Since our master suites are expanding in importance and size, and are often occupied by two people with different needs, we have an opportunity to design specifically to each client’s needs and desires. In Connecticut where our office is based, many of the gracious older homes have more bedrooms than needed and bathrooms the size of closets, so as the spaces are reconfigured, sometimes the desired results are best accomplished by creating separate his and her baths or at least separate zones.
Lifestyle patterns and needs, including different sleep and work schedules and different grooming routines, can also be accommodated with this design concept. Whether based on space available, lifestyle or needs, independent bathrooms are a design option and opportunity.
While not without exceptions, the wish list and needs for the master bath vary along the somewhat sexist lines of “his” and “hers.” The more masculine wish list might include a more generous shower, less emphasis on storage and more on easy maintenance, and possibly a greater interest in technology or communications, with greater importance given to efficiency.
The more feminine list might be focused on the experience, with greater interest in bathing, more needs in terms of storage and seating in the grooming area and a closer relationship to the dressing area. As both partners might change their approach depending on their schedules, some aspects of the dual master bath might be shared and others independent.
In the wet area, his bath might include an oversized shower, possibly with a sink and fog-free mirror at an appropriate height for shaving. Within the shower, desired options might include body sprays and steam. Incorporation of television or radio for morning news, and telephone access while preparing for the day could be valuable. Always important, a place to sit or rest a foot, good lighting and ventilation and easy maintenance might finish the space.
Her bathing area might focus on the deeper soaking tub, with aroma and chromatherapy and adjustable lighting, as well as a sound system to enhance the stress-relieving bath. Both his and her areas will need corresponding storage for supplies and towels, including towel warmers, and possibly robes.
Having described these as independent, either of the partners might appreciate the quick morning shower or the leisurely bath, so these areas would work well in shared space.
In the vanity and grooming area, the sharing of space ends, as the needs of any two people are usually different. His area might work best with a higher vanity height, good quality lighting, appropriate storage and power for various grooming appliances. Features and accessories here will likely be minimal, with clean lines, and a design that is more sturdy than delicate. The mirror will be higher, fog-free and possibly magnified.
Her vanity will be larger and probably lower, and will include either a seated grooming area or a place to stand close to the mirror, which will also be lower and magnified. When possible, a full-length mirror is also desirable. Natural light, appealing in either case, is most important here, and solar tubes can sometimes help to accomplish this in the absence of windows.
Other desired options might include the refrigerated medicine cabinet for grooming aids, and the appliance garage for easy access to items that can then be placed out of sight when not in use. As many clients prefer not to share these areas, they are often separated as would be the case with independent spaces.
Over the years, it has remained true that most clients, and particularly men, prefer the toileting area be separate, private and closed off from any other bathroom activities, making this a popular aspect of dual bathrooms.
His private toileting area might include a urinal along with the water closet, and hers might include a bidet or integrated personal hygiene system. When space allows, a small lavatory for hand washing can help this space double as a powder room, particularly if there is a passage other than through the bedroom. In several homes where we have worked, his private w.c. had access to the hallway, the exercise or massage area, or to the dressing area to allow for this flexibility as well as for one partner to dress and exit without waking the other.
With multiple bathrooms, there must be multiple spaces for storage at the point of use. Vanities, armoires or other furniture pieces, open shelving or shower or wall niches are a few of the options for creating storage possibilities in the bath.
Beyond the bathroom-specific storage, these dual bathrooms are often integrated into the larger wardrobe or dressing area. Integrated or nearby linen closets can provide further storage possibilities.
Space planning is essential to creating a bath that truly serves the needs of the homeowners. How does this space evolve? In many remodeling projects, an adjacent small bath and/or bedroom can be incorporated into the master suite.
In some cases, the soaking tub is completely separate from the grooming area, creating more of a retreat space. The vanity area, particularly hers, may be pulled from the wet area to be incorporated into the dressing or wardrobe zone. Flexible spaces adjacent to the master sleeping zone may include a study or an exercise room, again creating retreat space. In all cases, control of sounds from the bathroom must be a critical consideration as designs are developed.
Whether our clients are planning for two entirely independent spaces, or simply separate zones to support lifestyle and needs, the master suite, and especially the grooming and dressing zones, are the perfect setting for researching individual needs and then not only meeting them, but indulging them.