Would You Put a Urinal in Your Bathroom?

a bathroom with a toilet and urinal
Would You Put a Urinal in Your Bathroom?Design: Nicole White; Photo: Zatre Studios.

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Bathroom decor never ceases to amaze us. From wallpaper and tile to the shower and bathtub configuration, there are endless ways to customize your most personal space. Then there's the actual toilet, which most of us don't spend too much time thinking about—unless you count deciding whether or not to style the back of it or if potty humor decor can ever be chic. (Oh, and the fact that Bradley Cooper weirdly has one in his bedroom.) But what about home urinals? A topic that once felt taboo but is now flushing its cringey reputation away in the design space.

From Toto to Kohler, urinals designed for home installation are out there and ready to go, so to speak. But would you actually put one in your house? According to designers, it depends.

Why Are People Adding Home Urinals?

In the six years she has owned and operated her Charleston-based design firm, Megan Molten had never thought about putting a urinal in one of her residential projects. That is, until her husband saw them in a few spaces and begged her to add one to their pool house.

"We love to entertain, so that bathroom gets a lot of use," Molten says. "He thought it would be especially good for a bathroom filled with wet bathing suits, so you wouldn't have a big puddle in front of the toilet." To Molten's shock and delight, the urinal has proven to be a surprisingly stylish addition—not to mention a huge hit with their inner circle. "Since I've done it, every single male who has encountered that bathroom has now said that they want a urinal in their bathroom," she says, laughing.

a bathroom with a toilet and urinal
Margaret Wright

And Molten isn't the only pro we know who's recently added urinals to her design arsenal. South Florida–based designer Nicole White also recently received the first request in her 14-year career for a home urinal. "[I was] very surprised," she says. "We started this project designing for a couple, but halfway through we got the request for a urinal and knew something was amiss. They'd broken up, and he now wanted a much different vibe for what would now become a bachelor pad, and alas, that now included a urinal."

Can a Urinal Ever Be Chic?

Sure, urinals might be staples in Europe as well as public bathrooms at restaurants and sports arenas, but they're seldom seen in stateside residences—partly because they're just plain gross to look at. Can good design overcome that? Maybe. While Molten says urinals might be the future of residential design, citing sculptural options from brands like Kohler and cleaning supplies to make those "open, potentially smelly holes less gross," White predicts urinals won’t have much staying power beyond bachelor pads. "No woman alive loves to look at a urinal, no matter how modern," she argues.

So, if you have someone in your life who really wants a urinal, how do you keep your bathroom looking chic? For starters, both Molten and White say it's important to relinquish your preconceived notions about urinals and opt for something more modern. "It's not the traditional shapes that you think of in your head when you think of what a urinal looks like," Molten says. "The shapes are even very sleek, small, modern, and more cylindrical."

Molten recommends matching your urinal and toilet and suggests considering options beyond basic white. "[Black] helps conceal anything like liquid, which is especially important in a bathroom that's going to be used by other people," she explains. "A dark toilet looks so much better against that wallpaper than white."

Speaking of which, the right layout can also up your urinal's chic factor. As White says, "I'd encourage having one if there's enough room for it to not be the center of attention." Molten, for one, thought it was "silly" to line her urinal up right next to the pool house's toilet. "I didn't want it to be front and center," she says. Instead, "you open up the door and straight ahead is this mirrored wall with a neon sign hanging and then this beautiful black vessel sink." Her husband's beloved urinal is strategically hidden behind the door.

The most stylish thing of all, though, is having a bathroom people actually want to use. "It all worked out, and the client is now happily using his urinal and accessories," White says. "Moral of the story: Embrace even what may initially be a very unorthodox request, and make it as hot as possible."

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