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Bathroom Space Planning Guidelines

Learn how to maximize your bathroom with our helpful tips, measurements, and rules.

Whether you're decorating or renovating your bathroom, this space planning guide will help you take the right steps to create a beautiful and functional space. Building a bathroom from the ground up can be a challenging project. Common questions include: Where do I begin? How much clearance space do I need between fixtures, like a vanity or tub? Is there a specific place to install lighting? With our help, you'll have the answers to these questions (and more!) in no time. Learn how you to manage a stress-free project by following our helpful guide tips and steps below.

Space Planning 101

Before installing your bathroom fixtures, keep this general tip in mind: When considering fixture placement (toilet, bathtub, shower, vanity) be sure to install these bigger pieces at least 30 inches apart from each other, a wall, or another feature.

Toilet Measurements


Leave at least 21 inches of space in front of a toilet.
PlacementLeave at least 15 inches of space from the center of the toilet to a wall or another obstacle.To enhance privacy, install a toilet out of direct sight—off to one side of the doorway or hidden behind the vanity.


Looking for more renovating ideas? Check out this stunning bathroom before and after!

Shower/Tub Measurements


At least 24 inches of space is needed in front of a shower or tub entry.​If you have a swinging door, take into consideration nearby fixtures. To prevent a collision, consider the placement of hardware including towel bars, handle bars, and light fixtures.

Leave at least 15 inches of space between the shower and toilet or other obstacle.
The interior of a standing shower needs to measure at least 36 by 36 inches.


For small bathrooms, opt for a pedestal sink with a medicine cabinet over a standard vanity. It offers more floor space and brings an open feel to the room.

Vanity/Sink Measurements


Provide at least 2 feet between you and a fully extended drawer or open cabinet to make sure there is enough room to easily access the items stored there.
The placement of the sink mostly depends on where it's located in relation to the toilet and bathtub or shower. The suggested distance from the center of a sink to a wall or another obstacle is no less than 20 inches.

Next Steps to Consider

Now it's time for the fun part! Once you've figured out the placement of bigger fixtures (tub, shower, toilet, vanity), the next step is to determine what type of flooring you need, storage and accessory options, and finally, your lighting options.

When choosing showers and tubs, pick a style with a slip-resistant bottom or floor.Since most bathroom floors are tiled, prevent slipping with a bathroom rug or bath mat in front of the shower/tub or vanity/sink.
 For a unique alternative to floor tiles, consider cork flooring because it's water, mold, and mildew resistant. Plus, it's a lot softer in case you do slip or fall!
Storage and Accessories
Whether you have a small or large space, remember to include an abundant amount of storage (like decorative baskets or shelving ) for general bathroom supplies, such as bath linens, toiletries, and more.Hang a vanity mirror above a vanity or near the toilet for grooming and to make your space feel bigger and visually interesting. Place the the mirror at eye-level or slightly above.
Remember to install a toilet paper holder . Place it at least 8 to 12 inches in front of the toilet bowl edge and at least 26 inches above the floor. 
​Additional bathroom accessories (towel holders, soap dishes, toothbrush holders) should be placed in convenient locations near its designated bath fixture. For example: A soap dish needs to be placed near the sink for easy access.
In addition to general lighting, include task lighting to create a more functional bathroom. Lighted and magnifying mirrors make applying make up or general grooming easier.Bathrooms are usually the most damp and wet places in the home, so make sure the light fixtures you choose to install in a tub or shower space are suitable for this room.
Hang fixtures at least 8 feet above a tub and at least 3 feet to the left or right from of the tub's rim.
For a more flattering light option, flank a vanity mirror with wall lighting or sconces on each side; compared to a single ceiling light, it produces less shadows.


For proper bathroom ventilation, a window has to be at least 3 square feet and it needs to open at least half-way. If you don't have windows, install an exhaust fan. They are available with (for an all-in-one solution) or without lights.

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