Small Apartment People Problems: My Kitchen Is Next to My Bathroom

My bath towels smell like shallots.

Apr 3, 2012 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

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Here is a brief interaction that is not uncommon to small apartments.

Visitor: Do you mind if I use your bathroom?
Host: Sure, it's right through the kitchen.

Such is the case when someone visits my apartment. I am one of the many New Yorkers who lives with the unfortunate floor-plan featuring a hallway-shaped kitchen that leads to the one and only bathroom. This setup is so common that 3 out of the 5 apartments I have lived in since moving here have had it. It's the worst.

Here is the first of many problems with it. If you are poor enough to accept an apartment with such a blaring flaw, you likely cannot afford an place in a decent neighborhood without having a roommate. This means that you will eventually end up cooking something as another person empties themselves three feet away from you with a narrow plywood door serving as the only barrier. And, the sound of sizzling oil is not well complimented by noises of someone else's expressive waste dismissal.

It's just as uncomfortable, though,  if the roles are reversed, and you're one in the bathroom. The bathroom in your home should be a private place where your bodily functions are free to let loose in full force. There's just no fun in it if you're clenching and contorting, trying to create some sort of muscular silencer like you're James Bond assassinating a toilet.

Another issue with this floor plan is odor contamination. Not in the horrifying way you would expect with smells wafting from the bathroom outward, rather the other way around. This wouldn't be so bad if your bathroom simply smelled like food for a while, but it also ends up rending your shampoo useless.

Allow me to explain. Let's say you've hung your wet towel on the bathroom towel rack after taking a shower. And, a little later, you saute something in garlic and shallots because you're high and just watched "Top Chef." You will find that you have just stumbled across the recipe for savory towel odor. Then, the next time you towel off your wet hair, you end up with a third hand cooking smell embedded in your follicles.

For me, however, the most upsetting circumstance that results from the bathroom-through-the-kitchen phenomenon arises on the occasions when I stop watching cable news and cooking shows long enough to go out and try to engage in a sexual relationship with a woman.

Inevitably, after sex, one person has to pee and the other one is thirsty. At least if you're doing it right. Right, ladies? No? Fellas? Anyone...? Anyway, that's my experience. So, what is a common occurrence is that a woman will enter the bathroom as I go to get a glass of water. And then, because of the proximity, she's self conscious that I can hear her bathroom noises, and I'm self conscious that she'll think I'm trying to hear her bathroom noises. It's grotesquely uncomfortable.

I get that it's cheaper and easier to build an apartment complex if all the water pipes are confined to one part of each unit. But, more than any other group of people, you would expect loud-mouthed property developers to use, or at least be familiar with, a phrase like, "Don't shit where you eat." So, it just seems inconsiderate of them to have built such a large number of apartments this way.