Turn a Vintage Tub Into an Outdoor Hot Tub


Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailI want a hot tub. I can’t afford one right now, and my back garden really isn’t big enough to accommodate one. But I have a plan.

I first encountered the idea of planting a vintage clawfoot bathtub in the garden when I photographed artist Linda Drew’s wonderful straw bale home in northern California. This week I came across two more outdoor bathtubs, and that makes three—a trend! Kate and Jeff, who live off the grid near Taos, New Mexico, soak in hot water on cold winter nights in an old clawfoot tub that they picked up for $100. And Michele Holt of Austin, Texas, whose wonderful blog wabi-sabihomeandgarden chronicles her family's realistic and inspiring home renovation, made a clawfoot tub the centerpiece of her still-in-progress patio rehab.

Creating an “outdoor spa” is a great way to make use of ubiquitous cast-iron clawfoot tubs without the expense of super-restoration and installation that putting them indoors entails. And all three of these folks picked up their vintage tubs for $100 or less. I’m going shopping.

outdoor tub linda 

Linda’s outdoor “spa” sits in front of a gravel bag wall painted with an iron-based fertilizer and water. Photo by Matt Lankes 

 mann hot tubbing 

Jeff escapes a chilly night in a vintage “hot tub” heated by a wood fire. Photo courtesy of spa tub 

 In Austin, Texas, the Holts are making a vintage bathtub the centerpiece of their patio renovation. Photo courtesy of wabisabihomeandgarden