An Outdoor Shower: Heavenly!
Fast forward to today, and my outdoor shower obsession has been reignited. My family and I were planning a week-long trip to Cape Cod, and we were at Cristina & John Christopher’s house in Glen Head enjoying a barbeque with our families. Cristina & John have an amazing yard that is a healthy distance from the curb and shielded from view by mature specimen plantings.
Their property is actually two combined lots which provide a tremendous amount of backyard space. There’s a beautiful in-ground pool, three separate outdoor sitting areas, and a play-set for the kids. On this day, though, I immediately notice the new addition to the backyard adjacent to the pool.
“My dad was visiting last weekend, and we decided to build an outdoor shower,” John explains. “I was telling him about my vision for a shower, and my dad immediately said ‘Let’s do it this weekend!’. That’s how we started,” John explains.
The Christophers initially considered building a cabana adjacent to the pool. However, that was complicated by other house renovation projects. John then considered a fire pit, but that wouldn’t work with all of the trees in the immediate area. John finally considered an outdoor shower.
“I have great memories of time spent on Martha’s Vineyard and on the Jersey Shore, and both of those locations had outdoor showers,” John recalls, thinking about his inspiration for this project. “I’m also comfortable tackling small projects like this on my own.”
With a vision in place and the resources to begin, John and his father started building the shower. I love that a weekend project like this will provide lasting value for John’s house. I needed a tour of the shower: immediately, if not sooner. “On Day 1 we dug the holes necessary for the posts and for the drainage,” John explains as we approach the structure. “It took us 4 or 5 trips to Home Depot, however, because we didn’t get enough material.”
While the striking, exterior design of the shower catches your eye, I was curious about the water source and the hot water. “We just ran a hose through the bushes. I bought a battery-powered, propane water heater, and it works great. I get hot water faster outside than you get in your house!” John explains. “By running the hose from our house, we didn’t have to deal with any major plumbing work.”
John then explains the effort put in to ensure appropriate drainage, a detail that was lost on me until a couple of weeks later when I was in Cape Cod. “We dug a deep hole to put in enough gravel so the water would properly drain. Then the flooring is a simple poly trex, and the water flows right below. I don’t have any issues with drainage,” John explains.
With the completion of the structure, the drainage considered, and the water source set-up, Cristina and John’s outdoor shower quickly became an essential and functional part of their daily summer routine. “Even when people aren’t using the space to actually shower, it’s still a private spot for parents to change their kids before jumping in the pool. People don’t have to walk inside to change, which is great,” John says.
At this point, I couldn’t wait to get to Cape Cod with my family in order to take advantage of the outdoor shower in the house we rented. You’d think I’d be most excited about whale watching, relaxing on the beach, a Cape Cod baseball league playoff game, or strolling through one of the many charming towns on the Cape. But no, I was most excited to have every experience punctuated with a shower – an outdoor shower.
Listening to the Google Maps directions, I focus on the winding roads as we complete the last few miles before arriving at our home for the week in Brewster, MA. My sons excitedly announce their immediate plans upon arrival.
“I’m going right into the pool,” my older son says. “And I’m going to set up our mini-lacrosse goals and pretend it’s the NCAA championship,” my younger son says. I, however, refrain from announcing my plan to take a shower…outside!
We pull up to the home, park, and begin to unpack. The boys are already running around outside, and I had to peek my head out to see the shower. It didn’t compare to Cristina and John’s from a design perspective, but I was quite confident it would provide an equally refreshing experience!
My wife and I change and enjoy almost an hour in the pool with the boys. When it’s time to get out and plan dinner, every member of my family starts to poke fun at my enthusiastic announcement.
“I’m getting out to get ready for dinner. I’m going to take a shower…in the outdoor shower!” I say as both my sons roll their eyes, totally not appreciating the simple pleasure of an outdoor rinse. My wife laughs, enjoying her two sons poking fun at me.
It goes without saying that the shower was a pleasure. With the exception of the one day when it was pouring rain, I showered outside every day. While showering, I notice the water source is a pipe that runs off the hose pipe on the side of the house. This creates a more permanent source of water that doesn’t require much maintenance.
One thing that I did have to criticize, however, was the drainage. Thinking back to John’s insight about the importance of drainage, I noticed that the soapy water was pooling by the door of the shower and not draining. In essence, it was creating a puddle just at the entrance to the structure.
Granted, this outdoor shower was probably built as a way to simply rinse off before coming inside or before going into the pool. However, my daily shower should not have created such an issue with drainage. I think back to the effort John put in to create the proper drainage, and I now see why. The puddle outside the shower becomes a headache, the last thing you want when you’re trying to enjoy one of life’s true pleasures!
I also think back to 55 Summit Ave in Sea Cliff – Laura and John Russo’s home which has an outdoor shower. John says that Laura insisted on building a formal drainage pipe so the water wouldn’t create puddles on their new stone porch surrounding the pool.
“Laura always thinks of those little things,” John says while giving me a tour of his newly finished backyard. Without an enclosed space for privacy, Laura & John’s shower is more geared for simply rinsing off before going inside or before entering the pool. It’s incredibly functional, and the location is convenient.
After closely examining Cristina & John Christopher’s newly constructed shower, enjoying a rustic outdoor shower in Cape Cod for a week, and examining how Laura & John Russo created a drainage system for their outdoor shower, I feel ready to build my own!
I know, my enthusiasm is over the top. Humor me, though. Please. And believe me, take a shower outside!