The Romans loved to bathe, as evidenced by their extensive plumbing and bathing compounds. They famously built aqueducts to carry water into Rome, but not every home could afford the luxury of an in-house bath. To solve this, bathing houses were available that included three types of bathing: the cold bath or frigidarium; the tepidarium, or warm bath; and the caldarium, the hot bath. To replicate this in your home, plan for a sunken tub or one surrounded by marble and an extensive shower system that allows you to steam your worries away.
Tile, Tile Everywhere
Roman columns and pillars filled the bath houses of old, which you can incorporate into your in-house Roman-style bath design. If you want to go all out, make your bathroom large and set the tub in a glass-blocked or window alcove flanked by a Doric or Ionic column on either side. Build steps up to the tub for easy access. Through an an arched doorway nearby, include a high-end steam shower for full-on luxury. Add light-colored large tiles to the walls and flooring.
To re-create the feel of a true Mediterranean bath, install a sunken tub and add in-floor heating beneath the tile floor, with a separate shower elsewhere in the bathroom. Stick to beige or light off-white tile colors and dimmed lighting for the full effect of a Roman bath. Add a 6-inch ledge in mosaic tile around the tub or a mosaic surround that includes depictions of dolphins. A few well-placed scented candles and a towel-warming bar will make you feel like a Roman empress.
A solid one-piece tub made out of dark gray soapstone pays homage to the Roman soaking tub. Add white and beige striated marble tiles to contrast with the color of the tub on the walls and flooring. For added function, a handheld shower fixture on the wall in front of the tub, beside the tub faucet and handles, allows you to wash your hair or rinse off before you fill the tub with hot water to soak. A soapstone tub has high walls that allow you to soak up to your neck in water, and they also keep the handheld shower spray from escaping.
Combination Steam Shower and Tub
The Roman bath is all about luxury, and nothing is more luxurious than an enclosed steam tub and shower combination. This surrounded-by-glass single unit installs as one piece. On one wall inside the unit, you have control of everything at your fingertips -- 10 whirlpool jets, 10 acupuncture jets and two adjustable handheld shower wands. Surrounded by hinged tempered blue glass, the unit also has a built-in FM radio, a foot massager, a rainfall showerhead and a built-in steam generator. It's an expensive investment, but it includes some savings because you do not have to install separate fixtures.
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