Bathroom design: Shower vs. bathtub – and why it might be best to finally drop one

Anyone who’s ever set out to do a bathroom design in a standard-sized home has come across the dilemma: bathtub or shower?

And almost every household I come across chooses a mix: a bathtub with a shower above it. Add a glass screen or a shower curtain and you’ve got yourself a shower cabin. Well… sort of.

I know. I’ve had one of those for as long as I can remember and it’s not exactly the same as a proper shower cabin.

Once, when creating a bathroom design for a small apartment – my home at the time – we even considered putting in both: a full shower cabin and a bathtub. Both really small, but separate. Then, reality strikes and you realise that there is no other place in which to put the washing machine. Our plans of squeezing in a small shower and a small tub had to be replaced by the shower-tub combo I described above.

And there was nothing wrong with this solution per se, but this mix of bathtub and shower has been around for so long that I’ve started thinking: “there must be a better way”.

That’s why I gave it some thought, researched new ideas and would like to share with you my ideas. I came to one rather radical conclusion and found two great – but lesser-known solutions – for bigger and smaller bathrooms.

The Bathtub might just be your unnecessary clutter.

If your mind just went spinning and your heart sped up in disbelief just at the mention of the idea, you might be one of the bathtub-lovers who dive into the tub almost every day, in which case: this isn’t for you.

But… if this idea made you curious, then I’ve got a question for you (and be honest, there are no wrong answers): “When was the last time you took a bath?” I mean an actual, soak-your-feet-till-they’re-wrinkled kind of bath?

If your response was somewhere between “long time ago, actually” and “I don’t remember”, then listen up.

From time to time we all hold on to things and thoughts that we don’t really enjoy.

It’s very natural, especially if you live in the modern western culture. We grow up being told to “save for the rainy day” and keep things “just in case”. Homes everywhere around the world have this magical spot where we store things that we don’t need, but we keep them anyway. It could be a garage, an attic, a shed, or sometimes even a deep corner of a cupboard, somewhere high up where it’s out of every-day reach.

All those things that we keep and then watch as they gather dust are clutter. It’s clutter that we hold on to out of fear. Because “what if… I get rid of it and then I need it?” I’ve heard it many times.

And the same way we think about old clothes, unread books that have been standing on our shelves for a decade, or even food that we once thought we’d make, but now it’s at the back of the cupboard and way past its expiration date… a lot of us apply that same way of thinking to our bathroom design choice of shower vs. bathtub.

We choose a bathtub with a shower curtain, even though we’d use a bath only once in a blue moon. To relax. And while making our choice we feel completely justified, even though we’re going to be inconvenienced four times a day, getting in and out of the bathtub, to shower twice a day. That’s 730 times a year of inconveniently getting into the tub and another 730 moments of having to get out with a slight risk of sliding or even falling on the slippery tub’s surface.

That’s a total of 1,460 times of getting in and out of the tub in order to take a shower. You’re doing it every day without thinking, because it’s something you’re used to. And just because you’re used to it.

Because now that we’ve done the maths: Does the one relaxing bath a year still outweigh the 1,460 times of unnecessary inconvenience?

Oh and why did we want to take that bath anyway? To relax, right? Somehow in our choice of shower vs. bathtub we end up forgetting that there are about a million other ways of relaxing. Including a visit to a local spa or a swimming pool for a… ahem… jacuzzi bath.

And it’s not that I’m somehow particularly prejudiced against baths.

But this article actually pretends to be only about bathtubs vs. showers, while really, I’d like to challenge you to think about your choices. Do you make them because you want to make them? Or do you choose based on the fear that you’ll miss out if you don’t go for the most popular choice?

Following this radical “ditch the bathtub” idea, you could easily support this new claim that if you’re not a fan of regular baths, you could simply install a proper shower cabin and instead enjoy the benefits of:
– having an easy in-and-out 1,460 times a year, without any awkward-slippery-moments,
– installing a rain shower head (trust me, they are amazing),
– having a power-shower,
– installing underfloor heating in your shower area,
– and probably a few more that I can’t think of right now. :)

If you have kids and are now hearing your inner voice tell you “maybe I don’t need a bathtub, but what about my little ones”, then check out these foldable tubs that you can set up inside your shower (and if you’ve got a garden, it can double as a swimming pool during the summer, which I think is pretty cool).

Ask yourself: how do you use it. When was the last time you had a bath? Follow your actual lifestyle and what feels good and comfortable for you. You could also ask yourself: does it bring you joy to stand under a stream of hot water and wash off the energy of a given day, past conversations and thoughts? Or does it bring you joy to lie down in a hot bath, and let all the thoughts wander, while you relax? I’m pretty sure you know the answer already.

If in the end you decide to keep both (and that’s perfectly fine, btw, as long as this is what you and your family want, not what you settle for), then I promised you two solutions – one for smaller and one for bigger bathrooms.

Let’s start with those who have more space. If you’ve got enough space for a shower cabin and a bathtub (lucky you! :)), then consider creating a wet room. It’s a space inside your bathroom, like a bigger shower cabin, where you put in the bathtub too. It’s like dividing your bathroom into a splash zone and splash-free zone. See an example below:

If you do not want to get rid of the bathtub altogether, but don’t have space for both, I would recommend a different way of covering the tub to create a shower space, without referring to shower curtains or foldable shower screens.

Personally, I really like this idea below, because it works like a wet room for smaller bathrooms:

Another idea would be to install a drain in the floor next to a bathtub and have a free standing bath with a shower above it (without any kind of protective screens or curtains). This would convert your entire bathroom into a wet room.

Finally, one more word for those who do have a bathtub already, but only ever use it as somewhere to stand while you shower:
for the love of all things chocolatey, take a bath… today!
If taking a bath is your thing, then just get in the tub and relax. You really don’t have to do anything to “deserve” this luxury. :)

Looking for some more bathroom ideas? Here are my Dirty Little Secrets to Creating a Dream Bathroom: Part 1 and Part 2.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Would you get rid of (or have you already gotten rid of) your bathtub? Or maybe quite to the contrary, you’d like to keep a tub only? Leave a comment below and let me know where you stand.

And if you enjoyed reading this article then I would appreciate it if you could share it with your friends on social media by clicking one of the buttons below.

Have a great weekend,
Kat xx - signature 150px

18 Responses to Bathroom design: Shower vs. bathtub – and why it might be best to finally drop one

  1. I took the big step and went against all the advice about impact on resale and got rid of my bath and had a lovely walk in shower installed. Amazing how much nicer the mornings have gotten. I still get the odd twinge of doubt though! It has got me thinking about showing more courage with other decisions.

    • Yes, yes, yes! Caroline, I’m so glad you did it and, even more, that you see the results :)
      And I believe that if you ever do decide to sell, you will find the right kind of buyer who will appreciate your lovely walk in shower.

  2. Yes – this is something I’ve actually thought about when it comes to our master bath. (We have the shower/tub combo.) I think it would be great to have a really nice shower. We have a tub in another bathroom, so I can use that for the few times I want a soak. I do like the pic of the shower/tub combo you posted, however. That’s the same layout as my bath. Good stuff, Kat!

    • Great to hear from you, Beth!
      If you already have one bath in another bathroom, then I’d definitely say go for the proper shower in the other one. It’s a totally different experience. :)

  3. Thanks for publishing this. I have actually been a long time supporter for
    allowing people who want to age at home to continue living
    independently in their home however I have actually never been compelled
    to leave a comment. I’ve bookmarked your site and shared this post on my Facebook.

    Thanks again for an excellent post!

  4. Love this article. 730 more times to slip, your right. We put in a new bathroom 18 years ago and maybe 18 baths were taken. Also our bath tub is smalller than traditional tub due to size of our bathroom. Looking at redo bathroom and shower maybe tubeless is the way to go. Under floor heating and power shower is the way to go!

  5. The decision between a bath or shower can affect everything from your vitality bills to the well-being of your relatives. While showers speak to a definitive in speed and comfort, and baths offer a lavish drenching knowledge, the contrast between these two apparatuses comes down to significantly more than individual inclination. Think past your optimal washing or showering knowledge and look at the pros of showers and baths to locate the one that best fits your goals and way of life.

  6. I’m a shower lady. They’re speedy, they’re simple, they’re advantageous. Also, have you at any point seen an average NYC flat? You’d have to invest hours cleaning to get the tub to the point where you can take a seat without agonizing over getting some abnormal disease.

  7. This can be a really great guidance. You ideas are very ideal for the Bathroom style. The decision among a bath or even shower can impact everything from your own vitality expenses to the wellbeing of your family members.

  8. Does anyone make a lower bath or somewhat higher shower step over that has the look of and nice aesthetics of a shower but can be filled enough to sit in and take a bath if needed/desired?

  9. This article is really an interesting and useful piece of content i really hope that all the readers will enjoy this stuff..
    thank for this lovely post about bathtub vs shower

  10. Wow this article is definitely an thrilling and beneficial article i absolutely hope all the readers can remember their experiences by this article.. So that each one the readers will experience these things
    Thank for this amazing article to us..

  11. The selection between a bath or bathe can affect the whole lot out of your power bills to the nicely-being of your family. While showers speak to a definitive in pace and luxury, and baths provide a lavish drenching know-how, the evaluation between those two articles.

  12. Amazing I really love this article. Our tub bath is smaller than traditional bathtub due to small size of our bathroom. Looking at redo lavatory and bathe perhaps tubeless is the manner to move. I really like the lovely reading of this article..
    Thanks for sharing this article to us

Leave your comment below: