Architecture Expert : Two for One

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Photography: LARRY ARNAL

The possibilities and potential pitfalls of a Jack-and-Jill bathroom

Washrooms that can be shared by two bedrooms are commonly known as the Jack-and-Jill bathroom. For smaller houses, and for those with a modest budget, these spaces can offer the luxury of an ensuite bathroom at a fraction of the cost. Bathrooms on the lean side of the budget cost around $500 per square foot. In my experience, they are closer to an average of $1,000 per square foot. Deciding to utilize a Jack-and-Jill concept can represent a significant savings to a homeowner or builder.


This type of bathroom typically includes a toilet, tub/shower and two vanities. If space is an issue, a pedestal sink, toilet and a tub is the most basic. In this bathroom-sharing format, privacy is the biggest concern, but there are ways to ensure that no one has an embarrassing moment. Firstly, lockable doors are a must, but also ensure that they can be opened from the outside in case someone forgets to unlock them upon exiting. Secondly, consider doors with a translucent panel, such as frosted glass. A more technical solution is to add an indicator light that is connected to the internal bathroom light switch. This light is visible at the bedroom entrance and is powered on when the bathroom light switch is used. However, for those of us with kids who forget to turn the lights off on a regular basis, this might not be so useful.


Jack-and-Jill bathrooms can also offer a door from the hallway, but careful thought to the design is a must, as the door swings must not interfere. For smaller houses without a powder room, this is a necessity.


Storage in a Jack and Jill can be problematic due to space constraints, but a storage tower between the two sinks is an easy way to remedy this. There are many off-the-shelf solutions as well from companies like: Porcelanosa, GODI and Wet Style. Towers can also help visually divide the space so each occupant feels like they have their own personal space. Dividing the toilet and shower with a wall and door is not necessary, but it helps avoid fights in a larger family. This allows the space to be more efficient and multiple occupants to use the space at the same time.

Dual vanity lights and mirrors and/or makeup mirrors are a must for two sinks. LED medicine cabinets offer extra storage and good lighting. Recessing them into the wall gives a few extra inches of space as well. LumiDesign, a mirror manufacturer in Toronto, has some great solutions, as does Kohler and Sidler. Sidler offers a full-height medicine cabinet/mirror that is fantastic for small spaces. Sidler can be ordered by Roman Bath Centre in Toronto.


One of the best additions to the bathroom in recent years is the combination toilet/bidet. While it is possible to add the bidet portion to some toilets, commonly referred to as a “washlet,” many newer toilets come with an integrated bidet system. Look for options from Kohler, TOTO and Ove. Prices vary greatly, as can quality, so doing your homework is essential. As well, all require an electrical GFCI outlet nearby, so make sure you decide upon this option before construction is underway.


One of the most important things required in a Jack-and-Jill bathroom is the attention to quality. As these bathrooms are typically used by multiple children and take a lot of use and abuse, spending extra money on quality fixtures and finishes is a must. I highly recommend countertops that are resistant to staining and scratching, such as a good quartz surface, rather than a natural stone. As well, while wall-hung vanities look fantastic, it is best to avoid them if younger children will be using the bathroom. Most kids are just itching to climb up and sit on the counter. Pitfalls to avoid include tubs with fixed glass panels that don’t allow for moms and dads to help with bathing children. One great option for all occupants is to put controls at the more accessible end of the shower/tub and away from the faucets and showerheads.

Another great addition to a shared bathroom is a shower system that is programmable to the specific user. The “U” by Moen is one such solution. Not only can the temperature and time be geared toward your preferences, but also it is fully operable from an app on your phone that can notify you when your shower has reached an optimum temperature. If only the Brady Bunch would have had these options!