Basement bathrooms can be cozy spaces that provide much-needed extra bathrooms in a home. With careful planning and design, they can be inviting areas that don’t feel like dark, cramped basements. Here are some ideas and considerations for designing attractive and functional basement bathrooms.

Choosing the Right Location

When deciding where to put a basement bathroom, consider the following:

  • Proximity to plumbing lines – try to place it near existing plumbing to minimize construction costs.
  • Accessibility – if it will be a main bathroom, make sure it is easy to access from the stairs.
  • Noise – don’t put it right under bedrooms or living spaces where flushing could disturb people.
  • Natural light – if possible, choose a location with an egress window to allow in natural light.

Making it Feel Spacious and Bright

Basement bathrooms tend to feel cramped and dark, but you can counteract this with design:

  • Use lighter colors on the walls, tile, and flooring to brighten the space. Whites, off-whites, and light grays work well.
  • Incorporate mirrors. Strategically placed mirrors can make a small bathroom feel larger.
  • Install a tall or recessed medicine cabinet to reduce visual clutter.
  • Use open shelving rather than bulky cabinets to store towels and toiletries.
  • Add a glass shower door rather than a shower curtain, which takes up less visual space.
  • Install recessed lighting and sconces to eliminate dark corners.
  • If possible, install a skylight or egress window to let in natural light. Make sure the window has obscure glass for privacy.

Choosing Bathroom Features

When selecting fixtures and finishes, aim for space-saving options:

  • Install a pedestal sink or floating vanity to save floor space.
  • Choose a narrow tub or compact shower stall.
  • Look for toilets and vanities with narrow or corner-fitting designs.
  • Select single-lever faucets that don’t jut out as much as two-handle faucets.
  • Install a wall-hung or tankless toilet that takes up less space.
  • Opt for a glass shower door rather than a shower curtain to save space.
  • Use wall-mounted fixtures and towel bars rather than those that sit on counters.

Creating Privacy

Privacy is important in any bathroom. To maximize privacy:

  • If it is a half bath, use an interior door with a lock.
  • Make sure the entry door doesn’t directly face the toilet.
  • Use obscured glass on any windows or glass block to let light in while maintaining privacy.
  • Avoid gaps at the bottom of doors that could let in sounds and drafts.
  • Look for quieter exhaust fans that still provide adequate ventilation.

Improving Ventilation

Proper ventilation is crucial in damp basement spaces. Strategies include:

  • Install a high-powered exhaust fan ducted to the outside.
  • Use mold-resistant drywall and paint.
  • Seal all cracks and openings where moisture could seep in.
  • Install a dehumidifier to actively extract moisture from the air.
  • Include a vented skylight or egress window if possible.

Sample Basement Bathroom Layouts

Here are two sample layouts that make smart use of basement space:

Compact Half Bath

This narrow half bath maximizes space with:

  • Pedestal sink
  • Slim toilet with corner tank
  • Wall-mounted towel and toilet paper holders
  • Recessed medicine cabinet
  • Pocket door for entry
  • Obscured glass window
  • Shelf over toilet

Full Bathroom

This full bathroom uses space efficiently with:

  • Standard alcove tub
  • Corner-fitting vanity and toilet
  • Recessed shower in place of tub
  • Tall storage cabinet in place of bulky linen closet
  • Wall-mounted fixtures, towel bars, and toilet paper holder
  • Frosted glass window above tub


With proper lighting, ventilation, space-saving features, and attractive finishes, a basement bathroom can be transformed into a pleasant space even for small basements. The key is making smart layout and design decisions tailored to the particular basement space. Focusing on brightness and airiness goes a long way in basement bathrooms.

FAQ About Basement Bathrooms

What size should a basement bathroom be?

For a half bath, aim for at least 16-25 square feet. For a full bath with separate tub and shower, about 35 square feet is ideal but 25-30 can work if space is tight. The layout should allow doors and fixtures to fully open without hitting each other.

How much does it cost to add a bathroom in the basement?

The average cost to add a basement bathroom is $15,000-$35,000, depending on the size, layout, and what upgrades are included. Complex plumbing and excavation of concrete floors increase the costs.

What are the best flooring options for basement bathrooms?

Water-resistant sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tile, and porcelain tile are good options. Avoid carpeting or wood floors which can warp. Install a waterproof membrane beneath the floors for moisture protection.

Should a basement bathroom have a window?

While not always required by code, a window is recommended for light, ventilation, and as an emergency exit. An egress window or skylight works well. Make sure to use obscured glass for privacy.

How do you ventilate a basement bathroom?

Install a humidity-sensing exhaust fan ducted outside. Also seal cracks and openings thoroughly. Dehumidifiers can help control moisture. Automatic venting skylights are another option for letting out moisture.

How do you waterproof basement bathroom walls?

Use mold-resistant drywall, concrete board, or treated plywood. Apply waterproofing paints or membranes to surrounds. Tile or vinyl wall coverings also resist moisture well. Ensure proper caulking around fixtures.