Bathrooms can be challenging spaces to design and remodel, often due to constraints posed by the existing bathroom layout and surrounding rooms.  In the Washington, DC area, existing bathrooms will generally fall into one of four categories:


  • Bathrooms in older homes which are original in both footprint and design to the era when the house was built. Such bathrooms are often on the small side, and located strategically between bedrooms.  Options to expand these bathrooms can be limited by the reality that in so doing, existing closet or bedroom space will be compromised.
  • Bathrooms that have been added in the years since the home was built.  These are often powder rooms or half baths that have been installed on the main level or in the basement of a home.
  • Bathrooms in multi-unit condo or apartment buildings.  The materials and finishes in these bathrooms are usually new, but of builder-grade quality.  When it comes to moving fixture locations in these bathrooms, options are often limited, as waste stacks have been bored through the structural concrete floor slab.
  • Bathrooms in large, newly built homes.  These are generally found in the suburbs in areas such as McLean, Bethesda and Potomac in homes that are often referred to as “McMansions” – either derisively or affectionately, depending on whom you ask.  Such bathrooms are usually large in footprint and are the easiest to design and remodel.


Bathrooms in each category pose different design opportunities and limitations, but there are a number of common requests that usually arise during the design phase of every bathroom remodel.  Below is a list of the most typical requests (listed in order from most frequent to least frequent) our designers receive from clients during the planning and design phase of bathroom remodeling projects:


  • Can you convert my bathtub into a walk-in shower, and in so doing, will the resale value of my home decrease?
  • Can you install a double vanity?
  • I would like to create privacy at the toilet room within the context of the larger bathroom.
  • I would like to replace my pedestal sink with a vanity cabinet to gain storage.
  • Can you add a separate walk-in shower while maintaining my tub?
  • Can you expand my shower to include a bench?
  • I would like a strip of accent tile installed throughout the shower or tub surround.
  • I would like to gain storage for soap and shampoo bottles in the walls of my tub or shower by adding recessed niches.
  • Will a pocket door work at the entrance to my bathroom?  It feels so cramped when the existing door swings in.
  • I need more light throughout my bathroom.
  • Can you install additional storage closets or a linen cabinet?
  • I would like to install multiple showerheads or body sprays.
  • My bathroom is always cold so I would like to install a heated floor mat.
  • I love the Japanese style soaking tubs and would like to install one in my bathroom.
  • I like the frameless glass look.  Can you install such a splash panel or shower surround and door?
  • I would like to install additional power outlets for shaving and such.
  • Open bathroom floor plans are gaining popularity.  Can you design my bathroom so that the floor plan is open to the adjoining room while still maintaining a degree of privacy?
  • I would like to install mirrors throughout my small bathroom to give the illusion of a bigger space.
  • I would like to maintain (or install a new) a window in my shower or tub area.  Is this permissible by code, and how can I maintain privacy from the outside?


In the blog posts to come, we will examine each of these common bathroom design requests in detail.  We will discuss the pros and cons (both from an aesthetic and practical standpoint) of each design detail, and which category of bathroom lends itself best to each request.  We will also show examples of bathrooms we have designed and built that incorporate each of these design details.

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