Designing Private Bathrooms

The minimum code requirements for a residence include one kitchen sink, one water closet, one lavatory, one bathtub or shower unit, and one washing machine hookup. In a duplex, both units may share a single washing machine hookup. Each water closet and bathtub or shower must be installed in a room offering privacy. Some jurisdictions require additional plumbing fixtures based on the number of bedrooms. Many homes have more than one bathroom. Here are some guides to terminology and to area requirements.

The basic three-fixture bathroom with lavatory, toilet, and combination tub/shower is designed for one user at a time. You should allow a minimum of 3.25 square meters (35 square ft), although elegant master baths may be much larger. A compartmented bathroom has the lavatory in a hallway, bedroom, or small alcove, with the toilet and bath in a separate space close by. The toilet can also be separate, with its own lavatory. Com-partmented bathrooms are very convenient for couples or multiple children using the components simultaneously. They are often found in hotels. A guest bath generally includes a lavatory, toilet, and shower stall, rather than a full bathtub. You should allow a minimum of 3 square meters (30 square ft). The term half-bath refers to a lavatory and toilet, and uses about 2.3 square meters (25 square ft). The classic powder room under the stairs is a half-bath. If located near the mudroom entrance, they work very well for kids playing outdoors, allowing a quick visit without tracking dirt through the house.

Bathrooms are often the victims of the one-size-fits-all philosophy. Pullout step stools help children at lavatories. Counters and mirrors at varying heights for seated and shorter people help accommodate everyone.

Within such a usually limited space, storage can become a major problem. Families often buy toilet paper and other supplies in bulk, and need storage for at least some of these supplies within the room and the rest nearby. Towels should be stored within the room. Multiple users can leave a plethora of toiletries and grooming supplies on counters and shelves, and building in appropriate and easy to maintain storage can reduce clutter. Cleaning supplies need to be convenient but safe from small children, and preferably out of sight. The scale, toilet brush, and plunger also need to be dealt with. Specially designed accessories are available to accommodate some of these items. Designing bathroom storage that works realistically and efficiently is a challenge.

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