The .25 Room

I’m going to talk about a topic that may make some of you uncomfortable. It’s a subject that’s not normally discussed in public but is a fact of life. The bathroom.

We ranch, therefore my family and I live in an old house with old updates, and is the reason why our home is paid for. Yes, I’m aware of how lucky we are.  Our .25 version of a bathroom—¼ the size of one average bathroom in an American home—was originally a pantry.

According to a recent study done by me, most new American homes come standard with one bathroom per family member. Prior to 1963, our home’s toilet had its own house. A bragging right that new houses can’t claim.

Unlike homes with seldom used guest bathrooms, ours looks nothing like those museums. Originally, bathrooms were designed to be used, so we do.

The advantage of one tiny bathroom shared by a whole family is in the savings it provides. It’s efficient to clean and conducive to bathroom multi-tasking. The only way I can put towels away, clean the bathroom’s shower doors and sink, tidy vanity drawers and under the sink area, or sweep/mop the bathroom floor is if I get out of the way and sit on the toilet seat’s lid. How many modern American bathrooms have you sat in that allow people to clean in any direction from their toilet?

Miniature bathrooms fit the “go green” trend. My family takes two-minute showers because someone else usually wants to shower too, and if you enjoy cleaning toilets like I do, I don’t have to tell you that four toilets takes more motivation, encouragement, and effort to clean than one.

Small bathrooms don’t require downsizing (ours always has been) in order to reduce clutter. Our bathroom stays tidy because it’s hard to find clutter small enough to set on the 2½ inches of vanity counter space surrounding the sink. With minimal bathroom space, there’s no room for wet towels on the floor or extra makeup and hair products, which also saves time by not having to use it. If occupants set their stuff on the toilet’s lid, our bathroom is standing room only.

Using our bathroom does require taking cautionary measures. Guests are forewarned about our bathroom’s size in case they are claustrophobic. They’re also advised to take care when moving around within our bathroom to avoid injury. I’ve hit my tailbone on the corner of the bathroom sink several times and head-on collisions with obstructive shelving or incoming people when exiting do occur.  Occasionally, people get hung up in our bathroom because they hastily try to exit and close the bathroom door simultaneously and get wedged between the door and the bathroom sink.  Fortunately, someone’s always been around to dislodge people who’ve gotten stuck.

Homes that have bathrooms for each family member hinder the learning opportunities gained from sharing one little bathroom. My family has learned respect, patience, and pre-planning through bathroom usage. There’s no loitering when in the bathroom and utilizing room spray if necessary, is expected—our bathroom’s not for private use only. Wait your turn if someone else gets there first, and expect morning rush hour traffic when heading to the bathroom if you don’t plan in advance.

Our bathroom may not be big and fancy, but to get in at ours is a first-come, first-serve place for business that doesn’t take reservations.

This column was originally published January 17-23, 2010

One response to “The .25 Room”

  1. Robyn Avatar

    LOL Amy! Again, we have something else in common! J and I can completely relate to life with an exceptionally small bathroom. If we have to be in the bathroom at the same time I usually end up standing in the tub while J is at the sink.

    Our shower is in the corner of our unfinished basement. The walls are cement and we have an extra toilet downstairs. In the winter the shower walls are covered in frost! We got the idea to heat the small area with a space heater. It was an okay idea until we got the electric bill. Needless to say we take short showers in the winter and draw straws to see who has to go first.

    I think we are lucky; one small bathroom to clean is more than fine with me.

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