Taking an outdoor shower on a sunny day has vacation written all over it. Yet it's something that more homeowners are investing in, especially those who live by the coast, or have a pool, sauna or hot tub outside. It's not even necessary to live in a hot climate (although so much nicer if you do).
Outdoor shower ideas can be great if you, or your family, enjoys muddy pursuits too. It's possible to rinse off the worst outside, so you're not trailing mucky foot or paw prints through your home.
Alternatively, you could go the full Wim Hof, and make a cold rinse outside a part of your morning ritual.
'First ask yourself what you need an outdoor shower for,' says Lucinda Lewis, director, Ingarden. 'Is it for coming off a beach and washing sand off? Do you want to rinse before using a pool or hot tub? Or is it for dog and boot washing? Think about whether you need a hand held shower or a fixed head or both.
'Then consider where will it be best positioned and about privacy too. Is somewhere sheltered better than exposed?'
Outdoor shower ideas
1. CREATE PRIVACY WITH PLANTS
Even if you're just rinsing off sand in a wet suit or bikini, you may not want the whole neighborhood to see you. So choosing somewhere away from prying eyes is often preferable. Alternatively, you can create privacy with some clever planting around your pool landscaping or backyard edge.
'Many gardens, especially those in in towns and cities, suffer from being overlooked and in some cases human-made structures just aren’t feasible as privacy solutions,' says award-winning garden designer, Kate Gould. 'When that’s the case, and you have a degree of shade also to cope with, then plants with expansive canopies are a great way to create texture, interest and add privacy.
'Tree Ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) are fabulous for this. Their hairy trunks are compact width-wise and can be carried relatively easily through constricted spaces. Once through and their canopies unfurled they turn into instant green parasols that work when planted in the ground or in raised beds.
'Their dissected fronds look wonderful when lit at night and they are a majestic and pretty trouble free addition to your garden.'
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE WITH A MODULAR MODEL AND PAINT
The simplest route to an outdoor shower is a modular stand alone option. Many are inexpensive and hook up to an outdoor tap, much like a hose would. These can easily be fitted to most walls of your house, a garage, a shed or pool house.
This generally means the water will be cold, however there are solar-powered models now, so you can enjoy a warm shower outside without affecting your energy bills or changing your plumbing.
Alternatively, a plumber can fit an outdoor hot tap and advise on routing your indoor hot water source outside. Close to an external kitchen or bathroom wall is usually the least disruptive route.
Painting the wall behind an outdoor shower is a simple and stylish touch, especially if you choose aqua tones.
'When decorating an outdoor shower wall that is rendered it's vital to use a proper exterior masonry paint,' says Matthew Brown, Sadolin & Sandtex Technical Consultant. 'As it can cope with the variation of weather, temperatures and water that it will be exposed to.'
3. SELECT ITALIAN INDUSTRIAL STYLE
Seletti's beautiful Aquart outdoor shower has become something of a modern classic. With its sleek cement base and simple silhouette, it blends elegantly with natural surroundings.
It simply connects to a standard garden hose too, so it's easy to install and move if necessary. Place near flower beds or vegetation, so water drains easily into the soil and remember to always use biodegradable and eco-friendly soaps, so you don't pollute your plants or soil.
'Typically, you won’t need a complicated drainage system to successfully operate an outdoor shower,' says John Lawless, Big Bathroom Shop.
'The simplest and most economical way to let the water drain is to allow it to travel directly into your garden. This is ideal if the shower is not positioned close to the house, and therefore doesn’t pose any threat to the foundation of the building.
'A more complex or elaborate system will incorporate fixed drains that will feed into the wastewater system of the home.
'A dry well is a good idea if the shower is located just outside your home. You’ll need to keep the water away from the foundations in this case. A standard dry well can be created (in the absence of a pipe), by digging a pit and loading it with gravel to slowly stream water into the surrounding soil.'
4. COCOON THE SHOWER IN A CABIN
If you're more comfortable behind a screen, building a simple timber cabin around your outdoor shower area will provide more privacy than plants offer. Painting the supporting wall in black will absorb heat and warm the space, while the cabin door will provide somewhere to hang your towel.
This can even be extended to include a changing room if your outdoor shower is for rinsing off before jumping in a hot tub or swimming pool. That way it's easy to dry off and get dressed without dripping puddles of water through the house.
'Decide between a freestanding or wall-mounted outdoor shower model. Wall-mounted versions tend to be better protected outdoors and offer a greater level of stability, though tend to require more invasive plumbing work to install,' says John Lawless of Big Bathroom Shop.
5. BE INSPIRED BY NATURE
Choosing rugged natural materials will bring an earthy vibe to your outdoor shower space, particularly if the tones echo the surrounding landscape. 'Copper and brass are the best material for outside use,' says Adam at CopperManCo on Etsy.
'These red metals are much more rare and luxurious than aluminium or stainless steel. They're also incredibly durable. Once they have oxidised they are completely immune to the elements, and they look great too.'
'Consider how cold your climate gets in the winter months too. Drain valves can be put on to the bottom of the shower if needed, so that it can easily be drained down in the winter months to prevent the water inside the copper freezing and in turn splitting the copper. If temperatures drop below freezing where you live I would recommend drain valves.'
6. CHOOSE THE BEST SPOT
A warm sheltered spot away from the wind is likely to be the best place for your shower, but it will depend on your circumstances and drainage options.
'Take particular care when deciding where to fit an outdoor shower for your own privacy and convenience. For example, if you will primarily use the shower to rinse off the dogs or your own walking boots, you might position it in a different space than you would if you live in a warm climate where you will regularly shower outdoors,' says John Lawless, Big Bathroom Shop.
'As a pre-requisite for installing an outdoor shower, you will need a level, sturdy surface that is able to cope with foot and water traffic. The likes of decking, stone paths, patios, driveways or lawns can all provide a sound foundation for outdoor showers.'
7. REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE IN THE DESIGN
This gorgeous project by architects De Rosee Sa, which includes an outdoor shower, seating and storage area, references the materials and agricultural building style of the traditional farm nearby. Who needs a modern pool cabana when you have this rustic pitched roof? Corrugated metal and black ship-lap timber boarding works well with the rustic setting while the saloon style doors on the shower cubicle are a stylish touch.
Although simple and designed in sympathy with the bucolic surroundings, the resulting outdoor shower and seating area still manages to look cool and contemporary.
8. BLEND WITH THE FOLIAGE
This project in Saint Tropez by Stephanie Coutas is a perfect example of how to mix modernity with mother nature.
Set your outdoor shower amongst trees and shrubs and it will blend beautifully with the foliage. The surrounding leaves will provide a protective canopy while you take a shower, and any waste water will feed the plants too.
It's vital to use biodegradable shampoo and soap though, as chemicals in regular products will damage the plants and flowers in your garden.
'In the design of this villa, we were inspired by the beautiful Mediterranean surroundings overlooking the Gulf of Saint-Tropez and wanted to merge indoor and outdoor living spaces,' says Stephanie Coutas. 'For the outdoor shower, we chose a minimalist design in a dark wood and tucked it away amongst the leaves to embrace this harmony with nature.'
9. ADD COLOUR AND CHARACTER WITH TILES
If you want to make a feature of your outdoor shower area, distinguish the space with tiles, or coordinate with a patio area.
'It pays to think of any space outside not as a standalone area but an extension of your interiors,' says Damla Turgut, founder, Otto Tiles & Design. 'Colours, materials, textures are all elements that can be translated in an outdoor shower area. If you’re fortunate to have a facade that opens directly out into your garden, connecting the spaces with floor tiles inside and out will create a coherent flowing space.'
Be aware, if you choose this option, you will need to make sure the water can drain away without affecting your foundations.
'A good way to reduce water wastage would be to install some drainage leading to a water butt, you can then use the waste water for plants, grass etc during a dry spell,' says says Adam at CopperManCo.
10. MAKE IT A STYLISH FEATURE
The options for outdoor showers are vast, with many beautiful models on offer. If privacy isn't a factor and you're not fussed about hiding the shower area away, choose an eye-catching design and make it a feature on your terrace or in your garden.
'The Garden Shower by Roshults is beautiful as well as flexible,' says Alex Saint, design manager, Kitchen Architecture. 'It connects to a hose or outdoor tap and can be moved around on a terrace or in your garden. A fairly flat ground is good but the water comes out under the bottom frame. So it can be drained into the grass.'
IS AN OUTDOOR SHOWER WORTH IT?
That depends on how often you will realistically use it. If you enjoy a beach lifestyle and frequently return home covered in sand, or enjoy a regular dip in a hot tub, then yes it could be. Think about how warm or cold the climate is where you live and why you want one.
According to the Unified Water Label, heating hot water accounts for 25% of home energy usage and a poorly installed product can have a major effect on energy efficiency and water consumption, so select a qualified person for the install.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUILD AN OUTDOOR SHOWER?
It doesn't have to cost much at all. Stand alone outdoor showers can be bought for under $300. If you already have an outdoor tap, you're happy with a cold rinse and able to situate the shower so it drains into your garden, you're good to go.
It gets more expensive however, if you want to be able to shower under warm water, as you'll need a qualified plumber to route your hot water outside and ensure you have a good drainage system. With the concerns about water consumption, it's best if the 'grey' water can be used in the garden.
As with an indoor shower, the cost will depend on your circumstances, the quality of the model you choose and the overall design that you go for.
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Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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