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Bathroom Layout 101: How to Solve for Nontraditional Footprints

HPL Countertop and Wood Bathroom Vanity

Unless you’re designing a new home, you’re likely to encounter some design challenges when renovating a bathroom, and sometimes the footprint you have to work with is less than ideal. When your bathroom layout depends on a nontraditional footprint, there are a few strategies you can employ to ensure that you get the most from the space with respect to functionality, storage, and—of course—style.

Optimizing Circulation and Flow in Your Bathroom Layout

How you move around a space depends a lot on the design. Optimizing circulation and flow in a bathroom is essential, especially if it’s a smaller space.

Consider the users.

Modern bathroom layout

If you’re designing a primary bathroom that multiple people will use simultaneously, circulation and flow are critical. The same is true for a guest bath or shared family bathroom. When deciding on the bathroom layout, think about how people will move around the space and interact with the furnishings, features, and each other.

For example, in a small bathroom, simple things such as the direction the entry, cabinet, and shower doors open can make a major difference. Sliding or pocket doors are a great way to reclaim wasted space. In a larger primary bath, if you’re considering a double basin, think about whether it should be one continuous vanity concept or if the room would be better served with a dual sink design.

Don’t forget to think about the future. Do you need to plan for a walk-in shower or wheelchair-accessible space for aging in place? How many years will it be before the kids outgrow their current needs?

Work with windows.

Modern luxury bathroom with gray accents

The location of existing windows is an important consideration for balancing natural light with privacy. Windows also impact what you can do with the surrounding wall space, so bear this in mind. For example, a window adjacent to a shower might require a freestanding towel rack.

If it’s possible to make the windows larger without sacrificing too much precious wall space, the space will feel larger, especially in a smaller bathroom. When placing the vanity in front of windows is the only option, a creative, stylized solution is to install a mirror suspended from the ceiling.

Don’t be stymied by sloped ceilings.

Sloped ceilings are a challenge for any designer, but with a little creativity, you can turn them into an opportunity by adding a skylight and gaining natural light. Position the tub parallel to the wall below a sloped ceiling so users will be sitting or reclining and don’t need the full height of the ceiling to enjoy a soak.

Expand into other spaces.

Depending on the adjacent spaces, it may be possible to expand the entry into an abutting closet, bedroom, or hallway to get more space in a small bathroom.

Compartmentalize when you can.

Large bathroom with a separate bathtub area

When space allows, creating separation is a great way to make the most of awkward footprints. Water closets within larger or shared bathrooms offer more privacy and are a smart way to employ existing nooks. Laundry facilities or linen closets can also be concealed behind sliding doors for a minimalist look.

For larger bathrooms, a separate shower/tub room or dressing and sitting areas provide a spa-like, luxury environment. A wet room with a freestanding tub and shower separated from the main space is also a savvy and stylish way to optimize your room layout and enhance your experience.

Optimizing Storage Space in Your Bathroom Layout

Luxury bathroom with wall-mounted storage

Tall and narrow walls, oddly sized nooks, curved walls, and other nontraditional layouts present challenges for storage, but they can be overcome with clever solutions.

Opt for flexible products.

Hunting for a cabinet or vanity that will perfectly fit into an existing nook can be a frustrating and time consuming exercise, especially if the design you love doesn’t fit. Solutions that offer design flexibility allow you to get the style you want in any space by leveraging modular design.

Play with depth.

Not all shelves or cabinets need to be the same depth. Playing with dimensions provides enhanced functionality and adds character. Use shelves or storage cubes of varying depths and widths to add a dynamic element to the space. Install narrower shelves at pinch points to avoid encroaching on circulation.

Try open side shelves.

A vanity with open side shelves provides additional semi-concealed storage without infringing too much on the footprint. Access the shelves from a nearby tub or toilet, stack towels, or keep organized decorative storage bins.

Play with angles.

Not every countertop needs to be square. Use otherwise dead space in the corners with wall-mounted shelves and open vertical storage.

Play with symmetry.

Asymmetry can add a sleek dimension to your space but it’s also a great way to overcome an unavoidable structural element in your bath. Use this opportune styling solution to turn a challenge into a creative spark with modular design.

Optimizing Style in Your Bathroom Layout

No matter what the limitations of the bathroom layout are, you should never have to compromise on style.

Look for design flexibility.

Finding products in a style you love can be exciting, but not if they don’t fit in your space. Design flexibility allows you to create the individualized look and feel you want with the dimensions you need. This level of versatility is essential for designing concepts to seamlessly blend into a space and enhance your bathroom experience.

Focus on the details.

Choose accessories that complement the aesthetic. For example, if you use VOLA fixtures, consider adding other matching elements such as mirror holders, towel racks, or soap dispensers.

Architectural details like grooves and edges can really make a design sing with style. For example, the Urban collection can be customized with single- or double-groove detailing in a tone-on-tone or contrasting finish for a refined look.

Urban standard height wooden vanity

Functional details are also important to the luxury bathroom experience. Use internal drawer organizers so everything has its place and can be conveniently accessed when you need it.

Internal drawer organizers

Work with windows.

Use sheer window treatments that allow natural light to filter through while maintaining privacy. For the ultimate in luxury, install auto-frosting smart glass that allows you to go from clear to opaque with the flip of a switch.

How Hastings Can Help

With an exclusive collection that allows you to flex and personalize every design element, Hastings offers luxury bathroom solutions for any size or footprint. Our expert team is here to help you overcome bathroom layout challenges and get the indulgent experience you envision.

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