Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shaker Settings - Separation of the Sexes

While Shakers were celibate, they also lived communally in large dwellings where men lived on one side and women on the other. Dwellings usually had two doors in front; one for men and one for women.

Once inside, a central hallway led to stairs on either side; one for men and the other for women.

We are neither celibate nor do we live communally, but there was one area where we thought separation of the sexes made sense when we built our current home. We built his and her bathrooms off the master bedroom. Hers has a tub with hand shower; mine has a shower stall. Otherwise they're mirror images of each other. We've discovered advantages of the arrangement we didn't even imagine when we decided to built that way.

One comment on the secretary desk sitting between the bathroom doors. It's neither an antique nor a reproduction. Rather, it's an adaptation of Shaker design. It's based on a Shaker sisters' sewing desk, which I don't own a photograph of. In addition to the three drawers on the left front, there are three large drawers on the right end. These latter drawers are accessible when the writing surface is in use without the inconvenience of lifting the writing surface or bending under the writing surface. It also is similar in size to the sewing desks, which makes it usable in modern homes.

There are Shaker secretary desks in existence. Like the one above, they're really too large to use in a modern home. This one had room for two to work at, probably an elder and an eldress who shared responsibility for managing a communal family's business. In addition to size, they are relatively rare and, thus, would be very expensive.


  1. Oh, for his'n'hers bathrooms! How sensible. Love that desk too. Seems like things were very well thought out.

  2. I knew that would be a hit with my women readers, Jennyfreckles. I've heard the sighs before from women who have visited the house. ;->

  3. A wonderful solution! Shaker design is so beautiful -- my husband has made several Shaker style tables and we also have some reproductions.

  4. Bathrooms and the desk are perfect! Jane x

  5. I like the idea of having two bathrooms off the master bedroom!