Half-Baths Full of Function
Design these small spaces to be as practical as they are beautiful.
Synopsis: Architect Lynn Hopkins offers a full vision of how to make a half-bath work, functionally and aesthetically, to create a sense of privacy for guests in the public spaces of your home. One example shows how re-evaluating the need for a full bath may offer an expanded range of finish options, since moisture and toiletry concerns have been eliminated. Another example suggests taking the attention off a powder room facing the front door between a double staircase. By placing the half-bath beneath one of the staircases, the freed space creates a sightline through the house to the back garden.
Much of my work involves renovating and reconfiguring houses in New England, many of which date back to a time when half-baths were nonexistent. If a house did have an original half-bath, it was likely located in a small shed in the backyard—not exactly the kind of space contemporary homeowners are looking to renovate. Updating these houses can be challenging, and integrating a half-bath can take some creative thinking. Designing a half-bath—often called a powder room here in New England—usually involves figuring out how to shoehorn it into an existing plan. Whether in a remodel or a new home, you have to consider who will use it even before you determine its location.
Create privacy in public spaces
The original intent of the half-bathroom was to create a facility for guests. Traditionally, these bathrooms were located near the entry foyer to keep guests from wandering too deeply into the private areas of a home. The same reasoning holds true for modern-day half-baths.
With this in mind, determining an appropriate location can be challenging, because a half-bath has two requirements that can be in conflict. First, it should be convenient to the social spaces of the house—the living,…