Separate Tub and Shower: A Trend that's Here to Stay?

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Oct 14, 2015 | Laura Firszt

mel0808johnson/flickrYes, it's true. Decor trends tend to come and go … often, it seems, in the blink of an eye. However, there are some home design fashions that start out as "flavor of the month" and then stick around for years. The reason? Usually they're insanely attractive, incredibly practical, or a good-sized helping of both. A likely case in point is the current penchant for separate bathtubs and showers. 

A Symbol of Luxury

Separation of tub and shower is a symbol of luxury. Often found in 5-star hotels as the ultimate in pampering, this type of layout translates well when you remodel your residential master bathroom into an in-home spa. It forms an important architectural element, showing off a unique tub or a dramatic glass shower enclosure. A separate shower can incorporate design details such as a striking-looking yet slip-resistant tiled floor, plenty of elbow room, and space for a bench. In terms of the tub, you'll be able to enjoy a relaxing Jacuzzi or the open feeling of a bathtub that is not closed off by shower curtain or door. High-end designer bathrooms can significantly increase buyer appeal, as well.

What This Layout Has to Offer

A separate bathtub and shower have a lot to offer. A major advantage is choice. It will be up to you whether you want to zoom quickly in and out of a bracing shower after a trip to the gym or before the trek to work … or spend an indulgent evening hour relaxing in the bathtub. You'll also have more flexibility. One half of a couple may prefer bathing, while the other is partial to showering. What is more, if one partner has mobility issues, an easily accessible shower is an absolute must.


Homeowners who've lived with this type of bathroom remodel for a while do cite a pet peeve. Bath plus shower equals more surfaces to clean. However, there is an upside: if you are a dedicated bath taker, one problem you won't have is cleaning your partner's shower ick -- soap scum, hair, and the like -- off the tub floor before you fill up the warm water and break out the bubble bath.


This trendy new layout does take some careful planning, especially when you are renovating a relatively small bathroom. Check with your local building department to find out the minimum dimensions required to ensure your bathroom is up to code. Ask your contractor whether you can "borrow" some needed space from an adjoining corridor or closet. Alternatively, you could install a Japanese-style soaking tub, which is comfortably deep yet has a modest footprint. Another idea is to turn the conventional bathroom layout on its heels and add a bath inside your shower, creating a sizable "wet room" which encloses a small soaking tub.


You may hear a recommendation that you eliminate the tub altogether when you renovate your master bathroom. The logic behind this is that as long as you have one tub somewhere in the home, you won't diminish resale value. Well, it ain't necessarily so. Dedicated bathers like to have their preferred washing facilities conveniently close to their bedroom, not down the hall or downstairs.

Try to keep the shower and bathtub close together; it's less expensive to install water supply lines and drain-waste-and-vent systems on the same wall. Before you add an extra-large tub, check that both your hot water heater and your water pressure are up to supplying its demands.  And if you are planning a renovation to increase the market appeal of your home, do a little homework first to find out which design features house hunters expect -- and are willing to pay extra for -- in your neighborhood.

Laura Firszt writes for

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