There's no getting around it – most of us must share bathroom space. A bathroom should be an oasis of calm in a hectic house. But if you share the space, there could be more conflict than relaxation. Most shared bathrooms are far from the relaxing ideal; they're often cramped, high-traffic areas.
But it does not have to be this way. Whether you're considering a bathroom redesign project or plan to move into a new home, here are a few design elements that will make the sharing experience much more convenient.
Double sinks. If you're redesigning a bathroom, consider making room for two sinks. Think of it: you'll both be able to brush your teeth at the same time, and he can shave while she's putting her makeup on. Having separate sinks can also help if you have bathroom habits that conflict with your partner's. If one person likes a clutter-free sink and the other likes to keep toothbrush, hairbrush, and other grooming implements near the sink, for example, there can be conflict if the sink is shared. With two sinks, each is free to keep their sink the way they like it.
Enough storage for all. Grooming habits and implements are very personal. For the sake of convenience and privacy, there should be separate storage space for each person sharing the bathroom. If storage space is cramped or too rarely shared, there's much more chance that grooming implements will get mixed up, used by the wrong person, or lost. Separate storage allows each person to keep their personal items separate and organized, and lets each have control over individual storage space.
A separate water closet. Nobody likes waiting for the bathroom. With most shared bathrooms, one person is often left waiting while the other showers and gets ready for the day. With a separate toilet and bidet area, you can minimize the wait time by making it possible for more than one person to use the bathroom at once. While some shared bathrooms have a toilet blocked off by a screen, most people are more comfortable with a solid door and a separate, closet-sized room if space permits.
Separate toothpaste and shampoo. When sharing a bathroom space, many couples try to minimize spending and use of space by sharing toothpaste, shampoo, and other toiletries. But preferences for these items can be very personal. Unless your tastes are alike, you may run into conflict over which brand to buy. To get around this, allow space for each person to have separate shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, and soaps. This will prevent conflict over everything from how to squeeze the toothpaste tube to which conditioner to buy.
Enough shelving in the shower. If each person has separate shampoo and soap, the shower or bath can start to look cluttered. The best solution is to ensure the shower has enough shelving. If you're not planning a bathroom redesign anytime soon, there are plenty of plastic and metal storage baskets available. These hang from the showerhead and can add a lot of extra storage space to any shower. These are usually not expensive, and come in a variety of sizes.
Design that satisfies everyone. It's important that the colors and fixtures in your shared bathroom are appealing to both of you. Work together to choose a color scheme and design you'll both like. This could be as easy as going shopping together for shower curtains and towels, or as involved as working together on the redesign.
To come to an agreement, sit down together with some home redesign magazines. Each of you should find bathrooms you like; this will give you both an idea of the other's style and help you agree on a design.
The key to making a shared bathroom work is to keep as much separate space as possible. Separate sinks, storage areas, and water closets can help minimize conflict and wait time. But you'll still need to work together to decide on a color scheme and fixtures you both like. It takes a balance of compromise and individuality to design a space you'll both love.