What's your dream (small) "master bath"?

Given a small master bath, 4’x5’ floorspace and a 3’ square shower, what little features, accents, materials, additions, colors would you use to make it “perfect”?

We are about to cash out some equity in our poor little house that is apparently worth a lot more than we owe on it.

The master bath is #2 on the priority list, and while we don’t have unlimited funds to pour in to it, it is nice (and kind of fun) to know that we aren’t doing THIS job on the lower end for once.

So we have plenty of ideas and things, but I think I’ll not share those in the OP so as to keep the creativeness flowing for a bit.

Consider that:

  1. I will be taking it all the way down to the framing, so I have full access for electrical and plumbing modification and additions…whiiiiich includes taking out all the old galvanized piping, replacing the subfloor and adding sister joists to level the floor, and quite possibly adding/planing framing to plumb and square the space. This may be necessary based on what I can see from the current tile layout.

  2. I am strongly considering a custom engineered-stone shower pan that will give us another 8" of shower on the entry side. While that doesn’t obligate me to get the matching engineered wall panels, the package is pretty attractive.

  3. We’ll be doing all the work. I consider myself an above-average diy-er; I worked in residential construction and remodeling for about 3 years back in a previous life, and I have plenty of successful projects of all types that don’t end up looking like novice homeowner crap. :cool:

So blow my mind… :eek: Give me the ideas I haven’t thought of that will make my little bathroom freaking awesome.

Or, to make my lovely wife’s bathroom freaking awesome. Because honestly, I just want a clean place to take a shower. :smiley:

If you’re planning to stay in that house for a long time, consider features that make it easier for people with mobility issues (need wheelchair, etc.) to use the shower and toilet. The ability to roll (or shuffle) into the shower area is a biggie. Consider adding extra scrap lumber between the studs so you can add grab bars later.

Who knows, one of you might get knee surgery someday or something.

As far as creature comforts, I’d look into two: plumbing a bidet, and creating a small bench or seat somewhere in the shower (also handy for propping up an ankle when shaving one’s legs).

Lotsa counter space is a biggie for me, but I like to sprawl my stuff out. If I don’t see it, it won’t get used.

Wonderful idea! Man, I hope I don’t have to thank you for this post in the future, but as long as I have the walls open, I will add sturdy bracing for future grab bars. Perfect.

Second the bidet suggestion (specifically, if you’re not familiar, it replaces the toilet seat, and a little arm come out on command and washes off your bum with a jet of nice warm water. Also has a heated seat. Other frills are also available, but those are the features that I use). May require another plumbing connection for the water, and an electrical connection. Different brands and models vary.

If you’ve never had glass walls for your shower, don’t. Or at least minimize them, unless you have very very soft water and a lot of patience for cleaning. I don’t have either. I wish I hadn’t gotten glass walls for my shower.

While we’re on the subject of toilets, consider a wall-mounted toilet. Since the tank is inside the wall, it saves several inches off the space needed front to back. In a small space, this can be very useful. Also, you can mop the floor underneath without running into the toilet.

A wall-mounted vanity, on the other hand, I have found not worth it. Yes, you can mop underneath, but if it wasn’t wall mounted you wouldn’t need to. Also less storage space on the whole.

You can of course go nuts on the water jets in the shower, or put in a steam shower if you like that sort of thing.

Good luck and enjoy the results.

:smiley: You, my friend, have expensive tastes!

Bidet seat was not in the plan. I think I brought it up once with my wife and got a lukewarm (ha!) response, but looking at options out there and the price it might be a thing we can do. Worst case, we don’t use it. Best case…well, it’s a bidet… with heated water.

I REALLY looked in to wall-mounted toilets. Decided those are not going to fit in the budget. Wanted one bad, though.

I’d like other’s opinions on glass doors? Because that’s exactly what I was thinking…frameless glass door tall enough for me to step through, with a glass panel above that with a gap above and below to allow moisture. We have city water and no water softener, but I was hoping with a regular mist of after-shower cleaner and occasional sqeegee it would be fine. Thinking about it, I can see it would be hard to keep nice. Would it make a difference if it was frosted and hid the junk better than clear glass?

Even if you don’t install a bidet, plumb both the hot & cold water to the toilet area. That’s cheap to do now, and will make it real easy to add one if you ever choose to do so.

I’d echo the plan for grab bars. In fact, not a plan – actually install them now. Surprising how useful you’ll find them; not just as you age, but every time you injure a leg playing softball, fall off your bike, etc. Remember one or two inside the shower (especially important to plan for stone walls). And do consider the option for a seat inside the shower – it’s the one thing I really regret not doing when I remodeled my bathroom.

I ended up (almost accidentally) with a heated floor in the bathroom. It’s wonderful! Really look into including one. Easy to do now; much harder later.

Provide many (more than seems reasonable) electrical outlets by the counter. They seem to constantly adding more devices (blow dryer, electric toothbrush, razor, phone charger, radio …) that need to plug in. So much easier to do now, when the walls are open. Also consider adding wiring for another light directly above (inside) the shower. Even if you don’t install one now, it may be helpful later. Improved lighting is often needed for aging in place.

Over-sizing the water supply pipes is cheap & easy to do when remodeling, and useful every day you use the bathroom. Better water pressure in the shower, less waiting for hot water, etc. Minor change for everyday comfort.

Storage space! Often overlooked. In my remodel, I removed most of the closet to add a large hot tub. Turns out I rarely use the tub (takes too long to fill, uses up all the hot water in the house), but every day I’m bothered by the lack of storage space.

Plan for repair! If you can, design your space so that the plumbing end of the tub is against a closet, then put a removable section of wall inside the closet that gives access to all that plumbing. Someday that will need repair, and even if you have to empty out half the linen closet, it’s still much easier. An access door in the ceiling below the shower will be incredibly useful someday.

One feature I’m going to add to my bathroom when I remodel it a dramatically upsized exhaust/vent fan. In a smallish bathroom, showering can easily turn the space into a steambath and the tiny fan you find is most bathrooms is completely overwhelmed. I’m actually going to add two different fans, both of which have a CFM rating that will let them change all the air in the room in about 20 seconds. Working together, those fans can cope with the most noxious bathroom clouds. One of them will come on automatically with the lights and the other will be on manually adjustable timer so that I can set it when I leave and it will shut off some time later.

Note that these fans are useless without adequate airflow into the space so I’m replacing the door with one that has louvered vents.

I’m also going to have a whole shelf of Bathroom Readers available for those who like them.

If you have (or will have) knee or back problems, you’ll want a bath that you just step into, rather than stepping over the edge.

Bugger the bidet, get a bum gun!

And as mentioned, hand rails and a built-in seat.

I redid my bathroom recently. I got deeper bathtub. Now I can soak. Not for everyone, but it made a huge difference to me. (It’s not very wide, and doesn’t have jets. So it doesn’t take forever to fill, and doesn’t have hidden parts to grow mildew.) I also got an overhead light in the tub/shower on its own switch, which I adore. And a hand-held shower head. My contractor was appalled that I wanted a waterjet brand shower head, then had to show off for me the amazing water pressure. Yeah, it’s the brand.

Think about where you want the light switches. We didn’t, and left them where they’d been, and I regret it. (We hung a door the other way, which is great, but it means we could have moved the switches.) Make sure you have enough towel rack space, and storage space. Consider having a professional review your plans to think of things you neglected. (For storage, we have a large linen closet and sinks outside the main bathroom, which works great. But that wasn’t a change for us.)

I third the bidet seat. I’m seriously considering adding one. It needs an outlet. Even if you don’t get the bidet now, get an outlet for it.

I made sure the exhaust vent was on a DIFFERENT switch from the light. I hate the noise, my husband loves to let the bathroom get all steamy. I leave the door (to my bedroom) ajar and the window open a crack (except in winter) because I don’t love stream. But I like steam more than the noise. We got a fan in an automatic timer that works great. I turn it on when I leave and walk away. We also get a squeegee to wipe down the walls, which is helpful.

Spend some time shopping for tile, etc. I had some fun with the tile, and enjoy looking at it every day. I also appreciate the grab bars we installed. Very helpful with the extra deep tub.

One thing we did as an afterthought that turned out great: two toilet paper holders, one above the other. We did it because i could decide between the summer, sturdy ceramic (partially embedded) toilet roll holder, and a really cute octopus that i wasn’t sure would hold up. So we mounted the octopus above the other. It’s great. We never run out of accessible paper. And the high one is handy when I’m standing and want to blue my nose or clean my glasses. Maybe it will be less valuables if I get the bidet, but I still enjoy the charming octopus and the simple stability of the ceramic.

I got a nice mottled glass door on the downstairs shower stall, but left a curtain in the master tub/bath. It feels roomier with a curtain. The stall is larger and doesn’t need to feel roomier. I haven’t had terrible with streaking, but don’t use that shower very often.

I wish I’d gotten a retractable laundry line in the bathroom, over the tub. The contractor couldn’t find a nice one. It’s great for your swimsuit, or the one item you washed in the sink. If you find a nice one, let me know.

Would a skylight be a possibility? I like those. :slight_smile:

Oh, interesting. These are two things we’re considering in our bathroom remodel…however I doubt I could talk my husband out of either of them.

Why wait? Even if you’re not elderly or infirm, grab bars are a very nice feature. We put them in all of our bathroom when we remodeled over the last decade. They’re not so expensive that putting them off till later makes a huge difference. IMHO anyway.

Guy here; a urinal. And if at all possible one like this one:

Loved it since I first saw it.

Good thoughts overnight, thanks! Gotta work but I have some comments and questions to add later.

My parents have two super-teeny bathrooms (so do I). One thing that was neat that the guy who did my mom’s half bath did was he extended the countertop from the sink, over the back of the toilet, to the opposite wall. The part that goes over the toilet it, of course, only as deep as the toilet tank, and lifts out so you can access the tank if needed. It’s pretty clever, just like this.

Like others have said, I would also want some sort of ledge or seat in the shower for shaving.

What I’d like is a electrically heated mirror in the shower for shaving. And as for grab bars, I saw in one episode of This Old House where the mounting points for the grab bars were in place, so they could be easily added later.

We really like the glass doors in our showers. Installed 2 since we moved in 5 yrs ago. Our water is not bad, so weekly cleaning keeps them plenty clean. Would never go back to a curtain. I’ve seen people with water issues use squeegees, and know one guy who would wipe it with his towel after drying off. (They did A LOT of laundry!).

I think tile is the dressiest thing for a small bathroom. The challenge is choosing something that won’t seem aged in a few years. We benefitted from going t a pricier tile store where the designers would help combine different tiles. Came up with combinations we would not have come up with on our own wandering the aisles of a huge tile store.

Also, neat faucets/hardware. Again, when we did our tiny powder room, we went to a fancier place where a designer helped come up with space saving ideas. Specifically, a small vanity/sink. But such shops will likely have a range of faucets and such that bigger supply stores might not carry.

Plan on shelves/niches in the shower. The niches can be an area for accent tile.

Have A LOT of the right color light where you will need it - in front of the mirrors.

We installed 2 shower heads - one up high for me (I’m tall), and one lower - on a handheld thing, for my wife when she wants to not get her hair wet. I guess a single adjustable one would do the trick.

If you have a small vanity, look at getting a stone remnant, instead of having to buy an entire slab. If at all possible, we like 2 sinks and 2 medicine cabinets. But that would be a challenge in your space. We DEFINITELY like in-wall medicine cabinets - which you have to frame for.

Maybe a wild idea, but would you appreciate a heated floor?

But(t) in the meantime, I gotta ask more about bidets.

Are they a replacement for, or just a supplement to, paper? I can see in some cases where water might be fine, but are more…um…stubborn deposits still going require a swipe? Or is it just dab the moisture dry and off you go? Either way a cleaner and more pleasant experience to be sure.

I’ve always wanted to install a drinking fountain in my sink. A spout like this.

They’re so common in public places but you never see them in private homes. And I don’t know why, when they’re so handy.

I’m more of a soak-in-a-tub person myself, but since we’ve all used tiny bathrooms here are my thoughts:

Tile! Sure, there are downsides (there are downsides to everything) but tile is hard to beat for a bathroom. I much prefer it to any sort of plastic surround or wall treatment. Anything that gets wet on a regular basis use tile.

I don’t remember the technical term for it, but if you have a dedicated shower (meaning no attached tub) get one that has no lip - it eliminates a tripping hazard and makes it accessible.

Grab bars - don’t wait, actually install something that fits in well with the rest of the bathroom. The able-bodied can find them useful too (if nothing else you can hang stuff off them) and, again, it makes the shower accessible for the aging/disabled.

In-bathroom heater - when I’m wet and naked I appreciate a warmer temperature than what I keep the rest of the house at. I currently have a small heater for my bathroom and I no longer want to live without one.

Venting - this has already been covered by others, you want to be able to remove hot, steamy air at will, along with odors.

Adequate storage - again, this has been covered

Plumbing access - much better to have a door/removable bit of the wall installed than to have to cut into the drywall.

Showerhead on a cable - you know what I mean, you can either hang the showerhead up for an overhead shower or pick it up and aim it where you need/want it. Why not go crazy and get one of these that also allows for pulsing/massage effects, too?

Adequate lighting - this is important for so many reasons, from grooming to reading while seated on the throne to being able to see what frack is going on in the shower (I hate dark showers and tubs) to, again, reducing trip hazards. That’s a general overhead light, light(s) by the sink/mirror, and also one in the shower for a minimum.

And, finally, don’t get too trendy. Toilets should not require user manuals. I shouldn’t have to guess whether or not that thing over there is the sink or some sort of elaborate vase you just happened to forget to put the flowers in today. And whatever you use on the floor, go practical - polished marble is pretty but deadly when the least bit wet, as an example.