Declutter for a tiny shared bathroom
Updated: Mar 12, 2019
This humble, unrenovated bathroom did heroic work, and was my trusty partner in keeping my housemates and guests all squeaky clean, without trespassing on each others space and time and standards. Here is how we did it, and you can too.
Free of Consumer Items
Negotiating different times to use the bathroom is a feat in itself. Once people are in there, I want them to feel the space is just for them. I want it to be a time they care for and pamper their bodies, without being forced to look at a collection of mis-matched consumer products owned by other people, imposing on their consciousness.
Free of sales packaging
Packaging is designed for transport and grabbing attention, for the profit of people who are not you. Unless gazing at it makes you feel clean and blissful, don't let it live in your house. I had a Muji dispenser with hand soap for everyone to use, and provided housemates with the same dispensers for their shampoo and conditioner.
Daily use items only
We all had our spot in the cupboard for toothpaste, shampoo and other daily use items. Other cosmetics were kept in our bedrooms.
I arranged for the bathroom to be free for important things only. House members would do hair, makeup and things that don't need water in our own rooms. Providing each bedroom with its own mirror in a way created a diaspora bathroom, spread through the house.
The flowers were to remind us that this was not a lowly sink, but a shrine of beauty and love, and to be treated with honour. Arranging flowers is much nicer work that cleaning up the mess of other people, or even worse, nagging them about it.
Colourful cleaning cloths
A stash of nicely folded cleaning cloths was kept in the corner, to be used to wipe up splashes and hair. It doesn't matter what the standard of cleanliness is, so long as everyone is happy with the same standard. Perfectly clean is an easy standard to recognise, and in turn the easiest one to all agree on.
I found tall, narrow magazine boxes from the Japanese cult homegoods store Muji. They got turned into self-watering, drainable wicking beds fillled with potting mix, ferns and orchids, and performed multiple functions for me. They fitted perfectly into the ledge by the shower, to bring a jungle feel, and stop stray bottles gathering there. They also worked in the window as a screen so people in the shower couldn't be seen from the verandah. Every now and then each of them got a holiday in the sunny window.
Anyone can do these things. They transform an unglamorous rental bathroom into something light and harmonious, and allow lots of people to live together, supporting each other to have a good life. They were so worth it.