Small spaces pose interesting design challenges, even for architects like me. If you have an oversized budget, the possibilities are endless. However, powder rooms or small bathroom layout ideas that don’t compromise on comfort or functionality require skill and expertise. 

So, how do we go about designing a bathroom layout that fully optimizes your floor space? Find out as I share the ins and outs of various small bathroom floor plans, including small master bathrooms.

Four pillars of design ideas for a small bathroom layout

There are four basic criteria that govern the way any layout is built. We’ll apply them in a standard-sized small bathroom, just over three square meters in dimensions. Then, we will arrange the pieces so that the area feels more comfortable and spacious. 

Keep in mind that building codes require that the minimum distance from the center of a toilet and/or bidet to a shower or any other bath fixture or a wall should be 18 inches.

1. Align your bathroom fixtures

bathroom layouts

Get your heavy bathroom pieces such as the toilet, the bathroom sink, and the shower or bathtub in a row. The new distribution visually orders the space, allowing you to perceive it in all its magnitude, even with its small size. 

By the way, you may be able to switch a shower with a toilet if you so desire with some bathroom remodeling and plumbing work. 

If you look at the before image of the two layouts, you can see three empty gaps. But, wasted bathroom space is a big no-no. Notice in the new floor plan how there is only one, larger space. By aligning the pieces, we have created a large pathway for accessing all the fixtures in a much more intuitive, functional way.

Read more: Toilet for a small bathroom

2. Keep heavy and large pieces at the end of the bathroom

Placing the bulkier pieces, like the shower or tub, away from the entrance is one of the best ways to create the illusion of more space in your small bathroom layout.

Bathroom Layouts

This example clearly shows that by placing the shower in the background, we make the small room seem twice as large. You can even gain enough square feet for maneuverability.

Instantly estimate the cost of your bathroom remodel...
...or take your time to personalize dozens of choices to transform your house into your dream home.
Estimator Bathroom Estimator Kitchen Estimator Bedroom

3. Maintain a continuity

The arrangement of fixtures alters the perception of space. If instead of a standard bathtub with a shower, you use the same area for a chic shower area – conveniently bounded by a bathroom screen – the bathroom’s geometry becomes substantially simpler. This is one of the best layouts for a small bathroom — boosting its orderliness and attractiveness.

Read more: Five Great Storage Solutions for Small Bathrooms

4. Leverage transparencies

When choosing how you’d like to separate the shower area from the rest of the bathroom, a clear frameless glass shower enclosure is a much better bet than frosted glass doors or a shower curtain. That way, the eye can perceive the entirety of the bathroom. 

bathroom layouts

Now that we have covered the four basic pillars for designing a small bathroom layout, let’s take a look at its various distributions.

Four Basic bathroom distributions

1. Long and narrow bathroom

The best distribution of space is the one that has the elements aligned to allow better circulation. For example, a wall-to-wall shower at the end will give the impression that the room is wider. Make sure the toilet and sink leave enough space for the door to swing open. Another useful feature is the bathroom mirror. Use it to add visual space. 

This arrangement is also the cheapest for renovations since all the water pipes are placed on the same wall. 

There are a few small bathroom layout ideas for decoration that can refine the illusion of space when your bathroom is really tight. You can use a darker tile on the back wall, lower the roof if it is very high (to avoid the “tube effect”) or make a walk-in shower that allows all the features to be on the same plane. 

Bathroom Layouts
narrow bathroom

2. Wide and short bathroom

There are two possibilities for this type of bathroom design: the entrance can be in the middle of the side wall or to the side. The criteria for the distribution are similar to those of the previous distribution. First, we must align the pieces for better circulation. The shower should be placed to one side (wall to wall) for convenience – and because it visually stretches the short side. What will vary, according to the door placement, will be the position of the toilet and sink.

The basic rule is to place the sink in front of the door, whether it’s to one side or centered. In the first example image, the sink is centered, with the toilet on one side and shower on the other. In the second, the sink is in the corner.

The reason is, the sink should be the first thing your eye goes to when you open the door to showcase the reflection in the mirror. This not only makes the room seem more spacious and aesthetically pleasing but also allows us to open the door without bumping into the toilet because the sink has less depth than the other pieces.

Bathroom layouts
Bathroom Layout for a small vertical bath

IDEA: If you can afford major changes, a centered  sliding pocket door is much more interesting and convenient than one in the corner. Your bathroom will look bigger and will be better distributed.  

Read more: Bathroom Remodel & Renovation Financing Options

3. L-shaped bathrooms

Bathrooms with an L shape are relatively easy to distribute.

a) In an L-shaped room, you should consider placing a wall-mounted sink opposite the door. If possible, place the shower on the short side and the toilet on the other side of the sink. If the downspout is on the short side, you can also place the toilet and a small shower or tub on the other side of the sink, from wall to wall.

L-shaped Bathroom Layout

Bathroom Layouts

b) If you have a sliding door in your small bathroom, place the sink in the corner followed by the toilet and then the shower or tub.

layout for l shaped bathroom

c) Sometimes, depending on the distribution of the rest of the house and if the L allows for it, you can distribute the room as shown on the floor plan below. The sink is in the corner where the entrance is, then the toilet and in the bottom of the L, from wall to wall, is a shower or tub.

l shaped bathroom layouts
L shaped bathroom

4. Square bathrooms

It’s surprising how many variations square designs can have. The door can be cornered or centered, the bathroom may or may not have a window, and so on. Often, there are specific needs for everyone that will influence the “correct” distribution. For example, you may prefer a small bath over a shower, or might want a bidet. And of course, size plays a big role.

Read more: 5 Tips For A Functional And Beautiful Bathroom Layout

Basic guidelines for square bathrooms

If the door is more or less centered and the bathroom has a large window in the front of the door, you can leave the space beneath the window free to put a plant or towel bars (especially in extra small bathroom layouts), placing the sink, shower, and toilet beside the door.

bathroom layouts design
bathroom layouts designs
square bathroom

bathroom plan design
bathroom plan design ideas

If the sink is large, you can put a bathtub under the window and place the sink on the wall so that the door opens to it. Additionally, the toilet is placed on the wall opposite the sink.
If the door is in the corner and there are no windows, you can put all the pieces in an L shape. If your bathroom is large enough, you can also use the available space for a double sink. You can opt for creative solutions such as building a half wall to support the sink and placing the shower behind that.

5- Small half-bathroom layout

half bathroom layout
By in-house architect Edna Ramirez

The sanitary components in this bathroom design are arranged on two distinct inside walls. Right of the entrance door is where the bathroom is. Regarding bathroom ventilation and styles of doors, there are a variety of options.

powder room with skylight
By in-house architect Edna Ramirez

4.92ft x 3.28ft Bathroom

small bathroom plan for beautiful bath
By in-house architect Edna Ramirez

In this case, the toilet is 1.64 feet wide, while the bathroom sink is 0.98 feet wide. A lovely focus point is created by the hexagonal wall tiles, which come in three distinct shades of white, gray, and black. Silver shower door frames and faucets are suggested by our architect.

Tiny house bathroom frontal view
By in-house architect Edna Ramírez

Read more: How to remove towel bars

Last words

We hope these tips and tricks by an expert architect will help you become a pro too on maximum bathroom space-utilization as well as space saving. With these strategies and layout ideas, a small bathroom needn’t be a bane. If you plan well, you can have a beautiful space of real estate that’s functional too.

Read More: Tips From Experts: Make Your Small Bathroom Look Bigger

Check this infographic if you need a handily abstract

Small Bathroom Layout Ideas From an Architect was last modified: November 28th, 2022 by Oriana Gomez-Zerpa
Your opinion matters, leave a comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kukun staff
Kukun staff(@kukun-staff)

Thanks for the tip! We’ll be sure to check it out. It sounds like a very valuable tool for our readers and homeowners in general!


loved this, best I have found for making the ideas flow. Thanks for sharing your expertise


Thanks a lot for the article! Thanks to your insight I’m confident I can point my readers in the right direction. Linking to you in future articles. Thanks again.


Great, practical ideas, lots of visuals to support the ideas and an easy layout on this website – this all makes for a user-friendly, helpful article. Many thanks!


Fantastic article


Love the example pictures that don’t match your advice. Nice!

Kevin Kilburg
Kevin Kilburg

Excellent article! In fact, the best that I’ve read pertaining to small bathroom layouts.

Decent home decor
Decent home decor

Great! Thanks for Sharing

Maloti Reti
Maloti Reti

I’m so glad that one of the things I got from you, thank you.


Thanks for share a helpful article.

Harley Quinn Costume
Harley Quinn Costume

goodness, decent Bathroom Design Ideas.i love the video definitely. I’m keen on changing over my stroll in wardrobe to a little washroom. Where do I start first?

Harley Quinn Jacket
Harley Quinn Jacket

Great article! Thanks for sharing a link to our bathroom planning article. If you need a home design and floor plan tool to try Oriana’s excellent advice in your own bathroom deisgn, check out RoomSketcher Home Designer.

Harley Quinn Jacket
Harley Quinn Jacket

I’m so glad that one of the things I got from you, thank you.

Mens Red Leather Jacket
Mens Red Leather Jacket

It is the best platform for discussion related to the designing many people want to read these types of blogs and posts and after reading the post they also want to give good reviews who wrote them clearly.


This is very interesting reading. I found a lot of things which I need. Great job on this content.


Amazing posting this is from you. I am actually and truly thrilled to read this fantastic post. You’ve really affected me today. I hope you’ll carry on to do so!

With all good designs the only con that I see is to put near the toilet from the sink, isn’t? More people talk about the droplets coming from the toilet when you flush it, and that freak me out¡¡