Whirlpool installation takes planning DESIGN LINE

December 23, 1990|By Rita St. Clair

I'm not a newcomer to the field of interior design and I tend to be somewhat skeptical about products that suddenly become wildly popular. It's just a fad, I often tell myself.

Sometimes I'm right. Other times, however, what seemed like a passing fancy proves to have real staying power. That's clearly the case with the whirlpool bath.

This luxury item is now found in many homes, not all of them owned by the rich and trendy. Whirlpools have become so common that I'm regularly asked for advice about installation and accessories. Consequently, I've had to give some thought to how best to accommodate this large an element in bathrooms that weren't designed with whirlpools in mind.

Round, square or rectangular, the tub needs to be positioned in a way that will ensure safety, accessibility and proper performance. If at all possible, it should be fitted into a wide platform that will provide space for stepping into and out of the tub. A broad border can also be used to accommodate plants and other bathing pleasures. (Plants usually thrive in a humid and light-filtered environment like a bathroom.)

As for the surfacing material, marble is probably the best bet. It's TC expensive, yes, but the price varies depending on the marble type and intricacy of its design. Tiles are less expensive than slabs that have been cut to match the size of the platform and the tub. I would also suggest using a medium-colored marble with good veining. Because it's a porous material, marble shows stains when it comes in a dark or a very light color with little veining.

The depth of the whirlpool and the placement of its jets also need to be carefully considered. Those factors will make a big difference in the user's comfort. Anyone considering a custom-made model should make sure that it not only looks gorgeous but that it also meets specific functional requirements.

There are all sorts of interesting options for the window coverings. On straight walls, shoji screens and grass shades would certainly be exotic choices. On curved walls, as shown in the photo, shutters and shades are a simple and effective solution. But be careful with fabric treatments, since they can easily become mildewed or limp-looking.

In this stunning model, Joanna horizontal-slat wood shutters add dimensional character to the window surround while also providing an attractive contrast to the sleek marble surface of the whirlpool and platform. Shutters have the added advantage, in a bathroom, of allowing for total privacy and light control.

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