DESIGN/BUILD EXPERT: The Kid’s Convenience
by Brendan Charters
Photography: Peter Sellar
Tips for designing the perfect second bathroom
In tight urban homes, it is not uncommon that the entire family shares a single washroom in the home. While many homes have been retrofitted to accommodate a main-floor powder room, or a dungeon-style, three-piece washroom for the men to occasionally use, the main bathroom has been the historical serve-all of the home.
Since the latter half of the 20th century, homes have grown in size and many of those older homes have been expanded to allow for a proper master suite. Today, virtually every new home built has multiple bathrooms serving the bedrooms. Not all of them function as best as they could, as they rarely receive the bulk of a designer’s attention, nor homeowners’ budgets. Since bathrooms are such critical spaces in homes and can be directly linked to how comfortable a space is, we will outline some of the key elements to create a space the kids will love, which may also impact longer-term resale value.
Firstly, define who the space is serving. Is it for only one bedroom, two or more? Would it serve guests coming from other areas of the home? This will help answer the critical question of how best to access the bathroom. If serving one bedroom, creating ensuite access only (from the bedroom) is best. If serving two bedrooms, a door to a main hall helps save internal space for fixtures, but a Jack-and-Jill-style bath creates the feel of an ensuite-style. If people will be using it from a third bedroom, or any other areas of the home (say if there is no powder room for example), then you will need to ensure a door from a main hall is provided, to avoid having to walk through a bedroom to get to a bathroom.
Secondly, layout is key. Think first impressions. When the door swings open, or is left open, one does not want to stare at a toilet. This is an architectural atrocity for any bathroom. We routinely try to conceal the ‘House of Lords’ behind a door that swings, or tucked beside a vanity, tub or shower…or if space will allow, within its own separate room, also termed a water closet. This allows for more than one person to use the bathroom at a time, which can be valuable on busy school mornings. Likewise, if the main room is tied in with a tub and/or shower, it becomes a pro shared-gender use, allowing for makeup or toothbrushing to happen at the same time, as more private activities are behind a closed door.
MAKE ROOM FOR FIXTURES
Space allocations come next. While a double-vanity is a dream, if you have less than four to five feet to provide for it, a single trough-style sink with two faucets can provide the feeling of more space. For a toilet, if a three-foot-wide water closet cannot fit, we recommend at least a 30″ width be reserved, with absolute minimum being 27″, or else it will be cramped. If adjacent to a vanity, the space will feel more open than if tucked in beside a full-height obstruction. For the tub, shower or tub/shower combination, think of the size of the children (and their parents). Will a five-foot tub be enough? When thinking resale, think of potential buyers with babies. While a shower may feel more convenient to you, those new parents will need a tub somewhere to bathe kids so we recommend a combined tub/shower. Standard tubs are easier to get in and out of versus a soaker tub, but it depends on lifestyle if a deeper tub is preferred. If the kids are over the age of 5, a shower only may suffice, as it can save on space and may be more comfortable for them to use, but we recommend not selling within the next 10 years. Storage of ‘stuff’ is also of utmost importance, so planning hidden cubbies for toiletries, benches, recessed medicine cabinets at the start can go a long way at hiding the inevitable onslaught of products that will be tossed about this room on a daily basis.
Kids are rough, they tend to avoid manual labour associated with cleaning and will be relatively hard on the space. Durable and functional is what we recommend for the fixtures. Toilets that flush well and have a fully glazed trapway will reduce clogs and mess inside the bowl. Vanities with solid-surface counters like Cambria Quartz and undermount or integrated sinks reduce damages from splashing water as well as bacteria. Faucets and shower valves will take a lot of punishment, so go for durability and thermostatic adjustability of the mixing valves, ensuring long-term comfort is managed. Frameless glass for shower and tub surrounds with mould-resistant caulkings and a squeegee on-hand can reduce soap scum and mould growth. For tile, ceramic or porcelain, large-format tiles with thin grout lines is best for the main floors and tub/shower walls. Avoid the use of natural stone as they can require regular maintenance since they stain more easily. Fusion Pro premixed grout is stain- and mould-resistant and offers great protection in this regard. Even the accessories need to be thought out.
Have some fun, and if this space is predominantly for the kids, we recommend involving them in the design and selection process. The pride of space may start here and help in their desire to keep it clean and nice, which would be a bonus. Select finishes with the goal of them lasting at least 10 years, and also finishes that reflect their personalities and age ranges.
|Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year.