Would You Try This Divisive New Bathroom Trend?

Separate spaces are the request du jour for many designers.

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Dan Piassick, courtesy of Denise McGaha

There's hardly any space more personal than a bathroom—and no one knows that better than designers. "I get to ask the hard questions," laughs Dallas designer Denise McGaha. "Like, when you shave your legs in the morning, are you okay with your husband being in the room?" It's these types of questions that have led to a trend designers say they're seeing more and more: Separate bathrooms for couples in one home.

"I would say probably 75 percent of my clients now want separate bathrooms," says designer Sarah Magness, who is currently at work on a pair in Palm Beach. To designers, of course, this is music to their ears: "The best bart is that we get to truly decorate these spaces differently," McGaha says.

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The showers for two bathrooms Denise McGaha did in a Dallas spec home.
Dan Piassick, courtesy of Denise McGaha

But why the push for separation? "I think it’s considered a luxury," says designer Jennifer Hunter. "They like their privacy and their own space. In the mornings they want to not be getting ready on top of one another." Plus, says Magness, "they both have their own unique style and want it their own way."

All of the designers I spoke to for this story noted that their clients tended to be older baby boomers renovating empty nests or moving into new homes they planned to stay in long-term. In one Magness is designing, the couple has included adjacent quarters for a caregiver.

But more recently, it seems the trend is moving beyond this demographic and appealing to a wide range of homeowners who can afford it. "We initially discussed addition of a second bathroom as a way to immediately add value from the renovation in their newly purchased property," says New York designer Chris McGovern. "The husband and wife both work in finance, so this was music to their ears."

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McGaha’s man’s bathroom (the woman’s is above).
Dan Piassick, courtesy of Denise McGaha

Indeed, data from Zillow shows that, while homes with so-called "Jack-and-Jill" bathrooms take longer to sell (around 6.6 days more than the average), they go for an average of 5.9 percent higher of a sale price.

Plus, pre-sale, as designers point out, the double space allows for each person to make personal choices—both stylistic and functional. In McGovern's project, the man's bathroom will get a large stall shower with a deep bench, recesses for speakers, deep cabinets with outlets inside, and a counter-height vanity, while hers will have a deep soaking tub, low in-shower shelf for leg shaving, drawers for hair tools, and a standing vanity area. "Functionally, they differ wildly," the designer says of the spaces.

Fellow New York designer Alyssa Kapito recently wrapped a project with a similar situation. "It wasn’t as much that they were butting heads, just that they definitely had their personal preferences on if they had their dream bathroom, what would go in it," she explains to House Beautiful. In this case, the wife wanted lots of storage while the husband's biggest ask was an airy space with lots of light. Another difference? "He loved that there was a window in his shower, whereas the wife was very against that," Kapito says.

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A wife’s bath, left, and husband’s shower, right, in a separate bathroom design by Jennifer Hunter.
Courtesy of Jennifer Hunter

Stylistically, most of these spaces will differ in palette or material, but tie back to a cohesive theme. Kapito lined Calacatta marble in black in the husband's space at her project, and used just the white marble with lots of mirrors in the wife's. In a spec house McGaha did with two master baths (sure proof that there's a market for them), she used similar style tile in different finishes.

For clients who may not have the space for two entire separate rooms, there are still clever ways to create the feeling of divided spaces: "I have another client couple where they have two sides to the bathroom," says the designer. "They cannot see each other when they’re in there. They have their own vanities, shower heads, everything."

Perhaps there's some truth to the old saying about absence and fondness—at least when it comes to the home. McGaha points out there's historic evidence to prove it: "When you think back to Lucy and Ricky…did they even sleep in the same bed?" she asks. "No! Do you think they got ready in the same bathroom?" Touché.

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