Small bathrooms often get the short end of the stick when it comes to availability of luxury upgrades. After all, it’s hard to have a big, sweeping shower stall when your bathroom itself is neither big nor sweeping. Ditto for a roomy soaking tub or whirlpool. In bathrooms where there isn’t much space to spare, you either have to choose between having a shower or a bathtub, or combine them into a single unit. All too often, that means boring acrylic bathtub shower combination that doesn’t feel very luxurious at all. Thankfully, there is an alternative. Steam shower units take up about as much space as a conventional shower/tub, but come with all the luxury features you’d usually need a much larger space to accommodate.
Steam Shower In A Single Unit
Steam showers typically only make the to-do list for really big, high-end bathroom renovations. Since they need to be both waterproof and steam-proof, you have to design and build them from the ground up. More often than not, they also take up a decent amount of space. But steam shower units come pre-assembled; while a traditional bathtub/shower combo is just a tub with three shower walls, steam showers add on glass doors and a ceiling, so the whole thing is completely enclosed. With the press of a button, the shower will fill with thick, velvety, relaxing steam.
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Luxury Shower Without The Price Tag
Better still, the “steam” part isn’t the only luxury shower feature. Virtually all steam showers also come with a whole suite of shower heads, too. That means extra body sprayers, hand showers, and rainfall shower heads, for a near-360 degree spray. You only need a single hookup to get a number and distribution of shower heads that would mean ripping out your walls and overhauling your bathroom’s plumbing otherwise. You’ll get a decadent shower at a fraction of the cost, in little or no more space than a typical bathtub-shower combo.
Whirlpool…Inside Your Steam Shower?
Conventional shower/tub combos almost invariably come equipped with bathtubs that are, at best, pretty disappointing. They’re often both short and shallow and absolutely no good for soaking in. But steam showersI break this trend in a big way. Not only do they offer tubs that are much deeper (and occasionally a little bit longer) than your average bargain bin combo, but also tubs with built-in whirlpool jets. After all, there are already shower sprayers and steam heads built into the shower; it’s not a huge leap to include water jets as well. Bonus for models that are entirely self-cleaning.
In addition to the three main components, steam shower units also come loaded with all the bells and whistles. The complete list varies a little from one model to the next. But all the minor upgrades you can add onto a custom shower or whirlpool tend to come standard on the pre-assembled units. Color-changing chromatherapy lights in both the roof of the shower and the tub itself, aromatherapy functionality, thermostatic temperature control, foot massagers, built in radios or auxiliary hookups for playing music, and even flat screen TVs are all commonly included, and much more affordable than they would be tacked onto a custom project.
On a somewhat less exciting note, steam shower units are also just designed to be comfortable to use. That means virtually all models have some kind of built-in seating (like ledges around the edge of the tub or flip-down seats higher up on the walls), as well as built-in storage shelves and cubbies. The latter is a relatively small thing, but it means you’ll be able to stow all your toiletries without having to hang any ugly wire or plastic racks or suction-cup any shelves to your shower wall.
Style vs Features
The only real drawback of these steam shower units is that they don’t, ultimately, look a whole lot different than a really generic bathtub/shower combination. Building a luxury bathroom usually means picking tile and glass and shower heads and so on. But steam showers come as a single complete package, usually made of acrylic, metal, and glass; not a whole lot of room for visual upgrades or customization. Some have a sleeker, more modern feel to them, and the interior mood lighting certainly doesn’t hurt.
Steam showers pack a lot of hardware into a relatively small space. That can mean sacrificing a little in the aesthetics department in order to double down on the luxury features. They’re also definitely pricier than a simple acrylic shower wall plus bathtub, but are much, much more affordable than custom installing all the combined features. Ultimately? I’d call this a great middle-of-the-line option for a bathroom that’s small, but that you want to feel luxurious.