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 set-in bath doesn’t have to be surrounded by rubber duckies.

(Credit: Photographer: Elouise Van Riet-Gray)

Bathtime bliss 

For families with young children, a bathtub for washing littlies is indispensable. Inset styles are flexible in terms of the surround, giving the option to build in an island seat for a comfortable place to sit. They’re also easier on the budget and a dream to clean, especially if positioned against the wall. 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 or a circular tub, for a similar wow-factor and 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.

A round freestanding tub makes a strong statement against the hard lines often found in bathrooms.

(Credit: Photographer: Anna Robinson)

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.

Consider the placement of your freestanding bathtub to create a relaxation zone.

(Credit: Photographer: Shania Shegedyn)

Styles to covet 

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.

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, by way of 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.

Who says you have to choose? In larger spaces both a bath and shower can be accommodated.

(Credit: Photographer: Simon Whitbread)

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

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.

our top picks

GROHE Rainshower SmartActive Single Shower Round RRP $419, Reece

If you’re looking for a shower experience unique to each user, this features three innovative spray patterns to ensure individual shower enjoyment, making the perfect showering experience just a click away.

Aquas BA0114BG Neu 2 Twin shower set in Brushed Gold, $1299, E&S

If brass it on the menu this twin shower includes a brass slider, 250mm overhead & 3 function, air injected hand shower. All the trappings of a modern rain shower with a brass finish for the look and feel of yesteryear. Available in a range of finishes, including chrome, matt black, brushed nickel, gunmetal and brushed gold.

Methven Aio Aurajet Rail Shower Chrome (3 Star), $565.98, Reece

Form and function is behind this minimalist shower design, engineered with Aurajet technology to creating an efficient, luxuriously wide and even fan-like spray, while being fully adjustable for shorter (even furry) members of the family.

Kado Lux Petite Freestanding Bath 1500mm in White, $1,940.00, Reece

For hotel luxury every day, you can’t go past a freestanding bath. This softly curved acryllic form is a smaller length to suit most bathrooms, making a statement without dominating even a smaller space.

Kaldewei Cayono bath 170 x 75 x 41cm with chrome overflow, $1535, E&S

This steel enamel, set-in design makes the most of space with generous interior dimensions offering maximum comfort, while the rectangular shape adds a contemporary aesthetic.

Mondella 1500 x 1500 x 600mm Rumba round freestanding bath, $2149, Bunnings

Perfect for a modern bathroom, this elegant round tub makes a statement in mighty monochrome. Voluptuous curves to its circular form seals the style deal.

Related stories