Next to sharing a bed, sharing a bathroom is the most intimate experience two people can have. Bathrooms host activities ranging from the physiological to those of personal hygiene, not to mention hours of gazing and pondering, "Mirror, mirror on the wall ..." While many couples do not mind sharing space, others cannot abide by a "yours, mine, ours" space concept. Different organizational habits have a lot to do with disagreements about bathrooms between people who otherwise love each other.
Women are forever faulted for lengthy "getting ready" sessions in front of the mirror, but with more beauty products readily available for the metrosexual man, men are now sharing equal time in front of the mirror. Everything from pampering and wrestling with wrinkles to applying hair-coloring products is now mainstream for both sexes, and it all takes time to apply in the privacy of a bathroom.
For years, the solution offered by designers for some of these problems has been the single vanity with double sinks. But as one of my clients says, "That's the root of all the problems!"
As it happens, the items of one of the cohabitants tend to encroach upon the other's, and mayhem ensues. At that point, nothing short of a yellow stripe down the middle of the room could keep the peace.
If designing a single vanity with two bowls, the recommendation is to have at least half of the amount of space on either side of the bowls as you have in between them, allowing each user the same amount of space on either side of the bowl. Another design recommendation is to create a break in the countertop surface either by designing slightly raised cabinetry in between the two bowls or by having the cabinetry drop down for space as a makeup vanity and stool.
In this day and age, longtime couples increasingly have separate bedrooms because of one or the other's erratic sleeping patterns -- a buzz phrase for snoring and other ailments. So why not separate bathrooms?
Today, I try to sway clients who engage me for bathroom renovations to allow me to design two smaller bathrooms rather than one large bathroom suite. Although this involves a bit more expense due to having to buy two of everything, it usually mitigates the bathroom feuds. What could be a better argument for separate facilities than the proverbial throne or water closet?
Designs range from two identical bathrooms to one with a shower and the other a tub. It all has to do with the habits of daily life for those living together. Everyone's preferences are different.
So next time you visit a home, what might seem odd as an amenity just might be the perfect solution to day-to-day activity. It might seem extravagant and even gauche to have duplicate facilities, but for some it comes down to couples therapy, especially if its ultimate outcome is marital bliss.
• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla.
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