Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Wall Tent Spa

Just four weeks ago, as the trees were beginning to bud and the grass to green up, and well before it stopped regularly freezing at night, I set up The Spa for the third consecutive spring.

I consider a good hot bath one of the greatest luxuries life has to offer, and in the fairylike setting of a cedar forest, with an antique clawfoot tub, hand-hewn sapling frame, and tulle netting draped over all to exclude mosquitoes and allow stargazing, must be one of the most luxurious of baths.

Three years ago, I started experimenting with the idea,and came up with this design.  It's remarkably easy, and if you have the good fortune to have access to a clawfoot tub or other soaking receptacle, I can't recommend that you try this highly enough!

.:. Setting up an Outdoor Spa .:.

1)  First, find a good location -  a wooded spot is ideal, but if you don't have even a small stand of trees, anywhere semi-private will do!

2)  Bring the tub onsite.  Make sure it is level and has space to drain properly (without flooding the rest of your space!).

3)  Decide on what kind of flooring you would like to have.  I used a wooden ramp we built years ago to get the pony up into the back of our truck - but anything will do!  A level patch of grass or even dirt would work, but it is so nice to have a little spot of flooring to help create that spa-like atmosphere.  Paving tiles, a large space rug - get creative with what you have!

4)  Decide on what you want to use for your privacy screen.  I cut saplings to length and lashed them together with twine to make an Adirondack-style frame, about 9'x10'.  I then took some fabric (actually, the same that I used on my porch to keep my wood dry all winter!) and stapled it to the frame from the ground to above eye level.  I then took two lengths of netting and draped it over the whole, basting it in place with a needle and thread to keep out any and all insects (wishful thinking here, but it really, really helps:)
You could also use something as simple as stakes, a clothesline, and sheets, depending on the location and materials you have to work with.

5)  Now it's time to add hot water!  Investing in a portable tankless water heater is a fabulous option, and I absolutely love ours.  However, this is our only bath and shower supply from April to well into October, so the purchase is justifiable.  Unless you plan to use your spa a great deal, or go camping/other outdoor activities a lot, this might not be as practicable for you.  Another option is displayed in MaryJanes Butter's lifebook, where she shares how to set up a simple propane cookstove underneath the bath, filled with a garden hose, and heat it like a giant iron pot.
One caution of you go with the tankless heater - if the temperatures drop below freezing at night, and you have the heater connected to the garden hose and propane, it will freeze solid inside the unit, and may be damaged permanently.  If you plan to have your spa set up over a period of time and there is the slightest chance of freezing, be sure to disconnect the heater for the night!  We know this from experience...

6)  Decorate!  Get creative with an old, rustic ladder for shelving, add a nice chair to sit in, and baskets to hold soaps and shampoos.  This is your luxury spa, and every little detail adds to make the experience more perfect.  I tumbled some of my favorite bathtime accessories into a bundle and used them as props to get you started... except the heels.  Those were a random and entirely unaccountable addition.  :)
However, an mp3 player and speakers, fresh flowers, your favorite fancy soaps and bath concoctions (how I love those!), a vintage washcloth, excellent chocolate to nibble on and something cold in a mason jar to sip, and something light and delightful to peruse (Georgette Heyer is perfection for a bathtime read!) are my favorite spa picks.  Oh, and a Dietz lantern is a must for after dark - the effect is magical!  Candles are lovely, too.

There you have it - now you can discover for yourself my everlasting devotion to outdoor baths.  Once you've tried it, you'll be spoiled forever!

Someday, I have all kinds of plans for the bath of my dreams, to be situated in my house of dreams, naturally.
But for now, I ask for no greater delight than this little homemade spa in the woods.


  1. This is so darling! What a creative idea! It's amazing how something as simple as transferring a mundane activity--such as taking a bath--outside with a little extra TLC can make it an extraordinary event. Not to say that taking a bath is mundane... it rarely ever happens in my world.

  2. GORGEOUS!!! I would pay good money to have a chance to relax in that bath. You have created a FABULOUS spa. WOW!!

    -missy- aka pennyhenny#4003

  3. Just lovely! And your embroidered towel is wonderful!

  4. This is absolutely the most creative and lovely spa!!! Pure GENIUS!! I can only imagine how awesome it is to relax in the hot tub with the earthy scent of cedar and a sky full of stars to enjoy. Hands down, this is luxury in it's most innovative and practical form!! Can one sign up in advance for a time?? I am looking at late August 2013???? I am willing to send a downpayment! I once tried a hot tub with a huge cow metal drinking tub but it was kinda weird and not my kind of thing with 10 other people! This Spa is ever so much more appealing!!!

  5. It sounds heavenly, dear!!
    Beautiful pictures, too:)

    Love you and htsys!

  6. It looks so quaint and beautiful! Such a lovely idea! I just love coming up with ways to make things more old-fashioned, quaint, and beautiful. <3 You always have such lovely pictures. And you blog is always so inspiring.

  7. Beautiful and so peaceful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. You make taking a bath sound so appealing. And how clever to set up your own little spa right there in the woods. It does seem rather fairylike, somehow.

    That picture of you looking down as you sew your netting to the fabric--lovely! You look like something out of an "Old Master." ;-)

    And now your Pinterest board is getting me all inspired for a dollhouse bath...or soon as I get meself a dollhouse....

    God bless,

  9. That is so cute... I'd have to get used to bathing outside though. :D


  10. Wow, that looks really lovely. :-)
    I finally managed to figure out how to add your button to my blog! Your site is always so much fun to look at.

  11. I am officially jealous. Needless to say, we are getting our own antique claw-foot tub refinished, and as soon as our new bathroom is finished I shall have to rival you and pretend that I am in your lovely spa.

    Do I get extra points if this antique tub is in cottage (essentially) from the 1850's? Pretty please? ;)

  12. I don't know if I could get use to taking a bath outside, but you little spa is pretty impressive!
    Have a great week.
    ~Purity Leigh

  13. aaahhhhhhhh stunning! I am such a bath person and that would be my ultimate dream! So beautiful and must be terrifically relaxing. Enjoy! :)

  14. I love this idea! I wish I lived in the country so that I could do this.
    I also wanted to let you know that I have put your blog button on my blog:
    I hope you will stop by to read it! Thanks!

  15. Um.... Your AMAZING! Love!

  16. I tagged you over at my blog.

  17. There is just so much to love about this!
    I am planning one. I didn't realize my clawfoot didn't make the move. Sigh. I have one inside, but I really planned on setting one up outside as well.
    I was so excited to see the tankless set up, but think I will have to go with the propane idea bc there is no electricity out in the grove. I am searching craig's list constantly for a tub...

  18. Wow - I just love that you all loved this so much! Thanks so much for all your comments, friends! :)

    Marlene - yes, you definitely get extra points:) That sounds perfectly dreamy.

    Kimberley - I hope you can find one soon! I am starting to think I might be able to come down south for a visit some day soon... still figuring out the details on that one:)

  19. Ooh! I spy a Georgette Heyer!! Good reads. :)

  20. I actually clicked through to your blog from Heather's at Audrey Eclectic. I've had fun looking through your archives. I'm extremely impressed with this outdoor spa!


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