The Romans did it. The Turks did it. The Japanese still do it. I'm talking about bathing. Bathing in deep tubs with hot water. Just close your eyes. Forget about the creep who cut you off on your way home. Forget about the impossible deadlines your boss gave you. Forget, for a little while anyway, your spouse, your kids and your dog. Just forget.
Add some bath salts or bath oil, light a few candles, put on some nice jazz or classical music, and I'm in heaven. The leave-me-alone, get-away-from-it-all, I-am-an-island kind of heaven.
I was recently in Denmark and wondered about the availability of tubs in the hotels I would be staying in. The first hotel I stayed at, which was for the business portion of my trip, had no tub. Just a shower. But that was all right because I was on a pretty tight schedule, and all I was doing was sitting in meetings and going on a few plant tours. I didn't need a hot, soaking bath.
The last couple of days I spent touring Copenhagen. Power sightseeing, I call it. I was so sore from all the walking that I would have sold my soul for a nice, hot bath. I needed it that much. Luckily, I didn’t have to go to such extremes as there was a tub in my room.
I cleansed my soul instead of selling it.
A lot of Americans take showers. I prefer baths, but I take showers, too. Out of necessity. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person. I would rather stay in my cocoon of blankets for that few extra seconds of sleep than get up and make breakfast, so I certainly wouldn't take the time for a bath before dragging myself to work.
And time is at a premium in the modern world. People are juggling time at work with time at home while still trying to have time for themselves. A 24-hour day just seems too short sometimes.
So manufacturers have introduced shower "systems" with multiple body sprays and "waterfall" showerheads to not only wash away dirt and grime, but to relax and wash our cares away. They've added all these gadgets to the shower stall to lure us in.
But what of the lowly bathtub?
I was pleasantly surprised to see some new things in bathtubs at this year's Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, held in Chicago in early April.
Kohler introduced its PuristTM Suite, a home spa collection featuring contemporary design. Although the suite has many components, my favorite was the Purist bath. Elliptical in shape, it has a 20-inch-deep bathing well and an overflow rim that allows the bather to be fully immersed in the water.
The tub also has eight "effervescence ports" that dispel small bubbles into the water.
That's my kind of tub!
"Today’s trend is customization of the water experience," says Jackie Marquardt, senior product manager for baths and whirlpools at Kohler. "Some people might want an invigorating experience, while others want a more ritualistic, relaxing soak. What we've done is widened the options.
"Since the tragedy on Sept. 11 we've seen a return to the home and family. Rather than going to a day spa or a destination spa, people are expanding their bathrooms to add the spa accoutrements. This was the inspiration for the sok tub and the Purist Suite."
The sok tub has continuous overflow for a waterfall effect. The overflow water is recirculated through the system so no water is wasted.
Sok is not a new product. But what Kohler has added to it is a very new concept in the home spa arena.
Let There Be LightKohler has added chromatherapy to its sok and Purist tubs. Now, we're all familiar with aromatherapy. That market has exploded in the last few years as more and more people look for ways to enhance their moods. (I think some of those products exploded right into my bathroom!)
Chromatherapy uses colored light in much the same way aromatherapy uses scent — different colors for different moods. Reminds me of the mood ring I had when I was growing up.
Light and color have been found to affect the physical body, Marquardt explains. Doctors are now using light therapy to treat people with seasonal affective disorder, among other things.
"Chromatherapy has been a trend in spas in the last few years," she says. "It caters to the emotions, affecting your sense of well-being and comfort. While it speaks more to women, a lot of men like it as well."
Eight colors are sequentially transmitted via four LED lights in the interior of the tub. Just touch a button to start the process. Each color is displayed for about seven seconds, then slowly washes to the next color. The entire process takes about one minute before starting up again. If you find a color you like, touch the button to stop on that color.
The color sequence starts with clarifying white followed by three cool, calming colors — violet (inspiring and creative), indigo blue (serene and peaceful) and aqua blue (self-assured and calming). Green is the balancing color, followed by three warm, stimulating colors — yellow (hopeful and illuminating), orange (joyful and spontaneous) and red (courageous and energizing).
The lure of the bath is its promise of tranquility, respite. (Don't laugh. It could happen.) Will chromatherapy in the bath become as popular as aromatherapy is today? Who knows. But if I wasn't a renter, I'd be putting some serious thought into remodeling my bathroom.
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