Dear Mom and Dad,
I’ve already told you a lot about my classes, but you wouldn’t believe how much I’m learning just from living in a dorm!
I knew living at college would require some adjustments. It’s my first time living in a communal space! My roommates are awesome, and the food isn’t bad, but the bathrooms? I can’t even.
You taught me there’s no use in complaining about something unless I’m willing to come up with a solution, so that’s a lesson I’m trying to apply in this situation. Besides, if I’m going to be an architect or designer someday, maybe I can use these tips to help me design whatever spaces I’ll be working on.
- Give showers a dry-floor changing space. Our communal showers give us two choices—get dressed in a wet stall or walk all the way back to the room in a towel. I know architects have limited space to work with, but a few square feet outside each shower would make life so much easier.
- Use solid-surface floors for mold prevention. Seriously, what’s the point of tiles? We haven’t even been here a month and the grout is already gross. I’d go with one of the solid-surface, nonskid floor materials that stay much cleaner.
- One word: “hooks.” Everyone brings their shower caddy into the shower with them and then puts the wet caddy on the countertop while they’re at the sink. It’s a mess. (I can’t imagine the guys who have to shave there!) What would it cost to mount a hook by every sink so we can hang our caddies out of the way?
- Combine a faucet, soap dispenser, and hand dryer in the sink. The cheap, on-deck soap bottles disappeared the first week, and the paper towel mess is horrible (if they haven’t run out, that is). I’ve seen a cool sink system with a built-in faucet, soap dispenser, and hand dryer, and that’s the first thing I’d specify if I was designing a dorm bathroom.
- One more word: “shelves”! My friend has a suite where four girls share a bathroom. They actually went and bought a shelving unit themselves to handle the clutter, but when I’m designing dorms, the bathrooms will have shelves built in.
- Install hands-free faucets. Twenty-five people using five sinks can spread a ton of germs. Automatic, touchless faucets are so much more hygienic. (Heck, we should install them at home!) Plus, I can’t believe how many people forget to turn the water off, and automatic faucets would save a lot of water by avoiding that problem altogether.
- Install sensor flushometers, too. Speaking of things people forget to do…
- Go for coated china. Not to get too gross, but OMG… the things that stick to sinks and toilet bowls. There’s a hydrophobic coating that keeps those surfaces cleaner, longer, and I’d specify it for everything.
- Save water whenever possible. Living with so many people has given me a reality check on how much water we actually use every day! The flushing toilets on a single Friday night could probably supply our house for a year. I’d go for hybrid urinals in the men’s bathrooms—they barely use any water at all—and dual-flush flushometers on all toilets because they use less water for liquid waste.
Wow, that’s more writing than I did for my English paper! Who knew a dormitory bathroom could be so inspiring?
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