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Double Sinks in the Master Bath – Must We Have Them? Really? Part I

Double Sinks in the Master Bath

Double Sinks in the Master Bath

Two Sinks: Now standard in new construction for Master Baths.   It’s another “must have” shown on the real estate shows.  Having previously written about the “Open Floor Plan” a commenter suggested I  discuss other popular real estate “must have” amenities.   There are  many, from walk-in closets,  stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops.    But here I’ll address Two Sinks in the Master Bath.   People just have to have these, according to many of the House Hunters couples on HGTV.   Some of these HGTV couples are so disappointed when the master bath doesn’t have two sinks, it’s a deal-breaker.  By the way, HGTV does a good job of showing same-sex couples on their shows, but the two sink thing seems to be proffered has a heterosexual couple “must have.”  I’ll address it in kind.

From what I understand, these are the reasons why this is so popular:

1.  We can get ready together in the morning! 

2.  I don’t have to deal with his/her mess in the sink, I’ll have my very own sink!  

3.  His and her sinks in the Master Bath means “I’ve Arrived!”     

Yeah, okay.  I get it.  I really do, but I’m not sure that requiring two sinks in the master bath  is the best use of construction dollars or should be a deal-breaker.

1.  We can get ready together in the morning! 

Oh, that’s cute, but think about it.  In this world when everybody has personal devices for everything, when people don’t share cars or phones or computers or even closets, why are high-end houses still designed so that a couple can share a bathroom in the morning?   The whole point, from what I understand, is that couples can both be brushing their teeth or whatever at the same time.  Really?   In a large home, especially a home that is new construction, or one that carries a price tag that starting at over a half a million dollars, or one  where each child, nanny, and guest has his/her own bathroom, why are the husband and wife supposed to brush, rinse, spit, and floss together?  Not to mention pluck, shave, or otherwise groom.  I don’t care what you say, HGTV, but most husbands and wives are not going to openly share their nasal maintenance.    And though I’m not completely sure what men do in the bathroom, I’m reasonably sure I don’t need to see it.

Let’s face it:  regardless of the existence of two sinks, some things will be done behind the closed bathroom door while the spouse is elsewhere — anywhere — but standing at the adjacent sink.

And for those couples who are completely comfortable sharing bathroom activities with each other?  They don’t need two sinks.

2.  I don’t have to deal with his/her mess in the sink.  I’ll have my very own sink!  

Even when couples won’t use the bathroom as the same time, they want their own space.   As I’ve heard repeatedly on HGTV, this breaks down to two concerns:

a.  Women want/need space for all their skin, hair, make-up products.

Carrie's bathroom in Sex and The City

Carrie’s bathroom in Sex and The City

b.  Men leave shaving stubble in the sink, and women don’t like to see it, clean it or use a sink with said shaving stubble.

Dude shaving.  I honestly don't see a problem with seeing this in my bathroom, but I digress . . .

Dude shaving. I honestly don’t see a problem with seeing this in my bathroom, but I digress . . .

Alrighty then.   Having two sinks will create two separate areas for two different kinds of messes, right next to each other. His and her sinks?  His and her mess.

Ew.  (Doesn’t anybody clean?)

I think we can safely say that both a man and a woman have the potential for leaving a mess in the bathroom.  Given  blow drying and flat-ironing of long hair, the skin and make-up products, it seems like the women would be more likely to be the slobs in the bathroom sink area, though on HGTV they are usually the ones to complain.    The complaint about the man’s mess seems to be mostly about shaving stubble.  It appears HGTV women are very put out about seeing shaving stubble in the sink.   Does having two sinks make it better?  Not really.   I doubt that the woman who is really bothered by the sight of beard stubble will be able to enjoy her adjacent sink  within view of said beard stubble.  Again, isn’t somebody going to clean the bathroom?

Anybody?

Having two sinks will only ensure that one is always surrounded by woman’s  mess/stuff and the other will be surrounded by a man’s mess/stuff.

Still, somebody will have to see and wash up next to the other person’s mess — and now there are two sinks to clean — or not.  It’s kind of like the Hoarder who, instead of throwing stuff out, simply rents a storage unit.

But I get it.  It’s a perk.

3.  His and her sinks in the Master Bath means “I’ve Arrived!”   (I really think this is the true reason why couples crave the two sinks.)  

But . . .  

a.  Not everyone is in a couple.

Yes, you’ve arrived, but uh  —  not all adults are coupled up.  Sometimes you arrive all by yourself (pun not intended — well, maybe a little).  It’s not always a his/her, his/his or her/her situation.  Sometimes it’s Just Me . . . heh heh heh.  I remember a scene from the movie “It’s Complicated” where the main character, a divorced woman, was redoing her bathroom and wanted to get rid of the second sink. It was just a daily reminder that she had no partner, which she was okay with, but the sinks apparently were not.    My single sister has a two sink master bathroom that came with her newer construction home.  She uses one sink, and the other holds her curling iron.  Seems a waste.

Two sinks in the Master Bath are just kind of stupid for single people, and a bit insulting.  I can almost see the existence of two sinks being a deal-breaker for a single person.    And if  person becomes single after having insisted on the double sinks?   Might as well tile “Failed Relationship” on the back splash.

b.  Not everyone aspires to be in a couple.

Having a second sink when single might invite a relationship where one is not welcome.   Remember vintage Barney in “How I Met Your Mother”?   When giving Lily the tour of his Fortress of Barnitude, he explained,  “I make it crystal clear to every girl who walks in here that this is not the place to leave a toothbrush, this is not the place to leave a contact lens case, this is a place — to leave.”   I mean, the guy has a king size bed with only a full size blanket and just one pillow.   As to the bathroom, Barney added,  “What? Only one towel?  What? No hair dryer?  You know where I keep that stuff?  Your place.  Beat it.”   Clearly, the Master (or Lady) of the house does not always have or welcome a guest planning to stay long enough to warrant a second sink.   Nope.  As Barney said, sometimes a person wants his or her home to say,  “Our work here is done.”

Barney's Bedroom in

Barney’s Bedroom in “How I Met Your Mother” Season 2. Barney would never stand for two sinks. Never.

The Solution? 

I know I can be a rebel, but I think that what I think people really want is  — wait for it —— their very own bathroom!

Why stop at the sinks?   I mean, if you’re loading down a house with all the must have stuff let’s go all the way —  I’m talking his and her separate, private bathrooms!   In the old days, many of the very wealthy couples had his and her bathrooms.  Let’s extend the royal treatment to suburban McMansions.

New Construction

You hear that, new construction designers?   You wouldn’t necessarily need that much more room, depending on the design and a bit of creativity.  Some of these high end master bedrooms have a separate seating area and his or her walk-in closets.  If there is space for all that, they could design his and her bathrooms, especially in those palatial homes and possibly even in more moderate homes.   It’s funny in these houses with every amenity imaginable and  the cars get their own room and guests have their own suites, can’t the Lady and Lord of the house brush their teeth alone?     And I’d bet it would be a huge selling point.  Huge.

Sunny Von Bulow's private bath, as depicted in the film,

Sunny Von Bulow’s private bath, as depicted in the film, “Reversal of Fortune.” Mr. Von Bulow described it as her sanctuary. She’d spend hours in there, especially after being drugged with insulin . . . but I digress.

Even for singles, we can keep that second bathroom on lock down and not within view, and only a privileged few could earn a key to this “executive washroom.”  It would be a “special guest” bath.  As an added bonus, it would serve a dual function of keeping  our guests the heck out of our stuff.   “No, I’m sorry, honey, you use that bathroom.”  heh heh heh

But I get it.  For most of us regular folk there might not be space for two completely separate baths connected to the master bedroom.

I’ll offer  another, less radical, suggestion.  When remodeling or buying new construction or house shopping, consider having only one sink in the Master Bath,  make the assumption that a couple will not actually be in the bathroom together, or if they are, they are not both using the sink at the same time.   Instead, use the money saved to install a larger, easy to clean counter space, creating an area that can accommodate all the products with great lighting and plenty of mirrors.   Or, better yet,  design personalized storage for all of those products and hair appliances so they can be used and put away (or left out)  while still hot.   And that one sink?  Make it and the  counter easy to wipe clean of the shaving stubble,  you could or even install a sprayer.    (Or get a maid.)

Let’s put a second (or third) sink where it belongs —  in the hall (children’s) bath.  It always amazes me when this is missing in a space that would allow it, especially in homes that are meant to accommodate more than one child.   It’s kids that  brush their teeth together while another small child is sitting on the toilet.   Kids aren’t concerned about modesty, have less products and consequently less need for counter space.   But trust me, you want them washing those grubby hands.  Any preschool teacher or parent will tell you kids tend to wash better and brush teeth longer with a buddy.   So let the kids live dorm style.  Just teach them to clean the sinks, all of them!

Aw, let the kids wash up together!

Aw, let the kids wash up together!

Just Me With . . . no master bath at all, so I’m talking, excuse my expression,  — out of my ass.   We are a family of six sharing one bathroom.  I would love to have another sink — anywhere!

Many thanks to the commenter David Travers, who inspired this post, and to HGTV, a channel that I watch, enjoy, and criticize frequently.

Maybe I’m just jealous.

See also:

Double Sinks in the Master Bath, Part II

An Argument Against the Open Floor Plan

and How to Unclog a Toilet While Under Sedation

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My Love Affair with Dunkin’ Donuts’ Bathroom

I love Dunkin Donuts.   I know it’s just a chain of low-end Doughnut shops, but  I go to Dunkin Donuts every day.   The baked goods and food are not so great, but I do enjoy the coffee.    When I moved, downsized, left the marital home, whatever you want to call it — I began a relationship with Dunkin’ Donuts that was very personal.

When the old house sold, the new “old” house was still being remodeled.  “Remodeling” makes it sound so pretty and exciting — so HGTV-like.   It wasn’t.  It was more a combination of Hoarders, Clean House, DIY’s Renovation Realities and Jerry Springer.   Oh, it was an adventure, but it wasn’t pretty.   Some of the details of the renovation will be in other posts, but for this you need to know that the kitchen had already been demolished to the studs, see  Toilet or Kitchen Sink  —  Who Can Tell?  and the home’s only bathroom was under construction to allow for an over the tub shower and for my boy to be able to stand in front of the toilet — like a man.   The tub and sink had previously been removed, only the toilet remained, temporarily, which looked like this:  Did you notice the duct tape on the toilet seat?  Did ya?   Can you imagine the germ fest going on there?   Although at least one of the prior owners wasn’t even using the toilet regularly, see Piss Puke and Porn,  . . .  that toilet was more than nasty.  It was a bio-hazard. This picture was taken almost a year before I moved in, when the prior owners were still living there.   Yet when I moved in, the same duct tape was still on the toilet,   now covered in plaster dust and construction dirt which had stuck to the urine stains on the commode like a weird kind of sand art.  Ew!!

We moved into this mess –  in Summer — and it was hot.  Wait for it . . . we moved into a true

. . . wait for it. . .  hot mess!

But at least we had a toilet to flush, assuming we could use it without touching it.    I kept a bottle of hand sanitizer on a bucket in the “bathroom.”  This held us over until we could use the hose — outside.    Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that since the bathroom ceiling and roof were being raised, there was no overhead light.  A desk lamp plugged into the one working outlet gave us some light — because you  need to see in order to use a toilet without touching it.  You need to see — but not too much, not too much, not in that house.   We were seriously roughing it.

Two days after we moved in the disgusting toilet was removed.  I was slightly relieved, not realizing that a simple plumbing fixture could actually scare me so much.    But this left us with no indoor plumbing at all.   Huh.   But when the toilet was taken outside and I saw it in the light of day?   Well, no indoor plumbing became suddenly acceptable, preferable, actually.

Still, I wasn’t alone.   I do have five children.    One kid was thankfully going on vacation with another family for a week.  That left four.  Four kids with nowhere to wash themselves, wash clothes or prepare food.    And the four kids left were girls, so going behind a tree — not so easy.

I schlepped the girls to and from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, along with our laundry.  But my elderly parents  also have only one bathroom as well and were quite distraught over our living conditions.   They were distraught?  Imagine how I felt.    I had to downplay the situation to keep my parents (who are Olympic level worriers) and my kids calm.    I pretended this was not that big a deal.  I deserve an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. I don’t want a SAG award, because I can’t get over the sound of that . . . but I digress.

Of course the bathroom construction was behind, though I was given reassurances to the contrary.   And, let’s just say my funds were not liquid at the moment, which severely limited my options. (This may be subject of another post.)

Our “Bathroom,” mid-construction

While the kids were at the grandparents or other activities (which I kept them in, so as to maintain normalcy and give them a place to go — literally — ha!) I stayed and worked at the house.   Professionals were doing the bathroom but I needed to be around to supervise, and continue my round the clock cleaning and painting, see That Hoarder’s Smell, and also try to organize our belongings —which were stored in stacks of boxes that could not yet be unpacked.  Of course, there was no need to unpack the kitchen because, well, we didn’t have one.   In addition, the house was not yet secure — broken locks and doors — someone needed to be around.

My morning routine was as follows:

I would get up, roll into my clothes or keep on whatever I’d slept in (because so very few of my clothes were accessible to me) and head to Dunkin Donuts.

Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan

Walking in quickly and giving the very hip  “up” nod to the workers, who knew me as a regular, I would head directly to the bathroom where, in addition to the normal thing to do, I would wash my face, dry it with a paper towel, grab the toothbrush and paste stashed in my purse, and brush my teeth.  When I emerged my coffee was ready for me.   The largely Pakistani staff expected me, remembered my order, and never gave me a hard time about my frequent and prolonged bathroom visits — even when I had the kids with me and we did it as a group, waiting our turn, usually at night, which brings me to—

The night-time routine:

Okay, kids we need to go and use the bathroom for the last time before bed.  Get in the car.

And we went to . . .  Dunkin’ Donuts.  The folks there would often give us free doughnuts, too!  Plus I made friends with one worker even though there was a huge language barrier and I later helped her with a very personal  issue — again something for another post.

I almost forgot that at one point there was a “Potty in the Basement” provided by the plumbers  — really it was like  an adult-sized training potty, except with chemicals.   Yeah, that didn’t work too well either, partly because there was no light down there in the oil stained, crumbling stone basement, and partly because the contents of that potty needed to be dumped–  not after every use because of the chemicals, but regularly.   This meant carrying it up broken basement stairs, through the house and outside (walking a plank which extended from the  back door four feet down to the ground, no deck or stairs yet) and then dumping it into the sewer line.

That potty overflowed once in the house.  Ew. I just shuddered a little, thinking about it.  Ew.

Damn, I’ve been through some shit, literally, shit  . . .  but I digress . . .  and this post is getting long.

Even Gabrielle on  “Desperate Housewives” has welcomed a Port-A-Potty when plumbing failed.

Realizing the bathroom remodel was going to take longer than expected, and when I finally had funds available (back child support was finally paid, on the very last day listed on the court order), I arranged for a port-a-potty to be installed in the back yard.   After all, it was a construction site.

Oh the Port-A-Potty — it gave us another round of adventures . . . since it was Summer and my children were and are very afraid of bugs and the dark . . .

Anyway, this is how my love affair with Dunkin’ Donuts happened, it wasn’t just about the coffee.

Just Me With . . . a fully functional bathroom  — now — though  I still enjoy my morning coffee from my friends at Dunkin’ Donuts. 

“Time to make the . . . Doughnuts?”

See, “She Asked For My Help”  for the issue with my Pakistani friend.

 

An Argument Against the Open Floor Plan

Taking down the wall . . .

On every home makeover show, every real estate show, they talk about how everyone loves the open floor plan.  It’s the new black. Homeowners are forever busting through walls to open the kitchen to the family room and eliminating the dining room altogether.

There are two main reasons why the open floor plan is so so popular:

1.    It is great for entertaining.  People always end up in the kitchen anyway, right?    This allows the cook to be in the kitchen puttering around and interact with guests.

2.   It is great for parents of young children.   It allows the parent to be in the kitchen and still keep an eye on the little ones in the family room.   No more  baby in a playpen or high chair in the kitchen while you make dinner.

Do you see the theme?

STAY IN THE KITCHEN!

The open floor plan negates any reason to actually leave the kitchen.

But there is a third reason:  knocking out walls creates space, or at least an illusion of space within the same square footage.

When you think about it, the open  floor plan has been common in apartments for years. Walk into an apartment and you can see everything except  the bedroom.     It was supposed to be a move up  for an apartment dweller to buy a house and actually have separate rooms.     This new open floor plan  trend has essentially turned high-end palace homes into nothing but super-sized apartments, with a second floor.

Monica and Rachel’s Apartment in Friends

For those of you who don’t have the open floor plan,  before you take out all the walls in your house, and before you feel badly because you have a wall that you can’t take down, consider this:

1.  Your children won’t be toddlers forever.

Children tend to grow. And there will come a time where you don’t want to and don’t have to watch every move they make.

2.  Yes, you can see your toddlers, but your toddlers can see you, too.

My husband and I used to go into the laundry room to shove a snack into our faces so that the babies wouldn’t see and start wailing for some.  Sometimes, I’d drop down behind the island like I’d heard sudden gunfire in order to have a cookie.

3.  You can see your school-age, tween and teen kids, but they can see you, too.

With an open floor plan, you can  forget coming down to sneak a snack over the counter in your jammies late at night, or reading the paper at the kitchen counter/table in the morning before your shower. There’s nothing like hearing,   “Hi. Mrs.  Peterson!”  when you’re bra-less in a  vintage tee and boxers drinking coffee in your kitchen.   And if you dare talk on the phone while cooking or cleaning, you will be shushed by someone — or perhaps worse, a child  will be listening in on every word.    And it is a truism, a simple fact of life, that as kids grow, parents spend a fair amount of time hiding from them.    The open floor plan is antithetical to the natural course of child-rearing in this respect.

4.  Your kitchen must always be spotless . . .

There’s no door to close.  When unexpected guests pop in — yours or your children’s — and you haven’t unloaded and reloaded your dishwasher — everyone can see it.  Suddenly you’re a slob.  The rest of your house could be spotless, but under these floor plans, no one ever sees the rest of your house.

5.   Your family (TV)  room includes a kitchen– a  noisy, smelly kitchen.

Imagine sitting down in a darkened room, ready to watch a great emotional or talky movie and — oh hello, there’s your kid or spouse or whatever, in the kitchen, talking on the phone, repeatedly opening the fridge, making bacon, arguing with someone. Go ahead and click pause, because you can’t hear whatever George Clooney is saying, not that you need to . . . . but I  digress. Your quiet moment has been ruined.

6. Children’s Programming/Teen programming/Sports/News — Anything you don’t want to watch at any given time.

Your little kid is watching Dora. Again, and again, and again. You can’t get away from it.  iCarly I get it, but I’ve had enough.  People are enjoying the big game, snacking, yelling at the screen, having a good old time.  You are wiping the counter after having loaded the dishwasher and setting out food for them. Worse, you can’t even mutter to yourself or roll your eyes at the unfairness of it all, because you are on display.

Essentially, the open floor plan allows you to be in the kitchen and watch — other people watch TV.   Humph.

7.  “Oh my gosh I dropped the chicken!”

In a perfect world, no one would know.  Open floor plan?  Well, it’ll be tweeted in minutes.

8.  When entertaining, sometimes you need a minute.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Guests in the next room are expecting dinner; Mary and Rhoda panic in the kitchen because they have no food.

Your mother-in-law is driving you crazy, your boss is bored, your husband/wife is saying something he/she shouldn’t, you need yet another drink, you just said something really, really stupid.  With an open floor plan, THERE’S NO PLACE TO GO!!!    I love all the classic  TV shows where people could say, “Can I see you in the kitchen”  or “I’m going to check on the food,”  followed quickly by, “I’ll help you.”    (This is all code for “We need to talk.” )  With an open floor plan I guess you have to hide in the bathroom, and that’s just plain icky.

How many times did characters in Frasier run off to the kitchen to plot against some misunderstanding happening in the living room?

One big room is fine, it can even be intimate when you are alone or coupled up.  But once there are people of different ages,  interests and responsibilities, well let’s just say that all this open living can be  downright oppressive.

I speak from experience.

I knocked out a kitchen wall in my  old house and built a family room addition. Instead of looking out  my  kitchen window and seeing  trees, I created a view of  my family room.  I had young children at the time.  I fell for the “I can be in the kitchen and see the kids”   trap.  Well, the children grew, the husband left, and I  downsized  to a much smaller  fixer-upper  home.

When it was time to do the kitchen, the contractor asked,

“You gonna knock out this wall?”

I said, “No.  I want my wall.   I need my wall.”

Truth is, I need some division in my life.

Sometimes I  watch a little TV  or listen to music while cleaning or cooking.  Sometimes I sit at the kitchen table on my laptop or  the phone while my kids are in the family room watching something that literally makes me ill.  I’ve even been known to channel my inner Beyoncé and dance to my heart’s content in my kitchen. With my wall intact, I can be unseen but close by, and still opt in or out of  the children’s  entertainment at will.

It’s the little things . . .  Sometimes a wall  is a good little thing.

Just Me With . . . a divided floor plan and a bit of,  well  — if not sanity —  at least a bit of privacy.

See also:

My Refrigerator Broke. Do I Really New A Fancy New Stainless Steel New One?

Double Sinks in The Master Bath — Must We Have Them?  Really? 

Piss, Puke, and Porn — my new old house.

A Rat In My House

Suck This! Mr. Dyson

Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell? 

My Panty Drawer, Your Panty Drawer — My Adventures in Home Staging and Carpet Installation

How to Get Rid of That Hoarder’s Smell