How to design a bathroom remodel

The time has finally come to remodel your bathroom. Perhaps it’s because the layout isn’t working for you. Or maybe you’d like a little more control over the bathroom features. Whatever reason you have to remodel your bathroom, the first step towards a functional and comfortable bathroom is a good design. Not sure how to design a bathroom remodel? You’ve come to the right place.

As one of the leading design-build firms in the Portland Metro Area, the team at Lamont Bros. has seen our fair share of bathroom remodels. Because each one serves the unique needs of a different client, no two bathroom remodels are the same. However, some common design principles help make the process of designing a bathroom much easier.

In this article, you can learn how to design a bathroom remodel from the pros. We’ll discuss the important design considerations you should think about when remodeling your bathroom. That way, when you decide it’s time to start remodeling, you can have a clear understanding of what makes a good bathroom remodel design.  Here, you can read about three important steps in remodeling a bathroom:

Choosing the type of bathrooms

When designing a bathroom remodel, the first thing you need to establish is what type of bathroom you want to design. The layout of your bathroom will determine what features it has, how it is used, and who uses it. There are four main types of bathroom layouts. Each one fits a different set of needs depending on how you intend for it to be used.

Powder Bathroom

A powder bathroom consists of a toilet and sink.

The simplest bathroom layout, a powder bathroom consists of a sink and a toilet. They are generally small in size, between 15-20 square feet. Because they don’t have a shower, powder bathrooms are used only for toileting and hand-washing. Also commonly called a ½ bathroom, powder bathrooms are most often located in areas of the home where guests are present.

You might want a powder bathroom in your home if you frequently entertain guests and would like a separate bathroom for company to use. This layout is also great for small spaces, so if you’re looking to add a bathroom to your home, it’s not uncommon to turn a large closet into a powder bathroom. 

¾ Bathroom

Most people don’t differentiate between a full bathroom and a ¾ bathroom, but there is actually a difference. While both a full and a ¾ bathroom have a toilet and sink, a full bath has a shower and a bathtub. A ¾ bathroom has one or the other. More often than not, it’s the bathtub that gets the ax. These types of bathrooms require at least 30 square feet of space, but 36 square feet is a more comfortable size. 

A 3/4 bathroom includes a sink and toilet, plus a shower or bathtub.

A ¾ bathroom is generally limited by space. There often isn’t room for a full tub-shower combo, but there is room for a small walk-in shower, instead. You might choose a ¾ bathroom for a small guest suite where space is limited, but you still want your overnight guests to have a shower if they need it.

Oftentimes, homeowners would rather have more customization options than a fiberglass tub-shower combo offers. In these cases, the decision to go with a ¾ bathroom is more based on design preferences. Perhaps they want a custom tile shower or a curbless shower door to prevent tripping hazards. In any case, a ¾ bath can be a great way to achieve a great visual design, even with limited space. 

Full Bathroom

A full bathroom features a sink, toilet, shower, and bathtub.

As mentioned above, a full bathroom contains all 4 major bathroom components: a sink, toilet, shower, and bathtub. The shower and bathtub can be combined, as with a fiberglass combo unit, or they can be separate.

The full layout is most common for frequent-use bathrooms where people who live in the home can get ready on a regular basis. These bathrooms require more space than powder or ¾ bathrooms – about 40 sq. feet at a minimum. 

Primary Bathroom

A primary bathroom attaches to the master suite.

Although it technically fits the description of a full bathroom, primary bathrooms get their own category because they tend to be larger and more complex. Also called the master bathroom, a primary bathroom is the bathroom directly attached to the primary bedroom of the home, and it’s usually the one most frequently used by the homeowner.

Typical primary bathrooms are between 50-100 square feet, though they can be larger. A primary bathroom often features a more luxurious layout, including a standalone bathtub, dual sink vanity, and a separate water closet for the toilet or shower. 

Deciding on fixture placement & arrangements

Once you’ve decided on the general size and features of your bathroom, then it’s time to figure out where everything is going to go. A good rule of thumb to use when arranging your bathroom is this: The more frequently a fixture gets used, the closer it should be to the door. That’s why you usually see the sink first, toilet second, and the shower furthest away. 

One important thing to consider is the location of the main drainage pipe in the bathroom. When you’re trying to design a bathroom remodel, It’s best to keep as many of the water features and appliances as close together as possible. This will keep plumbing costs low since the waste pipes to your main drainage stack will be short and require fewer labor hours from a plumber.


The sink is arguably the most frequently used item in the bathroom. We use it before we eat, after going to the toilet, and in the morning when we get ready for the day. Because of its frequent use, you’ll usually find the sink nearest to the door in the bathroom.

When working on a bathroom remodel design, consider what type of sink will best suit your needs. Does the bathroom get used frequently enough to warrant two sinks instead of one?

On top of that, your sink is typically where most of the bathroom storage is located. What type of vanity do you need? One with lots of storage, or just enough for a few towels and toilet paper? 


Finding a good location for the toilet can be a little trickier. It’s common to find the toilet right next to the bathroom vanity, especially if the vanity has a toilet paper holder on the side. This tends to be a good arrangement for plumbing since both drainage pipes from the toilet and sink will align. 

For bathrooms with multiple frequent users, many people choose to put their toilet in a separate room within the bathroom, called a water closet. It allows for more privacy when using the toilet while also keeping the rest of the bathroom available to those who need to use it. This is a great feature for a primary bathroom for couples or a bathroom shared by children.


Separating the sinks from the shower or toilet with a door creates a water closet for privacy.

You’ll often find the shower on the opposite side of the bathroom from the door. Since the shower gets used less frequently than the toilet or sink, it makes sense to prioritize its accessibility after the first two.

Beyond that, the location of the shower in the bathroom depends largely on your preference and any issues you’re trying to solve. If the bathroom is limited in space, a corner shower can help save square footage. If the bathroom is shared by multiple people, the shower can go in a separate water closet with the toilet. 


Chances are, your bathtub is a lot like a steak dinner – good every once in a while. Most people enjoy having the option to sit and soak in the tub when they need it, but showers are by far more popular than baths. 

Since it’s only used on occasion, the placement of your bathtub should be low on the overall priority list. More often than not, you’ll find a bathtub as part of a shower/bath insert. However, it may be worth separating the two during a remodel. 

The argument for separating the bath and shower is simple: it gives you a better experience with both. A full walk-in shower is easier to access than a shower tub combo. There’s less of a barrier to step over with a walk-in shower, and you can customize the size more easily, as well. For the bathtub, a standalone tub tends to be more comfortable than a fiberglass insert. They’re larger, offer a higher maximum water line, and are more ergonomic. 

Selecting finishes and products for your bathroom

After you establish the layout of your bathroom remodel, then comes the artistic part of the design. Now, it’s time to select your finishes and fixtures. It’s important during this phase to consider how you want your bathroom to look. You’ll be working with colors and textures as you develop the visual design, so think about how different surfaces might complement or clash with one another. 

Bathroom flooring

Tile can be a great choice for your bathroom shower and floor.

The most important thing to remember when selecting your bathroom floor is that it will get wet. There’s no way around that, so you should choose something water-resistant. Tile flooring and waterproof laminate are two of the most popular flooring choices for a bathroom. 

Tile flooring is excellent because it lasts a long time and is very waterproof. Also, if you want heated bathroom floors, tile flooring is the ideal choice because tile conducts heat well. On the flip side, tile can be very expensive to install.

Waterproof laminate is much less expensive and holds up very well against water damage. Just make sure you’re actually using a waterproof version and not just regular laminate, which will warp and bubble if exposed to moisture for too long.

Vanity countertops

If you decide to go with a vanity cabinet for your bathroom, chances are, it will require a countertop. When selecting a countertop, it’s important to consider the amount of cleaning you’ll need to do. The most common choices for bathroom countertops are quartz and tile.

Quartz countertop are especially good for bathrooms because they are naturally waterproof, easy to clean, and require very little maintenance. Whereas natural stone must be sealed regularly, engineered quartz is permanently sealed by the manufacturer.

Darker or neutral color countertop goes a long way towards concealing dirt and damage. While a light-colored countertop may brighten the space, be aware that you’ll end up cleaning it much more often.

Shower walls

Your shower wall is another surface you’ll need to consider for your bathroom remodel design. Fiberglass, waterproof panels, and custom tile showers are three of the most popular.

When selecting a shower wall, consider your priorities. If your goal is to stay low-budget, fiberglass is the best but comes with the downside of not being visually appealing or easy to customize.

 If you’re after full customizability, tile is the way to go. You can select tiles in any size, shape, and color. Visually, a well-installed tile shower offers a clean, classic look to your bathroom. But keep in mind that tile is the most expensive option per square foot. 

Waterproof shower panels tend to be a strong balance between cost and aesthetics. They can be made to look like natural stone and are incredibly easy to install. And, because they’re all one piece, there’s no need for grout, which means less maintenance for you.

Plumbing Fixtures

Selecting plumbing fixtures is all about what features you want your bathroom to have and how much you’re willing to pay to get them. A simple bathroom with good-level plumbing fixtures will feature a simple faucet, porcelain toilet, and generic shower head with one spray function.

On the other hand, if you wanted to splurge on the latest bathroom technologies, you could spend tens of thousands on plumbing fixtures. A top-of-the-line bathroom might feature a touchless faucet with instant temperature control. For your toilet, you might choose a Kohler Veil smart toilet with motion sensor automatic seats and a bidet. In your shower, you could do a touch-screen controlled shower head, complete with instant hot water and full-body sprayers. 

While this all might seem a bit over the top, the best way to select your plumbing fixtures is relatively simple. Figure out what is and isn’t working with your current bathroom’s fixtures. When you’re designing your remodel, select fixtures that solve the problems first. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to adding the creature comforts.

Want help from the pros on your bathroom remodel design?

By now, you should have a solid understanding of the basic principles for designing a remodel. Take the next step by visiting our Bathroom Remodel Portfolio and start gathering ideas and inspiration for your bathroom design! Here you can find photos from previous remodels by our team at Lamont Bros.

Even when you understand the process of designing a bathroom remodel, it can still be a challenge to tackle on your own. Let us help you! As a full-process remodeling firm, we’ll help you navigate the challenges of a bathroom remodel, from the initial design to the final build. Click the link below to schedule a free video consultation with a member of our team!