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Planning a co-ed bathroom is a highly delicate operation. Let’s face it, men and women use their bathroom spaces differently, they like different types of accents/décor and no matter the gender most people still think of the bathroom as a private spot where you’re unlikely to run into housemates or coworkers. Overcoming these three obstacles can be tricky, but it can be done.

The obvious first question, however, is why coed? Are there space constraints? Are you dealing with a dormitory setting? What exactly drives the need for co-ed bathrooms? That need can help drive your design. The more people who may use this space, the more you’ll need to think about how to make this work without potential embarrassment especially if these include showers etc.

Most establishments have opted for simple enclosed partitions for bathroom stalls. This affords a modicum of privacy, but isn’t overly fashion-friendly. This creates a very static feeling space. Mind you, that means people are less likely to linger too.

One option that provides some privacy and attention to detail is to increase the stall area with distinctive sub-elements. Even a few inches can make a person feel far more comfortable. Decorate the doors of the stalls in creative ways that designate gender without being overly tacky (this isn’t the time to fall back on pink and blue, folks). This way the male portion can still offer urinals, if desired.

The standard toilet with movable seat isn’t recommended in co-ed spaces – the jokes about leaving toilet seats, while funny, have a strong thread of truth. So a second option is to have a urinal section with a privacy screen to alleviate that issue.

Third, have the sinks stocked with a variety of hand product in stylish pump containers for anyone’s use, and the mirrors should be plentiful so no one has to stand on top of each other. These additions don’t cost a great deal of money, but again the idea is improving comfort.

As to the question of showers, these could be separated by a wall and offer two clearly marked entrances. This certainly alleviates a lot of awkward moments. Or, perhaps you can post specific hours for the showers – one shift for co-ed, one shift for men, and another shift for women. This schedule would have to cycle around to account for varying lifestyles and responsibilities, but seems to work well in colleges and such.

No matter how you slice it, you probably can’t keep everyone happy so just do your best to design sensitively.


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