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Look, you don’t need a shower.
I don’t have a shower, I have a tub. Dozens of people have looked at my bathroom in amazement, saying “how do you shower?” The truth is, the bathtub shower is much better than a regular shower, and I’d love more folks to understand why.
Here’s what you see on Pinterest: beautiful clawfoot tub in an impractical situation. Here’s the reality: clawfoot tub with a rigged-up chrome shower curtain holder, and a shower curtain that gets moldy and gross.
New Orleans is full of clawfoot tubs and rigged up shower curtains. Honestly, it looks like hell. And the experience of showering in a tub completely surrounded by a plastic liner is, um, slimy.
When I renovated my bathroom, I didn’t have room to put in a stalled shower because the house is from the early 1900’s and these old New Orleans’ bathrooms are TINY. There was the option to put in a metal frame at ceiling height and drop a shower curtain from it, but I just hated the idea. I loved the way the bathtub looked and couldn’t bear to hide the whole bathroom behind a shower curtain. I ended up googling my way to a European shower and I couldn’t be happier!
What is a French Bathtub?
All across Europe, American travelers report being baffled by the bathtub with no shower curtain. I’ve never been to Europe but that’s what I hear. Essentially, you’ve got a bathtub and a fixture that includes a hand-held sprayer. No curtain. We Americans are used to either standing up to shower OR taking a bath. In Europe, these are a combination kind of situation. And I’m telling you, Americans should embrace the seated shower.
I’ll admit it was aesthetics that brought me to this decision but I can’t be happier. First of all, the bathroom looks great. (Here you can see the whole thing. You’re probably saying “where’s the rest?” but really, that’s it. Tiny.) No sight lines disrupted by a series of chrome poles and curtain rods. Also, no annoying shower curtain. Just a simple look and an even simpler bathing experience.
How do you take a European Bath?
First, you sit down. Like as in literally get in the tub and sit yourself down. You can then decide to plug the drain and have some water in the tub or just use it as a seated shower. In the winter, some extra water in the tub can be warmer than your standard shower–try it!
You use the hand-help sprayer to wet your hair. The wall-mount tub and shower sprayer toggles between sprayer and downspout. I typically just set the sprayer down in the tub while I shampoo, then pick the sprayer back up to rinse. Because the hand-held sprayer is controlled by you, I find that the rinsing takes less time and for long-haired gals, it’s much faster when you can get the spray right up close to your hair.
You can either toggle the sprayer off or set it down and soap yourself, shave, and tend to your feet. I love being able to relaxedly clip my toenails or handle my callouses without having to twist into a pretzel to look at my feet. I also don’t hate sitting down to shave my legs. If you’re someone who has had to shave in a shower with no shelf to rest your feet, you know what I’m talking about. You don’t need a shower to make this all work– in fact, it’s much easier to tend to grooming this way.
Then, you use the sprayer to rinse yourself off and you’re done.
You Don’t Need a Shower But You Need This
1. Most clawfoot tubs look beautiful but in reality, where do you put your stuff? Make sure there’s a place for your shampoo and soap that is close by. I have a small table next to the tub and a plastic bin on the shelf that holds all of our shower stuff. From my seated position in the tub I can reach all of my necessities.
2. If you have kids, a removable bathtub mat is a great idea because a clawfoot tub is slippery. This IKEA Alligator mat is terrific, and you can quickly take it out after a bath and hang it up to dry
3. If you’re worried about splashing up the bathroom, you’re probably right to be concerned. We Americans are used to showering with abandon and not giving a thought to where the water is going. You could tile the heck out of your bathroom, or you could try this: in my bathroom, I painted the walls with exterior paint. This has worked well for us, and after a few years of this setup, I’m much better about keeping the water in the tub.
4. As much as my daughter is obsessed with washcloths, I’m obsessed with hooks. She needs three washcloths per bath: one to actually wash her body,one to cover her eyes while we wash her hair, and inevitably one to replace the one that covers her eyes and then falls in the bath. As for the hooks, I’d rather have a ton of hooks but not have to use three brand new washcloths for every bath. There are hooks installed around the room and then I’ve attached a twill ribbon to each cloth so I could easily hang them up after bathtime.
5. For the endless supply of rubber duckies and toy boats, these suction bath toy holders attach easily to the side of a tub. Pull up a stool and you’re all set to have a great bath experience. And the hand-held sprayer is SO much easier to use for washing kids’ hair than a plastic cup!