I think I had about 40 basement bathroom ideas floating around in my head prior to actually starting to finish the bathroom. Your basement bathroom is really a project within a project. You'll be working on finishing your basement, framing, electrical, and so on, then one day you'll start on your bathroom and you won't come out for like a month and half.
In this post we'll explore the 5 key elements of your basement bathroom design. Plus, I will tell you the 3 things I would change if I could build my basement bathroom all over again.
Did you know that most wolves mate for life? Well, that's going to be you and your basement bathroom. Forever intertwined. Your mission is to make it out of there alive and with a 99% completed bathroom. To do that you need to consider these 5 design elements ahead of time.
5 Basement Bathroom Ideas and Design Options
Do you want just a half bathroom (toilet and sink only) or do you want a shower and or tub? How big can your bathroom be? Can you fit a closet for towels, linens and things like that. Can you have a full vanity and sink or do you need to save space with a pedestal sink?
- Vanity or pedestal sink?
- Full bath (with shower/tub) or Half Bath (toilet and sink only)
- Tiled shower wall or pre-fab shower enclosure
- Flooring - tile, vinyl, engineered wood, concrete?
- Lighting - Recessed, dual mirror lighting, bathroom chandelier (that's what I want!)
My basement design was for a full bathroom. A sink with a vanity (not a pedestal), regular size toilet, a tub and a shower. I had enough room so I built a closet with a door inside the bathroom.
If you have the space, a separate room for the toilet is a nice touch. Otherwise, make sure you check your code for how far from the shower your toilet needs to be (usually 9 to 14 inches).
Working Around the Bathroom Rough-In
The biggest stumbling block for me was getting the spacing just right while trying to work around the location of the toilet drain which was already roughed in.
When I say "rough-in" I'm talking about the pipe that get's installed before they pour the concrete floor. In my case the builder had already included this.
The problem was that builder had the bathroom situated a different way. My layout just wouldn't work, no matter how many scenarios I tested on paper.
In the end I designed what I wanted and had to move the rough-in about 9 inches. You don't have to dig up the entire line, just enough to add a bend in it and point it to where you want it.
TIP: Did you know that the drain is basically gravity feed? I guess I didn't really realize this at first. Basically this means if you pour a gallon of water down there it's basically the same as flushing the toilet. Just a thought...
Select a Bathroom Wet Wall
Typically, but not required, you put all of your plumbing within one wall. This is often called the wet wall. The sink, toilet and shower plumbing all exist in this one wall. This makes it easier to locate all the piping etc. Consider this in your design. Which wall is your wet wall?
Why I Chose What I Chose
Even though my house already has quite a few full bathrooms, I really wanted a full basement bathroom (with shower and tub). Here was my reasoning:
- With the tub we could wash dogs, pets, etc.
- If relatives with kids were visiting and sleeping in the basement, they would have a tub or shower to use.
- I have a vision of a huge Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday with various extended family camping out in the basement and really needing and enjoying a nice full bath.
- It's good for resale and the additional cost from half-bath to full is not significant.
- I really wanted to learn how to tile a shower wall (this was my chance to practice)
What Would I Do Different
Not too much. I would still tile the floor and shower. If my budget or timeline was super tight I guess I would do vinyl flooring instead of tile and a preformed shower wall instead of tile.
- I would add more lighting. Probably one more recessed light.
- I would install and paint the wainscoting before I installed the toilet and vanity. It was much harder afterward.
- I would install a utility sink on the other side of the bathroom wet wall. I can still add this of course, but if I had pre-planned it that would have been money! I need a spot to clean off paint brushes and muddy shoes.
The bathroom closet was something that looking back I'm really glad I did. We use it to store extra paper towel rolls, napkins, toilet paper, plastic silverware, solo cups - all the bulk stuff that you buy at Costco or Sams Club.
When our kids were younger it was choke-full of diaper and wet wipes. It's like having my own mini Costco in my basement bathroom.
The best part is that I now know that when I'm ready I can absolutely revamp our master bathroom. New tile shower and flooring, fancy vanity, cool tub surround, you name it, I'm confident I could do it and do it well.
Plus, if we ever move, I would totally look at any new house in a different light. Even if I didn't do all of the work, at least I now know what it takes to do a renovation. That alone is worth the effort.
What are your basement bathroom ideas?
Have you ever renovated or built a bathroom before? Are you about to start? Tell us about it in the comment below.
More Basement Stuff:
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- Still just looking, Pinterest Wall - Bathroom Ideas