The Master Bath: A private retreat

While a family bath focuses on utility, a master bath is about comfort and relaxation. "A master bath is no longer a compartment," says Dallmus. "It's really more like another room in your house." And like a room, it requires space: at least 80 square feet for a toilet, sink, shower, and luxury feature such as a whirlpool bath — but bigger is better.

Master baths are frequently integrated into master suites, which might include a sitting room and walk-in closet or dressing room. In addition to being functional, those spaces help to buffer the sound of water running and cabinets opening and closing. "You want to protect the sleeping person from activity in the bathroom," Dallmus says.

Because space is usually abundant, the number and location of fixtures are a matter of personal preference and practical plumbing guidelines. Dallmus gives special consideration to the placement of the bathtub: Because the tub doesn't occupy much upper-wall space, it can be used as an opportunity to add windows, bringing in natural light, improving ventilation, and allowing bathers to take advantage of views.

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