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palatial bathroom

The age of the huge, ostentatious bathroom the size of an airplane hangar must end. Here’s some sound reasoning on the subject for 2015.

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The more savvy I get about small-space living, the more I’m dumbfounded by the trend toward large bathrooms in modern homes.

What are people doing in their bathrooms that they need this much space? Are they summoning spirits and performing sundances before work? Is it for dead-body storage? I’m mystified.

How much space does one person need?

Does anyone really need the space for a chaise lounge in their bathroom? How does this even remotely compute for the average person? Does a homeowner wake up one morning and think, “You know who I want to emulate in the bathroom? Cleopatra. Perhaps a chaise lounge. Maybe I can get a houseboy to fan me as I recline and sip umbrella-drinks”?

Who decides that the place they really want to spend their off-hours relaxing is also where they poop? What kind of kinky life are you leading if you need a soaker tub that could fit a third-world family of four inside it right beside your 5×5 walk-in shower? How many people do you need to accommodate to fit into your bathing and showering routine? Is it separation anxiety?

Two sinks, okay, I get that. I can even understand a separate shower and bath. Do they need to be sized for accommodating Hagrid and other friends from the Harry Potter world of giants?

Once bathrooms were modest

It’s like the bathroom has become the ultimate “status” symbol in the home. Have you a bidet, toilet, shower, bath, and two sinks? You might be made of shiny new money. It’s better than a country club membership these days.

I live in a home from the 1930s. Not even the door would be considered regulation-size today. The toilet’s a special smaller-sized toilet that I’ve learned a secret flushing-jiggling trick to stop water from running endlessly after flushing, thanks to a too-small-tank that always causes the flapper to get stuck against the bobber. (Sounds like a cabaret routine, doesn’t it? I wish.)

In fact, it’s such a tight fit there’s a scoop cut into the countertop so a human can fit. I sit in there wedged snug enough that sometimes I leave with a counter imprint on my arm. I have a giant neighbor who’s maybe 6’4 and 300 pounds, and imagining him sat on his toilet makes me giggly — but empathetically so.

small elegant bathroom

Somehow, we muddle through and face the world with smiles on our faces after we emerge from our compact, undersized bathrooms that barely accommodate me, let alone a large human like my neighbor. Even the bathtubs are so small that my knees bend to a 45-degree angle just to immerse myself, and I’m only 5’6.

In the 1930s, this home was the height of extravagance. Cherry-wood floors, 9-foot ceilings, all the Art Deco fixings such a period home should enjoy. And yet, a toilet so crammed in that I get imprints on my arm, a 22.5″-wide door, and a bathtub most lap dogs would find small.

Pimped-up & palatial potties

Granted, I hate my bathroom, but I endure it. A larger, comfortable bathtub, and enough room so I could twirl and belt out “The Hills are Alive with the Sound Of Music,” I’d take all that in a heartbeat.

No one on this planet who needs a 300-plus-square-foot bathroom, and yet they’re out there. I mean, I kid you not, my first apartment was smaller than this bathroom. My living room today is smaller than that bathroom. At least 12 of my bathrooms, tub included, could be fit in this monstrosity. I’m not exaggerating.

But these huge bathrooms are impractical for long-term ownership. When something goes wrong behind those all-tiled walls in some of these large spaces, owners better hope they’ve saved enough tile stock for the future, or the whole room will need redoing just so it’s a cohesive design still. Maybe they can afford it, but is it a justifiable waste these days?

A trend to end

For 2015, if there’s any one trend I’d like to see end, it’s the Giant Bathroom Trend. For energy consumption, cleaning requirements, raw materials needed, it’s one huge sustainable-living no-no.

There are pros and cons to oodles of space, but it’s really just excessive and unneeded. It’s another way we’re living via “want” and not “necessity.” If you’re ever needing a reality check about want-versus-necessity, drop by the building supplies area of your local landfill.

Mother Nature needs us to get our “wants” under control. Instead of designing for big spaces, let’s make smart human-sized spaces, so we all live better and within our earthly means, and leave the giant bathtubs where they belong, with Hagrid or in Middle Earth.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.