When it comes to designing an effective bathroom, a little self-reflection can go a long way. According to Lindsay T. Graham, a personality and social psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, productive introspection can influence not only how you want your bathroom to look, but also how your bathroom can support your frame of mind.
“Something that’s really important to think about is that we have our own personality that comes into the mix when we’re trying to design spaces,” Graham says. Her research organization at UC Berkeley, The Center For The Built Environment, studies how people can influence their space to best fit who they are and what they're trying to accomplish.
While there is some debate about whether categorical personalities exist within people, the field of psychology largely considers there to be five main character traits:
- Extroversion (and its counterpart, introversion)
- Conscientiousness (and, conversely, unconscientiousness)
- Emotional stability (versus neuroticism)
- Openness, such as being open to new experiences (as opposed to being conventional or traditional)
- Agreeableness (versus disagreeableness)
Each trait is measured on a scale from one end of its spectrum to the opposite — and most of us exhibit a mix of each quality. You can take any number of quizzes online to get a feel for which character traits you exhibit and identify with.
Using Graham’s expertise as a guide, we asked Ericka Sprangers, a designer on the team at the Kohler Design Center, to provide bathroom design tips based on the personality traits. How might an awareness of your personality help you cultivate your perfect bathroom space?
Design tips if you’re introverted:
Throughout the design process, it’s helpful to ask: What does that environment mean to me? And what feelings or emotions do I want this room to evoke?
“For instance,” says Graham, “If I’m an extrovert, I may not be the kind of person who needs my bathroom space to be a haven, because I’m less depleted by interacting with people. But if I’m really introverted, while I may love my family or roommates, I may need some sort of refuge from the rest of the world at different times of the day.”
But how does this translate to design? Spranger says that clients who lean toward introversion might want to incorporate an open concept for their bathroom. “This might be a vanity or grooming space open to the rest of the bedroom with a walk-through glass shower to a semiprivate water closet.”
Design tips if you’re conscientious:
Conscientiousness, according to Graham, relates to our sense of duty and responsibility to organize. “Someone who is really conscientious is someone who never runs out of dog food,” she says. “They’re always prepared. They're somebody who thrives with having everything organized in its place… For someone who’s really conscientious, it’s going to be helpful for them to have a place for everything and make sure that all of their stuff has a home.”
Spranger says there are many products that would speak to a conscientious person. “The grooming space is the most essential part of the bathroom routine,” she says, offering the KOHLER® Tailored Vanities as a great example. “Not only do we offer a variety of styles for our vanities, we offer different finish options and add-on accessories to make your daily routine a little easier.”
And as you think about organization, Spranger says that KOHLER offers details such as an electrical outlet built into your shelf, rollout trays, drawers and drawer inserts. KOHLER Verdera® medicine cabinets are great for storing all the little items that need a home in the bathroom.
For shower organization, Spranger recommends storing your soaps, shampoos and conditioners within Choreograph® Storage Locker® storage, which allows for proper water drainage and is easy to clean. “With the Choreograph collection, you can even select floating shelves or hooks to hang washcloths or loofahs, while having a stylish look and feel within your showering space.”
Design tips for the open person:
Graham says those who identify as being open to new experiences are generally driven by curiosity and a desire to learn new things, such as someone who goes to a restaurant and orders the dish they’ve never tried before.
“A lot of women who fall under the category of being open to new experiences will have all their makeup or perfumes out and visible for use,” Graham says. “Someone who’s high in openness is going to be hyperaware of what’s going on around them, because it’s contributing to their experience. Someone who’s high in openness loves to be surrounded by beauty, however they define that.”
Spranger points to Kohler’s Artist Editions collection of products, which are inspired by styles from around the world and appeal to an adventurous spirit.
“We have incorporated different materials such as glass, stone and luxurious metals,” Spranger says, “[from] textures created from wildlife to beautiful patterns. The Antilia® glass sink allows one to feel moved by the Great Lakes, while the Shagreen® sink allows another to feel as if they had just touched a stingray!”
For individuals who lean more toward conventional, Graham says they might, “be less likely to engage in new experiences, but it's coming from a love of tradition and routine. They’re the kind of person who has the holiday traditions, and they have to hit each of those each season.”
Spranger says clients from this group tend to gravitate more toward KOHLER collections of Tresham®, Artifacts®, Memoirs® and Damask®. “The products here hold a softer, more traditional element and would be more appealing to them.”
Design tips for the emotionally stable and flexible:
“I think that for emotional stability and neuroticism, the design would look quite similar,” says Graham, “because it’s about creating expectations for design and making sure the design meets the expectations of the person so that emotional stability can be achieved.”
“Neuroticism always gets to be a touchy trait, because nobody wants to be considered neurotic,” she says, adding that a more positive spin is saying one is “emotionally flexible.”
For those who experience a range of emotions in a day, Graham says it might be useful to design a space that inspires a feeling of stability, whether through colors, patterns or other elements that reduce anxiety.
No matter what your personality traits, Spranger says it’s important that clients are guided throughout the design process to better understand what it is they truly want from their space.
“For a client to understand their exact style, one must do a little research,” she says. “Finding images that are appealing to them will help. Then you can find specific details that will relate to particular products that associate with your style, whether it may be minimalist, modern, eclectic or glamorous!”
For guided, personalized, design advice and inspiration, visit designservice.KOHLER.com.