Bathroom: A Complete Guide to Design, Materials, and Terminology

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 13, 2022
I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Where do you go to get clean? The bathroom, of course.

A bathroom is a room or a group of rooms designed for bathing and grooming. It usually contains a toilet, a sink, and a bath or shower.

The bathroom is found in houses, apartments, hotels, schools, and office buildings.

Let’s explore the history of bathrooms, their purpose, and modern design.

What is a bathroom

Variations and Terminology: The Many Forms of the Bathroom

When it comes to bathrooms, there are a number of different types that people commonly refer to. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Full Bathroom: This is the most common type of bathroom, featuring a bathtub, shower, vanity, and toilet. It’s designed to be a complete bathing and grooming area.
  • Half Bathroom: This type of bathroom typically only includes a toilet and sink. It’s often located near the main living areas of a home for convenience.
  • Three-Quarter Bathroom: This type of bathroom includes a shower, toilet, and sink, but no bathtub.
  • Quarter Bathroom: This type of bathroom only includes a toilet.

The Benefits of Different Bathroom Features

Each type of bathroom and bathroom feature has its own benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the benefits of different bathroom features:

  • Full bathrooms are ideal for families or people who want plenty of space to clean and groom themselves.
  • Half bathrooms are helpful for saving space and providing a convenient bathroom option near living areas.
  • Three-quarter bathrooms are a good compromise between a full bathroom and a half bathroom, providing a shower for bathing without taking up as much space as a full bathroom.
  • Quarter bathrooms are useful for providing a toilet in a small space, such as a closet or under the stairs.
  • Natural finishes such as granite and stone are strong and durable, and can add a touch of luxury to a bathroom.
  • Metal finishes such as chrome and nickel are sleek and modern, and can be easier to clean than natural finishes.
  • Traditional bathroom designs are timeless and classic, while modern designs are sleek and contemporary.
  • Stone construction can provide a natural, rustic look, while wood construction can add warmth and texture to a bathroom.
  • Attached storage can provide plenty of space for toiletries and other bathroom essentials, while standalone storage can be moved around and repositioned as needed.
  • Certain finishes can help prevent mold and other issues, while lower finishes can be less expensive and more budget-friendly.
  • Strong finishes can be more durable and long-lasting, while cover finishes can help prevent water damage.
  • Hand finishes can provide a unique and individual look, while applied finishes can be more consistent and uniform.
  • Current finishes can help keep a bathroom looking modern and up-to-date.

In the end, the actual terminology and features of a bathroom vary depending on the style, construction, and materials used. However, by understanding the different types of bathrooms and the terminology associated with them, people can better design and build the bathroom that is right for them.

The Fascinating History of Bathrooms

  • Bathrooms were not developed with hygiene in mind
  • First records for the use of baths date back as far as 3000 B.C.
  • Water had a strong religious value and was seen as a purifying element for both body and soul
  • The word “bath” comes from the ancient Greek word “balaneion”
  • Homer’s “Odyssey” describes the ritual of purification before entering a sacred space
  • The ancient Romans built large public baths, which were seen as communal spaces for enjoyment and relaxation
  • Cold and thermal baths were also popular in ancient Rome

Advanced Plumbing and Private Bathrooms

  • Bathing was uncommon in village life in Europe and America until the 19th century
  • Separate living quarters with private bathrooms were erected for the wealthy
  • The first recorded use of a flush toilet dates back to 1596 in England
  • The first modern plumbing system was recognized in London in the mid-19th century
  • Bathrooms became more sophisticated and advanced in style and function
  • The split between communal and private bathing spaces became more apparent

Bathrooms in the Modern World

  • Japan has a long history of dedicated bathing spaces, with the word “ofuro” used to describe a traditional Japanese bath
  • Modern bathrooms are recognized as an important part of any home or building
  • The design and uses of bathrooms differ little from country to country
  • Remarkable surviving examples of ancient bathrooms can be found all over the world
  • Bathrooms have come a long way from their ritual and purification origins to become a necessary and functional part of everyday life.

Designing Your Dream Bathroom: Tips and Ideas

When it comes to designing a bathroom, the focus should be on creating a luxurious and relaxing space. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Opt for high-quality materials such as marble, granite, or quartz for a luxurious feel.
  • Use creative lighting schemes to create a relaxing ambiance. Consider using dimmer switches or installing a chandelier for a touch of elegance.
  • If you have a small area to work with, focus on the details. Small touches such as a decorative mirror or unique faucet can make a big impact.
  • Consider a transitional design style that joins traditional and modern elements for a timeless look.
  • Work with a professional designer such as Danielle M. CMBKBD, who is responsible for designing some of the most luxurious bathrooms in the world.

Designing Individual Areas

When designing a bathroom, it’s important to consider the individual areas within the space. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Create a steam shower for a spa-like experience.
  • Design a dressing area with a vanity and seating for a luxurious touch.
  • Consider adding a bathtub to create a relaxing oasis.
  • If space allows, create a separate toilet area for privacy.

Maximizing Small Spaces

If you have a small bathroom, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to make the most of the space. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Use light colors to make the space feel larger.
  • Install a floating vanity to create the illusion of more space.
  • Consider using a pocket door to save space.
  • Use mirrors to reflect light and make the space feel larger.
  • Install shelves or built-in storage to maximize storage space.

Connecting to Other Rooms

A bathroom can also serve as a place to connect to other rooms in the house. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Design a bathroom that connects to the bedroom for a seamless transition.
  • Use similar materials and color schemes in the bathroom and adjoining rooms for a cohesive look.
  • Consider installing a door or window that allows natural light to flow between rooms.

The Best Materials to Consider for Your Bathroom

Tiles are the most commonly used material in bathrooms due to their durability and water-resistant nature. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colours, making it easy to achieve the desired style and feel. Some popular types of tiles include ceramic, porcelain, marble, vitrified, and slate. Tiles are highly beneficial as they maintain their finish and coating even after long years of use. They are also heat-resistant, making them ideal for use in showers and flooring.

Handcrafted and Custom Materials: Achieving a Unique Look

If you want to achieve a unique look for your bathroom, you can opt for handcrafted or custom materials. These materials add a delicate and modern touch to your bathroom and are available in a wide variety of colours and shapes. However, note that using handcrafted or custom materials can be a long and expensive process.

Storage: Smart and Convenient

Storage is an essential part of any bathroom, and the material you pick can make a significant difference. Neutral colours like white, grey, and beige are highly recommended for storage as they add a good feel to the entire area. Some popular materials for storage include wood, metal, and plastic. You can also consider smart storage options like built-in cabinets and shelves to make the most of the available space.

Trends: Keeping Up with the Latest

Bathroom trends come and go, but some materials have maintained their popularity over the years. High-quality tiles, marble, and porcelain are some of the most popular materials used in modern bathrooms. They add a perfect level of sophistication and elegance to any bathroom. Additionally, adding colours to your bathroom can be a good way to keep up with the latest trends.

Full Bathrooms: The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to full bathrooms, size is a crucial factor to consider. A larger bathroom can accommodate more elements, while a smaller one requires careful planning to fit everything in. The typical size of a full bathroom is around 40-50 square feet, but it can run larger or smaller depending on the space available. Homes with more than one bathroom should account for the addition of a full bathroom to accommodate larger families.

What a Full Bathroom Contains: The Four Essential Elements

A proper full bathroom consists of four essential elements: a sink, shower, bathtub, and toilet. If any of these elements are missing, it is not considered a full bath. Some full bathrooms may include additional elements, such as double sinks or a combined shower and bathtub setup, depending on the style and setup of the bathroom.

Master Bathrooms: The Largest and Most Spacious Full Bathrooms

Master bathrooms are the largest and most spacious full bathrooms in a home. They are typically found in the master bedroom and include multiple elements, such as a separate shower and bathtub, double sinks, and a spacious layout. The size of a master bathroom can run parallel to the size of the master bedroom, jointly accounting for a larger space.

Code Requirements: Understanding the Points to Account for in Building a Full Bathroom

When building or remodeling a full bathroom, it is essential to be aware of code requirements. These requirements include the number of toilets and sinks that must fit into the space, as well as the size of the space itself. Careful planning is necessary to ensure that the bathroom is efficient and suited to the needs of the family.

Materials and Price Points: The Costly Complications of Renovating or Fixing a Full Bathroom

Remodeling or fixing a full bathroom can be a costly and complicated process. The price point largely depends on the size of the bathroom, the materials used, and the age of the home. Families looking to renovate or fix a full bathroom should be prepared for the cost to climb quickly and should work with a professional to get an accurate quote.

Efficient and Busy: Full Bathrooms Suited for Families on the Go

Full bathrooms are ideal for families on the go, as they provide all the necessary elements for getting prepared and going about the day. A busy family needs a bathroom that is efficient and suited to their needs, with enough space to accommodate everyone. The exit points and entry points should be easy to navigate, and the bathroom should be designed to fit the needs of the family.

Primary Bathrooms: The Ultimate Luxury

The primary bathroom, also known as the en suite bathroom or attached bathroom, is the ultimate luxury for any homeowner. It is typically found in the biggest and most luxurious homes and is connected to the master bedroom. The design of the primary bathroom is completely dedicated to providing the ultimate in comfort and functionality. The following are some of the design elements that are typically found in a primary bathroom:

  • Standard components such as a toilet, sink, and shower or bathtub
  • Additional components such as a bidet, steam shower, or sauna
  • High-end materials such as white marble or chrome finishes
  • Ample storage space for towels, toiletries, and other bathroom essentials
  • Energy-efficient electrical and water supply systems
  • Ability to control the temperature, power, and fan with a single handle
  • Good ventilation to prevent damage from repeated exposure to moisture

Construction and Maintenance

The construction of a primary bathroom is a complex process that involves a number of different elements. The bathroom must be positioned in a particular way to allow for optimal natural light and ventilation. The following are some of the construction elements that are typically found in a primary bathroom:

  • Dedicated electrical and water supply lines
  • High-quality materials that are able to resist damage from moisture and force
  • Consistent application of building codes and local regulations
  • Good transmission and reception of data for control and maintenance purposes

Maintenance of a primary bathroom is also an important consideration. Regular cleaning and upkeep are necessary to prevent damage and ensure that the bathroom continues to function properly. The following are some maintenance tips for a primary bathroom:

  • Choose high-quality materials that are easy to clean and maintain
  • Alternate between dark and light finishes to prevent damage from repeated exposure to moisture
  • Spread work out over time to prevent damage from getting out of control
  • Limit the use of harsh chemicals that can damage certain parts of the bathroom

The Ultimate Luxury

The primary bathroom is the ultimate luxury for any homeowner. It is a dedicated space that is designed to provide the ultimate in comfort and functionality. Whether you are getting ready for work in the morning or winding down after a long day, the primary bathroom is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. Ultimately, the primary bathroom is a work of art that is located right in your own home.

Three-Quarter Bathrooms: The Compact Solution to Your Bathroom Woes

A three-quarter bathroom is a type of bathroom that is smaller than a traditional full bath but larger than a half-bath. It is typically found in apartments, houses, and spare bathrooms. This type of bathroom is characterized by an efficient combination of standing shower, sink, and toilet, which saves space and creates an illusion of a larger bathroom.

The Availability of Three-Quarter Bathrooms

Three-quarter bathrooms are becoming more and more common in modern homes. They are a great option for those who want to add an extra bathroom to their home without having to sacrifice too much space. They are also a great option for those who want to create a functional bathroom in a smaller room.

Half-Bathrooms: The Convenient and Profitable Addition to Your Home

  • Adding a half-bathroom can definitely increase the value of your home, depending on the types of renovations and upgrades you choose to make.
  • It is generally more cost-effective than adding a full bathroom, as it requires less space and fewer fixtures.
  • Half-bathrooms are functional and convenient, especially for guests who may not want to run upstairs to use the main bathroom.
  • Real estate agents say that adding a half-bathroom can be a profitable improvement when it comes time to sell your home.

Customizing Your Half-Bathroom

  • Half-bathrooms come in a variety of styles and designs, depending on the homeowner’s preferences.
  • Some may want to upgrade their half-bathroom by adding a bathtub or shower, which would convert it into a full bathroom.
  • Others may choose to keep it as a powder room and add decorative touches, such as wallpaper or unique lighting fixtures.
  • Half-bathrooms are also a great way to showcase your personal style and add a touch of luxury to your home.

The Rarity of Half-Bathrooms

  • Half-bathrooms are not as common as full bathrooms, but they are becoming more popular in modern homes.
  • They are especially useful in multistory homes, where guests may not want to run upstairs to use the main bathroom.
  • Half-bathrooms are also a great addition to master bedrooms, providing a convenient and private space for getting ready in the morning.

Expert Insights on Half-Bathrooms

According to Jennifer Berkshire and Emily Kordysmarch of March & Berkshires Real Estate, “Half-bathrooms are a great way to add value to your home without breaking the bank. They are a profitable improvement that can make your home more functional and convenient for guests.”

Quarter-Bathrooms: The Neglected Room

Quarter-bathrooms are the smallest type of bathroom you can have. They typically only contain one of the four elements: a toilet, a sink, a shower, or a bathtub. However, the most common type of quarter-bathroom is just a toilet. It’s a small room that serves a single purpose, and it’s often located in a basement or a small apartment.


So, now you know what a bathroom is and how it’s used. It’s not just a room for washing, but it can be a place for relaxation, grooming, and even bathing. So, don’t be afraid to ask your contractor about the right type of bathroom for you.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.