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Planning the layout of your bathroom

Date: 6 February 2018

Bathrooms tend to be among the more complicated rooms to remodel. Like the kitchen, it’s a functional and sometimes busy place so your bathroom design needs to be practical first and foremost. However, a secondary thought should also be paid to the style and making it a welcoming space, as it’s also somewhere you may want to escape to and relax. Whether it’s the main bathroom or an en-suite, the first place to start is the layout of the room.

Analyse the existing space you have

To keep costs down, keep the location of any plumbed fixtures as is. Moving pipes will mean a lot of extra costs, but if it’s going to significantly improve the usability of the room it could be worth it. Do you have options of where to put things? For example, taking out and not replacing a bath could give you another location for a plumbed fixture. If not, start with the things that can’t move and go from there.

Think about its use

How many people will be using this bathroom? Will you all need to use it in a short space of time, like getting ready in the morning? How will it be used? What do you need your bathroom to be able to do other than be a place where you get clean? All these considerations will help you work out what items need to go in your bathroom and the best places for them.

Draw up a floor plan

Start by putting your must-haves like the toilet, shower and vanity where they need to go, then add in the new extras. It could be storage, a laundry zone, a bath, two basins or a big mirror just as some examples. Take into consideration how much space you’ll need to open cupboards and draws, and move around, get in, out and up off of things, etc. Put in dotted lines to indicate these areas so you don’t put anything in the way. 600-700mm is a good distance. As you add more things to your layout remember to adjust these areas.

Lighting and ventilation

Don’t let this be an afterthought. Often, particular lighting and ventilation is needed for bathrooms because of the moisture in the room. Also, if this is going to be a place for putting on make up, good lighting is essential!

Building consent

Sometimes it’s needed, sometimes not; each local council will have their own guidelines. Generally, if the new bathroom design is a reasonable shift away from the original bathroom layout it will need consent. Seek advice and be prepared to have to change your layout if it’s not compliant.


Once you have determined the layout, then you can start to think about the more design related elements like tiles, tapware, showers, vanities etc.

Get out the measuring tape

Be very exact with your measurements. As it’s most likely a small room you can’t afford to buy a fixture that doesn’t fit the space it’s been allocated in the plan. Measure twice and always take your floor plan and measurements with you when shopping for fixtures. A good idea before you start is to visit bathroom and plumbing showrooms, even building company show homes to get an idea of what can fit in different spaces.


House Plans Helper has a bunch of bathroom layout floor plan ideas to help you get started.


If you’re considering a bathroom renovation, download our free guide to help you.