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Help with Tiny basement bathroom design

Sam Q
November 30, 2018

Hi all, we are building a new bathroom in our basement with internal framed dimensions of 82" x 72" (excluding drywall) and I would love some advice on the layout. We're planning a 36" x 48" shower along the back long wall - enclosed by three walls and a frameless sliding door. A 30" square toilet area is slotted to go next to it and a 30" vanity across from the toilet. I have attached rough sketches with two options for door placement. The plumbing work is set to start Monday and we have to finalize the layout and door placement before that. This is my first posting but have learned so much from the amazing community here on Houzz. I would love any advice on the layout and/or overall design. Thanks so much!

Comments (37)
  • Karenseb

    Your layout shows 82 inches by 82 inches. Is that accurate and if one of the dimensions is 72 inches in one direction, which one is 72 inches?

  • Sam Q

    I'm so sorry! The back wall, behind the shower and toilet, is 82" and the side walls are 72". I have corrected the dimensions in the attached.

  • jabbott2012

    Second one (bottom one). Door opens with shower on your left and sink on your right.

  • Sam Q
    Thank you for the feedback! We were originally thinking about that placement for the door. The two considerations that are throwing us off are 1) for the door config with the shower on the left, the door will open from the main living/tv area of the basement but in the other config (where the shower is in front), the door will be in a hallway that leads to the basement exit and the laundry room door will be on the same wall. 2) We thought it would be nice to have the shower be the focal point but not sure what actual impact there is to opening the door to the shower ahead vs to the left.

    I also wanted to note that we can have the shower/toilet/sink anywhere bc this is a new bathroom and the plumbing is all new, we just need to confirm our final layout by Monday.
  • njay
    I thought there are minimum requirements for the amount of space between the commode and a wall? I think there should be about 15-18 inches of open space on each side. I encourage you to check your local codes to see if your design is in compliance.
  • Sam Q
    Hi njay, thanks, yes, the requirement is 15" from the center of the toilet on either side and we will have that. The pics I attached were just to show the general plan for placing the shower/toilet/sink. The shower will be 48" long on the 82"wall, leaving 34" of space for the toilet and drywall.
  • sallypope
    How much use will this bathroom get? If it is not the primary bathroom, then I would seriously consider a wet room style shower.
  • Sam Q

    sallypope, I expect it to get moderate use. We have only one other full bathroom in our small townhouse, and we're making the basement a multifunctional TV/family/party area as well as a guest area when we have people staying over.

    We have one more possible arrangement, which I have attached here - in this, the shower is against the 72" wall and may allow us more flexibility. Based on the measurements, we could even put a 3' x 5' shower on that side and still have room for shelves/storage. By the way, we are planning for an 18" deep vanity and we may go for an in wall toilet in this configuration to make sure there is plenty of space between the toilet and vanity.

  • acm

    bathroom doors usually swing inward. for what it's worth.

  • Sam Q
    Hi acm, we checked and there's no requirement for that in our area, so we're swinging outward, since it's a small space we have to work with. Thanks!
  • Lawrence Sprowls

    I think the latest drawing is best.

    1. My design book shows 15-18" clearance from the centerline of the toilet, 12" minimum from the edge of the toilet to the wall, and 24" minimum "activity zone" in front of the toilet. Personally, I'd use a regular toilet instead of an in-wall type, that it would look weird to have a wall with only a toilet seat sticking out of it.

    2. The book shows 27" "activity zone" in front of a vanity. I redid a small powder room and the architect recommended not placing the vanity against the side wall. (We left a 4" gap.)

    3. If your shower were 4' long, you could fill the empty space at the foot of the shower with storage. Shower bases 48" x 36" are common.

    -- amateur

  • Sam Q

    Hi Lawrence, thank you for your detailed feedback! I think we will go ahead with the last version - I have attached an updated drawing here showing a closet type storage (24" wide and 36" deep) next to the 48"x36" shower. Your thought on the in-wall toilet is interesting, I hadn't thought it might look off but I see what you're saying. Based on my calculations, we can have up to a 26" long toilet and still have 27" of "activity space" between the toilet and the 18" deep vanity (accounting for 1" loss due to drywall). We'll need that space to put a 26" door there without making anyone walk into the vanity or toilet.

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    Why not consider a 42" neoangle? You have an almost square room - the neoangles seem to fit better. It also will help the room feel more open than a 3 wall shower.

    Just a thought!

  • barbarapepper
    A sliding door would save space.
  • yvonnecmartin

    However you do it, I like any plan for which the door doesn't face the toilet. It's a better look and offers privacy if by chance one opens the door when the room is occupied.

  • tatts

    You have the opportunity to put the entrance in the hallway. Use it.

    Never ever, ever, ever...really...ever have a bathroom open directly into a public area of your home. Ever. Nobody wants to be seen entering or leaving the toilet. That's called 'functional obsolesence'. It also makes it impossible to do your business quietly, since doors offer very little sound isolation.

    Another consideration: Do NOT put the toilet on the wall that backs onto the living area. Every time someone flushes the crapper everyone in the room will hear it through the wall.

    The bathroom doesn't exist in a vacuum; it has to work with the surrounding environment, and that includes sounds and smells. Ewww.

  • Sam Q
    Hi Debbie, wow, thanks so much for the suggested floor plan! The 42" neoangle looks great - we didn't even think about that. We have a frameless sliding door, which can fit an opening that's 44"-48", so we were trying to work around that. However, I do want this bath to be as nice as possible, within budget, since we have only one other full bath, which is 5'x8' and often feels cramped. I will see if we can find a way to exchange the sliding door for a neoangle - the frameless ones are very nice! If we can't change the door for the neoangle, is there anything you might suggest with the sliding door design?

    Barbara and Yvonne, thanks for the feedback as well - Yvonne, I do agree with that and was attempting to avoid exactly that. With Debbie's design, the door can go on the 82" wall across from the vanity, or the toilet can be on the other side of the shower - which we might have to do anyway bc the plumber wanted to keep the toilet along the back 82" wall for some reason. I will talk to him tomorrow about it but it may have to do with tying in the half bath we're adding above this bathroom, on the main floor.

    tatts, great feedback, thanks! I agree with you on that and it was a big reason for posting this bc I kept insisting for the door in the hallway but my husband and the contractor both disagreed and wanted it on the other side. One note, it is a pseudo hallway because there's open space directly across from the bathroom - the next room is the utility room, which is across from the laundry room next to the bathroom. But regardless, that entrance to the bathroom is more private. And agreed on the toilet too - none of these configs have the toilet on a wall that shares a common room. In Debbie's plan, it's on the wall shared with the laundry room.
  • theodorad
    Use a wall hung toilet, which give you SO much more room! We did this in tiny NYC bathrooms, and it changed everything!
  • mainenell
    You could always sell the shower door if it can’t be returned. The function will be so much better with the neo angle that it is not worth keeping the current shower door.
  • Lawrence Sprowls

    One problem with the neoangle is that you would lose all the storage space. You'd only have the vanity.

  • felizlady
    A frameless 48” shower’s sliding may be a bit narrow for an adult entering or leaving the shower (there will be about a 24” opening), but it may be doable. If your bathroom fixture store has one of these showers on display, go try it out. You want to make sure that you can reach the controls from outside the shower so you can regulate the temperature before entering. Don’t use a rain head shower head. A standard wall head or an adjustable wand on a vertical bar will work better.
  • Lawrence Sprowls

    "If your bathroom fixture store has one of these [neoangle] showers on display, go try it out."

    I agree with this recommendation. I was at Lowes today and happened to walk by a shower of this type and it did look tight.

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    The smaller 36" neoangles are tight - I always recommend a 42" or larger. Being a neoangle it gives you back floor space in a small bathroom and eliminate the wall you need to put up to use the shower door you have. That will really close in the space. It also wastes precious inches. The reason I put the toilet where it is because of the room dimensions . You can put a bigger vanity in on the longer wall. If the toilet has to stay on the 82" wall then I would suggest a semi recessed cabinet in the wall next to it - since the the run is 82 " you will have almost 10 " left over if you only do a 30 " toilet space...

    The challenge with your plans that have the sink and toilet opposite eachother on the 82" wide wall is that once you put the door in between you will need to have a very shallow sink ( roughly 16-18" ) and toilet ( 26-27") and there's not a lot of floor space left. .

    Keep playing with it - you will find something that works the best for you...

    Good luck!

  • joycedjay
    Instead of a storage closet, extend the vanity top and then do a tall cabinet at the end. You’ll have some counter space, lower cabinet storage and a place for extra towels, etc in the tall cabinet. This will be so much more convenient for overnight guests - a counter to put their toiletries, etc.
  • Sam Q
    Hi everyone, thank you so very much for all of the amazing feedback! Unfortunately, we have hit a snag - the contractor and plumber are saying that we can't do the 84" wall - they're saying the max would be 64" (internal framed). They will come be coming today to discuss in more detail and I'll post updates after.
  • PRO
    Designer Drains

    Debbie's idea looks great and feels like it makes the room much bigger.

  • Azuka

    How will you be venting for the basement bath?

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    Following with interest. I have an equally tiny bathroom and I'm still fiddling with plans for a remodel. Great ideas here!

  • Sam Q

    So I have an update: the framed dimensions have to be 64.5" x 72". They are trying to see if we can get a couple more inches to make it 66" x 72", so we can get a 34" shower in there next to the toilet after accounting for drywall and tile (~1.5"). A 34" x 42" corner shower would fit perfectly next to a 30" vanity but it would have to have a sliding door config or something that doesn't hit the toilet when opening. I'm not sure I'll be able to find that without going custom. Also, we are very likely going with the in-wall toilet, so it will only protrude about 22" from the wall. I have attached an updated config with the 34" x 40" shower - would this be way too cramped? Alternately, we could go with a 34" x 34" shower but given the little space we have, I'm reluctant to waste any.

  • Sam Q
    The air vent/fan will be in a bulkhead above the shower that goes through the laundry room and vents outside.
  • partim

    Shower curtain instead of door?

  • echviola
    Have you considered a pocket door instead of an out swing door? We recently did a bath smaller than this and the pocket door made it soooo much easier to do the layout. Good luck!’
  • eelh


  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    What about making it into a wet room? Then you can have a curtain to pull around when showering, otherwise leave it open space. This will make the space feel much bigger

  • Lawrence Sprowls


    1. 30" x 60" shower with shower door on north 64" wall. Assume shower head and sliding door are to the west in the diagram. 42" ( = 72" = 30" ) inches remain along 72" wall.

    2. In-wall toilet on 72" west wall, centered 15" from south wall. Toilet is 14" wide so there is 20" ( = 72" - 30" - 15" - 7") between the edge of the toilet and the sliding shower door. Toto Aquia toilet 14" wide and 21" deep.

    3. 30"W x 18"D vanity on 72" east wall. There is 12" ( = 72" - 30" - 30") between the edge of the vanity and the fixed shower door. There is 25" ( = 64" - 21" - 18" ) activity space between toilet and vanity.

    (4. You could also use a shorter vanity, say 24", and not install it flush with the south wall.)

    -- amateur

  • Lawrence Sprowls


    1a. 32" x 48" shower with shower door on north 64" wall. Assume shower head and sliding door are to the east in the diagram.

    1b. 16" ( = 64" - 48" ) storage space in north-east corner.

    2-4: same as above.

    -- amateur

  • blondelle
    I like the corner shower the best. Fits the best in the space and less awkward looking.

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