinner guests.

  • kaijutokusatsu

    Is there a way to access the pantry shelves from the other side? Open up a wall or something? Without a floorplan I am just throwing this suggestion out there.

  • laughablemoments

    LOL, I thought maybe you had a problem with a kitty or something. : )

    I've used a half bath/laundry/pantry at a friend's house. They had open wire shelves. The stuff got quite dusty, probably from the dryer lint. Not ideal, but...

    Seeing the floor plan would be helpful. Are you doing stackables or side by side W/D? If side by side, you could possibly install cupboards up above for paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc.

    Like, Kaij, I'm wondering if the pantry could be built into the wall so that it is accessed from outside the bath area.

  • desertsteph

    I'd certainly want a door/covering on the pantry shelving!
    Ikea has some plastic type sliding panels. they're cheap too. you can hook 'em up to slide back and forth but supplies would be covered when you're not looking for something.

    you could also use some thin frosted plexiglass for doors.

    oould you hang a shower curtain to pull across the toilet area?

    can you post a layout?

  • tuesday_2008

    Personally, I don't get the ick factor, based on your descriptions of what you will be storing - canned goods, paper products, cleaning and household products, etc.

    We don't hesitate to store our make up, lotions, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lipsticks, makeup applicators, etc in the bathroom. Those are items going on or in our skin, mouth, etc. We store our clean towels and washcloths in the bathroom, then we wash our face with them. Sure - most of these items have lids or containers, but everything is not sealed. The drawers and doors on our cabinets and vanities are not sealed, they are open and closed a lot. When I say "we" I mean "most people" - I am sure there exceptions.

    I'm assuming the OP is not talking about storing bread, fresh fruit and veggies, etc.

    If you don't have room for a door, fool everyone with a curtain.

  • rhome410

    it would be tricky to get the w/d in and out with the door and frame there

    Most laundry equipment has to go through doors and doorways to be installed, so I'm confused about why that's a limitation. I do think we need to see a layout, to see how everything will be situated, since we're all working from images in our own heads that likely don't match your house! But toilet and exposed food do seem like an unseemly combo.

  • ratrem

    The curtain is a great idea. I am sure DH and I would never use it, but it gives guests the security of not having a person walk in on them, of course we will have door with an interior lock.
    Here is the floor plan. sorry it is so bad. The hidden bedroom is a bedroom for the first floor unit, typical of philly style homes in this area. We can not expand in any direction as the porch has exterior wall on 3 sides with the stairs to the basement/yard right behind it.:

    i put in the depths of the appliances/sinks/toilet. The sink will be 9 inches deep to allow passing easily:

    The width of the room in 4'8" and length 16'

  • ratrem

    here is the direct link, it should not be turned sideways:

  • cakelly1226

    Couldn't you do a sliding pocket door on the oantry cabinet to save space? I agree that it can't remain open in a space that holds a toilet- ick!

  • Bunny

    I thought this was about bad behavior, like too much beer and not enough light, resulting in a wrong turn on the way to the powder room.

  • marcolo

    I could never stand the thought of a 2-unit condo (too high a risk of nutty neighbors) but those units on the second and third floors were really tempting. The space is nice and the light is usually great, plus you have all the old trim work and character. It looks like you have a Philly-style, with one of the bedrooms for the first-floor unit on your floor as well? Better sound insulate those walls with a toilet and WD or you'll get lots of complaints.

    I looked at your planned storage items again, and I have to say storing small appliances on open shelves near a toilet is really, really disgusting. Mmm, homemade mayonnaise prepared with fecal matter, yum.

  • eleena

    I thought it was about your kids or pets peeing in the pantry, LOL.

    I guess to each their own - we have just finished the third (and hopefully, final) round of potty training, so all I can think of is *pee* - in the most unexpected places. :D

  • kaijutokusatsu

    Could you place the toilet where the washer is and move the washer beside the sink?

  • macybaby

    This was the second bath in our house when we bought it. Only had one when the PO with three teen daughters bought the place, PO put this one it too keep things sane. I expect Dad used the outdoors, but that does not work so well for Mom and girls.

    This little room was right inside the front door, which entered into the laundry room and then into the kitchen.

    This was on the other side of the water heater.

    There was a very small sink next to the toilet. Not that the main bath was much bigger . . . The toilet was backed up to the wall the bathtub in the main bath was against.

    While it might not be appealing, if using the great outdoors is not an option, a second toilet in the house is way better than a lot of options. I grew up with one toilet and 13 people, including 8 females. At least we did live on a farm, but in the winter it got real cold to be bearing your backside to use the old outhouse across the yard.

  • ratrem

    LOL to all the pee references.

    Marcolo we will own the entire two-family so we can pick and choose our neighbors, but for now it will be family that we really love. The staircase going to the basement is directly behind where the toilet w/d will go so hopefully that will help with noise.

    Kaijou-we originally were going to put the washer/dryer first then tuck the toilet sink behind, but with the with how wide/deep the w/d are and the narrow space it may be a PITA to go around it to use the toilet all the time....

    Maybe a full floor to ceiling wall 24" wide separating the space visually and then doors on the pantry cabinets is the best bet.

    I am just excited that I will have a w/d near the living space instead of the basement.

  • Laurie35

    I don't see where you need a door to close off the bathroom as much as you need cupboard doors to close off the pantry items. I wouldn't be bothered seeing the w/d. The food/cooking items might bother me.

  • juliekcmo

    Personally I think that having a door at the entrance to the powder room should be a priority. A door. A door that locks.

    This room is not merely for family, but my goodness...I imagine that you do not want your guests to feel like they are using the potty in the back storeroom of a business.

    Could you have the powder room first, and then a large pantry/laundry room? Perfectly fine to have a curtain there. As long as the entrance to the powder room has a locking door.

  • ratrem

    Julie We will have a locking door to get into the pantry, 1/2 bath area. The pantry will be for non-essential things so I doubt I would need something ASAP while a guest is using the rest room. We cannot put the 1/2 bath first as there is no place to run the plumbing and toilet on that exterior wall, it is over another unfinished porch.

    We can have a locking door to enter the entire thing, pantry doors on the cabinet and a curtain separating the pantry cabinet from the 1/2 bath laundry area. Hopefully this will be good enough. I am a bit worried now as I never thought it to be an issue, but there is nothing else we can do besides leave the pantry unit out. I really do not think I can sacrifice the extra storage 48" of cabinets provides.

  • laughablemoments

    If there are doors on the pantry cupboards, who is to know what is in them? It could be linens, for all your guests know. I don't really think it's worth stressing over, but that's me. : )

    We also have a 1/2 bath combined with a laundry. It's the one our guests use, and I'm not bothered by that, but maybe others have different levels of comfort. It's an old house, and we had to make it work. Like you, I'm willing to do that rather than stick the laundry in the basement.

    You have lots of room for cupboards over the washer and dryer, too.

    You could put a shelf over the stairs as you go to the basement. My father's house has a shelf like this, and that's where a number of their small appliances live when they're not busy. There's still plenty of headroom as you go down the stairs, too.

    You might also be able to put some shelves in between the studs in the basement stairwell. Usually studs are 1 can deep. I'm not sure if this might cause sound issues for that bedroom, though. The other side of the stairwell looks trickier because I'm guessing the cavity will have plumbing and wiring in it.

  • judeNY_gw

    Looks to me like there is plenty of room to put the powder room at the far end with the window on the short wall and wall it off with a door. You would walk past the pantry and laundry to get to it. If you wanted to finish it nicely you could box off the washer dryer with louver doors. I would not have an open pantry - too dusty.

  • juliekcmo

    My apologies. Since I didn't see a door swing, I assumed it was a doorway, not an actual door.

    Then fully enclosed storage cabinets should do just fine.

  • cakelly1226

    As long as there are doors on the pantry- no biggie!

  • palimpsest

    What about an accordian door.

    A friend of mine had an apartment in NYC with a toilet in a closet off the bedroom and a bathtub in the kitchen. This was an improvement over the apartments that had a toilet that was Theirs, but it was outside in the hall, and they had a key for it.

    I looked at a house that had a toilet cantilevered over stairs on the third floor landing and one in the basement in full view of the front door.

    If it was a choice of not having a extra powder room I would not think twice about it as long as there was some reasonable separation and enclosure for certain pantry storage.

  • biochem101

    Had to weigh in here.

    (after almost spitting wine on the screen...marcolo)

    Years ago (when in grad school) I rented a 200 year old farmhouse, very small, with a "multipurpose" room on one side of the kitchen.

    There was a toilet all the way in the back, then the washer and dryer in the middle. I did NOT use that toilet under any circumstance, basically ignored it. Being short of storage I decided to hang an over the door rack on the inside to hold some cans and spices.

    Well even with a small window the steam and heat from the washer dryer "activated" the spices and when you opened the door..WOOT! A visitor went in there one day to use the facilities, even though I tried to dissuade him, and almost passed out! Like some sort of Turkish sauna.

    It was the wrong place to store spices. Live and learn.

    Paper towels, maybe.

    I would make it a dedicated laundry/powder room and put shelves along the walls for cans in the basement stairs.

  • marcolo

    My grandparents' house, which was later my aunt's house, had a throne in the basement. On a pedestal. In the middle of the basement floor. With no walls around it. Raised up about a foot.

    I'm sure someone had used it, sometime, but it was never used as far as I know, in my lifetime. I don't even want to imagine the experience.

    Doors on the pantry. If you do that I don't think you need curtains.

  • GreenDesigns

    If I were a guest in an older home in an urban area, it wouldn't bother me to go through the pantry/laundry to get to the powder room, but it would bother me quite a bit to go through the bathroom to grab the extra roll of paper towels or Costco sized jar of artichokes in oil.

    Put the powder area at the end of the space with an accordion door to separate it from the laundry area. There are several manufacturers of shallow 24" wide front load laundry equipment that can be stacked, leaving you room for a bit of a folding table or laundry sink or just more pantry storage. Then, a door to the whole space. The key to the whole thing is the shallow laundry equipment and the accordion door to the powder room. Also, the laundry equipment needs to go on the other wall. That maximizes the space better because it lets you have shelving across from the door all the way down to the laundry area and gives you a straight shot back to the bath.

  • desertsteph

    you might consider a smaller w/d set.

    having doors on the pantry shelves and a curtain guests could pull over to feel more secure should do the trick.
    you could get an colorful shower curtain - easy to toss in the wash.

    if storing small appliances out there I'd be sure they are behind doors and maybe have a cover over them too.

    but I see no problem otherwise. We make do with what we have and what we can change.

    just don't invite a number of the above posters over for a visit - lol!

  • ratrem

    Green-designs- thanks so much for that floor plan. It looks great, and much more efficient. I am wondering if it is possible as the plumbing will have to come up the exterior porch wall and underneath is not finished or heated. I guess a question for the plumber. We also already ordered two windows for that exterior wall.

    desert, I agree and feel the same. In the city sometimes you have to work with what you have. To have a 1/2 bath and laundry, not to mention extra storage is awesome to have. I just don't want to turn off any guests. So doors on the pantry are a must.LOL

  • athomeinvagw

    You may need to consider turning your w/d so that it is against the back wall and stacking them. My laundry room is 5ft 11 in deep with 27 in deep units and it can get tight. When my dryer died my neighbor let me use their laundry room which is probably right at 5 ft deep and it was very difficult to negotiate the laundry in and out of the machines, I kept rubbing against the wall. In their space the obvious solution was placing the units against the shorter back wall but your space is much trickier.
    Also, have you looked closely at the aisle width where the toilet will be, it will be a bit of a tight squeeze when carrying baskets of laundry back and forth.
    Maybe there is a way to get at least one of the activities out of that room? It is hard to see the details on your plan but maybe if you shifted the washer and dryer into the kitchen area, closed in by some means, and put the storage area that is disrupted into the pantry with a walled off tiny bath at the end of the pantry. Certainly not ideal but maybe something to consider.

  • mtnfever (9b AZ/HZ 11)

    Ratrem (sorry but I keep reading your name as Redrum which is altogether different!), the other advantage of Green Designs' plan (toilet in back and W/D in the middle) over your original plan (W/D in back and toilet in the middle) is that it's far more likely that you'll have to replace the washer or dryer before the toilet or sink. Wouldn't it be really difficult to get the W/D out of the room past the toilet?


  • hlove

    The last 'This Old House' project in Rhode Island, I believe, had a second floor bathroom that had nothing underneath it...it jutted out from the house. You may want to look it up on their website. At a minimum, they spray-foam insulated the floors.

  • bostonpam

    My worry is that there's not enough room in front of the w/d. You still need to vent the dryer and that takes more space. 27" now becomes 30" or more.

    If you can't put water pipes in the floor I recommend that you raise the floor a step up to run pipes. You should not have to do this if you have the right insulation between the porch ceiling below and your floor though. hlove pointed this out too.

    Place the sink on the outside wall right when you walk in where your original shelves were located. Place the toilet immediately on the right on the inside wall. Curtain off the rest of the space. This will feel like a half bath for your guests.

    Behind the curtain have floor to ceiling shelves on the inside wall and a stacked w/d on the far short wall. This will give you plenty of space in front of the w/d. It doesn't optimize the storage but does give you some. You can still use the 2 windows on the long wall but the window on the short wall may not work or you may need a different size. I would try to put one window in the half bath side and the other in the w/d side.

  • live_wire_oak

    Bosch, whirlpool, Meile and others all make compact stackable washers and dryers that are all less than 25" deep. You can't wash king sized comforters in them, but you can do quite a bit more laundry than you can in compact top load models. That will give you around a 30" aisle to the powder room in the back. That's plenty of room to get by, and plenty of room for the door swing of the washer and dryer. It will be a bit of an issue only while you are leaving the door open to dry out the interior of the washer, but I know of people who have left a towel in the door to keep it slightly ajar, and held it almost shut with a bungee cord to a hook. This was the route from the back door into their kitchen and it got a lot more traffic than your powder room will, and they made it work.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Shallow washers and dryers.

  • dianalo

    I like greendesign's layout, but would turn the w/d to have its back to the powder room. Then, you could use a full depth stackable w/d and have plenty of room to maneuver. I am not a fan of folding laundry in a laundry room, but prefer to use our master bed or the coffee table in the living room so that I can watch tv while folding.
    A pocket or barn type sliding door would really be a great way to close off the toilet when in use.

  • Mizinformation

    Not to belabor the point, but I have a reputation of beating dead horses. If any storage is in a bathroom it should be behind doors. On exposed surfaces, do not keep anything that will go INSIDE a human (i.e toothbrushes, drinking cups, mouthwash bottles, etc.). IMHO, a cupboard in the loo should just be used for exterior-to-humans items such as towels, cleaning supplies, toiletries in closed canisters, etc. BEHIND doors.

    If a canned good is on open shelves near a toilet, be sure to WASH it well before opening. Or pour boiling water over it. Or douse it in alcohol. Or put it in an autoclave. Google any combo of words such as 'toilet flush bacteria' and you'll see why. Even with the lid down, water vapor escapes. Or 'erupts,' according to some MDs:

    'Polluted water vapor erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl and it can take several hours for these particles to finally settle -- not to mention where.' (This is a good argument for any of the male persuasion who don't lower the lid.)

    Not that I'm a bacteriaphobe or anything! ;)

    Here is a link that might be useful: Erupting toilet flushing bacteria yuck!

  • ratrem

    wow I really love all the suggestions. I love GD layout, but unfortunately we need to keep the windows where they are on the back wall.

    MTNfever I love the shining!! And yes any plan in which the w/d is further down than the toilet would result in us having to remove the toilet for replacement. The sink would be fine.

    Boston pan- that floor plan is great and would probably work the best for what we want to accomplish and keeping the windows. Unfortunately the plumber said something about running the toilet up there might not work and it needs to be about 5 feet down. URGH why I have no idea. I think there is a door to the outside underneath on the first floor and thus no wall for the plumbing to go through.

    Yes it is going to be very tight to get the laundry in and out and we will be pressed up against the wall at times, turned to the side.

    My husband mentioned an accordian door, but I am not fond of that look and would rather a curtain. A barn door would be nice, but I do not think we have the width for one and to be able to get the w/d in and out, unless I am missing something.

  • cluelessincolorado

    You could also split a door in half and install some sort of lock. Friends have done this in an old house on both the master and the master bath. One extra step for opening/closing, but lovely old doors that makes it feel private! Some thing along these lines:

    Here is a link that might be useful: split door

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