There is a new interiors trend a-brewing in the UK which is much less hassle than a ‘basement dig’, less costly than a ‘bespoke wine cellar’ and although you won’t triple the value of your house, it is potentially a lot more fun …
This is about installing a traditional bath – at the bottom of the garden (and let’s be really clear, this is no bubbling cauldron of a hot tub situation). For some, this takes the experience of bathtime to a whole new level – ‘sans’ walls, under starry skies, amongst trees and grasses … listening to the birds …
Baths have been ‘out of the closet’ for some time now – mostly taking pride of place in master bedrooms. As part of the interior design movement for more open plan living, the idea of a traditional bath in a ‘bath-room’ with its trio partners of loo, basin and shower, has to these modernists become a relic of the past.
Designers are positioning baths at the end of the bed or in bay windows while basins, loos and showers are given alternative spaces. Because of its prominence in the room, the design and look of this bath has become even more important.
The history bit
In the early part of the 20th century it was commonplace for the W.C (or loo) to be in a brick-built outside building. Baths were taken indoors by the fire in somewhat cosier circumstances.
Wind forward a 100 years or so – UK house builders now make sure that the indignities of ‘spending a penny’ in freezing outdoor structures is a thing of the past. The average new-build three-bed semi has more bathrooms, en-suites and loos than previous generations would have imagined possible.
Inspiring outdoor baths
Up the garden – bath
Of course seclusion is required and I hear you say a better climate than the one we have in the UK but one Berkshire family are proving otherwise …
Grey and her family make use of their garden bath pretty much any time of day and during much of the year. Grey says: “the most special and atmospheric time is on a clear dark autumn night and with an array of lit candles and a few drops of essential oils added to the water, it is then very lovely”.
The inspiration for Grey’s outdoor bath came while searching for her first place to buy in London. “I came across an interesting flat on a busy road in Shepherds Bush. The garden was enormous (well, so it seemed to me at the time) and lying under a solitary apple tree was a bath which had been dug into the ground and was fully functioning with hot and cold running water”. Grey fell for it immediately but sadly the purchase of this particular gem wasn’t to be. “While I didn’t exactly yearn for it over time, it did embed itself in my mind as a ‘maybe one day’ idea.”
Some time and several house moves later, from London via the Devon town of Totnes, Grey found herself living in a house on a busy road in Reading with her husband and teenage twin boys. “This Victorian house contained an original and somewhat worn, iron roll top bath squeezed into a tired bathroom.”
When house renovations took place Grey says “with a house full of kind builders, the incredibly heavy bath was carried by many hands from the first floor, along narrow corridors and laid to rest under the Eucalyptus tree at the end of the garden”. Although Grey thinks the bath may rust over time, she has had it newly painted and it is covered when not in use.
The family had hot and cold taps put outside the house and fill their bath from these with a hosepipe. “It was planned very simply and it was important to me that it remain rustic” says Grey. For Grey and her family, privacy hasn’t been an issue as their garden is quite private and the bath is in a corner of the garden which is the least overlooked.
The whole family use the bath, “Initially my children were absolutely horrified at the thought of it, though over time and more importantly, as a result of enthusiastic comments from their friends, they really have come to enjoy it.”
Grey’s essential oil recipe for a relaxing outdoor bath
Frankincense, Lavender, Sweet Orange, Mandarin (2 – 4 drops in total). Add to the bath when you’ve finished running it and just before you get in to minimise evaporation loss. www.nealsyardremedies.com www.hollandandbarrett.com
Grey comes from a background of Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Reiki practice and has for the last few years been making and selling all natural, soy wax and essential oil candles. For more information about Grey’s candles and therapies, visit: www.greyscandles.co.uk
Test the water
Before you look into the possibility of ‘plumbing in’ your own garden bath, you might wish to test run an outdoor bath. Soho Farmhouse Hotel at Great Tew in Oxfordshire has a very stylish one which is under a covered balcony and comes complete with privacy curtains – perfect for experiencing the outdoors, even if it’s raining.
Bath design directory
Check out these companies for the best bath designs:
- Albion Baths
- Aston Matthews
- Better Bathrooms
- C P Hart
- Hurlingham Bath Company
- The Bathroom Company
- The Water Monopoly
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