a master en suite in a NYC apartments

Here’s a peek at one of two master bathrooms in a chic downtown apartment. (From a listing at 350 Bleecker St. #6A)

No matter how close you and your partner might be, a little separation can make a huge difference. That’s why many couples in New York City, and everywhere else, want the ideal setup: separate bathrooms. For those starved for privacy, not sharing one washroom means no more competing for the sink, mirror, or counter — so dreamy! The term “his and her bathrooms”— although not a gender-neutral phrase — is often invoked to describe the growing trend. Other options like double vanities are also gaining traction for those who can’t make separate bathrooms work because of tight finances or square footage. From expert brokers to designers, here’s the lowdown on separate bathrooms for couples and what else is trending.

Are Separate Baths for Couples the New Normal?

Countless couples, relationship experts, and even celebrities laud the idea; even former First Lady Michelle Obama has said that one of the keys to a happy marriage is separate bathrooms. (Sorry, Barack — get your own sink!) 

“One space is not enough for all your things if you’re a couple. In NYC, the bathrooms tend to be on the tighter side, especially in prewars,” explains Douglas Elliman broker Kimberly Jay, who is currently working with an apartment-hunting couple specifically seeking more washroom space. “Partners with the resources can turn to two bathrooms to provide more privacy, increased storage space, and more personalized design,” she adds. 

“There’s usually a theme,” says Alex Ushyarov, Director of Business Development at luxury design firm Gallery Kitchen and Bath. He points to the couples he’s worked with who chose two separate spaces. “It’s usually because there are very different desires toward design. And sometimes it’s practicality, with one partner needing to get ready at a specific time.” He describes a couple’s space they designed in the Flowerbox Building, who opted for separate bathrooms to incorporate their own design preferences. “The husband worked in finance, and the wife was a research scientist. She wanted something futuristic that reflected her job. Her husband wanted something more traditional, perhaps for the same reason.”

his and her bathrooms nyc downtown

Dwellings with two master bathrooms are a thing in NYC, but most aren’t sprawling, especially in prewar buildings. (From a listing at 106 Waverly Place #3)

Of course, in NYC, where space is at a premium, a separate washroom for each partner is often a pipe dream, especially for younger buyers. “It’s rare to see a first-time home-buying couple with two full bathrooms on their wish list. It’s not within their budget,” says Jay. She also emphasized that the supply is low for bedrooms with two master ensuites. “Partners looking for two are usually more mature, empty nesters moving out of the suburbs,” she adds.

Although she cautions against calling two bathrooms a “trend,” Jay sees 1.5 baths as the more popular request. “Lately, more couples want at least a half bath in addition to the full bath,” especially for that older, multiple homeowner demographic. In these cases, to get that extra bath, people are usually willing to upgrade to a larger space. 

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double vanity in a NYC apartment at 259 East 7th Street

The Flowerbox Building in the East Village has apartments with multiple bathrooms. (Gallery Kitchen and Bath)

Two Bathrooms Trending in Luxury Apartments 

While two master ensuites are not viable for many renters or purchasers, the double feature has become increasingly popular in the luxury market.  

NYC’s high-end developments are brimming with amenities — replete with gyms, saunas, swimming pools, sometimes even residents-only restaurants — and bathrooms are certainly part of this movement. “People want to recreate that spa-like feeling after a long day at work,” says Douglas Elliman luxury broker Madeline Hult Elghanayan, describing the high-end bathrooms and residences many people want.

People want spaces customized to their preferences — think soaker tubs or steam showers, according to Elghanayan. She points to properties such as 160 Leroy and Chelsea’s The XI, which have several units designed with double master ensuites. This trend for two master bathrooms has been gaining traction in the past couple of years, she notes, primarily in ultra-luxury homes with large square footages. 

If You Can’t Have Two Bathrooms in NYC, Here’s What Else Is Trending

 70 Washington St. 7E

A double bathroom vanity makes the most of this bathroom’s footprint. (From a listing at 70 Washington St. #7E)

Even if you aren’t able to swing two separate bathrooms for you and your loved one, there are ways to make your bathroom feel bigger, better, or just a little more luxe. Here are a few favorite suggestions.

The Double Bathroom Vanity 

“The double vanity is very popular,” says Elghanayan. “Having your own sink and additional storage space are both huge benefits, giving couples much-needed room.”

“The double vanity is almost a standard these days in a lot of the master bathrooms,” confirms Ushyarov. It’s a viable option for many renters and buyers, especially in the high-end market. It bumps things up without having to upgrade to a second bathroom. 

Walk-In Dressing & Storage Area 

his and her bathrooms storage area

A hallway tricked out with storage can make sharing a bathroom much easier. (Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly, Inc)

Ushyarov says that even if a couple can’t have two completely separate spaces, this is a popular workaround and compromise. “The walk-in closet and dress area that leads into the bathroom” is becoming a popular alternative, he says, because “it’s essentially a large walk-in closet and prep area.” In some homes, a hallway with built-in storage can work too.

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Separate Toilets for Couples

his and her bathrooms toilet spaces

Separate loos can make sharing one full bathroom easier for couples. (From a listing at 377 Onderdonk Ave. #2F)

“We are getting requests for two separate toilet spaces,” says Ken Kelly, Designer at Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly, Inc. Frequent travelers to Europe will already be familiar with separate toilet rooms, but might not realize that this trend is picking up on home turf. This allows couples a degree of privacy without needing to create two entirely separate bathroom spaces.

Enhancing Your Bathroom Space

Again, even if you and your partner can’t find a way to snag your own bathrooms, people are improving and equipping their bathrooms in innovative ways. “Linen closets, hampers, in-mirror TVs, and sound systems are common,” explains Kelly. “Master bathrooms have become a place to jump-start your day luxuriously and take a relaxing soak to unwind at night.”

Variations on the Theme: Jack and Jill and Split Bathrooms

his and her bathrooms

A sink in a split bathroom. (From a listing at 115 Nassau St.)

For those looking to share a bathroom between rooms, there’s always the Jack and Jill style of bathroom. It features a double sink vanity with two entrances leading to different rooms or hallways. Tip: Adding locks to both doors will ensure privacy. 

Split bathrooms are another option for bumping up the privacy, as the toilet or sink can be cordoned off from the bathing area, meaning that two people can comfortably use the space at the same time.

Compromising With Your Significant Other 

Ultimately, everything in your apartment, including your bathroom, should be a compromise between partners. “I always ask the purchasers, if they’re a couple, to give me a wish list separately,” says Elghanayan. Those lists will inevitably be different. Often, separate bathrooms come up at the top of those lists, but it’s essential to find a space that considers both interests. 

Ushyarov often sees partners diverting their focus to other parts of their home, especially when separate bathrooms are off the table. “A lot of times it’s a trade-off. It’s all about compromise. Someone may trade the idea of having his and her bathrooms for a walk-in closet.” That’s life in NYC, folks!

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