June 20, 2010

The Garden Soaking Tub

The builder's sales brochure for our home breathlessly exclaimed that, in addition to other really cool features, the bathroom had a "garden soaking tub". 

Why do all new homes built in the past several years (ours was built in 2004) have a large glass window over the bath tub?  Over the one place in the house where it is guaranteed you will be, without exception, undressed and exposed?  At night, when I actually want to soak in the tub, that big black glass stares back at me at my most vulnerable, hinting at prowlers and voyeurs just outside, unless it is covered up.

In a suburban development with nearby neighbors, the first thing you have to do on move-in day is put up shades in the bathroom.  Then every day thereafter, using the facilities involves climbing into and out of the bath tub to get to the windows.

And here's the worst of it: the very best view of my garden is from the bathroom window:

We keep the shades drawn to use our bathroom, but the first thing I do on a summer morning is clamber into the big soaking tub to open them and see my garden in the morning light.  Then clamber out.  It's undignified, and it's awkward when I'm groggy.  The thing is, this and a guest room have the only windows on this side of the house.

(When you create your gardens, consider the view from inside --- that's a well known principle of design.  The fact that the only view of this side of the yard is from such an inconvenient place makes me crazy).

Every new home is built with the same useless feature: a huge obstacle in front of the one opening where you need to actually operate the window treatments every day.

Does anybody know why a design element that is so clearly unusable, awkward and unworkable is so ubiquitous in houses today?  Who thinks this stuff up?

In order to close this post on a less cranky note, here are some pictures from my garden that make me happy:

There, I feel better now.  I'm done for the day in the garden, and I'm ready to go take a long soak in my garden tub, with the shades drawn and no garden in view.  But I know it's out there.


  1. I giggled at this rant. You aren't the only one that hates this awkward window positioning. You do know you can install a blind that works off batteries to aleviate the need to crawl into and out of the tub daily. You will only need to crawl in whenever you have to change batteries. Do be careful. As you say, beautiful view out that window.

  2. Oh Laurrie, I used to live in a house like that - makes no sense to live in, but maybe catches the eye of buyers. Ditto supertall cathedral ceilings with all the upstairs rooms overlooking - too noisy and definitely not cozy! Incidentally, your garden looks great!

  3. That does sound a little cuckoo, Laurrie.

    Of course, we live in a home built in 1962, so all our issues are with things falling apart because of age or use -- and not with crazy beautiful design elements added without thought to functionality or privacy. Our one bathroom window is high in the wall and more of a slit with privacy rippling to boot.

    Still, you must admit "garden soaking tub" is ingenious marketing! ;)

  4. Laurrie, my dad just bought a house with a tub like that as well. He is eighty, and while it looks great, I don't think he will ever use it, too difficult to get in and out of.

  5. Lisa, great idea about battery operated blinds. If not too expensive, I might consider that alternative to crawling in and out of the tub.

    Cyndy, the super tall ceilings are another grrrr in my new house! Who comes up with these marketing ideas?

    Meredith, I do love the term 'garden soaking tub'. Ridiculous, but appealing.

    Deborah, I love the idea of your dad, at 80, buying a new house with a garden soaking tub!

  6. Oh those marketing types are clever, I think I would fall for the idea that I could enjoy a soak in the bath and look out at the garden...right until that first moment I thought I heard someone out there :D
    Actually, I went off on completely the wrong tangent when I read your header and wondered if a 'garden soaking tub' was some odd arrangement where you could sit your pot plants in a special little tub beside you while you reclined in your own bathtub!

  7. I thought your rant was very funny! It made me laugh. I'm an interior designer specializing in window treatments. You would not believe all the dumb things builders do to 'inspire' the buyer. Windows over bathtubs, bathroom windows looking right into the neighbor's bathroom, and my favorite - a window in a shower too low to leave uncovered!

    Your best bet are the battery operated cellular shades. I recommend them to all my customers in your same situation. They aren't inexpensive, but well worth the investment, especially with a garden view like yours!


    Barbara Deckmeyer

  8. I never really considered this until you pointed it out, but you're right, it doesn't make much sense. I guess for some people, having such a large, grand window in a bathroom seems the height of luxury.

    My house was built around 1930, so I don't have that problem!

  9. Heidi, I really should bring some of my plants inside in a tub to be near me while I soak!

    Barbara, you are the second one to suggest the battery operated shades, so I really do have to look into those. Thanks for stopping by.

    Fern, it's funny how the perception of luxury has nothing to do with use or practicality!


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