3 Things I Love (and 1 Thing I Don’t) About My “Split Bathroom”

published Jun 27, 2023
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Wash basin In White Bathroom With Bath Accessories
Credit: Lena Ivanova / EyeEm/Getty Images

When I moved into my current apartment nearly two years ago, it was a major upgrade from my former digs. (Double the square footage? Easy access to the beach and park? A garage and backyard? Yes please to everything, thank you very much!) 

Of course, every home has its idiosyncrasies — small annoyances that make a space special, although you really wouldn’t choose them if you were building your own place from the ground up. For me, it’s my bathroom — or my bathrooms, plural, rather. In my apartment, I have a “split bathroom,” where there’s one room for my shower and sink, but a separate small room for the toilet. 

This might be my first time living in a home with a split bathroom, but the phenomenon has been around for decades. In fact, SFGate traces the birth of the split bathroom back to the Victorian period, when people had a newfound interest in hygiene and might’ve thought it was improper to use the same space to cleanse your body and, well, use the restroom. 

Although I was initially very wary of my split bathroom, I realized it’s not that bad. In fact, there are some things I kind of like about it — and, okay, one thing I’m still not crazy about. Whether you’re thinking about moving into a home with a split bathroom or currently have a similar setup, here’s everything you need to know about this kooky water-closet configuration.

Credit: Kelsey Mulvey

Pro: It makes it easy to host houseguests.

Most of the time, my fiancé and I are the only ones using our split bathroom, so we’re pretty good at navigating our unconventional quarters. (We’re long-term roommates; there’s zero problem with my fiancé coming into the bathroom to brush his teeth while I’m taking a shower.) That said, I don’t think any short-term guests would be as comfortable with our easy, breezy bathroom policy. And because we have two bedrooms and one (split!) bathroom, sharing a typical restroom with family or friends who are visiting would be a tad challenging. 

The good news is that our split bathroom mitigates that problem. Because the toilet and shower are in two separate rooms, our guests can feel free to go to the restroom whenever — yes, even when I’m showering or my fiancé is brushing his teeth. It’s a small detail I probably wouldn’t have noticed if we had one traditional bathroom (it is what it is, right?), but one that I’ve quickly deemed a major pro. 

Pro: It gives us more storage opportunities.

Simply put, more walls equals more storage opportunities. Regardless of your bathroom layout, you need somewhere to stow your towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies. At the same time, you also need to think about your space’s overall vibe. (Packing a bunch of cabinets and rolling carts into a relatively small space doesn’t exactly create a serene, spa-like sanctuary.) Lucky for me, a split bathroom offers the best worlds: I have a set of over-toilet shelves in one room, an extra cabinet in the other, and neither area feels cluttered with furniture. A win-win, right?

Credit: Kelsey Mulvey

Pro: There are ample hand-washing options.

The toilet area of my split setup is adjacent to the rest of my bathroom and a few steps away from my kitchen sink, leaving me with an odd dilemma: Where do I wash my hands? For a long time, I viewed this concept as a nuisance. Instead of going on autopilot to finish my hygiene routine, I have to make a decision as soon as I set foot outside of the toilet zone. (I can’t tell you how many times dinner party guests look flustered before blurting out, “Um, where should I wash my hands?”) 

But lately, I’ve been noticing the toilet’s position offers the convenience of washing my hands without derailing my flow. If I’m heading back to my office or the bedroom I share with my fiancé, I’ll wash my hands in the sink that’s in my shower space. But if I’m just about to make dinner or watch a movie in the living room, the kitchen sink it is! It’s as easy as that.

Con: It’s tight quarters.

While my over-toilet storage doesn’t take up a lot of precious floor space (thank goodness for those tall-not-wide cabinets), the smaller spot in my split bathroom is … really small. To be honest, when you close the door to use the toilet, the room feels more claustrophobic than a teeny-tiny powder room. There are certainly times when I wish my split bathroom didn’t feel so small, but when there are so many benefits to the setup, it’s a tiny inconvenience that’s worth the payoff.