Your master bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms when building (or renovating) your home … so you kinda wanna make sure you REALLY think about what you want BEFORE you design this room! If you’re anything like me, you want your master bathroom to be functional … but you do NOT want to sacrifice beauty!
Below are 9 tips that will answer your questions (e.g. do I need a bathtub?) as well as give you suggestions of what to consider before designing your master bathroom layout and choosing your design finishes.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a solid idea of how to design YOUR beautiful and functional master bathroom! Remember … this is YOUR bathroom, so you can design it in any way that makes sense for YOUR family!
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1. MASTER BATHROOM LAYOUT
Determining your layout is the FOUNDATION for designing a functional master bathroom! This will be our lengthiest tip because there are MANY things to consider! The bullet points below will give you a solid foundation to really start thinking about your bathroom layout and how you will use this space.
- Before designing your master bathroom, determine how and by whom it will be used. Think about how many people will be using your master bathroom and design with this number in mind! Typically a master bathroom is used by only two people, but in our household, we ALL four use the master bathroom to get ready (weird, I know, but it’s our reality)! If needed, design your bathroom for multiple users at a time (e.g. double sinks, private toilet area, large shower if plan to have kids shower with you, plenty of storage for everyone’s toiletries and linens, etc).
- Do you want your closet connected to the bathroom … or do you want to walk through your bedroom to get to the closet? People are very mixed on this one … so go with what is best for YOU! I prefer our closet attached to our bathroom so my husband can get ready in the morning without disturbing me (while I’m still sleeping).
- Consider your storage needs … do you need a linen closet (or cabinet)? How much room do you need to store your toiletries and hair care items? Do you want a place to throw dirty clothes (e.g. hamper) in your bathroom? Custom cabinetry allows you to maximize your space and storage!
- Do you want a double sink? (My vote is YES!) If you have ample room, I recommend two sinks so two of you can comfortably get ready at the same time! We added a cabinet between our sinks to create more separation … and I LOVE this!
- Do you want a spa-like large shower … or more of a small functional shower? Do you want a large bathtub … or possibly no tub?
- Do you want a separate toilet area for privacy? Think about hotel bathrooms … the toilet is separate from the sink for a reason! This allows others to get ready while someone is using the toilet.
- If you have a little extra space, you can get really fun and add a makeup vanity seating area or a custom built-in hamper!
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2. HOW BIG SHOULD A MASTER BATHROOM BE?
There is no fixed rule as to how big a master bath should be … however, the trend continues to be large and luxurious! Master bathrooms are typically about the size of a small bedroom (10’ x 12’), but they can range from teeny tiny to HUGE!
The deciding factor will (obviously) be how much space you have in your floor plan to allow for your master bathroom. The good news … a small master bath can still feel luxurious depending on the finishes you choose!
3. CREATE CONSISTENT DESIGN FLOW THROUGHOUT YOUR MASTER SUITE
When designing your master bathroom, keep the design aesthetic consistent with both your master bedroom and closet. These three ‘rooms’ are all connected so maintain a cohesive flow in your color scheme, hardware finishes, and cabinet colors.
One caveat … if you paint your bedroom a bold color (e.g. my bedroom is an eggshell blue), I recommend that you paint your bathroom a neutral color (beige, tan, gray or white). You can bring in pops of your bedroom color(s) in bath towels and other accents.
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4. DESIGNING A TIMELESS MASTER BATHROOM
Below are some TIPS for a timeless master bath design:
- Stick to classic fixture colors (i.e. nickel or silver, black, oil rubbed bronze or brass) as opposed to bold and trendy colors!
- Choose traditional cabinet colors (e.g. white, gray, white oak, or espresso) as opposed to bold and trendy colors (e.g. navy blue, forest green, pink, etc.)
- Choose neutral tiles that will stand the test of time
- Choose a neutral wall color (white, gray, tan, beige) … although paint can be fairly easily changed in the future!
- Go TRENDY in your textiles such as rugs, towels and shower curtains! These items are MUCH easier (than cabinets and fixtures) to change in the future!
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5. DOES A MASTER BATHROOM NEED A BATHTUB?
NOPE! Sure, many master bathrooms do have a bathtub, but in recent years many people have gone away from the big tubs in their master suites! As long as there is at least ONE tub somewhere in your house, you can eliminate a master tub!
You may lose some potential buyers (who expect a tub) when you resell your home, but oh well! I’ve been in my house for six years and I’ve missed the tub one time … only ONE time!
Here’s a little trick from my own custom home … my husband and I RARELY used the tub in our previous home, so we eliminated it when we built this house. In order to appease potential future buyers, we left space in our bathroom for a freestanding tub AND we had rough plumbing installed for a future tub.
6. MASTER BATHROOM LIGHTING CONSIDERATIONS
At the minimum, you can expect to have one overhead light fixture as well as sconces (or over-mirror) lighting in your master bathroom. If you have a separate toilet ‘room’ (which you should if space allows!), add a bathroom fan with a light.
If your bathroom is large, I recommend installing recessed lighting (i.e. can lighting) around the perimeter of the room. Don’t forget to add dimmers on ALL lighting in your bathroom! Dimming the lights creates more of a spa-like feel when showering or soaking in your tub (if you are one of those tub people)!
Also, If you have any art pieces or anything else you want to display, consider adding a sconce or can light to highlight this area. Learn more in COMMON LIGHT FIXTURES + WHERE TO USE.
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7. CONSIDER A GLASS SHOWER DOOR
A glass shower door makes a bathroom feel larger because it takes up less visual space. Not only does the bathroom feel bigger, but your shower will feel more spacious when standing in it! This is especially true if you go with a floor to ceiling shower glass enclosure.
Speaking of an enclosed shower, I HIGHLY recommend that you enclose your shower! We had an open shower (i.e. it was open to the bathroom with no door to close) in our last house and it was SO COLD when showering!
8. FUNCTIONAL (YET BEAUTIFUL) VANITY MIRRORS
Your master bathroom should not have blah and bland slab mirrors … unless you plan to cover the entire wall with a mirror and have sconces installed into the mirror!
Two ways to create a custom look:
- Framed Mirrors: take a slab mirror and customize it with a frame created out of the same material as your cabinets. This creates a fully custom look because the whole vanity area flows and appears as one customized piece. See photo of my bathroom above in the ‘lighting’ tip.
- Purchase a mirror that you would use in any other room in the house … in other words, a beautiful mirror that isn’t simply a ‘bathroom mirror’! Below are some gorgeous ideas to get you started!
9. CHOOSING YOUR HARDWARE
I am of the camp that ALL hardware should be the same finish in a room (or in your entire master suite). Not everyone will agree with this (and that is totally fine), but this is how I choose to decorate. You can, however, bring in other finishes via your accents (I do this! My fixed hardware — cabinet knobs, lighting, plumbing fixtures, etc. — is nickel throughout my house … but I have LOTS of brass accents).
The easiest way to choose hardware for your master bathroom is to choose a ‘family of hardware’ and go with that. For example, I have the DELTA DRYDEN HARDWARE family in my master bathroom.
The hardware you’ll need for your master bath: sink faucet, towel bars, robe hooks, shower hardware (head and knobs), and cabinet hardware.
SHOP BATHROOM HARDWARE + PLUMBING FIXTURES
We covered 9 tips for designing a beautiful and functional master bathroom … I hope you now feel confident in YOUR own choices and designing your bathroom in a way that makes sense for YOUR family … not just the masses! If you don’t want a tub (for example), then don’t add a tub!
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Hello! Great tips! I love the idea of an all glass shower, but I’m worried about the maintenance of it. We don’t have one now and I’ve heard they can be a pain to keep clean! Any thoughts?
Hi Colleen! To be 100, a glass shower IS a little bit of maintenance, but the beauty is worth the extra couple minutes of maintenance (in my opinion)! If you just do a quick squigee (sp?) on the glass after your shower, it keeps the spots away for the most part!
I have a glass shower and it’s little maintenance because A. We have a water softener and B. We use rainX on it so water slides down and there is no build up. Works like a charm!
Great advice! Thanks for sharing, Lourdes :).
I have designed and built two homes in the past and remodeled the one I’m living in now. When I leave a tub out of the master bathroom, I make sure I include a very nice tub/shower combo in the secondary bathroom. Loved your 9 ideas to consider…you are right on, Carrie!
Hi Carol! Thank you for your nice words! It is certainly important to have a tub in another bathroom if you choose to not put one in the Master. We’ve been in our house almost seven years and I’ve wished a tub maybe ONE time … that’s it!
Thanks for the tips on how to design a functional master bathroom. Since I’m planning to do a renovation in September, I like what you said that I must determine first the layout of my bathroom. When I get to decide for one, I shall then follow your advice to keep the design flow with both my master bedroom and closet. With that considered, I am hoping to find an experienced remodeling contractor here in town.
Nice article. My current dilemma is the floor plan that I’m considering using to build has a tub. I’m know I don’t want the tub, but there is a large window that I hate to lose. I want to add a larger linen closet but I’m not sure where to put it (if I put in the old space of the tub, therefore losing the window). Any ideas?
Hi Ashley! It’s so hard for me to answer design questions when I don’t have a visual of the floor plan or room. If there is another area (other than where the windows are) to add the linen closet, I would do that. As far as keeping the windows, you can do what I did. We plumbed for the bathtub (for resale in the future) and I just have a bench and plant sitting in the area where a tub could go (if a future homeowner wants a tub. The bench is in front of our three large windows.
exactly the same dilemma I have, I don’t want a tub in the master bathroom, I love the idea you stated about plumbing for a free standing tub, I would love to see a photo of how you did a bench?
I was really interested in the segment of your article that mentioned how you can use customize mirrors to complement vanity areas. With our new house now fully purchased, I wanted to take this opportunity to add a personalized look to all of the rooms in the house including the large master bathroom that I’ve been enjoying recently. With that in mind, I’ll look around for any bathroom mirror installation services that can assist us in getting something customized to make that room look unique.
Great tips! We have just finished designing our master bath… work starts next weekend. I agree with you on every point, except that I’ve been torn about going classic or custom with the tile… and we decided to go bold. YOLO.
I love this, Jenifer! Yay for going bold … and I love your YOLO mentality :). xo, Carrie