How to Design a Narrow Half Bathroom


The addition of a half bath to a home has been shown to increase resale value as much as $20,000, according to a report in This Old House magazine. Instead of leading guests through private rooms, up stairs or through an unkempt den or kitchen to the bathroom, you can install a half bath off a hallway or main gathering room. Because it doesn't require a shower or tub but merely a sink and a toilet, a half bath can fit into a narrow space in your home's nooks and crannies.

Things You'll Need

  • Architectural template (optional)
  • Choose a space in the home for your half bath. It should accommodate the comfortable use of a toilet and sink, the placement of a door (swinging in or out or as a pocket or sliding door), and plumbing (water and waste lines). Spaces as small and narrow as 3 feet by 4 feet or as long and narrow as 3 feet by 6 feet can work. Look for areas behind or next to plumbing walls in kitchens or below, and above or in close proximity to other bathrooms. This can save money when you install bathroom fixtures.

  • Draw a floor plan on paper of the space available for the half bathroom. Measure the space to obtain accurate dimensions of its width, length and height. Include the locations of any doors and windows already in place. Working with existing features may save money but can also limit the size of fixtures and movement in the space. So you might have to remove a door that will get in the way, for example.

  • Use the floor plan to decide the best location for the toilet and sink. Use drawing templates containing toilets and sinks for quick placement of these fixtures onto the drawing. Consider their placement in conjunction with available plumbing—water and waste lines.

  • Decide the placement of electrical outlets, an exhaust fan and lighting fixtures—both overhead and decorative. Decide where to put accessories such as a tissue holder, hand towel rack, and grab bars for visitors who are elderly or have disabilities.

  • Find the fixtures to use in the newly designed space. Use the dimensions available in the drawing to choose fixtures that will fit into the final bathroom. Choose a pedestal sink design for a more open feeling in a narrow room.

  • Choose wall and floor materials that visually correct the narrow and tight feeling in the space. Floor tiles on a diagonal make a room feel wider. Light, airy paint colors or colors from the cool palette (light blue, lavender, sage green) make walls recede visually. Mirrors will make the space seem larger.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have a high ceiling, consider installing one of normal height, eight to 10 feet, to correct a disproportionate effect the user of the narrow bathroom might feel.
  • Place the toilet and sink in their preferred locations before installation but after the space is built. Test them against movement in the room—specifically the ability to enter through and close a door without being trapped. It is easier to return items at this stage and almost impossible to do so after they are installed.
  • When designing the space, consider the size of the visitors who might occupy it at any time. Give large people room to move around and operate the door.
  • Architectural templates that include bathroom fixtures can be found at art, craft and drafting supply stores. Home remodeling stores may also carry them.

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