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Why do Derek Jeter and Tom Brady need 16 bathrooms in this house?

Stephanie Hayes | An investigation into why rich people have so many toilets.

Forget the hand-carved Connecticut granite or the saltwater lap pool or the club room with the full-service bar.

Let’s talk bathrooms. Eight full and eight partial. That’s 16 toilet flappers to replace. Sixteen chances to clean grout. Sixteen mirrors to collect toothpaste splatters.

Baseball player Derek Jeter listed his Tampa house Tuesday for $29 million. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen rent the Davis Islands waterfront property, which has seven bedrooms and… * checks notes * … yep, still 16 bathrooms.

Apologies if you are very rich and already know this! But mansions often have more bathrooms than bedrooms. Those of us with a mere two bathrooms last renovated in the 1970s cannot fathom needing, or even finding time to use, 16 porcelain thrones.

Does each bathroom have a special purpose? Is one for pedicures and another for tweezing? Is one Gothic revival and another coastal eclectic? Do any have secret passageways?

For an explanation, I called Bob Glaser, CEO of Smith & Associates Real Estate, the firm handling the Jeter listing. He politely pointed out the obvious:

Luxury homes are not regular homes. They are sprawling compounds of privacy and convenience. The Jeter house is about 22,000 square feet, roughly the size of a Publix. We’ve all been in the yogurt aisle when the bathroom is up by the lottery tickets.

“Just start with the bedrooms,” Glaser said.

Five is typical in luxury properties. That’s a bathroom for each bedroom. Then, you’re going to have an entertainment area, a pool deck, a guest wing.

“What are we at, eight?”

Maybe there’s an in-law suite, areas for the housekeeper and nannies. Maybe there’s a hobby room. And consider parties. Homeowners don’t want guests peeking at their nasal strips and prescriptions (of course you would open that cabinet).

It’s not that buyers look for a preponderance of bathrooms, Glaser said. But when they’re missing from a spot that could use one, they definitely notice.

The Oaks Estate, a compound in Thonotosassa owned by Lazydays RV magnate Don Wallace, has eight bedrooms and 26 bathrooms. That’s not to be confused with Century Oaks, a home on Druid Road in Clearwater once owned by powerboat racer Hugh Fuller. That has 16 bedrooms and only 20 bathrooms. Both are on the market if anyone needs some bathrooms.

American estates are a remnant of European landed gentry, said Robert MacLeod, director of the University of South Florida school of architecture and community design.

Those properties functioned as part of a larger picture, with horses and crops and green space and servants to run the household. Yes, we mean Downton Abbey. The Italian Palazzos of the 19th and 20th centuries, too, had multiple stories for different uses.

“I guess our noble people today that have titles are entertainers,” MacLeod said.

But it’s not just the uber-rich who mimicked the quest for domestic elbow room. Homes in America have grown, MacLeod said, from an average of 850 square feet in the 1940s to 2,300 square feet in the 2000s. That’s starting to contract.

“Houses are downsized slightly now because of the empty nesters,” he said. “You have these tight-knit developments evolving that don’t have that half-acre lot. They have just a few feet between the houses."

Hmm. If smaller is the trend and the Brady family needs to get out of St. Jetersburg, will they take this chance to downsize? Move into a city apartment with one or two toilets for all?

Let’s flush that idea.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes
Related: An open letter to Gisele Bündchen upon your move to Tampa

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