During the morning rush before school or work, the bathroom can easily become a crowded war zone cluttered with toothbrushes and hair products.
But sharing even a tiny bathroom doesn't have to be an ordeal.
So jostling roommates and family members, take heart: Here are 10 ways to make bathroom coexistence easier, from bigger investments like double sinks and updated showers to easy tricks and affordable gadgets that maximize space and minimize clutter.
Look high and low for storage space
"The main thing is take a fresh look at your space and make use of unutilized areas," said Betsy Goldberg, home director at Real Simple magazine. An under-the-sink expandable organizer (like one at The Container Store) fits around the drainpipe to make the most of an often forgotten space, she said. An inconspicuous shelf (Ikea) can also be hung above the doorway. Stashing things out of the way creates more elbow room around the mirror and sink.
Make cabinets do more
Keep smaller items in order with the right wall cabinets and organizing tools. Goldberg recommends MagnaPods (The Container Store), which fit easily on the inside of cabinet doors to hold makeup tubes and brushes upright and out of sight. And don't forget that medicine-cabinet shelves are adjustable. "People usually keep the shelves wherever they are, but just adjusting the shelves can help make cabinets much more efficient," she said. Acrylic display boxes (Nile Corp.) also help maximize space.
Oust the extraneous
"If you're going to share a bathroom, it's important to move all non-essentials out. Toilet paper can go in a trunk in the hallway outside the bathroom or on a shelf installed above the bathroom door," Goldberg said. "Towels can be rolled and put in neutral straw baskets in a narrow console in the hallway. The bathroom is prime real estate, and hampers are so bulky they would be better off in bedroom closets or the hall."
Be savvy about sorting
"If you can, give each person a drawer of their own," Goldberg said. "But when keeping things in a shared medicine cabinet, it's easiest to store things if you keep like with like, instead of separating things by person."
Clear the counters
For hair dryers and other styling tools, the Blow Away Vanity Organizer (OrganizeIt.com), keeps things up and out of the way. Essentials can also be hung on humidity-resistant Command Hooks, available at many hardware stores and other retailers.
Consider the kids
If kids are sharing a bathroom with adults, they might do better with low hooks than towel bars; that way, they can put things back themselves, said Cheryl Dixon, head of brand and trade marketing at Grohe America.
If you can remodel, see double
"Double sinks are the most important features in shared bathrooms," said Goldberg.
And showers can be customized to each person's height and spray preferences, Dixon said. "Do you want a hand shower or head shower? Choosing one with different spray settings helps a lot and makes sharing a shower much easier," she said. Digital-technology faucets remember user settings for each person's preferred water temperature and flow.
Dixon noted that her company's Retrofit shower, with exposed piping, lets you change out the whole shower if need be without breaking the wall. "It just fits right onto the existing plumbing," she said.
Cooperate and clean
It might help to schedule bathroom times, and every person using the bathroom should learn to clear the drain and change the toilet roll, says Leslie Josel, author of "What's the Deal with Teens and Time Management."
"If the family gets into a few basic habits like this, the whole experience will be easier for everyone," she says.
Set the mood
Consider colors, materials, flooring and lighting that might spruce up the room. "These are a really low-cost way to redo a bathroom. Just pay attention to dÃ©cor as you would any other room in the house," Dixon said. "Soft celadon, creamy yellow or pure white with colorful accents give the bathroom more of a spa feel."
Add little luxuries
Small touches like warming towel racks, and plush, high-quality towels and bath mats can add a lot to a bathroom, says Dixon.
"Also consider candles and nice lotions and hand wash. And flowers accentuate any room in the house," she says. "Little luxuries can completely change the feel of a bathroom, and everyone in the family will enjoy them." - Katherine Roth, Associated Press