My bathtub is wasting precious space!

January 15 2014 | offbeatbride
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My bathtub is wasting precious space!
BATHTUB planter, Small Cute Planter from DriLovestoneDecor
We've just moved into a new rental place and it has a separate bath and shower. I'm excited about having a tub — I'm into long, hot soaks, particularly in the New Zealand winter. But with the hot water pressure here being what it is, and time being, y'know, flighty, I can't see us using the tub more than once every couple of weeks.

And so it bugs me that the tub is there all the time, gathering huge quantities of dust, and wasting cubic metres of our precious bathroom space.

I was wondering if anyone has found a… dust cover? Or something that you could put over a tub? Or some way of covering the tub between uses so that the space could get used as a bench or something?

Any ideas? -GeLa

We love the "make it into a bench" idea! Like the Butt Bench, but for the entire tub. You could even use it as extra storage if you find a good cover. But we'd love to hear from more of you who have faced this problem. How have you transformed your tub into more useful space?

  1. I hear ya. Our house actually has a completely separate room containing only a tub whereas the shower is in with the rest of the bathroom. I am sooo not a bath person (have not figured out how to keep my boobs, stomach, and knees under water and warm at the same time and I don't want to be cold, so baths can suck it) so we just have a whole room with literally no purpose. Originally we turned the room in to a special place for my cat to hang out and be smelly. Popped the litter box in the tub and her hiding spot box on the floor near by. After my kitty passed away, we filled the whole thing with Rubbermaid totes and use it for storage. Since there is a door, you can't see it at all.

    In your situation, it seems like storage is not the best plan since you want to use the tub. I feel like you could probably make a bench/lid out of some plywood with 2×4 supports with some foam and fabric on top to make it squashy, but I'm not super crafty, so I'm not sure exactly how you'd want to make that fly.

    • I second the plywook board. On offbeat there is a post about how to make an ironing board, the steps are the same, you could use a thicker foam obviously and shape it to the form of your tub if it has legs. Also if you go this route, I would suggest screwing in some perpadicular plywood pieces underneath (sp?) at the edges so the board does not slide when you sit on it.

    • let me just say as someone who is a complete whore for baths (i took two yesterday…i know i know but my body is hurting…) i'm extremely jealous of your bathtub room and relish the idea of creating a beautiful and luxurious tub oasis room. le sigh. totally useless comment as it does nothing to solve the poster's problem, but dang. one person's annoyance is another's wet dream. 😉

    • just a thought…but if (like most of us) you live in a area that may come under a natural disaster… 60 to 80 gallons of drinking water just might come in handy. this is especially true if you have an instant water heater and not the old 40 or 50 gal type. so I agree with the plywood idea but would caution against removing the tub for no other reason than aesthetics.

    • The question-asker lives in New Zealand, and that second link is for wholesale enquiries, but it is good to know such things exist.

    • Actually – that first link is promising. I've been trying to figure out – there's no way I can build one of the big covers myself; I just don't have the tools to cut wood to the right shape etcetc. But their modular option I might actually be able to hack… Nice find!

  2. If you're looking for just a cover (i.e. cheap and unattractive) Press and Seal wrap should do the trick. You could line it with blankets and pillows and turn it into a lounge spot. I LOVE the idea of a ball pit or bench seat to cover up storage.

    • If you end up using a bathtub as storage, make sure you line it with something to protect the finish first. We used our spare shower to store junk in, and when we moved out three years later we found it had damaged the tub walls.

  3. My mother uses her second bathroom's tub for low-light, high-humidity plants. They sit inside their own containers and are left exposed. On the few occasions it had to be used it was just a matter of moving enough plants to share comfortably.

      • Not a post, but my parents kept a Christmas cactus alive in the bathroom for my entire toddler-hood, when the plant then got moved into my childhood bedroom.
        Wikipedia says their native environment is "generally relatively cool, shaded and of high humidity."

      • I second the desire for a post on low light, high humidity plants. My bathroom is huge and I would love to have some plants in there, but there aren't any windows. Any suggestions would be welcome!

  4. If you have a cat, that's what my mom uses her tub for. She keeps the litter box in there so that any litter that gets kicked out is all nice and tidy. Don't wash it down the drain–wipe it out. She has one cat that doesn't understand how to aim her pee, so the tub is a wall saver.
    But also, I've loved sitting on cushions in tubs since I was a kid. My first grade class had one for kids to read in. We all loved it so much we had to establish a time limit. We just flung a beanbag chair in it and it was heavennnn.

    • I was going to say that when I was younger I had a friend whose family had a never-used clawfoot tub as well. They just filled it with pillows and it was a special reading lounge.

    • We kept our catbox in the spare tub too. The best thing is when kitty couldn't find his box (like when we were traveling), decided he didn't like his box (who knows why), or missed his box – the mess was entirely contained within the tub. Totally grossed out my husband, but he has to admit that it's better than what our current cat does (pees in the dirty laundry basket).

    • This seems to be a kid thing. When I was younger (like, my entire childhood) I yearned for a separate bathtub that I could put pillows in and read.

  5. Make a bathroom darkroom! Make a plywood cover and then add a shelf on top for your enlarger or chemical trays. Whatever you do, make sure you have some separation between your "dry" and "wet" areas.

  6. My separate bathtub is my dirty laundry collection facility. In our old apartment, we had a garden tub, and I think used it for a b that all of twice, and we were there 4 years. Aside from filling the humidifier easily, I could do without this one too.

    I dig the idea of a place for the cat box, though. I may have to invest in some press n seal for over the drain and stick the cat box in the shower of the downstairs bathroom for when the girls come to visit and have to use that toilet.

  7. I once worked in an office that had a bathtub that was used for storing old files, they had it covered with a plywood contraption. 🙂 I quite like the idea of using it as a lounge.

  8. I feel like a slab of reclaimed/whatever wood over part of it (like an extra large butt bench), with some sort of easily movable organizers (baskets? cake stands?) holding your needed bathroom goodies would make a nice place to sit, and use the space more effectively, while not making it a huge pain in the arse to actually use it as a tub on those rare occasions when you would like to. depending on the state of the tub, a felt liner beneath the wood to keep it from scratching the finish might be a good idea.

    this is somewhat unrelated, but might help with the finding a cool piece of wood for a bench bit
    http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2011/09/diy-wood-cutting-boards/

    I'm not sure if you're in an apartment or a house, but when I had a very shoddy water heater in an old house I would find doing the dishes about 20-30 mins ahead of when I wanted to bath would give me max capacity hot water. Throwing on a pot of boiling water to top it off helped too, if I was desperate or didn't plan well enough.

  9. Yay NZ! Except for the shit water pressure….that seems to be a problem all over the country. Our old place was so bad that we -had- to use the bath, because the shower wasn't powerful enough to wash the soap off you.

    We keep our towels rolled up and stacked vertically in our bath, so we can use our designated linen cupboard for storing other things.
    And that way, you don't have to do the nudey-run through the house when you forget to take a towel into the bathroom with you. Haha.
    But it also means you can still use the bath easily enough, just take all the towels out.

  10. My parents' house has 3 bathrooms. 2 are just showers, the third is a tub. No one really uses the tub, so it becomes "wet" storage. We store the toilet brush, plungers, mop & bucket, and wet towels in it. Then just pull across the shower curtain. It's a pretty plain curtain, but reflects light in such a way that it makes it look like the tub is empty.
    The down side to this is that whenever you want to take a bath, you need to give the tub a good scrubbing first.

  11. Thanks everyone for the brainstorming and the Google-fu! These ideas are Awesome!

    Since I sent in the question during the crazy Holiday period, I've actually been working on this for a few weeks now, and I've come up with a quasi-temporary solution using a PVC piping to make a frame to stretch fabric over, which gives me a dust cover and lets me store towels and bath products and other bathroom-y things in a couple of big baskets inside the tub without it feeling really cluttered, and although it's not nearly strong enough to be called a "bench" we can chuck clothing on it when we're in the shower.

    I'm looking forward to trying my hand at recreating some of these ideas for a more permanent solution, though! I'd love to be able to have plants in the bathroom.

    • If you want to keep your dust cover in place, you could just screw in a few plant hooks into the ceiling, and hang plants. If you have a curtain rod above the tub, that could hang plants too, but may feel a bit too low in a bathroom.

  12. I did the plywood thing. We lived in a rental and my bathroom had a huge bath with jets that didn't work. It was too expensive to fill up. Anyway, I had 2 squares of plywood and I put batting on one surface and covered that with a sturdy fabric I liked. I just stapled the fabric to the backside of the plywood. The squares went down on the tub and that's where we put the clean laundry to fold it, since there was no space in the laundry area. I loved it.

  13. If you've ever been to the Tenement Museum (and I encourage you VERY STRONGLY to go, if you haven't) then you know that early kitchens double, tripled, even quadrupled living space purposing. One thing our ancestors (and small living people today) did was put boards over the kitchen "sink" (AKA bathtub, washing machine, etc.) to create workspaces. It's not a new idea to have your tub undercover, as it were.

    PS The Tenement Museum is my most favorite museum in the whole wide world and not just because it is virtually the same building as my old apartment on Ludlow Street (next street over from Orchard). As a history geek, I can never get enough of this place. Everytime I walk into the old apartments I can feel the souls of everyone who lived there before. Is that weird? Eh. Weird or not, it's true. Plus, having lived in the first floor front apartment of the same building (as I said, one street over), I remember what it was like to actually live in the place. Go! Go now! You'll love it!

    http://www.tenement.org/

    • I would LOVE to go! Next time I'm visiting the East of the US.

      And – a cover for the sink! We have almost no counter space in our kitchen… A sink cover might be GOLD. Have to work on that one.

  14. When I was growing up, my grandparents never used the claw-foot tub for bathing. They would put a piece of plywood across half of it and let green tomatoes ripen naturally off the vine on said piece of plywood…

  15. In our old apartment I set up a small metal shelving unit in the tub (on felt feet, so we didn't damage the finish by accident) to house our small-batch (1 gallon) home brewing experiments and equipment. The curtains kept it hidden and dark (a bonus for brewing), and all our brewing stuff was contained. Plus, if anything bubbled over and made a mess, everything is washable and there is a drain! My mom thought we were nuts, but the tub was just getting dusty anyway, why not turn it into a mini fermentation lab?

  16. What about a large waterproof box for storing things you only need every so often (like holiday decorations or seasonal clothes). If you store things that are pretty light you can just lift it out for the occasional bath and the box acts as a bathside table for anything you might want in the bath with you like tea lights, reading materials and something to drink. The waterproof box should protect the things you are storing.

  17. The only idea I have is to use it as storage because its size is simply perfect for this purpose. However, since you mentioned you would want to use it again, then I suggest for you is to simply buy a piece of wood to cover the top and throw a sheet over and a few pillows too. Voila! You have your own mini guestroom with a built-in toilet.

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