Showering "en Plein Air" - West Wind Hardwood

A place to rinse off outdoors is a no-brainer for beach dwellers. But it’s also great for cleaning up grimy gardeners, sweaty Little Leaguers, and muddy mutts.

Long ago, we converted our little walkway beside our home to an outdoor shower; connected to our inside plumbing so we have hot and cold water.  Deliciously decadent!!  It’s all the comforts of home outside in the wildness; an extension of our livable space.

During the pandemic, we’re all re-inventing our home space; our outdoor space.  A 15-minute shower in the sun, in the rain, in the fresh air washes all the cobwebs away.  It gives you a short respite from deadlines and work calls.  One can take the time to look up at the clouds, and the birds flying by — or if it’s night, look to the stars. It offers a sense of expansion, which I think is really important right now.

Justina Blakeney, a Los Angeles designer, a design philosophy is “good design increases the quality of life and that creativity is the key to having an amazing home.  She believes that living energies in the home…are what make a house a home”.

You don’t have to be shivering in a sandy swimsuit to appreciate an open-air shower. Even landlocked homeowners can commune with nature with an outdoor shower.  And yes, the exhilaration of al fresco showering in the buff can only be experienced.

Privacy would be my first consideration when designing an outdoor shower.  Consider how much you are willing to expose, accounting for your neighbours’ sensibilities. A custom wood shower enclosure offers privacy plus flexibility to add built-ins and other amenities.  Ensure good ventilation to discourage mold and mildew.  A straightforward approach would be a freestanding folding screen, or possibly a roll-up bamboo curtain.  Draw on the landscape; whether a hedge or grouping of trees, to assist you with the privacy question.  Flowering shrubs like hydrangeas that don’t mind moisture can act as a living shower wall but you would do well to remember the difference between coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs.

According to a report from Realtor.com, homes with outdoor showers tend to list for nearly double the asking price of other homes. Translation: Outdoor showers can dramatically increase the value of your home. Besides, it’s almost summer and what better time to start doing everything you possibly can to be outside.

Give thought to weather-resistant materials.  Consider appropriate wood species for the shower walls, posts and floor.   Of course, wood is our recommended go-to material; however, incorporating stone is a worthy consideration.  The tried and true marine woods used in boatbuilding are teak, Western red cedar, and mahogany.  Residential decking materials like Ipe and Batu are also good contenders.  The decking material has the ready-made advantage of wood tile or lumber format.  Just ensure whatever you use on the floor is comfortable with bare feet.

From rustic to modern, lush to minimalist, rethink the indoor shower and move outside.  We removed the bathtub from the master bathroom and have yet to regret it all these years.  The only time we move indoors is if the winter weather has taken a turn to freezing and we must shut off the water valves; however, that’s the bliss of West Coast living.  We have year round boating AND outdoor showering.

A few little extras that I consider a must-have are an overhead rain shower, a ‘vanity’ mirror, a shelf or basket for the spa goods and hooks for towels.  There are never enough hooks in a house……inside or out.  Don’t forget the best amenity is mother nature herself.

Since the perk of an outdoor shower is extra time outside, embrace your surroundings by incorporating memories of trips gone by, or dreams of what has yet to happen.  Showering outdoors surrounded by palm leaves and foliage will make you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation – no matter where you actually are.

A simple shower enclosure could be a large hula hoop with a shower curtain attached around it.  A shower head could be a watering can that pivots with the pull of the chain.  A trellis structure would make an easy mount for shower fixtures.  It doesn’t have to be difficult.  Have some fun and play at it. Remember that not only is a garden shower incredibly fun, it is also great for our planet.  Water returns back to the ground; possibly funnelled into your garden, or filtered into an outdoor pond.  Use bio-degradable soaps for that feel-good outlook.

Send us photos of your outdoor playground to shelley@westwindhardwood.com!

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