Me time, not we time, in the bathroom
For couples fed up of sharing, the ultimate luxury is a bathroom each
No more bathroom sink drama: His and hers sinks have been a staple of the master bathroom for decades.
In homes across the country there are skirmishes taking place every day over bathroom rights, from teenagers hogging the mirror behind a locked door to kids walking in on a parent’s only moment of quiet to couples seething at each other’s reflections in their one mirror wondering how a small thing like leaving the cap off the toothpaste can have you idly thinking about divorce.
The traditional solution for this latter dilemma, his and hers sinks, is no longer enough. The secret to successful marriage or co-habitation is a whole bathroom to call your own, says Louise Ashdown, head of design at West One bathrooms, a London-based boutique business that established itself in upmarket Mayfair in the 1960s and has been catering for those with the space and deep pockets for such a wish list ever since.
Ashdown is now designing whole floors given over to adult-only, suite-style set-ups and in several recent projects has installed a separate bathroom for each half of the couple. For a job in Sussex, pictured, she designed two very different spaces for husband and wife. Hers features crisp white sanitaryware, a separate shower and freestanding bath of a very feminine form and a dressing area. It is bathed in light with original exposed wood beams softening the overall ambiance. His, on the other hand, is manly in monochrome with a punchy black loo and black tiles.
The physical space doesn’t have to be enormous, she says, her firm stocks a Japanese style small bath just 120cm long, for example, but it does need to be separate.
His and hers showers
Kilkenny-based Merlyn Showering is also tapping into the trend. It recently launched a his and hers shower stall that is rooted in practicality, says its commercial director Barry Hoyne. “The bathroom has become a place to relax and escape our hectic lives, a place for chill-out me time.”
There are benefits to having a bathroom each, he says. Women prefer a lower wc and a softer tiling mood whereas men prefer higher bathroom furniture. But a lot of us can’t afford to have two separate rooms. In these instances he suggests trying its new double shower which allows you to customise each shower half.
You will need an extra pump and possibly a larger water tank to deal with its two showerheads but in his house it gives him space for his one bottle of shampoo as well as accommodating his wife’s five-plus bottles of product. Made in Ireland, the glass panels, pictured, cost from €815 each and can be used with ceramic bases – you will need two – or a wet-room-style tiled floor.
Our privacy needs
We all need personal spaces but how much privacy any individual needs is up to that individual, says Amanda Lynch, director at Psychotherapy Dublin. It’s about creating a space that works for both and that will vary from couple to couple as it is down to personality types.
“The bathroom is where we groom, get dressed and use the toilet. For some couples it works to share everything.
“If you’re the type who leaves the cap off the toothpaste and wet towels on the bathroom floor and your partner isn’t in accord then you may fall into the category for whom sharing doesn’t work.”
Some of us need more of a sense of privacy and a sense of space in relationships, she explains, saying that it’s about finding a compromise that works for both.
The wet towels and toothpaste cap just provide ammunition for arguments; the issues are already there but having an argument about it is a flash point.
So does she believe separate bathrooms can save a marriage or relationship?
No, she says. “What is the problem in the marriage is the question you need to find an answer to.”
Before you ever move in together she suggests you discuss frankly how much personal space you each need and what you want and not want to do in front of each other – in other words when do you want to be able to close the door on each other.
“There is no right or wrong but rather what works and doesn’t work for you as a couple and you need to be able to articulate those needs.”