8 Half-Bath Ideas That Help the Bathroom Stand Out

Half bathroom with toilet and sink

Fabrice LEROUGE / Getty Images


Half-bathrooms are a design blessing in disguise. With no bathing facilities to deal with, your design and remodel tasks are greatly reduced: no shower, no bathtub, no extensive counters, and the floor space is tiny.

What a Half-Bath Is

A full-service bathroom has as many as four services: a toilet, sink, and one or two bathing facilities. So, a half-bath has half as many of these services. A half bath is sometimes called a powder room or guest bathroom. In any case, as long as it has no bathing services, it is a half-bathroom.

Size is not a factor, but usually half-baths are small. A half-bathroom generally will be about 50 square feet, including the total room size, not just walkable floor space. Some half-baths are barely large enough to walk from the toilet to the sink: about 16 square feet.

About This Term: Primary Bathroom

Many real estate associations, including the National Association of Home Builders, have classified the term "Master Bedroom" (or "Master Bathroom") as discriminatory. "Primary Bedroom" is the name now widely used among the real estate community and better reflects the purpose of the room.

Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge to make The Spruce a site where all feel welcome.

  • 01 of 08

    Best Places to Put the Half-Bath

    House interior half bathroom
    Sisoje / Getty Images

    The half-bath can be positioned either in the center of the house (bordered by interior walls only) or on the exterior. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    • Interior: A half-bath positioned more toward the center of the house makes it more accessible. Not only that but you free up walls for areas like living rooms or bedrooms, where window space matters more. But a bathroom without windows can feel small and dark. Also, any interior half-bath cannot use a window for ventilation. By code, the bathroom will need to be mechanically ventilated.
    • Exterior: Positioning the half-bath against a perimeter wall means that a window can, by code, be used for ventilation. By keeping the half-bath to the side, it's easier to maintain an open floor plan.


    Half bathrooms are small, but this allows you to hone your bathroom design skills before proceeding to larger or more complex DIY remodeling jobs.

  • 02 of 08

    Ventilate the Half-Bath

    Bathroom window
    DianaRui / Getty Images

    A high-velocity fan is necessary for the half-bath, especially if it is situated near living areas. Building code states that, as long as you have a 3-square-feet window to the outside, you do not need a fan. That window only needs to be half-openable. Even if your half-bath meets these code requirements, you should install a quality, high-velocity fan in your half-bathroom.  

  • 03 of 08

    Large Tiles Make a Small Bath Feel Larger

    Bathroom tile
    stocknroll / Getty Images

    Using large tiles in small bathrooms can actually make these small spaces feel larger. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, large tiles mean fewer grout lines. Grout lines can make tiles look busy or chaotic. Keep the grout color close to or matching the color of the tile to help disguise the grout.

  • 04 of 08

    Positioning the Toilet in a Half-Bath

    Half bathroom toilet position
    chuckcollier / Getty Images

    Working with diminished space, you have fewer options as to the toilet position. Placing the toilet facing the door is sometimes the only option. But some feng shui experts say that positioning the toilet facing the doorway creates a sense of disorder and that tucking it away to the side is better.


    Consider installing a low-profile toilet. Low-seat toilets will not add much usable space but they contribute to a roomier feeling.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Consider a Pedestal Sink

    Pedestal bathroom sink
    Brett Taylor / Getty Images

    Pedestal sinks help maximize space in a small room. Cabinet-style sink bases not only take up floor space but feel ponderous.

    Pedestal sinks look cleaner and airier when space is at a premium. Storage can be transferred to separate shelves or small storage units. Some items can even be stored in a hallway linen or storage closet.

  • 06 of 08

    Keep the Decor Simple and the Items Few

    Simple bathroom
    eurobanks / Getty Images

    Over-adorning a half-bath only leads to clutter. Aside from the toilet and pedestal sink, keep other items to a minimum. Choose a smaller waste can. Hang a frameless mirror. Keep pictures and curios small and few.

  • 07 of 08

    Use Neutral Colors

    Bathroom with accent color
    sbossert / Getty Images

    Maintain a majority of neutral-color surfaces on the flooring and walls. But that doesn't mean you can't have a bright accent wall

    Dark colors are imposing and make a bathroom feel smaller. But that applies only to large expanses of dark colors. Brown, gray, and black touches in moderation can create a dramatic effect in half-baths.

  • 08 of 08

    Grab Storage Space Wherever It Is

    Unique half bathroom
    Andrea Rugg / Getty Images

    Storage in a half-bathroom can be a challenge. Rearranging the floor layout is likely not an option. This is such a small space that you cannot move things around much, so you'll be working with what you already have.

    Storage is often one reason not to switch to a pedestal sink from a bathroom vanity. Bathroom items like cleaners and the plunger can be tucked away in the vanity.

    Otherwise, build storage in out-of-the-way areas of the half-bath. Or bring in a small cabinet or set of shelves. Medicine cabinets sunk into the wall provide storage without taking up any space.

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  1. Section R303.4. International Residential Code