Water Closets: Essential or a Waste of Bathroom Space?

When you’re designing a bathroom, you’re probably going to view the 2019 trends in bathroom technology and the latest faucet trends for inspiration. A water closet is another bathroom feature that is popular among some homeowners — but it’s considered unnecessary by others. So, how do you know if it’s the right choice for your home?

If you’ve never heard of a water closet, Elle H-Millard of the National Kitchen + Bath Association (NKBA) explains, “The water closet is basically a toilet in its own room.” Do you need a toilet in its own room? Let’s find out.


Water toilet privacy

A water closet provides privacy. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

Nathan Outlaw, President at Onvico, a general contracting and design-build company in Thomasville, GA, tells Freshome that he always recommends water closets for master bathrooms. “They help add privacy for the toilet user and allow a spouse to continue to use the bathroom when it may have been too embarrassing otherwise.”

In fact, H-Millard says homeowners could even have two water closets in the master bathroom. “You could have water closets off to the side and you can have two — his and hers — guaranteeing each person their own true privacy.” This would be an ideal scenario in a Jack and Jill bathroom, too.

Water closet stylich

A water closet can be quite stylish. Image: fiphoto/Shutterstock

She says that water closets are trending. “This is a very European movement that is taking the U.S. by storm.” Ironically, H-Millard says Americans are opening up their showers just as they’re cordoning off their toilets. “The shower zones are totally exposed, but we are closing off the more private functions in the bathroom,” she explains. “Bathing in front of others seems to be more acceptable but we are still needing our privacy when using the water closet.”

Water toilet and toothbrush

A water closet puts distance between the commode and your toothbrush. Image: MartinPrescott/Getty Images

One advantage of a water closet is that it can make your bathroom more sanitary.  For example, toothbrush holders are one of the “Nasty 9” — the nine germiest places in your home. When we spoke with Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona who is better known as “Dr. Germ,” he warned against storing your toothbrush holder close to the toilet. When the toilet is flushed, all of those particles sprayed through the air may land on the toothbrush holder. A water closet ensures that your toothbrush — and other toiletry items — are a safe distance away from the commode.


Water closet claustrophobic

A small water closet can induce claustrophobia. Image: zilber42/Getty Images

So, how much additional space does a water closet take up? Not much, according to H-Millard. “If it’s not an ADA-necessary water closet, they can be as small as 3’ x 5’,” she says. But when they’re too small, they might make the user feel claustrophobic.

Another concern is that water closets can sometimes take up valuable space that could be used for something else.

Sometimes, water closet space could be better utilized. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

“We have several master bathrooms that we have removed the water closet from to help open up the bathroom,” Outlaw says. “In some cases, the addition of the water closet just takes up too much space and makes a bathroom feel dark and cramped.”

However, he has another solution. “In these cases, we generally recommend a freestanding shelf or some type of furniture to help block the view and provide privacy to the person using the toilet.”

Other considerations

Water closet with windows

Looking at the mirror, you can see that this water closet has windows. Image: pics721/Shutterstock

A water closet can be as small or large as you need it to be. However, always consider resale value if you’re thinking about making it expansive. Homebuyers may not appreciate that it’s taking up valuable bathroom space.

Even though it’s a small room (within a room), don’t skimp on design. There are several types of fabulous bathroom wallpaper designs that can make the water closet the bathroom’s most stylish area. A frosted glass door is another option to keep the water closet from looking bland. It will also keep this enclosed space from looking dark and drab.

Even though the water closet will have its own light fixture, keep in mind that the door will be closed when it’s in use, so make sure the lighting is sufficient. In addition, if space is an issue, consider using a pocket door.

Another consideration: Outlaw says guest bathrooms wouldn’t really need a separate closet since they’re less likely to have more than one occupant at a time.

Water closet sufficient lighting

Make sure there’s sufficient lighting in the water closet. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

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What You Need to Know about Jack and Jill Bathrooms

Jack and Jill Bathrooms allow occupants from two separate bedrooms to conveniently access the same bathroom. But how do you know if this is the right type of bathroom to include in your home? Freshome asked several experts to weigh in on the pros and cons, resale value and other factors you need to consider.


jack and jill bathrooms

Two sinks and two mirrors can help with traffic flow. Image: Krooogle/Getty Images

Nathan Outlaw, president at Onvico, a general contracting and design-build company in Thomasville, GA, says several homebuilders have requested Jack and Jill bathrooms in their new build. “They are a really good compromise to having a private bathroom for kids in the home,” Outlaw explains. “It keeps everything of theirs confined to their own space so it doesn’t spill into the hallway or guest bathrooms.”

John Lindon, an interior and furniture designer at MirrorCoop in Los Angeles, recommends that bathrooms have two separate sinks if possible. Jack and Jill bathrooms have two sinks and sometimes two mirrors. “This makes your bathroom much more functional since it can be used by two people instead of just one, which makes prep for bedtimes — brushing teeth, hair, etc. — way easier if you have kids that you need to set up for bed quickly and efficiently.”

water closet

A water closet helps to maintain privacy. Image: pics721/Shutterstock

“The Jack and Jill bathroom is great in leveraging a conventional bathroom’s wet area – the toilet and tub and/or shower – to multiple users – while providing them privacy,” according  to Jay Kallos, SVP of Architecture for Ashton Woods. “The configuration can include private sink areas for each bedroom that then connect to the communal toilet and bathtub area or two bedrooms can enter a shared sink area that then accesses the wet area.”

“Another great use I have seen for a Jack and Jill is for an elderly parent or disabled person living in the home and the bathroom is set up for ADA compliance,” Outlaw says. “It can lead to the hallway and to their room acting as a private bathroom to the room when needed or a guest bathroom if necessary.”

Elle H-Millard, CKD, CLIPP, Industry Relations Manager, National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and NKBA Insider, believes that Jack and Jill bathrooms are great for large families. “It is convenient if you have to accommodate two bedrooms and create a shared space.”

According to Jay Kallos, SVP of Architecture for Ashton Woods, “Depending on the user’s modesty, the sink areas can be shared at the same time, or is communal, while the wet area remains private.  This makes getting ready for school a little less arduous, as both “Jack” and “Jill” can use a feature of the bathroom at the same time instead of banging on the door waiting for one or another to finish.”

Potential problems

unlock doors

Forgetting to lock and unlock doors can cause problems. Image: Astronaut Images/Getty Images

“I think the big issue with a Jack and Jill bathroom is when you have  unrelated guests in each of the connecting bedrooms,” Outlaw explains. “There can be some awkwardness as people try to share bathrooms or if someone forgets to lock one of the doors.”

H-Millard notes one privacy concern in particular. “With the Airbnb movement and people sectioning off part of their home, the Jack and Jill makes it challenging as it pertains to privacy concerns,” she says.

According to Lindon, the classic problem in these bathrooms is the lockout. “Since both doors need to lock from both sides, eventually someone will forget to unlock the door opposite their exit door after using the bathroom, leaving the bathroom inaccessible from that side.” However, Lindon says the solution to this problem is to use locks that can unlocked from either side of the doors.

“Definitely make sure everyone using the bathroom understands this, but all the lock should do is alert whoever wants to use the bathroom that it’s occupied,” Lindon says. “Past that, put a sign at eye level that reminds whoever is trying to get in to knock loudly before doing so.”

Another issue with two people sharing a bathroom is additional toiletry items. Lindon says it sometimes results in massive sprawl. “One way to eliminate the amount of ‘stuff’ associated with two people using one bathroom, is to have a single location for all toothpaste, etc., instead of having each sink lined with that person’s contact case, tooth paste, etc.,” Lindon explains.

Other considerations

Square footage

You’ll need more square footage for a Jack and Jill bath. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

According to Kallos, “The big hurdle for determining when to use a Jack and Jill bathroom is carving out the space and making certain that it is in the budget.” He recommends planning for this type of bathroom early. “As with many things, it’s much easier to incorporate a Jack and Jill bathroom in a new-build than in a remodel,” Kallod says. “A Jack and Jill requires additional square footage and plumbing than in a conventional bathroom, so knowing this in the beginning stages of planning a new-build is essential.”

“The best use of a Jack and Jill configuration is to have direct access into the sink area from each bedroom,” Kallos says. “Often, due to a floor plan configuration or having three bedrooms share a bath, there needs to be a hall access, too, but there still should be private access from at least one bedroom.”

 Effect on resale value

Adults Jack and Jill

How well do Jack and Jill bathrooms work for adults? Image: Westend61/Getty Images

How do homebuyers feel about buying a house with a Jack and Jill bathroom?

Steve Gottlieb of Warburg Realty believes buyers will like the idea. “In general, if there is still a separate powder room or extra full bathroom for guests and creating a Jack and Jill bathroom eases day-to-day use, it can be a great choice.”

Steve Silva, also of Warburg Realty, thinks it’s a good idea when you have small kids, but warns that homeowners without small kids may want to use the bedrooms differently. “I’ve actually seen a situation where the master bedroom was off the living room, and so the master bathroom was also the bathroom guests would use,” he explains. Obviously, that’s not a good scenario.

Howard Margolis of Douglas Elliman is against them. “A Jack and Jill bathroom isn’t always appreciated and your privacy can be compromised,” he explains. “But if there is a need for an en-suite bathroom in the bedrooms and space is limited, then a Jack and Jill bathroom is always a viable option.”

What do you think of Jack and Jill bathrooms? Do you have one in your home? Let us know in the comments.

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7 Tips for a Relaxing Feng Shui Bathroom Retreat

relaxing bathroom retreat

We love the spa retreat experience, especially when we can recreate it at home. Creating a relaxing vibe in your bathroom is about more than just candles and a fluffy robe. You can also embrace the soothing energy of feng shui with your favorite decorating style and color palette. Using these simple principals is an easy and beautiful way to create a soothing feng shui bathroom retreat.

1. Choose the right feng shui bathroom color scheme

The white Birch Lane Heritage Aurelia Bathroom Vanity Set within a neutral color scheme, warms up the cool feng shui water energy in this relaxing bathroom. Courtesy of  Birch Lane

It may surprise you to know that the best feng shui colors for your bathroom are not just blues and greens. While these cool colors can have a place in your color palette, in feng shui they represent water which is already abundant in your bathroom.  The glass, metal, and water, of your bathroom represent water, too. The simplest way to decorate your bathroom with feng shui principals is through balance, especially through color. Your goal in choosing the right bathroom colors is to balance the strong water elements with warm hues and wood accents. Blue and green can be a part of your beautiful color palette, but you’ll want to mix it up with natural accessories and colors.

2. Declutter and simplify for a relaxing bathroom retreat

Feng Shui Bathroom Storage

A single vanity can still provide ample storage, like the Davis Single Sink Vanity. Shelves and baskets can make bathroom storage beautiful. Courtesy of Pottery Barn

It’s hard to be relaxed when we’re faced with clutter. For a small room, like a bathroom, clutter is an even bigger problem. Feng shui is all about energy, or Chi. The movement of energy can get trapped in pockets of clutter, making your bathroom a place to escape from, not to.

Start by tackling bathroom counter clutter. In our rush to get ready each morning, we stop seeing the clutter we leave behind every day. By using drawer organizers and pretty storage on top of the counter, you can hide the clutter that creates stress as you begin your day. Assess your storage needs and make clearing the counter a priority. Also reassess your bathroom trash can.  If it it seems to overflow faster than you can empty it, you might need to upgrade. This is a big source of clutter stress in the bathroom.

3. Update your lighting for a feng shui bathroom

Bathroom lighting ideas

The right lighting can make your bathroom much more relaxing. Think of your bathroom lighting as layers of design. The Pottery Barn Ultimate Double Sink Storage Vanity provides unique options for lighting your bathroom.  Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Bathroom lighting is almost as important to feng shui as your color palette. How your colors (and you) appear in your bathroom can make or break your morning. Think beyond just the typical overhead light or vanity light. Look for ways to “layer” your lighting for a relaxed ambience. With the focus on feng shui energy, the right lighting is essential to your bathroom retreat, as too-bright lighting can be too energetic for a relaxing space.

If you’re not getting the look you want from your morning makeup routine, the latest LED lighted mirrors can illuminate you and your vanity beautifully. The quickest way to change your bathroom lighting is through your light bulbs. Make sure that your light bulbs are right for your bathroom by experimenting with warm, daylight and soft lightbulbs, until you get the perfect look.

4. Choose the right bathroom linens

Spa Bathroom linens

For a soothing spa-like retreat, your linens should be enjoyable to use and look at like Williams Sonoma Home, Chambers® Heritage 800-Gram Solid Towels. Courtesy of William Sonoma Home

The softest linens are a must in your feng shui bathroom retreat. Fluffy towels and robes invite you to linger and let go of stress at the end of the day. White or neutral gray and beige are the perfect colors for bathroom linens because it encourages you to be creative with your color scheme.

5. Add the perfect feng shui bathroom accents

Feng shui bathroom

Natural elements and deep colors enhance the feng shui elements of the Wildon Home Freestanding Soaking Bathtub. Courtesy of Wayfair

Whatever bathroom color scheme you choose, you can improve your soothing feng shui energy with the right accessories. Of course, you’ll want to keep your accessories simple to keep your clutter to a minimum. If your bathroom color palette is filled with “water colors,” your decorative accents will be the most balanced if they’re warm and natural. Teak boxes or a small bench can balance too many cool colors in your bathroom. For a dark bathroom color palette, accessories made of driftwood or whitewashed wood are the perfect touch to lighten things up.

6. Don’t forget to add soothing scents to your bathroom

Neutral bathroom decorating

Candles are a great way to add relaxing scents to your bathroom, and create soft lighting for the perfect soak behind the Willa Arlo Rieke Shower Curtain. Courtesy of Wayfair

Like the perfect spa experience, the scents you choose for your bathroom are an important part of your feng shui transformation. The elements of a retreat bathroom should engage all of your senses, and choosing natural scents is an authentic way to bring them all together.

7. Bring your feng shui design into the master bedroom

Feng Shui Bedroom ideas

Flow that amazing feng shui bathroom vibe into your master bedroom with neutral Hilda Embroidered Bedding. Courtesy of Williams Sonoma Home

Love your new feng shui bathroom vibe? Carry that same spa-style into your master bedroom. In feng shui practice, the colors and elements are different for a bedroom, but you can still achieve a soothing atmosphere. The easiest way to add comfort to your bedroom is through luxurious linens, and soft scents. Just adding a soft throw and scented candles can totally transform your bedroom and create that feng shui retreat feeling.

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