The needs of users are always critical to the decisions you will make in designing a bathroom. However, it is not always clear who the visitor in the home will be. Planning the visitor bathroom to be a universally designed space assures that most people will be able to use it.
Several communities and states are adopting visit-ability requirements for new homes. These indicate that as a minimum, there should be a doorway into the home that is accessible, and that doors and passage ways on the first floor should be wide enough for everyone to use. In addition to a door opening that is wide enough, the first floor bathroom should have adequate floor space and grab bars or reinforcement in the walls for future installation in case they are needed (see Figure 6.6).
If a focus of social or household activities is on the outdoor living areas, then ideally there should be a bathroom adjacent to them. For example, a bathroom and dressing area adjacent to a pool or hot tub would provide a convenient space for toileting, showering, and changing without dripping water throughout the house. Some households enjoy an outdoor shower to rinse off beach sand or pool chlorine. Outdoor showers might also be part of a master bath with a private garden area.
Families who use outdoor play spaces for children, or who spend time outdoors gardening, find a bathroom or mudroom close to the backyard convenient for cleaning up before going into the house, or for using while outside. If outdoor kitchens and dining are part of the way the household entertains, then a bathroom close to this area provides a convenience to guests.
While we have identified numerous types of bathrooms and multiple locations where they can be placed in the home, every house does not need nor are they expected to have all of the variety of options available. Bathrooms require a great deal of water and substantial amounts of energy may be needed to heat the water and operate some of the luxury features that can be incorporated into these spaces. Just the size and use of materials in some large bathrooms diminish efforts to offer sustainable solutions to the built environment. While we as designers would love to create more and more bathrooms, consider reducing the size of a bathroom, maintaining the size of an existing small bathroom, specifying water efficient fixtures, and selecting materials that leave a light footprint on the environment, including repurposing items if possible.