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7 Awesome Layouts That Will Make Your Small Bathroom More Usable

By on Jul 21, 2016
7 Awesome Layouts That Will Make Your Small Bathroom More Usable

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Taking a bath should be one of the easiest ways to relax after a long day. You can either unwind in your hot tub or let a rainfall shower wash away your stress. Yet, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a lavish bathroom that can fit luxury fixtures. Chances are, you live with a small bathroom, where you always bump into the door or vanity when you undress or step into the shower. What’s worse, your bathroom can’t accommodate more than one adult. Hence, you’ll agree that having a bath is indeed a daily struggle, causing more stress.

Don’t fret just yet. Before you throw a bunch of money in bathroom expansion, try to re-examine the layout of your existing bathroom. A well-planned layout will help solve the above issues, but beware, you’ll have to make a few compromises, such as tearing out your tub. 

Below, I picked several ideal layouts that can work with five of the most common small bathrooms. By simply rearranging the layout, you can make a BIG difference and keep the same footprint.

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Small Full Bathroom

40 sq ft bath

Dimensions: 40 square feet (5’ x 8’)

Fixtures: Sink, toilet and tub shower combo or luxury shower

A full bathroom usually requires a minimum of 36 to 40 square feet. A 5’ x 8’ is the most common dimensions of a guest bathroom or a master bathroom in a small house. If you happen to have this standard-sized small bathroom, there are two different layouts you can consider. Based on your bathing habits, you can either go with a modest tub-shower combo or opt for a fancy shower with multiple shower heads. No matter what you choose, you should be able to towel off comfortably without hitting your door or toilet.

According to House Plans Helper, the position of the door doesn’t really matter. Nonetheless, for aesthetic reasons, you may want to hide your toilet from the entrance view.

Small Third-Quarter Bathroom

6ft x 6 ft

Dimensions: 36 square feet (6’ x 6’)

Fixtures: Sink, toilet and standard shower

Another common size you can find in small bathrooms is 6’ x 6’. Although this square floor plan meets the minimum requirement of a full bathroom, I'd recommend using it as a third-quarter bathroom. Here are a few reasons. A bathtub will take up too much space in your tiny bathroom, not to mention its bulky look will make your bathroom feel even more cramped. On the contrary, a third-quarter bathroom only comes with a sink, toilet and shower, helping declutter your tiny space.  

To open your small square bathroom and create a smooth traffic flow, you can position your shower or vanity in the corner.

Small Bathroom With A Separate Tub & Shower

5 ft x 9 ft

Dimensions: 45 square feet (5’ x 9’)

Fixtures: Sink, toilet, tub and shower

Having a separate tub and shower in a small bathroom sounds like an impossible dream. However, like I mentioned before, with a well-planed layout, nothing is impossible. Of course, to fit both fixtures into your bathroom and leave enough space to get in/out of your tub and shower, the ideal size of your bathroom should be no less than 45 square feet. As you can see from this 5’ x 9’ bathroom plan, there is little room left for dressing and undressing, even if you already use a space-saving corner shower.

Therefore, if you really want to give your shower and tub their own space in your small bathroom, here's my advice. Swap out your swing door with a sliding door, so you can save more space.

Narrow, Small Bathroom

Narrow Bath

Dimensions: 27 square feet (3’ x 9’) or 32 square feet (4’ x 8’)

Fixtures: Sink, toilet and shower

Most homeowners have a difficult time arranging essential fixtures in a small, narrow bathroom. It seems most standard-sized fixtures, such as the toilet or sink, will stick out too much and interrupt traffic flow. Despite the dimensions of your long and thin bathroom, here are some universal tips to follow:

  • Outward Swinging Door: No matter where you put your door, it should be swinging out of your bathroom. An outward swinging door will help you not only get in and out easier, but also make the most of your narrow bathroom.
  • Sink & Toilet Side by Side: Place your sink and toilet on the same long wall to free up space for storage and foot traffic along the other wall.
  • Wall Niches for Sink & Toilet Cistern: Are your standard-sized sink and toilet getting in the way? Consider creating wall niches to hold your sink and toilet cistern so they don’t stick out too much.
  • Shower Against the Short Wall: To open up your narrow bathroom, remember to place your shower against the short wall. This will also help you arrange the rest of your fixtures.

Tiny Half Bathroom

4 ft x 6 ft

Dimensions: 20 to 30 square feet

Fixtures: Toilet and sink/shower

A bathroom layout between 20 and 30 square feet is most likely the smallest bathroom layout you will find. More often than not, homeowners will use it as a half bathroom that only contains a toilet and sink. But, think of it this way. Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn your half bath into a full bath without carving out space from your existing floor plan? Plus, it doesn’t need much plumbing work.

By simply using a sink faucet converter, your sink can do double-duty as a shower (no extra space needed). The only laborious work involved here is making sure you get a drain installed on your floor.


With a simple layout change, you can make your small bathroom feel more comfortable. Additionally, don’t forget to check out these fabulous small bathroom designs collected by my coworker, Jacob Hurwith. You’ll learn some secret design tips on making the most of your small bathroom without spending too much. 

Need a bathroom professional to get these jobs done? Get up to four free estimates from local contractors before you sign that contract.

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