Designing a Small Bathroom

An email from S.N. (a longtime Slow Home contributor) prompts a discussion on how to maximize the functionality of a small bathroom.

  • Brad W

    Inspired by Slow Home and a long term interest in building, I have ventured into the multi-unit residential property market as an investor, developer, construction manager, landlord and broom jockey.

    The first project is a 4-plex in a centrally located 100 year old building. Aside from dealing with a myriad of building codes, fire codes and tenancy issues, several of the units are being renovated and this is where the design fun begins. It is not always that easy, especially in an older building, to achieve ideals proposed by Slow Home but we are trying. Needless to say, small bathrooms, linear small kitchens, too many small rooms, scary electrical and crappy plumbing dominate my day. So Slow Home thanks, I think, for the continuing inspiration. And when I am having a bad day, forgive me if I occasionally curse you.

  • Terri

    Sounds exciting, if not frustrating, to be remodelling old buildings. I take it you are embarking on this work as a second career (or as new endeavour anyway), which sounds inspiring to me. Maybe you could offer a challenging apt. redesign for a design exercise here on Slow Home (if you could find the time to draw up a “before” plan…).
    Best of luck with your project(s)!

  • Matthew North

    Brad W – sounds exciting! I think you should call your new company “House Brad”. Has a good ring to it, don’t you think? I would love to see some before photos of the building and maybe a plan or two…….I think this is a great endeavor and even though it can be a bit daunting at times, I know you have the where-with-all to stick with it and do a great job!

  • Brad W

    Terri – thanks for you kind wishes

    Matthew – HouseBrand > HouseBrad > HouseBad … this is not headed in a good direction :) – actually, coming up with a good company name is quite a head scratcher – I’ll send you a few before photos and the plan in the next few days

  • Steve in Van

    Matthew, I don’t often say this, but LOL! Love it!

    Way to go, Brad, embarking on a dream. Wishing you the best is you jump in to project after project. I find it inspiring to hear stories like yours. Thanks!

    And now I’m off to Quebec to help friends drywall their new home. I was thrilled to be able to suggest design changes last year based on things I learned here. I love it when a good plan comes together!

  • Mid America Mom

    Brad- that is fantastic! Keep us abreast and photos are always appreciated.
    What is your expected date of completion(hard to get help)? Is the market still HOT in the GTA?

    Mid America Mom
    still in Chicagoland

  • S.N.

    John and Matthew, thanks for the answer; Matthew’s bathroom looks great!
    Brad W, great project, can’t wait for the pictures and plans.

    BTW, my wife and me are doing a small tour of USA and Canada this spring. I decided to go on a “house hunting”, so we will be looking at apartments in Vancouver and Chicago. That house hunting came up because I found two nice mid size apartments in Vancouver and at least five really great ones in Chicago, so I decided that I have to see them in person. I just hope they will not be sold by April. :)
    O, yes, while looking at apartments in Chicago I noticed that in general, apartments there are much better then in Vancouver. There are some great residential buildings dating from 70′s with great floor plans. Only in last few years there were some bad floor plans, but generally for apartment buyers, Chicago rules. :) Sorry Vancouver :(
    After we return I’ll post some few pictures and floor plans of those apartments.


  • Brad W

    For those that are interested or simply curious here is a link to my downtown Hamilton Ontario multi-unit house – – the pictures are in order -first floor (currently rented), second floor, third floor and basement, exterior elevations bookend the presentation

    The second floor (blue kitchen), third floor (world’s smallest bathroom) and basement are being renovated to resolve electrical, plumbing, roof and insulation issues. Beyond that the apartments are being redesigned (within reason) to provide a better lifestyle for the new tenants. And I will post floor plans of the second and third floor in a day or two should any of you want to make some modifications.

  • Terri

    Thanks for posting those images. It looks like your multi-unit house is located on a very nice street (especially in the summer!). The chopped-up spaces on the floors above look like some opening-up might be considered, if costs aren’t prohibitive. Even without that kind of renovation, it looks like quite the challenge you’ve got there!

  • Matthew North

    BradW – I love the scale of this project! It does look like there will be some “older” home challenges as Terri suggests but I think if you keep it simple it will be a great place to live! I would like to volunteer myself to select some new paint colors for you…….haha!

  • Brad W

    Matthew – The first floor burgundy? wall colour is out of my hands as the space is rented but Matthew feel free to suggest colours for the other floors.

    Also planning to replace the porch columns and restore the front gable (I cannot stand the aluminum siding).

  • http://deleted S.N.

    Brad W- love the decor! it is stylish! :)

    Be sure to organize parking on the lot, otherwise people will park as they wish and the whole thing is going to be a mess.
    I think you cosed a great project, and also a hard one….


  • Anonymous

    OH! Wow. that one bath made me cringe. The vanities in the two upper units look newer which is helpful.

    The cords running in the blue kitchen – I can see why you need work in there. I like the distance between the sink and stove… alot of counter for small unit.

    Looking forward to your plans

    Matthew et all.

    On a side note due to possible jobs I am doing some apartment, school, cost of living research for Portland (Oregon) and Denver. For these cities I found I can use a great site padmapper . (Check out youtube on this – to make it less suckless LOL- ) Besides search by bedrooms etc it does an overlay from apartment rental and craiglist sites with google. So you can do zoom in and Walkscore even. With a link the the original listing you can sometimes find floorplans!

    I am not sure if it is available for Canada though we have two irons in the fire there- Toronto and Ottawa . Ottawa I have not even started (the weather has something to do with that ;) )

    Mid America Mom

  • John S

    Would love to see your recommendations for optimising the functionality of this small bathroom without changing the room’s dimensions, or the location of the plumbing!

  • plumbing

    When you design a bathroom, it can enhance your creativity, ideas and knowledge in designing a bathroom.  I suggest that even you build a small bathroom, make sure that it is presentable and unique. Make sure that it is also clean and neat.