Monday, February 16, 2009

On "Garden Bathtubs"

I often say that home buyers have an "aspirational" orientation when looking for their next home. By that, I mean that buyers are not generally looking to buy a house that will feel like the last one and in which they will follow the same behaviors and patterns. Part of moving, psychologically, is the opportunity "step up" both in habit and status.

So one of the many curious items of value in any home on the market is the "garden tub." This tub is larger than a standard tub, deeper, and has a slanted back designed solely for a relaxing bath. Usually these are only in the Master Bath, are set in a corner, and often have windows above and ledges where people can place boutique shop candles, soaps, and little rolled up wash cloths like a fancy hotel.

But does anybody ever use them?

It doesn't matter. Regardless of whether people do use them, buyers want to imagine that they will use them. It's just a pleasant thought. We all want to think that we will manage to work in that Friday-night hot soaking bath with candles and a glass of wine. Sure, some people actually do this, and good for them. But whether someone does it or not is entirely beside the point because everyone wants to imagine themselves doing it.

And you can't imagine it if you don't have the tub. What a hope-crusher.

Even if you take a soaking bath in a garden tub once in a blue moon, you can bet that it will be a moment of great stress relief, a pleasure, and a great memory. Moreover, every morning and night when the owner is in the Master Bath, there will be the tub and the memory, and more importantly -- the hope -- that the moment will come again soon.

Practically speaking, garden tubs are a status symbol because they are a luxury of space. With a garden tub, the Master Bath will also feature a separate shower, and so the package creates a "luxury of space," not economy of space as would be a standard tub and shower together. The tub creates additional open space from the bottom of the tub (the floor) to ceiling that always remains open, and so opens up the feel of the Master Bath. Tub/shower combinations with a curtain or sliding doors close off the space, kill any hope of a relaxing bath, and close out light -- a triple-whammy.

So sometimes buyers' desires and choices may not appear logical. But usually upon sufficient reflection (and after witnessing the same choices and desires time and time again), the underlying logic of human nature can shine through.