BATHROOM WORKBOOK: THE RIGHT HEIGHT FOR YOUR SINKS, MIRRORS AND MORE
Making some bathroom upgrades? Here’s how to place all your main features for the most comfortable, personalized fit
A bathroom layout is mostly a pretty easy decision. If the plumbing is already in place and you’re using standard-size pieces, like a typical 60-inch bathtub, there aren’t a whole lot of options for rearranging that floor plan. However, when bringing your dream design into the real world, you have to consider the third dimension and figure out what height is right for everything you bring into your room. Consider this your guide to hanging, installing and aligning the many small features of your bathroom.
The counter height is typically 32 to 34 in., but what’s actually more important is your sink height.
An above-counter vessel sink will naturally sit much higher than an inset below-counter sink, and so a vessel should be placed on a lowered cabinet to compensate. Ultimately, you should try a few different sinks (in store or in bathrooms you like) and figure out the height that feels most comfortable for you.
Likewise, the height of mirrors should be based on your own height. Find an average eyeline for everyone using the mirrors and make sure this height is well within the upper and lower borders of the mirror (5 ft., 6 in. is average, but your household may vary).
In many situations a centerline can be created between the counter and the ceiling for the most symmetrical look.
People often place the bottom edge of the mirror above the faucet, but in fact allowing the two to visually overlap can create a very elegant effect.
When combining a standing vanity with a sit-down makeup station, you’ll need to adjust the height down to about 28 in. or lower (minimum: about 24 in.).
Try sitting at a real desk or vanity and see if it feels comfortable, considering you’ll be applying makeup rather than typing — going on the low side is better for leaning forward.
Enclosures. I prefer to run shower enclosure glass to the full ceiling height (with the door just slightly below, to allow for a free swing), as I did in the bathroom shown here. An 18-in.-wide fixed panel and a 24-in.-wide door panel work well for a typical 60-in. tub. Place the doorknob at about 36 in. off the floor or wherever is comfortable for you to reach. (Follow the placement of knobs in other rooms that work well for you.)
Benches. Shower benches have lots of practical uses, such as giving you a place to perch your leg when shaving. Thus, the top can sit a bit lower (16 in.) than typical seat height.
Showerheads. A showerhead, even a rainshower one, shouldn’t sit so low that you must crouch or so high that the water pelts you rather than gently raining down. A height of 6 ft., 6 in. is typical, but this can be adjusted for taller or shorter bathers. Also keep in mind that it must project far enough for you to stand under it, which is especially important to remember when you have a shower bench or a tub-shower combination.
Niches. I love adding niches to shower areas, for the practical storage capabilities and the beautiful accent. For a tub they make sense just above the tub surface, as you’ll be lying down when you reach for that shampoo, but in a shower they should be much higher, around 48 in., so you don’t have to lean down to reach anything.
Place your shower controls around 42 to 48 in. at the center, and a tub filler 4 to 6 in. above the top of the tub.
Toilet Paper Holders
When placing the paper holder, the tendency can be to picture the roll as hanging lower than it really should. Standard height is about 26 in. off the floor, which is closer to the height of the top of the tank than to the seat, so I recommend placing it on this level for a clean line, like I’ve done in this bathroom. Attaching it to the side of the vanity (toward the front rather than centered, for reachability) is another option for tighter spaces.
Towel Bars and Hooks
For other accessories, like towel hooks and robe hooks, the height is flexible, but consider the length of what will hang. Towels need at least 36 in. typically; washcloths, 18 in.; and robes, 60 in. — it’s best not to eyeball it. A standard towel rail is 48 in. above the floor, but it can be adjusted to line up with something else (like the knob on the shower door or the towel hooks over the vanity) without being too hard to reach.
Designer secret: One of the items that I found often goes the most overlooked in bathroom design is actually one that ironically is best left unseen: the electrical outlets.
Here you’ll notice that the electrical for the vanity seems, well, to not exist at all. That’s because the outlet is actually tucked next to the vanity cabinet, just below the lower edge of the sink counter. This way it’s still conveniently positioned for plugging in a blow-dryer or electric shaver but is visually hidden from many angles.