annals of bad design: uncomfortable bathtub surround

tub surround Remodelista

It was by climbing into the luxurious-looking tub at friends newly renovated brownstone that I identified a design-flaw that I’ve since seen repeated over and over again in shelter sites and magazines: A nice deep tub would be set into a surround of beautiful stone which would form an elegant finish around its edge.

But the inch-thick surround would invariably be cut vertically, straight up and down, contrary to the natural arch of your neck when you lean back and lounge in a tub. As your back rests against the arch of the tub, the vertical surround forces your next forward, making for a singularly UNrelaxing bath.
Often (as in the picture above),  the surround would be cut slightly smaller than the tub, so it actually protrudes into your neck.
tub surround 2 remodelista
This bathrub surround trend is an example of designers either sacrificing comfort for clean lines OR, more likely,  simply not being aware of what the real experience of their design would be.
Jessica Comingore

Jessica Comingore

One of the ways I figured out design elements in my Laboratory renovation was by actually testing them out: FEELING how a doorknob or handle felt in my hand, unabashedly sitting on toilets or climbing into bathtubs displayed on showroom floor to figure out what was most comfortable, workable, the right height etc.

It is possible for a tub to be too deep to be comfortable (it depends where your neck hits the lip), and believe-it-or-not, too long. With a really long tub, you have nothing to push your feet against to stop you from sliding down. Who knew?  And don’t get me started about the angle of the slope…

I have often wondered if I could offer a service to designers: reality-check their fab designs. (And this isn’t to say I didn’t make PLENTY of mistakes in the Laboratory’s renovation.)

Coming soon: a bathtub-obsessed renovator’s search for the perfect 5-foot alcove tub and how she made it REALLY comfortable.

All photos via Remodelista: top here; middle photo here; bottom photo here.

Related posts: fab diy outdoor clawfoot hot tub
garden in the shower + a moss bathmat
liberating wall-hung sink plumbing (+ a before-and-after)
annals of bad design? seating facing away from the view
annals of bad design: mirrored credenza? 

5 Responses to annals of bad design: uncomfortable bathtub surround

  1. Jane Lear 09.17.2013 at 9:43am #

    My fancy-bathroom pet peeve is a shower with hot and cold controls that are only reachable when you climb inside the thing. There seems to be a direct correlation between this design flaw and how long it takes for the hot water to kick in. Just sayin’.

  2. Sally 09.17.2013 at 10:12am #

    I totally hear you on that one. Thanks for reminding me. It was one of the considerations in designing my shower. Over the years, I’d suffered too often from having to duck away from the shower stream so as not to get scalded or chilled.

  3. Linda 09.17.2013 at 5:22pm #

    I have tested knobs & knockers in a post

    Getting into tubs in a showroom is as important as laying on the mattress before you have it delivered.

    Our master bath budget was tight so I designed a wood box & deck surround. (yea, kinda coffin like) It does have uncomfortable edges as it transitions to the tub lip…. but a folded towel as cushion works well. I look forward to your solution – top mount or surround-less?

  4. Tedi 05.29.2017 at 3:17pm #

    Help? Any ideas on taking a bath in a tub that is too long? Are there comfortable bath “tush cushs” out there that would keep you from sliding under? There must be something out there.

  5. Sally Schneider 06.02.2017 at 2:41pm #

    In my experience, a too-long bath, which at first glance seems luxurious, is problematic because your feet have nothing to push against and you can easily slide down into the water. I would put something waterproof at the far end of the tub to make something you can put your feet against and keep yourself lounging properly. Something plastic and cratelike perhaps, or inflatable. Another option is to put non-skid decals on the bottom of the tub (there are some nice looking ones, some made for kids) where your feet could rest and get enough purchase to not let you slide. Let me know what you figure out.

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