Let it be known that Lloyd Alter is a huge friend and advocate of the tiny house world. He has written a number of articles about tiny houses, tiny house projects, and innovations made through smaller living. He is also the managing editor of TreeHugger. In an older article he brings to light an innovation that perhaps was well ahead of its time: the folding bathtub!
Not to be confused with the fold up bathtub (or closet bathtub) which saw popularity in the mid-1880s and worked like a ‘murphy-style’ piece of furniture, the folding bathtub requires no plumbing, no dedicated room, and is completely portable. Tiny houses are small. That much is for sure and a number of tiny house builders have struggled with how much room to dedicate to such facilities. But with a Robinson Folding Bathtub that need would be addressed and turmoil averted.
The ad above (placed, no doubt, by Robinson Cabinet Mfg. Co. itself) promises a “An absolutely new invention that has taken the entire country by storm. Nothing else like it. Gives every home a modern up to date bathroom in any part of the house. No plumbing, no waterworks needed. Folds in small roll, handy as an umbrella. Self-emptying and positively unleakable.” How feasible then would it be if a tiny house or small house were able to have just a small shower stall and then have available a folding bathtub for those aching muscle moments or general (yet few in western culture) soaking times? It is the ultimate space saver for luxury.
There is no real record as to the selling performance of the unit but few seem to be lingering and those that are are well-preserved in museums across America. Historically The Robinson company had more success with the fold up bathtub and marketed the folding tub to those with little space or those who traveled in some capacity. It’s time for the spotlight though and with the scientific advances in military-grade rubber a model could be made quite effectively and economically.
This is not to say that some clever alternative don’t currently exist including the Sylwia Ulicka Rivera designed bathboard shown above (image: yankodesign.com) or the portable folding tub popular abroad where very few flats have little more than a spigot.
It seems in today’s market folding tubs and inflatable tubs and the like exist almost exclusively for children. However, if it is good enough for them, should it not also be good enough for us?
- Would you give a fold up bathtub a chance?
- Are you planning only a shower or also a tub in your tiny house?