Are you considering remodeling your bathroom and putting in a new tub? Here’s what you need to know to get that tub right!
But FIRST…here’s a little history lesson from Dean:
In 1883, an American entrepreneur whose young company made products from steel and iron took one of his own cast-iron horse troughs, added four decorative feet, covered it in enamel … and invented the modern bathtub. The young man’s name was John Michael Kohler, and the company that still bears his name—Kohler—is perhaps the most respected plumbing fixture company in the world.
Despite Kohler’s brilliant 1883 bathtub, still only 1% of American homes had indoor plumbing nearly 40 years later. In the early 1920’s wash basins and outhouses were still the norm in America.
If you think about it, a tub with feet made a lot of sense. We have a name for larger fixtures in your home that aren’t built into the design: furniture. Since the bathtub came along way before bathrooms were ever designed for them, it makes sense that the tub was seen more as a piece of furniture—legs and all.
It wasn’t until the tub became a permanent bathroom fixture that it also started to look like one. In the late 20’s and early 30’s new homes needed tubs, and builders needed tubs to cost less and take up less space. So was born the 2½’ by 5’ tub alcove; and in it was placed a one-sided apron front built-in tub. Apron tubs are still the dominant tub in American homes and most apron tubs are still 2½’ by 5’. This same kind of evolution took place in the kitchen as well. What started out as the freestanding kitchen table became a kitchen island; and the famous multi-purpose hoosier cabinet became an entire kitchen full of built-in specialty cabinetry.
Now—140 years after Kohler’s bathtub and 100 years after the advent of indoor plumbing—both modern kitchens and bathrooms are looking for more space, more style … and are re-embracing the look of cabinets and tubs as a freestanding piece of furniture.
Today’s tubs are far more about luxury spa-like experiences than simple utility. Soaking has always been something that feels special, whether because you were among the few with access to a natural hot spring or the few who had the means to enlist others’ labor in providing your bath. Fetching water, building a fire, heating the water, carrying the hot water, re-supplying hot water during the bath, and emptying the used tub—all soaking necessities and all difficult for the bather to do for oneself—made the luxury of bathing a largely upper-class experience.
Today bathing has been democratized and those servants have been replaced with mechanical systems, fixtures and devices. But if a luxury soaking experience is what you’re looking for there are still important decisions to be made in order to make sure our “new servants” are getting our bath just right.
Here’s what you need to know to get your new tub right:
When choosing the design of your bathtub, you should focus on:
Proper floor conditions
Properly sized hot water heater
Quality insulated tub
Does every house need a tub?
Probably, yes … for its utility.
Young families with young children (or empty nesters with grandchildren)
We used to say aging in place but … that is largely replaced with curbless showers and/or walk-in tubs.
Why today’s freestanding tubs actually save space …
No huge 80’s/90’ platform
No jets and blowers
Seeing more floor makes the room feel bigger
Types of Freestanding Tubs
Soaker (Japanese soaker)
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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images