Unlike the expansive spaces and sweeping ceilings so customary in Riverbend great rooms, baths are private retreats. Bath spaces serve as dressing areas, personal spas, or even a place to read. (Think: soaking tub.) Thus, whether you are designing a charming powder room for your guests, a luxury master bath for yourself, or both, thoughtful planning in bath design ensures these spaces offer solitude and quiet without sacrificing comfort.
To follow are four factors worth considering during the early design stages of your home. From the size of your bath space to the amount of storage, these items should prove helpful to you as you plan your new timber frame home.
As with the rest of your home’s construction, location is key in bath design. A perfect example? When considering the location of a powder room within your home, you certainly don’t want the sound of a flush echoing into your family dinner or holiday party. This is why we recommend addressing bath location early in the process. It is also why many homeowners design the powder room into a short hallway or corner away from high traffic areas. Both location options are especially relevant if your timber frame home is a single-level design.
However, if you are building a multi-level Riverbend home, you have additional options for bath and powder room placement. One of your choices is to stack your baths on each level. Not only does this provide the desired privacy, it also allows you to share plumbing pipes and mitigates additional costs.
The popular Melody Lane home design concept above is an excellent example of stacked baths. The Melody Lane’s main level master bath stacks atop the home’s basement level bath and sauna. See its floor plan here.
Of course, designing bath space is predicated on exactly who will be using it and with what frequency. Do you anticipate frequent weekend guests or only an occasional, but longer-term, visitor? The latter might mean incorporating a generous, full bath in lieu of the powder room in the original floor plan; the former could allow you to select the charming twin pedestal sinks you’ve always wanted, since weekenders’ bath storage needs won’t be as significant.
Does one of your loved ones have mobility issues? If so, you may wish to consider bath spaces that accommodate him or her including wider doorways and extra clearance around commodes. And, beyond these space considerations lay…building codes.
Some Riverbend clients express surprise when learning that local and national building codes extend beyond bathroom electrical requirements, and into actual bathroom space requirements. For example, depending on where you build, your building codes may require a specific amount of clear space in front of, and between, your commode and sink. The same is usually true of space requirements related to bathtubs, showers, and more.
Another little-known fact? Building codes sometimes dictate what is considered a full-bath or half-bath, based on the square footage of the space. This is why a bathroom with a bathtub may still be considered a half-bath. [i]
When it comes to building codes, we recommend early contact with your municipality. This is because what Boone, North Carolina requires may be very different from what Napa, California requires. Both you and your designer want to be aware of your local building codes at the beginning of the process because it allows for thoughtfully planned and beautiful bath spaces.
Of course, local and national [ii] building codes are comprehensive and highly detailed for any room’s electrical needs. Add the possibility of wet conditions like those in your bath space, and it’s easy to understand why bathroom lighting is usually best left to professionals.
Restrictions such as outlet height and proximity to wash basins exist, as do specifications related to circuit breakers, the number of receptacles required, and much more. You may wish to wait to purchase your bath and powder room lighting until you have the “all clear” from your general contractor or project manager.
How you design for storage is determined by how you plan on using your bath and powder room spaces. Are you thinking of a simple powder room for washing up, one with limited or no cabinets? Or, perhaps you envision a space that will accommodate (and hide) all your bath essentials including toiletries, towels, and cleaning supplies like the bath shown above. Conduct a thorough assessment of what functions your bath spaces should include, and do so early in the process. You may save a headache (or three!) when bath storage is planned and designed into the room from the very beginning.
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[i] A full bathroom usually requires a minimum of 36-40 square feet regardless of whether or not it contains a bathtub.
[ii] Learn more about the U.S. National Electrical Code® here. In Canada, the Canadian Electrical Code is the standard used.
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