Tips and Guides

Expert Advice: The 5 Essential Points of an Efficient Bathroom Design

We’ve got everything that you need to know—from layout and fixtures, to colors and finishing materials

Photography: Marc Jao (Main Photo)

The bathroom is one of the most frequently used rooms in your home and is actually an extension of your bedroom. You should give as much importance to this space as with every other room in the house. Take note of these five important factors when working on the T&B, plus other helpful tips:


A typical bathroom arrangement is the one wall layout with all fixtures—lavatory/sink, water closet, and shower area are installed in one line. This layout is the most efficient and economical option because water lines are kept close to each other.

Photo by William Ong.

Another is the two-wall layout, where the sink and water closet are on a shared wall and the shower on another. Your choice of layout should comply with the existing water line provisions/drain restrictions in your bathroom. 

Keep in mind that in the case of condominiums, some would not allow the relocation of drains and water lines due to their plumbing design, where pipes are lined upwards and go through every floor. A less common layout displays fixtures on separate walls to create more space in the middle. Whichever layout you choose, keep the water closet away from the view of the door for the purpose of privacy.

Photo by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions.


Basic fixtures include a lavatory/sink, water closet, and shower area. Options are available in ceramic or porcelain materials with different designs. When shopping for fixtures, you will come across the following types of lavatory:

Pedestal—as the name suggests, stands on either a full or half pedestal, to cover the pipes/fittings below the sink

Vessel type—installed on top of a low sink counter

Counter type—installed above or under counter depending on the design

Photo by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions.

Water closets are available in one-piece or two piece designs. A one-piece toilet has a unified bowl and tank which is advantageous because leaks are avoided as there is no separation between these parts.

The two-piece toilet on the other hand, has a separate bowl and tank which are bolted together. This is the more common and affordable of the two types.

Aside from these fixtures, consider adding enough storage space for your toiletries, cleaning materials and other essentials. Areas under the sink, above the counter, and above the water closet are best utilized by adding cabinets and hanging storage as well.

Photo by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions.


In every bathroom, it is important to achieve ample and balanced lighting. Aside from natural lighting, use glass enclosed recessed lighting fixtures for general lighting. You can add an accent light fixture—may be ceiling or wall type in glass or stainless materials.

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno.

Avoid choosing light fixtures with fabric shades as the moisture from the water won’t be good for it. If possible, add indirect lighting around your bathroom mirror in order to eliminate cast shadows when used. Choose the color of your bulbs according to preference—daylight, cool white, or warm white. The last two options have a more flattering effect on your skin.

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno. 


Aside from the ventilation from your bathroom window, consider installing an exhaust fan. This will aid in removing moisture from the bathroom, which in effect will help control molds and get rid of bathroom odors.

Photo by Dakila Angeles.


Work on a limited palette, white and neutral-colored bathrooms are the most versatile.

There are a lot of interesting tiles in shades of gray and beige which come in geometric and floral designs. For both walls and floor, a 30cmx60cm tile size is preferred, smaller tiles mean more areas to grout—which will be harder to clean in time. Use textured tiles for your flooring, best are the slip-resistant kind.

Photo by Dairy Darilag.

For the walls, choose a slightly polished type as these are easier to clean. Pick an accent tile design for the area of your liking, this will create visual interest in your space. Don’t forget to prepare the surfaces through waterproofing. Finish the process by sealing the tiles with grout.

Photo by Marc Jao.

Accessories—Choose stainless steel material. These are more expensive than the chrome plated ones, but are also more durable.

Sink countertops—Use larger cut tiles, if possible in one piece. You can work with solid surface, marble, or granite material for this. The less expensive choice would be a 120cmx60cm-sized porcelain or ceramic tile.

Cabinetry—Use marine plywood in paint or laminate finishes.

Photo by Dairy Darilag.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]



Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

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