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Guest Bathroom Renovations: What Features to Add and Which You Can Leave

When planning the bathroom features you want for your master bathroom or kids’ bathroom, you probably will put in a lot of thought. Your family has specific needs and wants, and most homeowners go to great strides to make sure their bathrooms are just right. It is tempting to save the mental energy when working on other projects, however, such as it comes time to design your guest bathroom. However, your guests will appreciate the care you take to thoughtfully plan out the design of their bathroom.

The Storage Question

We’ve all stayed with a friend or family member whose bathroom had little storage, and it likely made using the bathroom space very difficult. On the other hand, we’ve all been forced to use a bathroom with so many drawers and closets that it made finding a towel feel like an invasion of privacy.  

If the bathroom is small, consider a vanity that has shelves or drawers rather than a pedestal sink. If you are dealing with a lot of real estate in your guest bathroom, keep the number of drawers and cabinets to a minimum.  One medium-sized linen closet can house all the towels and extra toiletries your guests might require. An empty drawer or shelf is also a great consideration if you know that you’ll have guests for an extended period.

Choosing the Right Vanity

There are so many fun choices right now in the world of vanities. Whether you have traditional or trendy tastes, the guest bathroom gives you the opportunity to thoughtfully show off your style. First, think about who will be using the bathroom. If you know that couples or families will be your regular guests, ask your contractor if a double sink will work in your bathroom. You know how much easier life is when you have two sinks, and you should extend that courtesy to your guests, if possible.

It is also important to give your company some counter space. Think about how much room you require when you get ready in the morning and make sure there’s an adequate surface for your guests to put out all of their beauty supplies, too.

Lighting & Mirrors

You do not have to provide your guests with a chandelier in the bathroom, but you do need to consider windows, light fixtures, and mirrors. If your guest bathroom is in a quirky spot with no windows, consider putting in a sky light. Think about what windows you do have, too. Do they face the neighbor’s kitchen? Frosted glass can give your guests the privacy they need in your bathroom without sacrificing light.

Choose lighting fixtures that complement the overall look of the room. Turn on the existing lights and stand in the shower with the curtain closed. If it is fairly dark, talk to your contractor about ideas to improve the lighting in the shower or tub. Make sure that the placement of the fixtures lights up the mirror well without being too bright. The mirrors and lighting should work together to provide a comfortable reflective surface that allows your guests to get ready without hunching over or squinting.

Tub or Shower?

Put some thought into whether you want a walk-in shower or bathtub with a shower. You might find clawfoot bathtubs adorable, but most of your guests will prefer taking a shower. If you know that your guest bathroom will be used by families with small children, providing a bathtub would be much appreciated. Alternatively, will your guests be aging adults who need a walk-in shower and shower seat?  You may want to install both options.

The size of your bathroom will also affect this decision. An attic bathroom might have a slanting ceiling that requires just the right placement of the showerhead. A large bathroom might have room for both a shower and tub. An enormous bathroom might dwarf a small, standing shower. Talk with your contractor or design consultant about the needs of your guests as well as the size of the space.


Your house should reflect your style and meet your needs. You might have requirements of your guest bathroom that other people do not have. Does your mom insist on a bidet? Would you like to have a separate bench and vanity in addition to your pedestal sink? Do you require a handicap-accessible bathroom with raised toilet and room for a walker or wheelchair? If you do not have many overnight guests, you might decide that a powder room is all you need.  

When you start the process of renovating or designing your guest bathroom be clear about all your needs. Explain the things you have to have, the things you want to have, and the things you do not want to have. Then be a good listener. Your contractor or designer will work with you, but he might have some suggestions of his own. Stand firm on the things you must have and be willing to consider the things you want to have.