The surprising secret of marital harmony: not two bathrooms, but two basins

Michael Caine once claimed that separate bathrooms were the key to a long and happy marriage. You don't need to go quite so far, says Giles Kime.

A few country-house traditions appear to have fallen by the wayside in the past decade or so: raucous games of Ibble Dibble fuelled by flaming Sambuca, for example, and corridor creeping in the early hours – or at least not on school nights.

Another is sleeping separately from your spouse – long regarded as the height of sophistication, but often symptomatic of nothing more glamorous than a deviated septum.

There are signs, too, that separate bathrooms might also soon be a thing of the past. ‘Bathrooms are definitely becoming bigger, more communal spaces, often at the expense of bedrooms and dressing rooms,’ says James Lentaigne of Drummonds bathrooms.  More space creates possibilities such as upholstered furniture and capacious showers, including the racy option of a pair of showerheads and a double enclosure (although most are probably specified more in hope than aspiration).

More discreet – but arguably more useful – is a pair of basins (known in the trade as a double vanity unit) for companionable side-by-side scrubbing, flossing and doing whatever it is that people do with cotton buds.

‘If space allows, a double vanity is now firmly at the top of wish lists,’ says Mr Lentaigne, whose recently launched Thames design in opulent veiny marble would lend a stately feel to any bathtime.

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