Should All Bathrooms in a House be Master Baths?

By Rachel Puryear

In any home with multiple bathrooms, everybody’s favorite bath is usually the master bath. It’s usually the largest, best-appointed, and most luxurious. It’s intended to be reserved for the adults of the household, as they are paying the rent or mortgage; with the kids having the junior bathrooms.

However, there’s a case for home builders making all the bathrooms in a house like the master bath, rather than just the one.

Beautiful master bathroom with soaking tub, wood paneling, mirrors, and soaking tub; with a view of a forest outside the large windows.

The most typical setup for a master bath – particularly in a larger, nicer home – is a nice bathtub meant for soaking, a stall shower with some room to sit and maneuver, and sinks. Sometimes, the toilet will have a little area or closet of its own – allowing one person to do their business in private, while another bathes or uses a sink. Often, there will be a double sink, so two people can each have a sink.

In other bathrooms (except for pretty high-end homes), you find a more simple and modest setup – usually including a single sink, a toilet wedged in somewhere, and a shower-tub combination. The shower-tub combination has a bathtub with a shower head over it, and is quite common in housing.

Shower tub combination.

The shower-tub combination is also a great example of something designed for multiple purposes, yet which doesn’t serve any of those purposes particularly well.

You can shower or bathe in it – but you’d likely get a much better shower in a walk-in stall shower, and you’d likely get a much better bath in a soaking tub that’s roomier and more human-shaped.

But what if secondary bathrooms in homes were more like the master bath? What if this idea was not limited to very high-end and custom-designed homes?

Some might think it’s unnecessary or even excessive to make children’s bathrooms more like adults bathrooms.

However, increasingly, secondary bathrooms are not just for children. Roommate and multi-generational living situations are becoming more common, and people of all ages might be using those secondary bathrooms. Making them more like master baths could make them more physically accommodating and spacious for adults of all ages.

Furthermore, even if secondary bathrooms are used for children, who says that children could not benefit from greater physical accessibility? Once kids are past being small, they don’t need to take baths anymore and can use a stall shower. So, shouldn’t secondary bathrooms come with stall showers more often?

I was born with spinal stenosis and have always accordingly had some difficulties with balance and coordination. By the time I was in my teens, this was already noticeable. Most of the time it’s not a big problem, but things like climbing in and out of bathtubs without grips, or using staircases without banisters, are a fall risk. Standing in a narrow, wet bathtub is also a fall risk.

Using a shower-tub like the one in the bathroom near my bedroom when I was young was problematic. I had to use my parents’ shower because of this, which was inconvenient for them. So, it’s not always seniors or even adults who benefit from physical accessibility. It would have been easier for everyone if all bathrooms had a stall shower.

Furthermore, what about smaller houses and apartments with just one bathroom? The stall shower is largely absent from those, leaving no alternative to the shower-tub for bathing. Where does this leave people who are elderly or have a physical need for a shower stall, but who can only afford or only need a smaller home? It seems that builders simply place a shower-tub in most of these bathrooms for efficiency, but at the expense of accessibility for a lot of people.

A little more room taken from other parts of the home could probably make room for a stall as well as a bathtub, in most homes. The payoff in universal accessibility, and expanding housing options for more people which meets various needs, seems to be worthwhile.

This is something I have encountered many times in helping people look for homes. So, it’s a common concern.

Something for builders and custom-home designers to think about.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to better, and more physically accessible, bathrooms for all.

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