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Matt Muenster takes the shower outdoors

Whether you’re still recovering from the after-effects of a long winter and chilly spring, or are wise enough to live in a place where the sun always shines, summer is our chance to reconnect with the outside world. Here are some thoughts on how to create the magic that happens when we start living beyond the walls of our home.

Blurring the line between indoors and outdoors is a powerful design statement. And there’s no better way to start your beautiful, sunny day than with a shower outside. Getting access to water for that shower can happen in a couple of ways. You could hire a plumber to tie into your existing plumbing and rough in the fixtures. But chances are you already have an outdoor hose bib or spigot that can serve as your water supply.

Sure, the water may be cold directly out of the hose, but the sun can change that temperature quickly. A freestanding outdoor solar shower takes water directly from your hose and stores it within a black shower base and standpipe that uses sunlight to heat enough water for a 7-9 minute shower. At about $200-$300 each, these showers leave plenty in the budget to consider another outdoor amenity.

Unwinding from a long, hard day by relaxing in an outdoor tub can make life a whole lot better. A small enclosed space is the perfect spot to enjoy an outdoor soak, and it doesn't necessarily need to be a traditional jetted hot tub. Selecting a freestanding cast iron or stone tub and placing it outside and adjacent to your shower will give you close access to your interior plumbing. Consider constructing a beam that runs above your tub to install your tub filler. It’s an interesting way to get water to a tricky location and keeps your plumbing above the ground to avoid any issues with frozen pipes in winter.

The surrounding details for these exterior bathroom amenities is critical. Installing a floor drain in the middle of the space is a great way to help keep everything clean and functional. Constructing visual barriers is also key, either in the form of fencing, architectural screening or even clever landscaping that gives you the feeling of enclosure. Remember, you need to set a scene that makes you comfortable and invites you to use the space.

If you’re planning a larger scale bathroom renovation, I urge you to consider this indoor to outdoor dynamic. It’s also a fantastic option for the family cottage or camp. To step from your indoor shower into an outdoor shower or tub is something your plumber can accommodate as he’s roughing in your bathroom, and it can be done for minimal additional expense. Having the option to shower or bathe with nothing above you but the endless sky, especially on a budget, is magical. And who doesn't like budget-friendly magic?

-by Matt Muenster