Elevating Elegance: A Japanese Soaking Tub Moody Makeover

When it comes to remodeling a windowless basement bathroom, the conventional wisdom often leans towards a light and bright color scheme to compensate for the lack of natural sunlight. However, in this captivating "Bathroom of the Week: Moody Makeover With a Japanese Soaking Tub," we delve into a unique transformation that defies tradition.


Embracing the Darkness

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The Project Vision: The homeowners, a tech-savvy couple in Washington state, sought to create a bathroom that exuded tranquility and embraced a moody ambiance. Their desire was to craft a space distinct from the rest of their home.

The Designer’s Touch: Cat Schmidt, the creative force behind this remarkable transformation, was tasked with making this vision a reality. She embarked on a journey to infuse the bathroom with a sense of calm using a bold black-and-wood palette, natural materials, and motifs.

Space Optimization

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Expanding Horizons: The basement, already finished when the couple purchased the home, didn’t align with their objectives. It underwent a significant makeover, including the addition of home offices for both homeowners and an expanded entertainment area for social gatherings. But the centerpiece of this transformation was undoubtedly the bathroom.

Layout Enhancement: By absorbing an adjacent linen closet, Schmidt expanded the bathroom’s footprint by an additional 9 square feet, taking it from its original 70 square feet to a more spacious 79 square feet.

From Light to Dark: A Dramatic Shift

Before: The bathroom’s prior state featured a shower-tub combo and predominantly white finishes, marred by an unsightly plumbing line next to the toilet.

After: Schmidt’s ingenious design introduced a separate water closet with a bidet toilet, creating a distinct space where the tub once resided. A single-sink vanity replaced the previous double-sink setup, allowing for a more efficient layout. To the left of the vanity, a wet room-style bath-and-shower area, enclosed by a sleek glass panel, added a touch of luxury to the space.

Artistry in Details

Jewelry-Like Accents: A sense of opulence pervades the bathroom, thanks to meticulous details. Cabochon knobs crafted from brass and rose-pink quartz adorn the vanity doors, elevating the overall aesthetic.

Floral Elegance: The homeowners’ pursuit of a natural theme led them to a wooden mosaic wall tile with a floral pattern. This tile, left ungrouted but sealed, covers the entire back wall into the shower area, serving as the room’s showstopper. Other elements were intentionally kept simple and monotone to accentuate this striking feature.

Japanese Soaking Tub: The Pinnacle of Relaxation

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Ofuro Elegance: The crowning jewel of this bathroom makeover is the 36¼-by-51½-inch Japanese soaking tub, known as an ofuro. Situated on a slightly elevated tile platform with a convenient bench step, it’s a space dedicated to relaxation.

Wet Room Delight: Next to the tub lies a showering area, seamlessly integrated behind glass panels. This wet room design is ideal for smaller spaces, effectively combining the functions of a tub and a separate shower stall. To combat concerns of draftiness, the natural slate floor is heated underneath, ensuring comfort.

Luxury in Simplicity: LED lighting gracefully illuminates the room’s perimeter, casting a soft glow. The tub, a favorite of the homeowners, offers the best of both worlds – it’s compact enough to fit into most rooms while providing the comfort of a Japanese soaking tub.


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In this captivating "Bathroom of the Week: Moody Makeover With a Japanese Soaking Tub," we’ve witnessed a departure from the ordinary. Cat Schmidt’s design prowess has transformed a windowless basement bathroom into a serene sanctuary that defies convention. By embracing darkness, infusing natural elements, and introducing luxurious details, this renovation showcases the endless possibilities of bathroom design.

Whether you’re seeking inspiration for your own bathroom makeover or simply appreciating the artistry of design, this moody transformation is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Related Bathing Options to Consider

How to design a Japanese soaking tub?

To design a Japanese soaking tub, you’ll need to consider various factors for a relaxing bathing experience.

  1. Water Supply: Ensure your plumbing system delivers hot and cold water to the top of the tub. The filling process should be efficient due to the substantial water capacity of these tubs, so consider high-flow plumbing for quick and consistent water supply.

  2. Exterior Aesthetics: Customize the exterior of the tub to align with your design preferences and home décor. You can opt to stain or paint the wood to match your interior color scheme. Alternatively, enhance its appearance with decorative elements like a mosaic pattern for a touch of elegance.

By addressing these key aspects, you can create a Japanese soaking tub that not only functions flawlessly but also complements your unique style and design vision.

What is an old-style soaking tub?

An old-style soaking tub offers a tranquil and immersive bathing experience, without the distractions of bubbling jets. These tubs are characterized by their simplicity and depth, allowing for a serene and quiet soak.

Material Variety: Old-style soaking tubs are available in a diverse range of materials and finishes. This includes options like wood, copper, and enamel, providing homeowners with choices that match their personal style and bathroom décor.

Timeless Accents: Many of these tubs boast timeless accents, such as classic claw feet, or they feature contemporary, organic shapes. These design elements add a touch of character and elegance to the bathing space, making it a standout feature in any home.

In summary, an old-style soaking tub delivers a peaceful and deep bathing experience, with a wide selection of materials and charming accents to suit various tastes and preferences.

What is an ofuro soaking tub?

An ofuro soaking tub, often regarded as the precursor to contemporary hot tubs, offers a refreshing bathing experience characterized by purity. These tubs provide a clean and chemical-free soak with fresh water for each use.

Traditional Material: Historically crafted from hinoki wood, these tubs maintain a depth of approximately 27 inches, allowing for a deep and immersive soak.

Modern Versatility: In contemporary times, ofuro soaking tubs have evolved to encompass a wide range of materials, including steel and concrete. This adaptability ensures they can seamlessly complement various design styles and preferences.

In essence, an ofuro soaking tub is a nod to the past, offering a rejuvenating bath with fresh water while accommodating diverse design aesthetics through its material versatility.

How much does a Japanese tub cost?

Cost of Japanese Tubs: Japanese tubs often come equipped with an overflow failsafe for added convenience. However, it’s advisable to incorporate a bathroom floor drain into your design as well. To seamlessly blend the drain into the aesthetic, consider options like river rocks or tiling the floor.

Price Range: These distinctive Japanese tubs vary in cost, typically ranging from approximately $5,000 to $10,000. This pricing spectrum accommodates a range of budgets and preferences, making it possible to find a Japanese tub that suits your needs and style.

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