Design Nightmare: The Open Concept Bathroom/Bedroom

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  1. A couple of years ago I was in Berlin. My friend and I walked into our hotel room and we looked at each other and said “what?” The bathroom had glass walls. We like to travel together, but that was a bit much. We had to turn our backs whenever the other one was in the bathroom. Insane is all I can say. I like my privacy.

    • Haha, there is a switch on the wall, it turns on polarized film on the glass wall surrounding the bathroom making you invisible whilst inside! no need to turn your back, just flip the switch.

      • If only every bathroom with a bed in it had that option. I’m having a hard time finding a nice resort that didn’t upgrade to no privacy rooms. No doors or glass, just a small door covering the toilet in some. Gives new meaning to plop plop fizz fizz. Our very favorite place remodeled, they ruined it for me.

  2. Andrea, a well stated column. It’s incomprehensible how anyone would want an open bathroom in any room , residential or commercial. It is also unsanitary.

  3. I also experienced the bathroom situation in an upscale hotel and was appalled, never again. I can’t help but feel this too will fizzle out. I am a traditionalist to the bone and thoroughly enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work!

  4. Now I understand why we don’t live past 100; why we must grow old and die. We can’t possibly live in a world we don’t recognize anymore! I am with you, this is a bit crazy. It’s really sleeping in a bathroom. What happened to the concept of the beautiful cozy, bedroom suite…a four poster bed…an elegant retreat? I never heard of this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. The same is happening in here in Fort Worth in RIVERCREST of all places. I don’t understand the big steel window trend. It is ruining the old classic mansions of yesterday! You see it everywhere now.

  6. Big white box is right – more like big ice box. Cold and impersonal. And my ablutions in the bath are my own business, not to be shared with anyone at all. Individuality and privacy are going down the drain, along with inviting and personal design. It’s a national disgrace, and what they are doing to existing homes is a crime. Boo to them and fie on them for their lack of imagination.

  7. Open bathrooms……just say NO! Was in an upscale hotel (in Europe) that had this plan. I was by myself and felt exposed and vulnerable. While in the lobby I overheard people complaining about it. They actually had normal rooms and reassigned a family to one of them.

  8. Thank you for posting. The same is happening here in Carmel, CA. Long known for its charming, fairytale cottages which are now being renovated into the “glass box” look. It’s not a bad look in a beach town but I do think it’s boring and charmless. A lot of money coming from the Silicon Valley set – and they like a sleek, modern look.

  9. I, too, experienced this open bathroom obscenity in an upscale hotel. Fortunately, we were in a warm part of the world, and during the day my husband of 20 years and I would go out into the balcony so the other could have privacy. After the first couple of days, it got old fast.

    As for being at home: when we moved to a new state in 2000, we rented a house to buy time to find the right neighborhood and home. It was a new build, and although the master bedroom commode had a door, the rest of the bathroom was open to the bedroom. We both hated it. It was just as you said: no privacy, and if one was awake, so was the other. I can’t believe this is even happening, it’s such an idiotic concept.

  10. This bathroom trend reminds me of an old Seinfeld episode where they discussed the notion of “good naked” vs “bad naked”. Good naked is of course sexy. Bad naked, in the episode, had something to do with a beautiful young blond woman fully naked, squatting on the floor fixing a bike chain.

    These bathrooms are an excellent form of birth control.

    Thanks Andrea, and thanks for the info on renovations and landfill. I had wondered about that.
    Xo Elizabeth

  11. Thank you for cleansing our palate at the end of your post with the lovely pic from the Kips Bay Decorator Show House! After all the pictures of the new trend (disgusting to a whole new level!), my eyes were happy to be feasting on beauty! Love your blog btw!

  12. Give me doors! The open bathroom is wrong . Do you really want to see your partner on the throne? Where do you go when you want to have a good cry? Another reason for dislike is the cleaning of all that glass. Let’s see how long this thread last before some one says “Stop already!” Don’t think the resale value or appeal will be there either. I have not encountered it yet in a hotel. I read once that the key to a happy marriage is separate bathrooms.

  13. You said it all very well. I couldn’t agree more about the bathrooms and I am appalled at the new look of such a classic home. Quite distressing indeed. Thanks for showing us traditional design each week.

  14. Damn, is nothing sacred anymore?! I must have privacy in the bathroom or I cannot function – literally!
    As regards the glass/black-steel door trend – I love it! We’re building out an ancient, inherited property in Europe, and I WILL find a way to incorporate them into the design. Traditional is my go-to style, but I’m a big proponent of incorporating surprising elements into my designs.

  15. I can testify to the inconvenient lack of privacy afforded by the steel and glass front doors. One of my children owns a home with just such an arrangement, and while babysitting my grandchildren I realized everyone who came to the front door could see us in the living room. What to do? Answer the door to a stranger who knows you are home because he/she can see you , or sit there and pretend to be oblivious to the the door bell with the door ringer looking at you?

    As for the fish bowl bathrooms, I can’t even imagine living with such an arrangement. I have always planned for a separate, doored space for the toilet in a master bathroom. Who wants to see someone on a toilet? Beyond that, wants to see cluttered bathroom counters from your bed?

    I truly don’t understand the thought process that would drive a person to live like this, given a choice.

  16. Thank you again for such a interesting post. I agree it is absolutely appalling to see these homes and condominiums being build. I live in Vancouver Canada . Beautiful old charming homes will be a thing of the past. Torn down all around me including fabulous gardens totally demolished. Replaced by boring hedges no trees . Towers of white glass boxes all the same . But that is what the developers are pushing. Money driven.

  17. I couldn’t agree with you more! I hated having the currently favorite sliding doors for bathrooms since they don’t afford as much privacy as I prefer, but this open-concept idea is just wrong. Even if you live alone, selling a house with an open bathroom would likely be difficult. Another foolish design idea that needs to go away, and soon!

  18. THANK you for this spot on post; I couldn’t agree more and it’s distressing to see the direction “design” today is taking. Classic and traditional for me ~ ALWAYS!

  19. I have not seen the bedroom/open bath concept in homes and am not a fan either! I have seen the black metal doors and windows. The only application I’ve seen that I find appealing is large doors opening out to a terrace and garden with European style interior decor. But I have wondered if they are energy efficient. The examples you’ve shown are very unattractive to me too! I’m familiar with River Oaks and that look is particularly inappropriate for that neighborhood. The neighbors must be miserable! Thanks for enlightening us. Count me on the team.

  20. So sad. Reminds me of Zamyatin’s dystopian novel “We” where everyone lives in completely transparent glass houses so the government can control them. I’d never thought it was possible but now I see we are getting closer to the concept.

  21. Kudos to you! I don’t even like the masters with the sinks and mirror visible from the master. Who wants to listen to someone brush their teeth??? And…they are often carpeted! EWWWWW!
    I look forward to you blog every day. It is always beautiful.

  22. Amen to the cheap and very ugly homes that are being built in Dallas! These people have too much money and too little or no taste!!! I love my traditional Georgian home and it will never go out of style.

  23. So many comments because this touches a nerve. This “concept” in design is nonsense. Happily, I believe that it will pass. I was stunned to see what the new owner (read, Flipper for cash) did to ruin Joni Webb’s home in Houston. Younger buyers may not ever completely embrace the traditional style we love, but this non-style is stark, cold, and therefore, not livable for families raising children. Also, painted brick eventually peels. Big expense to restore that look. Thank you for highlighting this decorating faux pas, hiccup, to help others see the folly. Advise grown children to buy a home, not a museum for their families.

  24. I remember years ago reading that Jane Fonda once said about Roger Vadim (not sure if he was her husband yet or she was still his mistress) that she designed the bathroom in their new house, separated from her bedroom by a wall of glass “because Vadim likes to lie in bed and watch me in the bathroom.” I was repulsed then and to see that is now “mainstream” makes me want to go back to bed and lie in a fetal position and suck my thumb. Why? Just why? I don’t like bathrooms with the separate toilet closet (positively claustrophobic), but I do like my privacy while in the bathroom, thank you very much.

    As for all these industrial steel windows…well, they’re lovely on a contemporary house or when the back is blown out of a NY/Brooklyn/London town house in order to let in tons of light. But traditional houses in River Oaks and Dallas? Just awful. They look like a middle-aged woman wearing her daughter’s teeny, tiny clothes. What is ever worse, is the black vinyl windows being put in virtually every subdivision house today, their owner going for an “industrial/coastal/modern farmhouse vibe”, whatever the heck that is.

    SO much appalling taste these days….

  25. the worst EVER was what they did to the Mario Buatta house in Houston that was in AD. Horrid. Beyond horrid. It was so gorgeous. I showed Mario the photos and he too was horrified.

  26. Who would want to live in an open box?? I think it’s because the buyers have no idea how to decorate!….and builders love that because the box is cheaper to build for them but you get charged a trendy price!! Give me a beautiful house to live in! I played in boxes as a little girl waiting to live in a house!!!!

  27. The River Oaks debacle is just awful. So take something pretty, and deform it? What’s next ? Deconstructed flowers? And I have no desire to see anyone “do their business”. There are things that float my boat, but seeing someone on the toilet isn’t one of them.

  28. I completely agreee with this!!! I live in Miami as well and have seen many of these “white boxes”. Cannot understand the allure they have but to each it’s own. As for me, I would rather have a home that’s hundreds of years old and rich in history. Thanks for posting!!!

  29. On display on the commode? Revolting. The thought of paper time is too disgusting for words. This is absolutely the limit! The world has gone mad.

  30. I’m glad to see that I am not the only one left who appreciates fine antiques and traditional decor. If I see one more boring “gray” baby nursery, or shag rug with a plastic coffee table plopped on top of it next to the ugly sofa from a Doris Day movie, I may have to use one of those clear bathrooms to throw up in.

  31. Well what can I say !!! Some things we need to do should !! Be done in the sanctuary of a bathroom with a DOOR
    Thanks for your lovely blog. ”
    Hazel (Manchester UK )

  32. Both of these “trends” are recycles. First, in the late 80s-early 90s the black industrial doors and windows hit New Orleans. It lasted about a year and a half. Metal frames are designed to be installed in commercial buildings which have aluminum of steel studs and cement or stone walls. Why? Because the metal has lots of condensation – it sweats– and when installed in a residence that is built of wood, as most are, they rot out all the framing, leak and have to be replaced in a very short time. The window replacement companies here made out like bandits, but no one installed these black metal windows for decades afterwards. Second, the “open bed-bath” or how a contractor can squeeze a bath into too small a space and save money by not having to build a wall and install a door was something the homebuilders were all hot on — every time they don’t have to build a wall, they save money–until they were all stuck with houses nobody would buy because no matter how much we love them, we don’t want to see them poop. I think these “revivals” will suffer a similar short death.

  33. You are SO correct….the open bathroom/bedroom is revolting, not practical, and intrusive all the way around. It is one of the worst ideas ever. I agree on the ugliness and lack of safety concerns about the new doors and all glass/windows of so-called homes these days. Classical homes, doors, and windows with curtains, shutters, etc. are timeless for a reason, and exhibit good taste and common sense with beauty. They are classic and traditional for a reason!!! You’re right….what happens in five or ten years when these home owners and real estate people who push this stuff realize all the flaws of these things…..what a waste of resources, time and money.

  34. Hated the kitchen island in the middle of the living room “concept” when it first came out, hate the nonsensical open bathroom they’re trying to pull now. Give me a classic Colonial any day, with its elegant center hall and symmetrical, SEPARATE rooms.

  35. After visiting the Highland Park area many times, while my daughter was in school, I noticed two things: First, many of the mega-houses were on very average sized lots. So, even if the house didn’t have an open concept bathroom, you could probably hear your neighbors when they were using their restrooms! Second, these enormous houses often did not have garages, I guess to maximize square footage of the house. So, many of the houses had circular driveways that appeared to be used as garages for their mega SUVs. I always thought that luxury was the ability to keep your vehicle out of view, regardless of how fancy the vehicle, in order to take in the landscaping on your property. Having to look out your living room window, only to see a car sitting there, seems like you are living in a “drive to the door” motel! This is not pretty!!

  36. What’s even worse than having a bed in the bathroom at home, is going on vacation with a friend and suddenly realizing you will be in the bathroom with them when they do their business, for several days. I always close the door at home, some things aren’t meant for an audience.


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