Bathroom Renovations

A renovator’s guide to showers vs baths

Super-fast shower or long slow bath? Our tips will help you choose
Simon Whitbread

There’s a lot to consider when comparing the pros and cons of baths and showers. Is one better than the other?

Can you fit both, or does that mean popping a shower over a bath, which can be tricky for older, more frail members of the family? To help you decide, consider your lifestyle, who will be using the bathroom and – most importantly – the space you’ve got to work with. 

A renovator’s guide to showers vs baths | Home Beautiful Magazine Australia
(Credit: Sue Stubbs)

Bathtime bliss 

For families with young children, a bathtub for washing littlies is indispensable. Inset styles are flexible in terms of the surround, easier on the budget and a dream to clean, especially if positioned against the wall. Try the Kaldewei ‘Puro’ bath from E&S Trading. For a statement piece, it’s hard to beat a freestanding bath, be it claw-foot for that classic feel or the organic curves of a stone tub to create a spa-like space. Mondella’s new 1500mm circular tub, from Bunnings, has similar wow-factor and would look stunning centred in a large room. Models with a thin profile are having a moment and work well in smaller spaces. The downside with some tubs is they can chip and scratch, so consider which finish offers durability.

“The low profile [of an inset bath] offers easy access, and the option to build in an island seat provides a comfortable place to sit”

Daniela Santilli, Reece

Whether you opt for a shower or bath, introduce beautiful elements to make your bathroom an idyllic escape. “Create a sensory experience with scented candles, lots of natural light, finishes like stone and timber, and living greenery,” suggests designer Darren James of Darren James Interiors.  

A renovator’s guide to showers vs baths | Home Beautiful Magazine Australia
(Credit: John Downs)

Styles to covet 

Go petite Create a big statement in a smaller bathroom with a wonderfully deep option like the Kado ‘Lux’ Petite freestanding bath, suggests Reece bathroom marketing leader Daniela Santilli. Pair it with accent black tapware, or keep the look classic with timeless white and chrome. 

Water Savvy Look for shower outlets that boast great pressure and water-saving measures, like the ‘Raindance’ Select S 120 3jet Handbrause from Hansgrohe, which combines air and water to produce big, juicy, water droplets, recommends interior designer Sarah Nolen of Birdblack Design

Add a shelf For stylish storage in the shower or bath-side, include a built-in niche. Accessories like a bath pillow from Kaldewei and timber shelf from Victoria + Albert Baths will also add a sense of luxury, says Sarah.

A renovator’s guide to showers vs baths | Home Beautiful Magazine Australia
(Credit: Sue Stubbs)

Bold showers

If you have limited space, a shower always trumps a bath. Walk-in versions are popular as they create an open feel and are often simpler to maintain. “Opt for an Ezicleen protective coating which repels soap scum from your large glass panels, or do away with glass altogether and finish the divider wall with striking large-format tiles,” says Darren James. For added functionality, Sarah Nolen suggests installing a fold-down seat. “This allows the option to sit down, which is great for young children, older people and is super handy when shaving legs,” she says. If you can’t include a tub, interior designer Meredith Lee recommends installing a flexible shower outlet for an immersive water experience. “Opt for a large shower head combined with a body spray, or install a twin shower like the Methven ‘Aio’, which can be adjusted to suit different heights and preferences,” she says. 

“Solid surface or Cristalplant baths have a soft feel, are easy to clean and repair, and do a better job retaining temperature”

Darren James, Darren James Interiors
A renovator’s guide to showers vs baths | Home Beautiful Magazine Australia

Shower power or beautiful bath?

“An invigorating morning shower is ideal if you’re short of time, while a relaxing soak in the tub at the end of the day is a great way to unwind,” says Daniela Santilli. To appreciate both, ensure you have the space; if it’s likely to be tight, a large shower zone might be better than a mini bath and squeezed-in shower. Baths vary between 1400mm–1900mm in length by 800mm–1000mm in width, so consider the dimensions of your room to determine which style and location are most suitable. “Inset baths can be space efficient as they can be placed hard up against the wall,” says Darren. “But if you favour a freestanding model, you need to allow at least another 100mm either side, for ease of access and cleaning.” Showers generally need less space. Sizes start from 900mm x 900mm, says Meredith, who suggests playing with different tub and shower sizes and styles on paper before committing. An online program such as Reece’s 3D online bathroom planner can also be a useful design tool. 

Related stories