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Alcove Bathtub Origins


While we generally think of the alcove bathtub as a staple of mid century design, it's origin is actually much earlier. Examples of alcove tubs can be seen as early as 1911! As indoor plumbing became more common, the residential bathroom shifted away from its previous incarnation, a spa-like respite for the very wealthy. This shift brought with it a fervent interest in personal hygiene. Germs were considered verboten and to be avoided at all costs. Which is where the concept for the alcove tub came into play.

While the clawfoot tub was incredibly popular in the early 1900's, there was still the issue of cleaning around it (something people still struggle with today). One solution was to build a frame around the tub and cover it in tile. This provided a flat surface that could be sanitized quickly and easily. While this solution worked, Kohler had the idea to create a tub with the frame already in place. Although Kohler had a moderate success with it's alcove tub in 1911, it wouldn't be until the Jazz Age that the concept would really take off.

Kohler's success with the alcove tub can really be attributed to one thing: color. By bringing in color options, Americans began to see the bathroom as an extension of their personality. Vibrant reds and deep blues were available for the picking! While the model above is a standard white, it is unique in its design. Most alcove tubs were meant to be set between two walls; so other than the front, none of the tub's edges were finished! The 1948 example above is a corner alcove tub and it was meant to be installed against two walls, rather than three, making it a free standing alcove tub.

If the alcove tub is your style, we have several in stock. Clicking on the photos above will take you to that tub's product page or you can see all of our alcove tub inventory by clicking here.