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bath/laundry combo, sf, architect-on-demand, advice-without-strings

A DIY Ally client wrote: “Hello Alla, I’ve much enjoyed your website, particularly your 11-step eBook and blog entries. I have a space planning question. My husband and I are downsizing from a 2300 sf home to a 1948 ranch 3BR/1BA 1100 sf home. Every sf needs to count. Over the 5+ years we’ve owned the home, I believe we’ve pretty much figured out how to maximize the layout; however, a recent decision to completely re-plumb the house allows us the

opportunity to relocate the single bath/laundry combo to a larger space.”

As I’ve learned, the back half of their home consists of the existing bathroom plus 3 bedrooms opening onto a 4’ wide hallway. The middle bedroom, which is 10’10” x 9’8”, is the space they plan to convert. The current 5’x10′ bathroom will morph into an office space.

Every sf has to count, and these are the requirements of the new bath/laundry combo:

Must haves for the home’s only bathroom:

  • laundry equipment;
  • bath and/or laundry related storage;
  • Standalone walk-in shower with generous space for one person – 55”x36” minimum;
  • Separate soaking tub, but can be small (e.g. 60” length but narrow, Kaldewei mini-right, Kohler Greek tub, etc.);
  • No change to existing windows.

Would really like to have:

  • two sinks/grooming areas or one wide shared sink with grooming space to either side.

To facilitate initial feedback, the client attached a “blank slate” drawing of the space along with her “current best effort at satisfying all of the requirements”(see cover image).

I admired her effort very much. However, I was convinced that with a few minor tweaks we can do better. Since the access to washer/dryer is from the hallway, the area to the right of the toilet is wasted and needs to be reclaimed.

I saw how to adjust the layout of the bath/laundry combo in order to maximize the space available — making sure that every sf is accounted for.

The client wrote: “I would be very interested in your take.  Can you give me an estimate of your time requirements and do you have sufficient information to tackle this little puzzle?”

All I needed was a couple of hours to draw it up to scale and play with the pieces to make them fit together more efficiently. As we moved forward, she provided me with additional information:

  • Our overall budget is healthy but a very large chunk will be invested in infrastructure (all new electric, plumbing, HVAC, roof, insulation, crawl space encapsulation, solar electric system, etc.).  While we’d love to get creative enough with the layout for it to work well and satisfy our requirements, we’ll have to stay away from custom solutions that are more expensive than the house warrants.
  • We are in our mid-sixties and looking to age in place in this home so a safe, functional bathroom layout is very important.
  • We would prefer to use the existing laundry equipment, which is just a year old. It’s important to accommodate our washer/dryer – 27w x 29.75d plus the required 4” or so rear clearance and 1” to each side.

OK. No problem. Everything made good sense. The only thing that was bothering me about the original layout was the storage — way too deep.

If it’s just intended “for extra toilet paper, cleaning supplies, overflow toiletries, first aid stuff, etc.,” 12 inches of shelving depth is ample.

bath/laundry combo, sf, alla diy ally

As such, here’s are the revisions I’ve made to the layout:

  • I mirrored the bath tub to give more space around the vanity, an existing vintage cabinet. Instead of mini-right the tub became mini-left.
  • Made the shelving in the storage closet 12″ deep.
  • Gave more space to the shower;
  • Created a niche in the shower for clean towel storage.

Upon receiving version one of the proposed plan, the client wrote back: “Alla – Thanks so much for such a quick turnaround and quite an improvement – most appreciated!” She had a few questions, though.

The client wondered about flipping the tub orientation. She wrote: “We aren’t opposed to that in principle if there’s a good reason.  I depicted it the other way because there’s a better exterior view from that vantage point.”

Based on the new information regarding the view, I went back to the mini-right bath tub. As DIY Ally, it is my pleasure to assume a supporting role, especially when every sf needs to count. In the end, very simple adjustments made this bath/laundry combo work quite well. The client was happy. She wrote in her final email: “Looks great Alla, thank you – just what I needed.”


  • Mia S Kazovsky
    March 14, 2019

    This client is lucky to have you! With you, downsizing never means downgrading!

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