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Get Rid of the Shower

Taking a bath is something that almost never crosses my mind.   But, standing under a nice warm shower and filling the exhilaration of the water hitting my body gets me invigorated in the mornings.   As I travel, the modern hotels with the large walk-in showers make me feel better when taking a shower than those of yesteryear with the small tubs and shower curtain draped in the tub.  Give me the shower and forget the tub!

Many folks are just like me.  As a builder and home designer, the question of tubs comes up on every new project whether it is new construction or a remodel.  35 years ago, all houses had the typical tub/shower combination.  The 80’s brought the separate tub and shower in the master bath.  Showers were only considered for tight spaces.  I am not sure if it is technically correct, but baths with only the small shower in some communities were referred to to as a “three-quarter bath” as opposed to being a full bath; a concept as a real estate broker is foreign to me.  We get to the 21st century and now the common most requested feature in a home is a large walk-in shower.  With all of the added features of steam, music, mood lighting, and jets in the walls; these showers have become quite elaborate.  So, do we keep the tub, or get rid of it?  You already know that for personal reasons, I would probably get rid the shower and never think twice.  This subject raises a lot of questions in the mainstream from: personal hygiene, going green,  space saving, resale value, kids, to keeping up with the times.  As it turns out, there is no simple answer.

Allison Fox wrote in the Washington Post, “The Shower vs. bath debate is a feisty one.”  She goes on to quote other sources suggesting showers may be better for your skin and arguments that showers may be better for the planet in saving water with the end being that showers hold a slight advantage over the tub.  Kat Bern wrote, “The Bathtub might just be your unnecessary clutter.”  From what I have seen in showing potential buyers homes, I could not agree with her more.  Recently touring a new listing property prior to the photographer arriving, it seemed like every bath tub in the house had its own personal collection of clutter with multiple shampoos, soaps, scrubbing “things” and etc.  Who knew that tubs could be so ingrained in our lifestyle?

From a re-sale standpoint, further questions may be raised.  In a forum on Zillow.com the topic was raised, “Bathtubs vs. Showers for resale value“; and similarly on “Sreeteasy.com, Bathtub shower vs. Standing Shower and Resale Value”  There are a number of buyers, in particular start-up families or those with young kids in the house, that want the bath tub for that sole reason; it is easier to bath kids in a bath tub.  Personally, I think a hand-held shower may be just as easy.  It works great for bathing Max! (man’s best friend)  And the cool thing with this, is that you don’t have to pick him up and put him in the tub – he has been trained to just walk in!  From a value stand point, I’m not sure if a monetary value can be attributed to a shower vs. a tub.  But perhaps, there is some evidence that a home’s “desirability” could be influenced by whether or not there is a tub located in the home at all.  A “tub-less” home might the bigger question of debate.

In a design era where there is a trend for smaller homes while spending more for luxury, space for a tub can be a premium.  Everyone wants the sleek, open, airy, and bright bathroom.  We are tired of spending time in a can’t-turn-around dungeon.  Certainly modern hotels have caught on to this in recent years.  Showers without the traditional tub/shower are becoming the new norm.  The remodeling world is full of suggestions.  Check this article out that appeared on Houzz.com, “Before and After:   6 Bathrooms That Said Goodbye to the Tub”  Getting rid of the tub when remodeling can open up the space.  It is not only getting rid of the tub, but saying goodbye to the shower curtains, wall enclosures and etc. that opens up the space.  It may  be an actual space savings, but it is also the “feel” that can be accomplished with the open shower.  And if space is needed a smaller shower may still accomplish the same effect while gaining an extra 6 square feet for a linen closet, some other piece of furniture, or perhaps another sink.

But what about those huge tubs that we started installing in houses as a routine back in the 90’s?  Do we still have to keep those around, you know those that take up 40 square feet just for the tub; the size of a traditional bath room?  With the emergence of the huge, two person shower as a desired house amenity, the large tub has come into question in the 21st Century.  In another forum on Houzz.com the question was posed, “Does a master bathroom need a tub?”  Lots of comments came in with no overwhelming verdict.  In larger homes where there is plenty of space, the answer may be yes, leave the tub in.  It is still an expectation from the buyer’s perspective.  But in the smaller homes, maybe leave it out.  But overwhelmingly the response for today’s modern design, people want a spacious shower.  The shower cannot be left out in the master bath.  New bath products having also opened up new possibilities.  The freestanding tub can save space and money; eliminating the need for the tile tub deck surrounds and the feel of “clunkiness”.   The jets in the tub?  Well, that really does get personal.

Okay already, I give in.  After all the arguments are in, just maybe a tub should be included somewhere in the house.  I don’t have to use it.  It does seem that a large number of people, maybe up to about 50% of the population depending on who you listen to,  want a tub.  Maybe the tub does create some value.    Some still want the large tub for the few times a year that they are able to steal time from other musings to just sit, relax, and retreat for a moment to the tub.  That is the vision anyway and I do not want to stop anyone from dreaming.  I’m a dreamer myself.  What about a hot tub . . . ?  That’s another story . . .

Greg Isenhour