How To Plan A Family Bathroom

Product Lifestyle image of a Heritage Granley Deco Close Coupled Toilet and Landscape Cistern next to a Heritage Granley Deco 550mm Basin and Pedestal
Author: Des Roberts
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When your household starts growing in size, whether through becoming new parents, adopting and fostering, or looking after older members of family in their later years, it’s time to consider making changes to both your home and your bathroom. Not only does space become more of a premium but also usage increases, meaning it has to be suitable for all ages. But where do you start and what should you keep in mind? 

What Is a Family Bathroom?

The answer to this question may seem rather obvious but a family bathroom is much more than a toilet, basin and bath or shower.

In terms of location, a family bathroom is traditionally placed on a landing, corridor or communal area, providing easy access to everyone, compared to a personal en-suite, for example.

Additionally, the requirements of a family bathroom also have to account for the needs of those using it, providing both functionality and purpose. That means being a place of relaxation for teenagers and adults, as well as providing accessibility and mobility support for grandparents, if required. If you have small children, they also have to be playgrounds of imagination, fun and games. And don’t forget the furry members of the family, who may also enjoy or need a bath.

These can be major considerations, since they need to combine flexibility and adaptability, as people grow older, with longevity and practicality. Getting the balance right can minimise costs and the need for more changes in the future.

What Are the Types of Family Bathroom?

Digital image of a small bathroom, featuring granite floor tiles, white wall tiles and dark blue painted walls, a wall mounted toilet paired with brushed gold push plates, toilet roll holder and wall mounted toilet brush holder, integrated wooden shelf, wall mounted washbasin unit, countertop basin with wall mounted brush gold tap and a LED mirror

There are three main kinds of family bathroom that you may come across: a standard bathroom, a Jack and Jill bathroom and a duplex-style family bathroom.

Standard Family Bathroom

A standard family bathroom is one that is usually shared by all members of the household, including all the main fixtures and fittings from bathtub to furniture. This could mean anything between 1 to 3 bedrooms to 1 bathroom (flats and apartments to standard semi-detached houses).

However, some modern-day houses, particularly townhouses, also have a small cloakroom bathroom with just a toilet and basin for extra space.

Traditionally, a standard family bathroom is located upstairs in close proximity to the bedrooms.

Jack and Jill Bathroom

Jack and Jill bathrooms are less common but can be found in larger homes. You may have also seen these rooms if you have ever booked a holiday abroad with a family room. They usually feature a bathroom located between two bedrooms with a door leading in from either side. These are particularly useful for families with members at either end of the age spectrum, since it can provide easy accessibility in the event of an emergency.

Duplex-Style Family Bathroom

Duplex apartments are split over two floors usually with bedrooms on one floor and a separate living area or space on another. This allows the adults to relax without disturbing children who may be sleeping.

In terms of bathrooms within duplex apartments, they are by and large no different to standard family bathrooms with many still near bedrooms. However, in some instances they may be located on the same floor as living areas, to limit noises late at night.

With this in mind, there are some instances where people have relocated their bathroom downstairs in a duplex-style, however, it is likely to be expensive and impractical for most homeowners.

What Size Is a Family Bathroom?

Family bathrooms can vary in size based on the requirements of the household, however, many standard bathrooms in many homes are around 5 feet by 8 feet.

Some people choose to extend or expand their bathroom by remodelling their house, while there are also examples of people moving their bathroom into their attic space, creating an extra bedroom downstairs.

Do I Need More Than One Family Bathroom?

Product Lifestyle image of the Crosswater Kai 600mm White Gloss Double Drawer Vanity Unit and Basin in a white tiled en suite

Each family will have their own requirements in this regard, whether it is work schedules (e.g. shift working), the ages of the family members, or simply if you value your own personal space.

If we look at what is called the nuclear family (commonly parents and 1 or more children), the ages of the children will probably dictate requirements. If you have babies and toddlers, then one bathroom is probably going to be sufficient. This is also likely to be the case for single-parent households too.

With older children, it can be a squeeze for time on a morning, and getting ready for school and work means that you might require a separate bathroom, just to have your own space. This can also be the case with older relatives, who won’t want “morning rush” and will do things on their own time. Therefore, they may be extra value in having more bathrooms or a personal en-suite to avoid clashes at peak times.  

What Factors and Requirements Should I Consider for a Family Bathroom?

When planning your family bathroom, it’s important to consider who will be using it and what they require. If you’re investing in a new bathroom ahead of selling or renting out a property, then consider what a family would need should they look to buy or rent from you. We have pulled together a quick checklist of things that may help with this.

What Is the Size of My Family Bathroom?

First of all, consider the size of your bathroom and how you can maximise the space for everyone (check out our guide to maximising space in smaller bathrooms if you’re unsure). Consider whether you’re going to keep it simple, or whether you’re going to need a space with plenty of storage, that uses as much of every surface you can, from floor to ceiling, and walls to door.

Where Is the Bathroom Located and What Light Does It Get?

Light can play a big part from a visual point of view, as well as making it more user-friendly and enjoyable. Light can also be a mental stimulant too that can help brighten our days.

What Heating System and Water Pressures Do I Have?

When looking at new fixtures and fittings, it’s also worth making a note of your water pressure as this will dictate what you may be able to get for your bathroom. For example, if you have a bathroom with low water pressure then you will need taps and showers that work with low bar pressure. Also, consider the heating system you have in place as well as this could be an extra cost to factor in, if it needs improving.

What Colour and Theme Should I Go For?

Many people have an idea of something they like, but do your research into colours and themes. There’s plenty of TV shows out there that can provide inspiration, while property magazines and social media are also useful tools for finding the latest styles and trends. Check out our guide on Bathroom Colours for Suites for some inspiration and ideas.

However, it may be worth finding out everyone’s likes and dislikes and try testing different colours before you start painting a family bathroom. Also, get free samples for flooring and tiles wherever you can in advance, as this will give you an idea of what impact the lighting will have on these locations.

Do I Need to Make it More Accessible/Better for Mobility?

This is more of a question if you’re caring for an elderly relative. If they struggle with mobility or health issues that means they may be prone to slips, falls, or movement, then think about how you can make it more accessible. This could mean grab bars, walk in showers or wetrooms and a comfort height toilet.

Do I Need to Childproof?

Possibly the biggest question for those with small children, this could mean locks on bathroom cabinets, non-slip bath mats and careful positioning of fixings, to prevent accidents and injuries.

Emma Dunn, a blogger at, and also a mother of two, says that safety was a big factor for her: "For me safety was a big issue as my youngest climbs on things,"  before adding that there are "situations that are dangerous due to the layout of the bathroom, especially where taps are placed and if they are easy to turn on." 

What Will My Household Look Like in 5-10 Years' Time?

While it’s useful to think about how you use your bathroom now, consider how you may be using it in 5 or even 10 years’ time. When making an investment into a family bathroom you want it to last a long time and to get value for money.

If children are of a young age now, how will their requirements change in the future as they grow older? Additionally, will this impact on the layout of your bathroom and should you invest in a practical, simpler design that can be more adaptable and easily changed? It's vital to consider these questions before ploughing time and money into bathroom changes.

What Do I Need in My Family Bathroom at a Basic Level?

Always look at what you truly need in your family bathroom, compared to what you want. This will give you a really simple vision to work with, and then you can add extra from your ‘want’ list in, should budget both allow and also based on the remaining space available.

Read more in our guide of 20 Family Bathroom Ideas To Benefit All Ages. 

How Do I Start Creating My Family Bathroom?

Once you have considered all the options ahead of planning your family bathroom, you should have a good brief of what you want it to look like and what it needs. This can help when both shopping for bathroom items, working with tradespeople, and also speaking to retailers about your requirements.

Measure Up

All bathrooms start by measuring up. Make sure to measure every single surface, making a note of windows, doorframes, which way doors open and any barriers/built-in storage that isn’t being removed. Other factors to include and note are the locations of soil pipes and also the type of heating system (boilers, water tanks, immersion heaters, boiler types), as this will also help understand the right bathroom items for your system.  Also ensure that you have detailed any areas that stick out or alter the shape of the room.

Establish a Budget

Before looking into doing any changes, it’s important to set yourself a budget of how much you can afford, and how much you can spend. This will dictate both the  items you can get and how much you can afford to change. Make sure to factor in the costs of getting the new bathroom installed on top of the fixtures and fittings.

Get a CGI/CAD 3D Drawing

Digital lifestyle image of bathroom desiged in the Sanctuary Bathrooms' 3D design tool

Once you have your dimensions and a budget, you can use this to obtain a CGI/CAD drawing using a 3D Bathroom Design service. This will enable you to get a visual representation of your room, to see how you want it to look with the fixtures and fittings. This will allow you to make changes or alterations ahead of buying everything, and to ensure you’re getting the right fixtures and fittings with help of experts.

Buy the Products and Do the Work

After you have got your design, you’re reading to start looking at getting quotes for the work doing from a bathroom installer or plumber, and any other tradespeople where required. When you’re happy, you can start ordering the items you need and getting them delivered ahead of work starting. If you want to start getting some ideas or even buying some items, why not start shopping now.

Once complete, you can then finish the bathroom in whatever decorative style you want, and add in any accessories or personal touches.

Family bathrooms come in a variety of different sizes and styles. It’s important to do your research and be thorough earlier on, both to get it right from a design perspective and also to ensure it is practical and convenient for all the family.

We hope that this guide to planning a family bathroom is useful and provided some inspiration of how to start looking into the ways you can change, improve or even add to your bathroom. If you have any tips to share with other blog readers, why not get in touch via FacebookTwitter or Instagram or our contact page and we’ll add it!