This “Mac Daddy” shower has a fixed and a handheld shower fixture, as well as shower tiles and hanging rain hats.
JS PhotoFX, courtesy AK Complete Home Renovations This “Mac Daddy” shower has a fixed and a handheld shower fixture, as well as shower tiles and hanging rain hats.

When it comes to the bathroom, both men and women want an oasis. But hers is clearly different from his.

Women want a space to relax in without the husband’s or kids’ “junk all over the place,” says Paul Lesieur, owner of Silvertree Construction, in Minneapolis, who recently blogged about men’s and women’s bath design trends at www.remodelcrazy.com.

Men also tell him that they see the bathroom as a sanctuary; a place to spend time reading the newspaper. “And they’re the first to ask about the steam shower,” Lesieur says. “They want to sit in it for 30 minutes to feel invigorated. Most of my women clients don’t seem as interested in the enclosed steam bath.”

In Atlanta, Ed Cholfin, owner of AK Complete Home Renovations, finds similar attitudes. “Men want a ‘Mac Daddy’ shower. We refer to it as a ‘car wash’ ... multiple water features ... a rain hat and a bench, where they can sit and be soaked. They don’t care about tubs.”

The womanís bath, one of five bathrooms in the home, offers a tranquil, furnished retreat.
JS PhotoFX, courtesy AK Complete Home Renovations The womanís bath, one of five bathrooms in the home, offers a tranquil, furnished retreat.

Though women may say they want a tub, for Cholfin, 75% of female clients don’t actually use it. Women want a shower that’s decorative and functional. To that end, Cholfin usually hears complaints about lack of soap dishes. Organization is a driving factor for women. “They like more storage,” Lesieur says. “Cabinets on top of the countertop are popular.” If there’s space in the adjacent hallway, he suggests building storage there.

Finishing up

“Men like the look of slate,” Lesieur says. “But slate is a poor choice for someone who doesn’t have the time to clean.” Overall, men prefer darker colors, rougher tile, and sturdier bathroom fixtures. “They also ask for controlled lighting; women hardly ever ask for dimmers.”

Women ask Lesieur for more neutral colors in tile and wall surfaces and use window treatments, paint, towels, art, and accessories for color. They prefer narrower, more tapered faucets than those that men generally like.

Cholfin uses a lot of brushed- or satin-nickel fixtures — a favorite with both men and women — as well as oiled bronze, in his projects. Cherry and quarter-sawn oak are popular cabinet choices for both genders, says Lesieur, as well as bisque or white porcelain sinks and granite, quartz, or marble counter surfaces. For the most part, both men and women opt for 36-inch counter heights that, Cholfin says, are easier on most people’s backs.

Of course, when the bathroom space is shared, a couple must compromise on its design. By asking pertinent questions up-front, you will help to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.