Nowhere (except perhaps the kitchen) is ‘form follows function’ more important than in the family bathroom. Bathrooms are at the top of the list for many of our interior decorating clients with kids. And as a mother I totally understand the issues at hand. I have four children (ages 15 down to 9 months) and one bathroom. Each child contributes his/her own unique requirements, issues, or demands to complicate the experience of bathroom sharing compatibility.

The teenager splashes water all over the place and takes hour long baths during which time no one is allowed to enter. My five year old boy is still practicing his aim. My three year old daughter is afraid snapping turtles will come up through the potty and eat her. The baby goes through roughly 567 diapers a day.

And then there’s me. I have dreams of uninterrupted bathroom time, of a spa like experience returning me to womb-like peace.

I am always looking for ideas to create an oasis in my bathroom and the bathrooms I create for others.

Here are some tips for making a family friendly bathroom.

Safety First

Water is everywhere in a family bathroom. Make sure your floors, shower and bath all offer some traction. Leave the carpet out of the bathroom. The moisture encourages rot and mold. Yuck.
Electrical outlets should be above the reach of little ones and away from wet areas. Also store curling irons and such out of reach. A high shelf where they can rest while they are in use is ideal
For households with small people use toilet locks, faucet protectors, outlet covers, and door knob covers.
Think Geek’s faucet lights are perfect for households with kids because the water changes color when it’s hot. Much easier for little ones to understand a visual rather than an abstract.
Medicines should be in locked cabinets. (Vitamins too…my three year old once gave me a scare by drinking vitamin B 12…everything is tempting to a child
Consider comfort and ease
Make sure there is adequate heat and good ventilation.
Towels should be easy to reach.
It feels so nice to step out onto a plush bathmat. And they’re easy to wash.
A wall mounted toilet paper holder is essential.
Good Form
Good storage makes bathroom life easier. Upper shelves and cabinets tend to be easier to organize and locate things in than the under the counter ones.
Pegs and hooks make it easy for little ones to hang up towels and robes (I learned this after years of piles of wet towels under the towel bar)
Protect walls with tiles or laminates. Water can do a lot of lasting damage.
If your sinks are high, add a sturdy wide bases stool with a grip surface and make sure toothbrushes and soap are within reach.
Please all of the people some of the time

Try to develop a bathroom routine that everyone adheres to. If someone seems to be hogging the prime time rotate the schedule once a week or so.

And remember when you decorate, that the bathroom has to serve several people who might not have the same taste. Unless everybody whole heartily agrees on a theme try to avoid one. A lot of bathrooms are small and can benefit greatly from a coat of white paint. White makes the room feel bigger and fresher, and colored towels and accessories really pop against it. It’s easy to change out towels too.

Safety is the most important feature in a family bathroom. And privacy is a close second. Make sure everyone in the family respects each other’s needs.

Libby Alexander