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artemis78

Help with how to reconfigure a bungalow bathroom

21 days ago

I am getting close to tackling an update of our primary bathroom, and would love some thinking on layout ideas. Definitely replacing the tile and fixtures, and possibly reconfiguring the space.

Context: Primary bath for a small house; serves guests and two tweens. Want to keep a tub and significant storage here. Prefer to keep the sink where it is since we updated the lighting, wiring, and medicine cabinet on that wall relatively recently and like that placement. Sink will likely stay a pedestal; we find the current clearance there (22") to be fine.

Challenges: Toilet clearance (currently 12" of knee space). Shower is currently vented into the attic (!) Window overlaps the shower, which isn't ideal, but hasn't been a huge issue. Last remodel seems to have been a big box handyman job done in the mid-90s by the PO. Floor tiles are earlier than that, and cabinetry is from a mid-50s remodel. House is a 110-year-old California Craftsman.

Constraints: Can't turn the tub to be perpendicular under the window--a common solution for this layout--for a number of reasons, so we're primarily looking at variations on the existing layout. The bumpout next to toilet is the main waste stack for the house--may be able to push this into the wall. We may also be able to move the window towards the toilet. I included the closets that back the space because I've toyed with taking some of that space--but this is a house without enough storage as it is, and the bedroom closet is only 30" deep to start with so not a lot to work with.

Here's what we have now:



Option A: Current layout adds a wall-hung toilet to get to 20" of knee space. Not perfect but far better than the current situation, and the cheapest option. Grandfathered in under (but does not meet) local code because the toilet is already in this location. Sink clearance stays as is.

Option B: Flips the sink and cabinet. Gives toilet plenty of room, but puts tub right against the entry. In an ideal world, this layout would have a curved corner tub to eliminate the need for the wall, but I haven't been able to find one. Sink clearance stays as is.

Option B-2: Same but takes the linen closet and cuts off the bedroom closet so that it's 35"w x 30"d. Splits the space generated between the bathroom and the bedroom to make a 60"w x 22"d nook in the bedroom. Adds breathing room between the tub and the doorway/sink so that the bathroom feels more spacious, but costs a lot of storage.

Option C: Flips cabinet and toilet. Not sure this is actually feasible since there is solar overhead and we may not be able to relocate the toilet vent. I also don't love how close the toilet is to the doorway--we could also do this option with a wall-hung toilet or could take the linen closet and part of the bedroom closet to push it back.

Am I missing any other obvious layout options to consider? Of these four, what pros and cons do you see? Changes you'd make? Thanks for any ideas!

Comments (27)

  • PRO
    21 days ago
    last modified: 21 days ago



    Awful . All : ) The "inability" to rotate the tub kills the bath. Sacrifice must be made or you are as cramped as the current. Just because there's a grandfather toilet , does not mean you should be okay with it.



    "Tweens" need storage, and a place to stuff their things with a guest also using the bath.

    You call it "primary".....meaning it's the ONLY bath? Or It's the next best bath. Which? It's the only tub in the house, but you have tweens and guest. I'd want a shower vs. tub, but that's your choice.



    artemis78 thanked JAN MOYER
  • 20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    Thanks! @Jan, there is also a master bath with only shower. Tub is used daily. We of course would love to get to 24” of space for the toilet if possible—that’s one of the main goals in remodeling. I’ll play with moving the door over, though. (I also considered making the closet door the entrance so that this becomes an en suite bath, but don’t love that guests then need to walk through a bedroom to use the bathroom—right now it’s off of a hallway.) I can also ask contractors if there’s any way to place the tub at the end, but because of the layout of the space below—this sits over a garage with low ceilings—there isn’t room for plumbing to drop directly below that space. The water lines could be run horizontally, but I can’t come up with any way to place a drain on that wall. Rebuilding the garage is cost-prohibitive and infeasible because it’s non-conforming so can’t be rebuilt in the same place. (We did get quotes on this a few years back.) Basically a situation of “it would be nice if this were a different house, but it’s not.”

    @Kendrah, do you have suggestions of wall-hung vanities that offer decent storage? I looked at some when we did our master bath but for 24” vanities the storage seemed pretty useless, especially in the 18” deep options. If we get to a layout where it can be standard depth and/or wider, though, that might work.

  • PRO
    20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    Search for "two-wall tubs" . One thing to consider if you are moving the tub is which way the floor joists run. If the joists are running parallel to the tub, then you can probably move it down to it's new position. If they are running perpendicular to the tub, you can't cut through all of those joists. If this bathroom is on the 1st floor and you have access to the plumbing below, you may be able to do it without worrying about the floor joists.



    artemis78 thanked Madden, Slick & Bontempo, Inc
  • 20 days ago

    Yes, it is on the first floor with easy access to the plumbing below. I believe the joists run parallel to the tub but will need to double check. They were cut willynilly for the current tub (enameled steel installed in the mid-90s) which is among the many concerns with the work on that particular renovation. (The tub was in the same place when the house was built, but was a clawfoot tub plumbed through the floor--plumbing remnants are still there.)

  • PRO
    20 days ago

    I don't think this a lot of sacrifice, to equal major gain in function and looks. Show the bedroom next door, and the hallway. skip the computer renderings, please, and inch it as I did.




  • 20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    @Jan, LOL, I can try--but I don't think it will look anything like your drawings! But can add that tonight. This bathroom is sandwiched in between the home's two bedrooms--one 12' x 12' (the "master" that has its own bath) and one 10' x 12'. We do not want to take space from either bedroom because they're both tiny already, but I do think there are better ways to use the space in the smaller room (currently shared by two kids).

  • 20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    Artemis78 - IKEA Godmorgon vanity - comes in four sizes (I think) - one is about 24” - I think it’s around 19” deep (sides can be trimmed down - I’ve seen people post about ”customizing” other IKEA cabinets (built similarly). What’s nice is that the depth of the sink is located partially in the countertop - so, you have two functional drawers (with maybe a small u-shaped cut out along the back of the top drawer for plumbing - some need it, some don’t).

    This one is from a Houzz user (Mittens cat) - she used three different ones in her new build (only bought custom fronts for two of them):



    There are many people who have used undermounted sinks with custom countertops - just = more expense - but looks really nice - especially ones that I’ve seen with custom drawer fronts - but you can always paint the drawer fronts that come with it if you want).

    I’ve never been to an IKEA -however, there has been quite a bit of ”love” for their vanities - these are some examples of what people have done with them:

    This was by a Houzz user about 9 months ago - she even showed people how to do the plumbing = full use of both drawers for storage:









    I had a local person build me a similar style vanity for the alcove in my master bathroom - I sent him photos of the above IKEA vanities to explain what I wanted - no sit down makeup area (I am doing a thick mitered countertop which will provide space for the depth of the sink - similar to three of the above photos - should be done next week) + photos of the drawers from my daughter’s vanity. It’s built very similarly - but with furniture grade plywood vs. high density furniture board (IKEA).

    My daughter’s has held up fine + I did research on Houzz for her prior to using it for the cabinet base - no one voiced any complaints about it (and I read through TONS of posts and asked a lot of questions!)

    IKEA also has other vanity options - one is made out of solid wood.

    I’m sure that there are other vanity options out there - I just thought I’d share IKEA ones with you because I helped research options for my daughter (she was also replacing a pedestal sink in her new house (“new” to her - “old” house in age).

    If you google IKEA vanity hacks - you can find a lot of vanities - many built with cabinets not specifically marketed as bathroom vanities.

  • PRO
    20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    I like Option B the best. I made some adjustments to to it using Ikea Pax units which could address the loss of storage. The Ikea units are 23-7/8" deep so you would have adjust for 2" in your "nook".





    artemis78 thanked Madden, Slick & Bontempo, Inc
  • 20 days ago

    I like B2 the best. not much difference in storage if you have a good reach in closet - the actual storage is similar. I would honestly be fine with just doing the wall hung toilet. 20” is way better than 12”!!

    artemis78 thanked lharpie
  • 20 days ago

    Not the prettiest, but here is the existing plan by hand with the surrounding rooms. 1 square = 6".

    And also a model of moving the door to try Jan's plan (flipped to match the drawing--realized I oriented them differently!):

    It is definitely a far more spacious bathroom, but we would lose a lot of storage between the linen cabinet and the halved closet. The cabinet here is also 6" narrower than the current cabinet. As with all things in a small house, it's a tradeoff of where the space is best allocated.

    I do want to keep a true closet in the bedroom, even if it's only 3' wide. It could certainly be supplemented with external units (though honestly most of the things stored there currently don't belong to the room's residents--they would be fine with just a few feet of hanging space).

  • 20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    Not a pro but just a plug that if it were me I would do what I needed to get the wall hung toilet - I feel like that would make a big difference

    I would only do a vanity if it could be tucked against a wall like Jan’s drawing - we had a tight bath jn a old house where former owners added a vanity and I felt like that sharp corner hung out in the middle of the space - we eventually took it out bc it just attracted hips and toddler heads :(

  • 20 days ago

    Yeah, while I don't love the style of the current pedestal sink, it's actually a pretty good fit for the space because you don't walk right into the edge of it. If we stick with a pedestal, this is the one I've been looking at, both for the blunt edges and the backsplash and soap trays:

    Whitehaus B112M-P Pedestal Sink w/ Integrated Rectangular Bowl and Overflow · More Info

    We have a recessed medicine cabinet that is staying and has been fine for the storage needed with the tall cabinet, so as long as we keep a cabinet I'm not super concerned with the vanity for storage. The main thing it would be nice for is if we can carve out space for a 30" and could have some decent countertop--but the 24" vanities really don't have much, especially at the 18" depth. I'll look at the wall-hung options to see if they're any better on that front, though.

  • 20 days ago

    ^ that’s exactly what we replaced our vanity with :)

  • PRO
    20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    For the love of heaven. You need 11/12 inches

    83/84 not 71. Because, you can't rotate the tub.





    Take SIX inches from both bedrooms!! You won't die in the night, and b.t.w standard closet framing is 24" not 30"!!

    You are clinging to 36 inch LOW storage, while IGNORING the fact you can go to the ceiling with storage. You're clinging to a useless pedestal sink, with zero storage or set it down space for two kids.

    You can't rotate the bathtub.

    You don't know if you can re locate a potty. You use a TUB every day.

    The bath is a gut. Get something for the effort and the money.





  • 20 days ago

    Thanks. We are unfortunately not willing to take any space from the bedrooms themselves--they are already very small.

    All of the existing storage (bathroom cabinet, linen cabinet, and closet shelving) is already floor-to-ceiling and is fully utilized; that's why it's so critical to preserve. Any new storage will also go to the 9' ceilings because we need every square inch.

    I'd definitely consider a vanity if we land on a layout where it is standard sized. The challenge has been finding a 24"w/18"d vanity that offers good storage in those layouts--but I will look for that again as well. In the current space it hasn't been a problem because the bathroom cabinet includes a set of smaller drawers at the right height for storing toiletries that don't fit in the medicine cabinet. (Until two years ago, this bathroom was shared by four people and we didn't find storage to be an issue. Counter space--definitely yes.)

    And yes, I'm certainly looking at ways to poach some of that closet space--did also consider taking just 6" so that it was 24" deep, but because it is not a reach-in closet (and can't be given that the stretch of wall there is needed for furniture placement), that felt very tight. Cutting off the end felt like a more workable solution to end up with a usable closet. (Neighbors with the same house did the same, so we have a real-life example of what the closet would be like.) Either way we'd need to move the attic access.

    It's also worth noting that this is a small house in a neighborhood of small houses--while I appreciate that it may be a tear-down in some parts of the country, 5' and 6' wide primary bathrooms are pretty typical where I live. This also isn't a six-figure project, so we're not looking to blow things up or touch the load-bearing walls to the extent that it can be avoided. However, I also don't want to miss opportunities to adjust things so that the space works better within these constraints--appreciate the feedback and ideas!

  • PRO
    19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    A five foot bath IS typical.........with the tub position rotated. !!

    71 x 100 down here



    Honestly, this is a thing worth doing for a substantial improvement, or it isn't. You're using it now. Actually you aren't, your kids are.: )

    If you can't rotate the tub, if you don't want to give up six inches in the bedrooms where you mostly sleep, don't want to give up closets..... and bear in mind that studs and drywall are the inexpensive aspect of any remodel?

    Your look in the bath may be better, but the function and clearances will be inadequate,as they are of the moment?

    artemis78 thanked JAN MOYER
  • 19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    Thanks--I will reach out to some GCs and see if there are any outside-the-box solutions to routing the drain horizontally vs. vertically so that we can consider rotating the tub. Definitely open to reconfiguring the closet and linen cabinet, but I do think preserving a closet (even if only 3' wide) and a bedroom layout where it is possible to place a queen-sized bed in each room is important for resale in our area (even if we ourselves might be open to going without those things--we won't be here forever). A long-term option is also to shift the closet to the hallway and use the foyer door as the room entry, but we can't do that until the HVAC is replaced (10-to-15-year timeline) and the need for the return is eliminated, since it's not permitted to be in a closet or bathroom. There's also the dilemma that we prefer having the bedroom doors off of the hallway vs. off of the front door because it feels like a better separation of public and private space. (Right now the door to that bedroom from the foyer is blocked off.) It's all a balancing act--the goal is for it to be better, but not necessarily perfect.

  • PRO
    19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    Please look? Did I not have enough coffee today?





    I'm not sure what I'm not really understanding?

    The linen space in the bath is coming from the built in int 11 x 12 bedroom. The closet in that room has not been touched hasn't been touched. The door to the bath, and the bedroom remain off the hallway. ALLLLL you lose is some of the built in space in the adjacent bedroom. That is 30 inches deep, you can make a very decent tall linen closet 27 inches wide in there and you do NOT need a depth of more than 18 or 20 inches for that., leaving a possible 12 inches depth in the bedroom for some shelving.

    All of the 78 inch closet is UN touched. There has to be SOME way to get a drain in the tub

  • 19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    Yes, that's definitely a good option if we can rotate the tub and move the door. Again, happy to take either/both of the linen cabinet and end of the 78" closet. The deep end of the closet isn't ideal space (used for long-term storage of things like luggage right now) and the linen cabinet doesn't even have finished walls (just lathe behind drawers) so would be pretty simple to fold it into the bathroom. (That said, not sure it is even worth the cost to open it into the bathroom with that layout--could also just keep it opening into the hallway since it's just a few steps away.) Sacrificing the bathroom cabinet may be worth picking up floor space--the B2 option also uses that space, for instance. Some of the things stored there could move into vanity drawers or a linen closet. I did grab a minute to go look again and there may be a way to turn the tub if we can keep the drain on the same wall as the toilet. I will have our plumber and maybe a couple of other GCs come out to see what's possible with the garage (and budget!) constraints. My priorities are addressing the toilet clearance, keeping as much storage as we can, and getting a tub with decent lumbar support. My kids' priorities are keeping a tub, having a better place to hang towels, and getting to choose the tile colors. I do think they'll eventually want/need more counter space even though that's not high on the wishlist now. But everything beyond that is bonus. :)

  • PRO
    19 days ago

    You are way over thinking it: ) And you WILL want that pedestal sink gonzo.

    You aren't "sacrificing" a bath cabinet, you're getting that storage! Prune the junk! How much towels, tp , mouthwash, toothpaste, etc do a couple kids need in a linen closet! You will gain DRAWER and under sink space in a 42 inch vanity! Go to Home Depot, right side unfinished, Go find a remnant at a stone yard for a top!

    Lordy; ) You can have three 15 or 18 drawers on that vanity!


  • 19 days ago

    Thanks--to be clear, the storage cabinet currently in the bathroom is the only significant storage for the house since we don't have a pantry or utility closet. It does hold towels and toiletries and other bathroom supplies, but that's only about a quarter of what's there. Other things it holds that we will need to find homes for in the new space are toilet paper and paper towel rolls (Costco-sized packages), dishwashing detergent, garbage bags, cleaning supplies, spare light bulbs, pet supplies, a laundry hamper, vacuum cleaner, etc. Some of that can certainly move into a linen cabinet or vanity drawer (and for some of those things, that's a much better way to store them), but some of it will have to move somewhere else. I don't think there's too much there that can really be pared down. These are all the different pieces that the plan has to balance. At any rate--lots to think about as we weigh the decision points! Sounds like the next step is to get the pros in to nail down exactly what is and isn't possible (and at what cost) to narrow the options.

  • PRO
    19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    A vaccuum in the bathroom?!

    Pet supplies?!

    Light bulbs?!

    Youre at pick a poison.

    Maybe you’ve outgrown the house?

    Never an easy answer, but sometimes a bit of addition makes sense if you love all else

  • 19 days ago

    Oh, we've long since outgrown this house, LOL! But we're in a very HCOL area where it is prohibitively expensive to move to a bigger house unless we leave the area, which we don't want to do. (At this stage, we're not so far from kids being out of the house, too.) We did add a second bathroom a couple of years ago, which has helped, but it's still an under-storaged house, and I think most people who might live here in the future will want to have places to store things. We've lived with the bathroom in its current state for nearly 20 years, and it has had that basic layout for 110 years, so we're just looking to improve upon it--if it isn't perfect, that is also just fine, because the rest of the house isn't, either. It's just a game of "would you rather..." to decide which things are more important (and whether we all agree--for instance, my partner would be happy to keep the vacuum in the garage, but you have to go outside and down a set of steps to get there, and I know the reality for me is that I will never. ever. vacuum if it isn't easily accessible...but everyone is different!)

  • 19 days ago

    Substitute in a kid’s toilet or something with tank in wall.

    artemis78 thanked mmc429
  • PRO
    19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    Unless YOU are using that tub? Create a shower instead.: ) Kids can shower at three!

    Life is a bunch of choices, and I am sorry.......that includes cleaning supplies and a vacuum which in no possible way, belong in that bathroom.

    Otherwise? Leave the bath alone and don't waste money on a thing you have lived with, for twenty years..........that does NOT yield a significant improvement.

  • 18 days ago
    last modified: 18 days ago

    I do use the tub several days a week and the teen prefers baths, so we definitely want to keep a tub in there since there isn't one in the other bathroom. This is convincing me that we should just stick with the original plan of replacing only the fixtures and tile, and leave any reconfiguring of the space to a future owner. That would address the immediate problems with the plumbing and make it more pleasant to use while we live here while being far less of an investment, and if someone does decide to rip it all out in 15 years, we'll still have gotten our own enjoyment out of it. I will still ask about the cost and feasibility of flipping the toilet and cabinet, though. That would bring the toilet up to code while leaving the hallway storage intact, and only slightly reduces the bathroom storage capacity.