Fitting It In
When adding a powder room to an older home, the first task is carving out the space. Look for a spot that is easily accessible from the main entertaining areas, but avoid plumbing a wall shared with the dining or living room where the added noise would be a nuisance. Consider locating it in the recess under a staircase or converting a large first-floor closet. To save on costs, locate the room adjacent to plumbing lines so you can tap into the existing water and waste system. The room will need venting and piping behind the walls and under the floor—which can get very expensive if the bathroom floor is far from the main drain line or stack.

How Big
With only two fixtures to fit in, the average half bath measures about 20 square feet. After all, there isn't a huge need for storage, natural lightis a bonus (windows can actually cut down on privacy), and there's less clutter than in a full bath. But one practicality you do have to consider is the door swing. In the best case scenario, it opens in so as not to impede traffic flow at the bath entrance. So you'll need to plan for a 32-inch door opening, plus floor space (factoring in an arc that takes into account the width of the door and maneuvering room around it). In really tight spaces the door may have to open out, or you can install a pocket door that slides into the wall for storage when open.

What's the minimum space you can squeeze a powder room into? In theory, you could squeeze one into 11 square feet and meet the International Residential Code (be sure to check local code requirements as well). Code dictates minimum clearances from side to side, as well as in front of the sink and toilet so they can be used comfortably. There must be 15 inches from the centerline of the commode and sink to the nearest wall or fixture, and 21 inches in front. Allow a minimum of 7 feet for headroom; you may even want to lower a very high ceiling if the room's footprint is tight, so the space feels proportional. In half baths under the stairs, where the ceiling slants, tuck the toilet under the lowest point. Don't forget electrical outlets for lighting and, perhaps, an exhaust fan for ventilation and white noise.

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