A well-thought-out bathroom design can make even a small bathroom layout feel spacious and luxurious. If you’re thinking of a bathroom remodel, it’s best to understand first what you want from your space – whether it’s just making your bathing space functional, utilizing the square footage to the maximum, or making the otherwise small area look grand. With the right perspective in place, you can create the best small bathroom floor plan for your needs.

Small spaces pose interesting design challenges.. If you have an oversized budget, the possibilities are endless. However, powder rooms or small bathroom layout ideas that don’t compromise on comfort or functionality require skill and expertise. 

So, how do we go about designing a bathroom layout that fully optimizes your floor space? Find out as our expert architect shares the ins and outs of various small bathroom floor plans, including small master bathrooms.

What are the different types of small bathrooms?

A half bathroom is perhaps the smallest type of bathroom you can have. It features just a bathroom sink and a toilet. It’s usually located near the kitchen, living room, or hallway to make it easy for people to use.

A ¾ bathroom is a bit bigger than a half bathroom. It has a sink, a toilet, and either a walk-in shower or a bathtub. It’s a good choice for smaller homes or apartments, and it’s often used as a guest bathroom. In larger homes, there can be several ¾ bathrooms.

A full bathroom is the largest type of bathroom. It has all four main bathroom elements: a sink, a toilet, a bathtub, and a shower. In many homes, the master bathroom is the only full bathroom. To save space in a small bathroom, the shower and bathtub are usually combined into one unit.

How to get proper spacing in a small bathroom layout?

If you have a small bathroom layout, it’s important to know the recommended measurements for spacing. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep a distance of 30 inches (76 cm) between the center points of any two fixtures.
  • Leave at least 15 inches (38 cm) of space between the centerline of the toilet and a side wall space or another fixture.
  • Make sure there’s a minimum clearance of 21 inches (53 cm) in front of a sink or toilet bowl.
  • Provide 24 inches (60 cm) of space for a shower door to swing open.
  • The bathroom ceiling should have a minimum height of 7 feet (2.13 m).

What are the typical small bathroom sizes?

If you don’t have to have the tiniest space possible, you get more choices and designs to choose from. Here are some sizes for small bathroom floor plans that are comfortable:

  • For a small bathroom with just a sink and toilet, a good size is 18-20 square feet (about 1.7-1.9 square meters).
  • For a bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower or bathtub, a good size is around 40 square feet (about 3.7 square meters).
  • A slightly larger small bathroom with all the essentials (sink, toilet, and combined shower/bathtub) is usually 40-45 square feet (about 4-4.5 square meters).

What is the best small bathroom layout?

When designing a bathroom, it’s important to think about where the door should go. If you can choose, it’s better to have a view of the bathroom vanity sink when the door is open, rather than the toilet.

When it comes to doors, pocket doors take up less space than regular swinging doors and can make it easier to move around in a small bathroom. However, if you have enough room, a swinging door is usually easier to use and provides more privacy.

If you’re trying to save money, it’s a good idea to place the sink, toilet, and any shower or bathtub fixtures along one wall. This is usually more affordable because it keeps all the plumbing pipes and fixtures together.

Also, utilize wall-mounted open shelves to add as much to your bathroom storage as possible.

What are the four pillars of design ideas for a small bathroom layout?

There are four basic criteria that govern the way any layout is built. We’ll apply them in a standard-sized small bathroom, just over three square meters in dimensions. Then, we will arrange the pieces so that the small space feels more comfortable and spacious. 

Keep in mind that building codes require that the minimum distance from the center of a toilet and/or bidet to a shower or any other bath fixture or wall should be 18 inches.

1. Align your bathroom fixtures

bathroom layouts

Get your heavy bathroom pieces such as the toilet, the bathroom sink, and the shower or bathtub in a row. The new distribution visually orders the space, allowing you to perceive it in all its magnitude, even with its small size. 

By the way, you may be able to switch a shower with a toilet if you so desire with some bathroom remodeling and plumbing work. 

If you look at the before image of the two layouts, you can see three empty gaps. But, wasted bathroom space is a big no-no. Notice in the new floor plan how there is only one, larger space. By aligning the pieces, we have created a large pathway for accessing all the fixtures in a much more intuitive, functional way.

Read more: Toilet for a small bathroom

2. Keep heavy and large pieces at the end of the bathroom

Placing the bulkier pieces, like the shower or tub, away from the entrance is one of the best ways to create the illusion of more space in your small bathroom layout.

Bathroom Layouts

This example clearly shows that by placing the shower in the background, we make the small room seem twice as large. You can even gain enough square feet for maneuverability.

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3. Maintain a continuity

The arrangement of fixtures alters the perception of space. If instead of a standard bathtub with a shower, you use the same area for a chic shower area – conveniently bounded by a bathroom screen – the bathroom’s geometry becomes substantially simpler. This is one of the best layouts for a small bathroom — boosting its orderliness and attractiveness.

Read more: Five Great Storage Solutions for Small Bathrooms

4. Leverage transparencies

When choosing how you’d like to separate the shower area from the rest of the bathroom, a clear frameless glass shower enclosure is a much better bet than frosted glass doors or a shower curtain. That way, the eye can perceive the entirety of the bathroom. 

bathroom layouts

Now that we have covered the four basic pillars for designing a small bathroom layout, let’s take a look at its various distributions.

Four Basic bathroom distributions

1. Long and narrow bathroom

The best distribution of space is the one that has the elements aligned to allow better circulation. For example, a wall-to-wall shower at the end will give the impression that the room is wider. Make sure the toilet and sink leave enough space for the door to swing open. Another useful feature is the bathroom mirror. Use it to add visual space. 

This arrangement is also the cheapest for renovations since all the water pipes are placed on the same wall. 

There are a few small bathroom layout ideas for decoration that can refine the illusion of space when your bathroom is really tight. You can use a darker tile on the back wall, lower the roof if it is very high (to avoid the “tube effect”), or make a walk-in shower that allows all the features to be on the same plane. 

Bathroom Layouts

Another good idea to make a narrow bathroom appear bigger is to choose a calm and uncomplicated style. The colors of the wall or floor tiles should be basic, and match each other. Neutral colors are known to brighten up a space.

If the bathroom vanity is attached to the wall, there’s more room on the floor. And, you can add drawers for storing things and enough counter space. The sink faucets and bathroom lights can be wall mounted to create a relaxing spa-like atmosphere.

narrow bathroom

2. Wide and short bathroom

There are two possibilities for this type of bathroom design: the entrance can be in the middle of the side wall or to the side. The criteria for the distribution are similar to those of the previous distribution. First, we must align the pieces for better circulation. The shower should be placed to one side (wall to wall) for convenience – and because it visually stretches the short side. What will vary, according to the door placement, will be the position of the toilet and sink.

The basic rule of thumb is to place the sink in front of the door, whether it’s to one side or centered. In the first example image, the sink is centered, with the toilet on one side and the shower on the other. In the second, the sink is in the corner.

The reason is, the sink should be the first thing your eye goes to when you open the door to showcase the reflection in the bathroom mirror. This not only makes the room seem more spacious and aesthetically pleasing but also allows us to open the door without bumping into the toilet because the sink has less depth than the other pieces.

Bathroom layouts
Bathroom Layout for a small vertical bath

IDEA: If you can afford major changes, a centered sliding pocket door is much more interesting and convenient than one in the corner. Your bathroom will look bigger and will be better distributed.  

Read more: Bathroom Remodel & Renovation Financing Options

3. L-shaped bathrooms

Bathrooms with an L shape are relatively easy to distribute.

a) In an L-shaped room, you should consider placing a wall-mounted sink opposite the door. If possible, place the shower on the short side and the toilet on the other side of the sink. If the downspout is on the short side, you can also place the toilet and a small shower or tub on the other side of the sink, from wall to wall.

L-shaped Bathroom Layout

Bathroom Layouts

b) If you have a sliding door in your small bathroom, place the sink in the corner followed by the toilet and then the shower or tub.

layout for l shaped bathroom

c) Sometimes, depending on the distribution of the rest of the house and if the L allows for it, you can distribute the room as shown on the floor plan below. The sink is in the corner where the entrance is, then the toilet and in the bottom of the L, from wall to wall, is a shower or tub.

l shaped bathroom layouts
L shaped bathroom

4. Square bathrooms

It’s surprising how many variations square designs can have. The door can be cornered or centered, the bathroom may or may not have a window, and so on. Often, there are specific needs for everyone that will influence the “correct” distribution. For example, you may prefer a small bath over a shower or might want a bidet. And of course, size plays a big role.

Read more: 5 Tips For A Functional And Beautiful Bathroom Layout

Basic guidelines for square bathrooms

If the door is more or less centered and the bathroom has a large window in the front of the door, you can leave the space beneath the window free to put a plant or towel bars (especially in extra small bathroom layouts), placing the sink, shower, and toilet beside the door.

bathroom layouts design
bathroom layouts designs
square bathroom

bathroom plan design
bathroom plan design ideas

If the sink is large, you can put a bathtub under the window and place the sink on the wall so that the door opens to it. Additionally, the toilet is placed on the wall opposite the sink.
If the door is in the corner and there are no windows, you can put all the pieces in an L shape. If your bathroom is large enough, you can also use the available space for a double sink. You can opt for creative solutions such as building a half wall to support the sink and placing the shower behind that.

5- Small half-bathroom layout

half bathroom layout
By in-house architect Edna Ramirez

The sanitary components in this bathroom’s design are arranged on two distinct inside walls. Right of the entrance door is where the bathroom is. Regarding bathroom ventilation and styles of doors, there are a variety of options.

powder room with skylight
By in-house architect Edna Ramirez

4.92ft x 3.28ft Bathroom

small bathroom plan for beautiful bath
By in-house architect Edna Ramirez

In this case, the toilet is 1.64 feet wide, while the bathroom sink is 0.98 feet wide. A lovely focus point is created by the hexagonal wall tiles, which come in three distinct shades of white, gray, and black. Silver shower door frames and faucets are suggested by our architect. You can even install non-slippery floor tiles to add to the elegance of the bathroom space.

Tiny house bathroom frontal view
By in-house architect Edna Ramírez

Read more: How to remove towel bars

Last words

We hope these tips and tricks by an expert architect will help you become a pro too on maximum bathroom space utilization as well as space saving. With these strategies and layout ideas, a small bathroom needn’t be a bane. If you plan well, you can have a beautiful space of real estate that’s functional too.

And yes, remember to keep the bathroom decor simple and minimalistic. You don’t want to make an already small bathroom appear even smaller, visually, right?

Simple bathroom design ideas make small bathroom layouts look bigger and more stylish. Planning the layout, bathroom fittings, and storage smartly is important for designing a small bathroom – to make it feel spacious and look chic. Also, using stylish and practical bathroom finishes never go waste.

Read More: Tips From Experts: Make Your Small Bathroom Look Bigger

Check this infographic if you need a handily abstract

Small Bathroom Layout Ideas From an Architect was last modified: May 13th, 2023 by Oriana Gomez-Zerpa
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Kukun staff
Kukun staff(@kukun-staff)

Thanks for the tip! We’ll be sure to check it out. It sounds like a very valuable tool for our readers and homeowners in general!


loved this, best I have found for making the ideas flow. Thanks for sharing your expertise


Thanks a lot for the article! Thanks to your insight I’m confident I can point my readers in the right direction. Linking to you in future articles. Thanks again.


Great, practical ideas, lots of visuals to support the ideas and an easy layout on this website – this all makes for a user-friendly, helpful article. Many thanks!


Fantastic article


Love the example pictures that don’t match your advice. Nice!

Kevin Kilburg
Kevin Kilburg

Excellent article! In fact, the best that I’ve read pertaining to small bathroom layouts.

Decent home decor
Decent home decor

Great! Thanks for Sharing

Maloti Reti
Maloti Reti

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Thanks for share a helpful article.

Harley Quinn Costume
Harley Quinn Costume

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Harley Quinn Jacket
Harley Quinn Jacket

Great article! Thanks for sharing a link to our bathroom planning article. If you need a home design and floor plan tool to try Oriana’s excellent advice in your own bathroom deisgn, check out RoomSketcher Home Designer.

Harley Quinn Jacket
Harley Quinn Jacket

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Mens Red Leather Jacket

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With all good designs the only con that I see is to put near the toilet from the sink, isn’t? More people talk about the droplets coming from the toilet when you flush it, and that freak me out¡¡