For most homeowners, the planning and design of a bathroom can be an exciting-but daunting-prospect. Whether you are renovating an existing space, or starting with bare-bones construction, you should essentially use the same guidelines for planning the room that reporters use for writing a story: who, what, where, and how.

Who may seem pretty basic when it comes to a bathroom, but the answer can make a big impact on design plans. A guest bathroom that is used only occasionally is probably going to be a lot different than one that is primarily used by children on a daily basis.

Once you’ve discovered who, move on to the where. That’s generally an easy one to solve. In new construction, the master bath will be adjacent to the master bedroom, the children’s bathroom will be located near their bedrooms, etc. In existing homes, you will probably leave the room where it is.

The what is perhaps the most important part of DIY bathroom design, and definitely depends on the who and where. The one in a master suite may contain a spa tub, a toilet, his-and-hers vanities, and luxury flooring such as marble or bamboo. One off the mudroom or family room will probably get a lot of hard use and should be outfitted with basic fixtures and durable (maybe even industrial) flooring.

Keep proportion in mind as well; you don’t want to overwhelm a small bathroom with an enormous bathtub then have to cram a toilet and vanity into a small space. Consider what fixtures are necessary (toilet, shower, sink) and what options you would like it to include (towel warmer, bidet, steam room.) Remember to budget along the way!

Now we get to the challenge of how. This includes not only the technical aspect of the work, but also the style that you want the bathroom to have. How do you want the room to look? Would you like a sleek, contemporary room, or would a cozy cottage style better suit your house? Consult design magazines and visit home centers to get some ideas. Take notes of what you like and what you don’t like.

DIY bathroom design doesn’t have to be tedious or stressful. Take your time, plan carefully, and have fun. Once you’ve come up with a plan, it’s only a matter of following through. Do what you can, when you can; but it’s always best to leave plumbing and electrical work to the professionals.

You can learn about online bathroom design, and get more articles and resources about bathroom designs by visiting Small Bathroom Designs.