Simple Ways To Add A Half Bathroom (And What To Consider Before You Start)

There are many reasons you might want to add an additional bathroom to your home. Maybe your family is growing and fighting over your existing bathrooms, or you’d like to have a separate bathroom for guests for your own privacy. Maybe you’re looking to add a more accessible bathroom to your first floor. Whatever the reason, adding a half bathroom is a popular project that can really add value and convenience to your home, and you can do it without sacrificing much space at all.

This Brilliant Half Bathroom Uses A mirror And A Mural To  Create The Illusion Of A Larger Space, As Well As A Recessed Niche For Functionality (by Olive Juice Designs)
This Brilliant Half Bathroom Uses A mirror And A Mural To Create The Illusion Of A Larger Space, As Well As A Recessed Niche For Functionality (by Olive Juice Designs)

Throwing around the word “addition” almost always means a very major project, but adding a bathroom – especially a small half bathroom – doesn’t have to mean adding on to your house. All that’s needed in a half bathroom is a toilet, a sink, and a mirror, and with the right picks you can fit all three into an impressively compact space: as little as 3″-4″ wide by 4″-5″ long (though a little longer is better if possible). Choosing a wall mounted toilet frees up precious inches both horizontally and vertically, while compact, slim-profile wall mounted sinks offer full functionality in a fraction of the space of a full sized vanity.

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Adding A Bathroom Beneath The Stairs Means Adding Pure Functionality To Your Home Without Sacrificing Anything From Your Existing Floorplan (by Risinger Homes)
Adding A Bathroom Beneath The Stairs Means Adding Pure Functionality To Your Home Without Sacrificing Anything From Your Existing Floorplan (by Risinger Homes)

In many cases, it’s possible to create a tiny half bathroom out of unused or wasted space in your home. One of my favorites is installing a bathroom in the space beneath the stairs. This walled-in area is generally left empty, but has almost exactly the right dimensions needed to create a minimalist bathroom. Even with the sloped ceiling on one side caused by the stairs, there should be enough room to stand comfortably in front of a small, wall mounted sink and use the toilet without bumping your head.

A Cleverly Placed Bathroom Offers Functionality And Privacy Without Sacrificing Much, If Any, Of Your Existing Floor Plan (by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, photo by Lincoln Barbour)
A Cleverly Placed Bathroom Offers Functionality And Privacy Without Sacrificing Much, If Any, Of Your Existing Floor Plan (by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, photo by Lincoln Barbour)

Tiny bathrooms can be wedged into all sorts of odd spaces: in an attic, an unused closet, a walled off portion of a larger bathroom, or even a sectioned off part of the garage or laundry room. Depending on the location of the space, you’re not only adding an additional bathroom, but often one that’s more convenient for the people who live there, or more private and discreet for guests.

With The Right Fixtures, Good Lighting, And Well Placed Mirrors, Even The Smallest Half Bathroom Can Feel Perfectly Functional (by JL Interior Design LLC, Catherine Nguyen, Neill & Lee Contractors)
With The Right Fixtures, Good Lighting, And Well Placed Mirrors, Even The Smallest Half Bathroom Can Feel Perfectly Functional (by JL Interior Design LLC, Catherine Nguyen, Neill & Lee Contractors)

A key consideration when picking a location for a new half bathroom is the location of your existing plumbing and waste lines – in some cases even more so than availability of space. These bathrooms require only a modest amount of space, but the farther away that space is from plumbing hook ups, the more expensive the project will be. That’s not to say plumbing can’t be run to a new location, but picking a spot where the plumbing is available – like a laundry room, garage, or adjacent to an existing bathroom – will make the whole process easier and more affordable.

Choosing A Very Slim Wall Mounted Sink And A Narrow Toilet Is Crucial To Making A Very Small Half Bath Usable And Navigable (by Design Cube Inc., photo by Daniel Koepke)
Choosing A Very Slim Wall Mounted Sink And A Narrow Toilet Is Crucial To Making A Very Small Half Bath Usable And Navigable (by Design Cube Inc., photo by Daniel Koepke)

Finding the right space isn’t the only problem with making a very small bathroom like this work.  Even the smallest full bathrooms are five feet wide to accommodate a bathtub, and that foot or two of extra width creates a nice alley of space to move around. Lose that space and arranging your fixtures becomes much more difficult. There’s simply no room for a full sized vanity, and even a sideways facing toilet becomes impractical. Instead, place the toilet at the far end of the bathroom, facing the door, and offset a small, wall mounted sink to one side. Even with a sloped ceiling, this layout maximizes head room and legroom while creating a small thoroughfare.

This Lovely 3/4 Wet Bathroom Is Little Larger Than A Shower Stall, But Offers The Full Functionality Of A Much Larger Bathroom (by J.T. McDermott Remodeling, photo by Jeff Smyth)
This Lovely 3/4 Wet Bathroom Is Little Larger Than A Shower Stall, But Offers The Full Functionality Of A Much Larger Bathroom (by J.T. McDermott Remodeling, photo by Jeff Smyth)

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Finally, if you’re considering adding a small half bathroom on the first floor for added accessibility (on its own or as part of a larger age-in-place renovation), it might be worth going the extra mile and turn that tiny space into a 3/4 wet bathroom. Unlike a standard 3/4 bathroom, these don’t need to be any larger than the most minimal half bathrooms, and can even be as small as a shower stall. You simply have to tile and waterproof the entire space. Add a basic hand held shower head and the whole bathroom is essentially transformed into a shower stall that contains a toilet and sink. This allows those with limited mobility to sit while bathing without having to build a large new bathroom or extensively convert an existing one. Because the only fixtures are made of porcelain, they won’t be damaged by the water, and thorough waterproofing and good drainage will protect the surrounding areas. 

Why are you looking to add a bathroom to your home? Will one of these petite half baths work, or are you looking for something larger? And what do you think of the idea of an ultra-compact 3/4 wet bathroom? Let me know in the comments!