Fitting a shower in a small-bath floorplan
You can’t discount the power of a shower. Adding one is pretty much all it takes to convert a small powder room into a fully functional bathroom suitable for overnight guests. And if your bath already has a claustrophobic stall, replacing it with a roomier new shower just might make you want to get up in the morning. The challenge is, though, if it were easy to fit a comfortably-sized shower stall into your house’s small bathroom, the builder would have done it in the first place.
Not to worry. There are plenty of ways to squeeze a new–or better–shower into a small-bath floorplan, but it takes some ingenuity and a willingness to rethink the space you’ve got (while paying attention to code-required clearances). On a practical level, it will also likely mean moving some pipes around-a small price to pay to make a half-bath whole, or a too-tight bath feel more luxurious. Here are a few examples from Fine Homebuilding authors.
Shower Solution #1: Finding space under the stairs
This bathroom started out as a closet underneath the switchback stairs of architect Steve Wilmot’s Craftsman-style home. Measuring about 3 ft. by 8 ft., the space contained a toilet but no sink. Turning it into a fully functioning bath meant not only squeezing the necessary fixtures into the tiny footprint, but placing them where the variations in ceiling height (from 78 ½ in. at one end to 108 in. at the other) would not violate building codes that specify a minimum ceiling height of 80 in. over fixtures. Snatching some space from a closet and moving a door made it all possible.
Shower Solution #2: Steal from your closets
Yes, we all need more closet space. But like these homeowners, I too could be convinced to give up a linen closet if it meant a more comfortable shower. That was exactly what Austin architect Paul DeGroot prescribed for this master-bath makeover. In this case, appropriating 5 sq. ft. from two adjacent hall closets allowed the toilet and the vanity to be relocated, and the shower to be expanded.
Shower Solution #3: Angling for accessibility
To create an accessible bath for her aging parents, Lubov Mazur decided to swap a soaking tub for a fold-away, curbless shower. Heavy-duty double-swivel rollers support the weight of the doors without requiring any curb or track on the floor. Retracted against the wall, the 20-in. wide doors protrude a mere three inches. This, along with an angled cabinet, keeps the floor open for maneuvering.
Shower Solution #1: A shower stall and small sink turned this space under the stairs into a full-service bathroom.
The toilet fits neatly in the space where the ceiling is lower.
Shower Solution #2: Stealing from adjacent closets resulted in a more spacious, modern shower.
Shower Solution #3: Replacing an under-used soaking tub with a fold-away shower made this bath comfortable and accessible.
Pulled back, the disappearing shower leaves plenty of room to manuever.
The original bath was adequate, but tight. With 5 sq. ft. stolen from two adjacent hall closets, the toilet and the vanity were relocated and the shower expanded.
The original bathroom was little more than a closet equipped with a toilet (but no sink) with a door opening directly in front of the commode.
Moving the door to the middle of the long side of the room created enough room to put the toilet on the side where the ceiling was lower, and a new shower on side where the ceiling was higher.
Before: A soaking tub took up a lot of real estate in the original bath.
After: Folded back, the frosted glass doors from Wilson Glass Company in Berkeley, Calif. Make the most of the 6-ft. by 7-ft. bath.