The Australian Dream Series


Room sizes & layouts - Bathroom Areas

Most homes throughout Australia, possibly more so in temperate regions, will benefit by positioning the non habitable rooms such as the Laundry, Bathroom and the like on the southern side of the home allowing space on the northern side for 'family areas' to be positioned to capitalise upon northern winter sun . This is not a hard and fast rule but does form the basis of many good designs.

Regardless of which side of the home the Bathroom is placed, its location in regards to other rooms will depend upon the overall configuration of the design.
A home with one Bathroom may be designed to permit convenient access for Guests as well as being close to bedrooms etc.
'Tucking' the Bathroom and toilet away at the back of the home close to sleeping zones will work in a home with an ensuite or powder room available for visitors to use.
Obviously at the end of the day the size of the home (and your budget) will put parameters on where the Bathroom can physically be placed.

Owners designing homes with one Bathroom and no Ensuite may look to dress up the area more, as it will be on show for guests and visitors, whereas a Bathroom solely used to service second and third bedrooms may be designed and fitted out with practical use and functioning as a priority.
Which ever is the case, It should be remembered that the Bathroom can be a hazardous place, possibly more so for the elderly and for children. Those 'chic' glossy ceramic floor tiles in the showroom can turn into a potential problem when wet from bath or shower use. Sunken baths can set off the look of a room but are they practical with young children or toddlers.

A basic Bathroom will provide for a shower ( standard size being 900mm by 900mm ), a bath (1500mm or 1650mm long) and a vanity and basin. ( vanity units 800mm high 500mm deep)
More elaborate designs could make a place for the installation of a spa bath or tub, double vanity units, a bidet and toilet, a steam shower, heated towel rails or heated floor tiles. The list of luxury items and also practical items such as steamless mirrors is vast and budgets can be quickly eroded if not kept in check.

What ever layout or fittings are decided upon to suit your individual requirements one item that should be looked at closely is ventillation or air circulation.
Having an openable window will not guarantee that all the steam that can lead to mould growth on ceilings and walls will be removed. Nor will simply installing an exhaust fan stop the problem. A mechanical exhaust fan with the capacity to change the air volume of the room at least 15 to 20 times per hour should be installed.
Logically, a smaller sized Bathroom will get by with a smaller capacity fan. Don't rely upon - " Builder - yes we've allowed for a ceiling fan in our quote "
In conjunction with, this the source that the air is being drawn from should be looked at. Closing the window, which is naturally done during winter to prevent cold draughts, will require air to be drawn from under the doorway. Energy ratings under the Building Code may require doorways to the Bathroom to be sealed and this combined with a sealed window may reduce the effectiveness of any installed exhaust fan.

Back to the Bathrooms layout - As with most 'smaller' rooms, a window or mirror directly opposite the doorway will create a feeling of spaciousness or openness to people entering the room.
Having both a window and mirror side by side in direct sight may reduce this effect. Initially the eyes will be drawn to the outside garden registering an open feeling but then the influence of the mirror reflection of the room may negate this. Sometimes this combination will work but generally, in my view, separating these features will add to the perceived 'depth' of the room. For example opening the door to a window view will 'increase' the size of the room and then turning to face a mirror will add to the perception. Having both in the same initial view, the mind will register quicker as to the closeness of the facing wall.
For those rooms placed internally within the home they will benefit greatly by incorporating a large mirror, used in conjunction with a light source such as a large skylight.

In the context of creating an illusion of greater space, the amount of open floor area initially viewed when entering the room will impact upon this feeling. Opening the door to be confronted by the end of the vanity unit or shower recess will visually draw the room in. In the case of a shower recess, having a clear screen will be a positive, having opaque glass will be a negative. Lighter coloured vanity units will recede whereas timber or laminates with dark colours will be visually drawn in. - small rooms lighter colours.

When working out the placement of showers, baths or vanity units a circulation space of 700mm in front of the unit should be allowed for as a minimum workable requirement.
Standard bath space to allow for is 750mm wide by either 1500mm or 1650mm in length.
Vanities are normally 500mm deep, 800mm high with a variety of lengths depending upon requirements and whether 1 or 2 vanities (bowls) are to be included.
Formed, standard shower bases fitted to most bathrooms are normally 900mm by 900mm with variations up to 1800mm long by 800mm wide. On a concrete slab where often the shower base is formed by a recess in the slab and then tiled, the size can be made to any requirement (bearing in mind the tied in cost of the shower screen)
Another area to look at is the installation of a floor drainage point. Although it is a requirement to have wall/floor junctions sealed in wet areas to prevent water penetration, a floor waste outlet can be a practical installation for those times when the bath overflows -" the whale did it mummy"
Drainage can be installed at any time with a timber floor on stumps but if employing a concrete slab as the foundation any such drainage must thought about and included before the slab is poured.

The temperature of the supply of hot water to Bathrooms is regulated under Building Codes to prevent scalding.
The installation of preset mixer taps are an option adopted in many households especially where young children are involved. These types of single outlet fittings can be set at a required temperature and have incorporated an override button for those who wish to manually increase or decrease the temperature setting.

This type of fitting has been used extensively in commercial applications for many years and although the outlay can be expensive they are an excellent safeguard for young children or the elderly.


The diagrams below show simple Bathroom layouts with the minimum workable sizes shown.
Figure B1 with only 550mm between the vanity and bath would be extremely tight. B2 with an increased room width to 2100mm allows for an 850mm space plus the shower is set back further from the door jamb allowing for a full width architrave to be installed.
B3 with the vanity rotated opens up the floor space from the doorway.

The extra width in B2 and 3 also allows for the doorway to be moved towards the shower permitting a towel rail to be installed behind the door and still retain a full opening swing.
Door sizes for all rooms are best allowed for at 820mm with the possible exception of the toilet which can be reduced to a 770mm wide door. Robes, linen cupboards and the like can be designed for various sized doors. - standard widths are manufactured at 520mm, 620, 670,720, 770, 820, 870 and 920.

Where space permits windows can be 'full height' - 2100mm high, starting at floor level. Many good designs make the use of narrower windows beside vanities or the bath or shower to create a more 'architectural' look to the room. For a minimal extra outlay this effect can dramatically change the look of both large and small areas.
The draw backs are safety - even though glass panels towards floor level are required to be of safety glass - and water splashes to the frame, glass and curtains (if installed)

In closing this section, a short word on toilets. My personal feeling is that they are best not placed within Bathrooms nor for that matter integrated directly within Ensuites. There may be cases for including a toilet suite but (thankfully) the trend is now towards separated toilets or at minimum a separately partitioned area.



Room sizes & layouts - Ensuite areas >>