More Bathtubs // The Decision

Recently I completed one of the homework assignments that my designer Heidi gave me: trying on bathtubs. When we were talking about design elements and what I liked and didn't like, bathtubs came up. It went something like this:
H: What about bathtubs? Free-standing or built-in?
Me: I think free-standing? <lacking confidence, sounding very questioning>
H: Have you used one before?
Me: No....
H: You have to go and try them on.
Me: You mean sit in them in a showroom.
H: Yes, exactly.
So, that is how I found myself at a bathtub showroom on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Just to paint you a little picture, I looked like a wet grad student. I was wearing blue running capris, a rain jacket, wet hair, baseball hat, and running shoes. Just the type of person you want to try out all your bathtubs. But oddly enough, when people really want to sell you a bathtub they don't care what you look like. They just ask you to take your shoes off. Done and done.

I normally prefer to shop alone. By this I mean, without an assistant following me around the store giving suggestions. However, given that I looked a bit like a hot mess I asked for some help. A nice woman named Tamara was assigned to me - and while I waited for her I found a bucket of candy with an Almond Joy bar in it. We were already off to a good start.

Tamara started off by asking me what my style was and what I was trying to do. I told her that I am not good with describing styles but my anti-goal was "modern" and that I needed to see if I was comfortable in a free-standing tub. I also told her I had no idea what I was doing because that tactic has seemed to curry favor and patience from everyone else (architect, engineer, town offices, etc). It also happens to be the truth.

Within about 30 minutes, Tamara had taken me to about 6 bathtubs to try out. The best part of this whole experience was while I would try out the tub, Tamara would sit on the companion toilet next to me. I almost died laughing inside. At this point, it also became clear to Tamara that my socks didn't match and one of them was inside out. Whatever.

Heidi was mainly concerned with how the tub felt on my back but that isn't the only way a person uses the product. I laid down in the tub like I was trying to get my hair wet, I crossed my legs, I tried to put my arms on the edge. Tamara thought the crossed legs was nuts but I didn't have the heart to tell her I would sit that way. Here are the things that I've determined matter to me in a tub:
  1. Back comfort // The only way to know is to sit down.
  2. Length // not too long.... but can I dunk my head easily? Tamara and I determined I probably like a 5 1/2 foot tub.
  3. Shape // Traditional, not contemporary
  4. Arms // I think I like being able to put my arms on the edge. It is certainly something that I'm used to doing and I would rather have than not.
  5. Edge // I feel like this isn't that hard to achieve... but I want to be able to have a little shelf across the tub that is removable (e.g. just rests on it)
  6. Maybe matter // faucet attached/detached, flexible drain location
  7. Don't care about // jets. therapy bubbles of any kind.
Takeaways on the whole product trying experience? This absolutely won't be the only time I do this and it'll be good to keep this in mind for when I go after those kitchen sinks.
  • Be honest. The sales person won't be able to help you get closer to the end result if you don't tell them what you are thinking. 
  • Take pictures. Despite my normal no holds bar approach to taking pictures, I held back here. I was a little insecure about seeming immature and wanted to be taken seriously. Ideally, I would have even had Tamara take pictures of me in the tub.
  • Behave as you would using the product. It will be so annoying if you get this sucker home and find it's hard to rest your arms on the edge, or you can't kneel or its hard to reach the bottom for cleaning. So regardless of the product (sink, toilet, tv, tub), try to replicate the things that you care about. 
  • Take a pass through the showroom. If possible take a walkthrough before you meet the salesperson, you can find things that you might want to ask questions about. After the meeting is over, your should also walkthrough again. This can be your opportunity to take more detailed pictures, notes, etc.
Other tips? Wear clean socks and stop calling it a "free-standing" tub when Tamara calls it "stand-alone". I think I won Tamara over though because by the end she was also calling the "Victoria + Albert" tubs "Queen Victoria". Anything to keep the customer happy.

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