Hinsdale, Ill.-based Normandy Builders won a 2011 Bronze Master Design Award with this bath that separates his and her vanity space with a tall cabinet.
Photo credit: Stephanie Bryant
If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, sharing a bathroom seems like an impossible task. With careful planning, however, it doesn’t have to be impossible to share such an intimate space. The first step toward accomplishing this is having a little separation and some personal space during your morning and evening rituals. I don’t know about you, but there are times I would like to tape off a dividing line on the vanity to define my space and my husband’s space. Although he has fewer vanity items than I, somehow his items find their way to “my side” of the vanity. Much of the problem would be solved with proper storage but, by human nature, we don’t always put things back where they belong. Therefore, in addition to proper storage, you should separate the two spaces and create individual vanities.
As you design these two spaces, consider the height of each vanity. If the vanities are side-by-side, visually it would be tempting to make them the same height. However, for most average women 33 inches in height is ideal, and 36 inches in height best suits most average men. Depending on existing space, the following design ideas can be realized:
1) Create individual vanity spaces by having them on separate walls.
2) In a smaller space, make each vanity a custom height for each occupant.
3) Create a visual divider, such as a half-wall between each of the spaces or raise a narrow stack of drawers 6 to 12 inches higher than the vanities.
4) If space allows, a full-height wall or tall cabinet would create a niche for each vanity.
Once you have defined each vanity space, it’s time to ensure proper storage is in place. For her, the biggest challenge is facial and hair products, much of which are small and can get lost in even the smallest vanity drawers. My favorite solution is similar to what is used in kitchens: white plastic divider inserts, which create little compartments. I prefer removable inserts because if foundation or blush spills in the drawer, you can remove the insert and wash it.
Proper lighting in both vanity areas also should be considered. If possible, overhead lighting with sidelights would be perfect for applying makeup and shaving. This type of lighting would eliminate any shadowing from overhead lights. Other issues to consider include installing a lighted shaving mirror with telescoping arms in each of the vanity areas. With higher vanities, it is more difficult to lean closer to the mirror for a closer look.
Consider a carefully located toilet to allow for simultaneous use of the bathroom. Whenever possible, a privacy wall around the toilet area would improve a functioning two-person bathroom.
It seems the days of luxury tubs in master bathrooms are behind us and more luxury showers are taking tubs’ places. This makes sense for those of us who wake up and get ready for the day at the same time. Rather than a single-control multi-spray shower, a shower with two separate showerheads and controls would be perfect for two people and would allow each person to control personal water temperature. Keep in mind, most women shave their legs in the shower, so a bench that can be used as a footrest would be ideal.
Creating a more user-friendly his-and-her bathroom just might be the first step toward helping us understand Mars and Venus a little better.