The French arrangement of placing the toilet in a separate room from the rest of the bathroom fixtures makes sense to me, for the most part. I’ve encountered this setup in French hotels and, recently, in a private apartment in Paris where I spent Christmas with my wife, our three grown kids and relatives who are living there.
After all, why should someone experiencing French cuisine on top of a trans-Atlantic flight tie up an entire bathroom for long periods of time? With the toilet room down the hall, the rest of the bathroom remains free for showering, bathing, brushing teeth, combing hair and applying makeup. I also could mention the terrific view of the Paris streetscape from the French doors in the seventh-floor apartment’s bathroom.
The floor plan in my brother-in-law’s apartment placed two toilet rooms in a long hallway directly across from the bedrooms of his two daughters. The toilet rooms initially could be mistaken for closets and contained nothing but one toilet each, along with toilet paper, a toilet brush and a spray bottle of air freshener. The hallway ended in a spacious bathroom, which contained everything you might expect except a toilet.
I had been under the impression that the master bathroom contained its own toilet, the master bedroom being at the other end of the hall. I discovered later in our visit, however, that my brother- and sister-in-law had to visit one of the toilets in the hallway just like everyone else.
Segregating the toilet – along with any accompanying human smells and sounds – strikes me as a practical approach to bathroom design. Back when people actually were building new homes in this country, I occasionally heard architects and builders mention this design concept as an upcoming trend in U.S. homes.
I’d certainly support this trend when the residential construction market kicks back into gear. Seems to me we’ve adopted fashion and food ideas from the French that don’t make nearly as much sense.
As practical as separating the toilet is, however, the idea has its flaws. Primarily, you have to leave the toilet room to wash your hands in the bathroom once you’re done. If the bathroom is occupied by someone showering, bathing, brushing, combing, etc., then you have to find your way to the kitchen faucet or perhaps find a path through the master bedroom to its adjoining bathroom.
While I’ve observed here and in Europe that not everyone views hand-washing as a necessity after using the toilet, I do. A small sink in the toilet room would be a nice American touch if this trend does it make it over here.
Another practical improvement we could make that would require considerably less plumbing and hardware would be to install a coat hook on the back of the toilet room door. In trips to several different countries in Europe, I’ve repeatedly discovered – although always too late – that public and private toilet stalls and toilet rooms do not come equipped with coat hooks.
What do European men do with their coats when using the john?