Small shower receptor bathtubs

small vintage bathtubIs is a shower base? Is it a bath tub? Yes. I went to an estate sale last Thursday. A lovely, rambling mid century colonial-ranch… all picket-fence Americana like… quite sweet. The two bathrooms upstairs were pastel delights — but the real prize was this small bathtub / shower receptor. I have seen these small tubs in old marketing materials, for example, in this 1949 Crane bathroom fixture catalog. But I have seen only one “receptor tub” in the wild. The estate sale manager said it was okay for me to take some photos for the blog, so here we have it — a petite receptor tub, in a rosy pink.

vintage bathtubWhy such a small bathtub? This seems to me to be a terrific idea if you don’t have much space… if adults prefer to shower… but there still needs to be a bathtub for a child.

The Crane brochure explains:

Requiring minimum space for installation, the Lahoma bath provides facilities for feet, sponge or shower bathing.

The Lahoma tub in the brochure measured 42″ wid by 31″ to the wall and was 12″ deep. It even had a little seat.

receptor bathtub neuvogue-bathtubAbove: A second bathtub in the 1949 Crane catalog was also billed as a receptor tub. The Neuvogue‘s proportions — 48″ across, 41″ to the wall — were more “Cinderella bathtub”-like. It is billed as having enough space for real bathing (for an adult, presumably).

kohler mayflower tubThe Neuvogue’s dimensions are actually quite similar to those of the Kohler Mayflower tub (above), which is still available today. However, the Kohler Mayflower is not fully recessed on three sides — it is a neo-angle. The Mayflower is 48″ x 44″. It retails for $3,360. Yikes.

As I recall, Eljer (I *think*) still offered a receptor bathtub until the early(ish) 2000s. But then it disappeared.

small bathtubThe receptor tub in the estate sale house was in impeccable shape. The tile around it — and wrapping the entire bathroom — also was beautiful and gleamy and clean and I loved it all.

This story gets filed under Bathrooms/Tubs, Bathrooms/Shower Bases and Woddities, all three!

Do any readers have a tiny receptor bath
like this in your bathroom?
Contact me here — I’d love to add
your photos to this story!

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  1. lynda says

    I think a small tub/shower area would be great for some small baths. That size would be big enough for bathing a child, yet big enough for a shower space. We used the Kohler Greek soaking tub for a small bath. It is only 48″ long. Since it is a drop-in tub, you do have to have enough space to build a knee wall for the front of the tub to sit on. (we tiled the front wall) I think Kohler sells special flashing and membrane to use with the tile walls surrounding the tub so it can be used as a shower. The tub is a little deep for bathing a really small child, but fine for an older child.
    American Standard makes a 4′ steel tub, the Huron. I know the major manufacturers make a 54″ tub too.

  2. Debra says

    Love this idea so much! It should be recycled into todays smaller new construction homes. PERFECT!

  3. Mary says

    The military housing my husband and I lived in in Hawaii had one of these, except it was even smaller, maybe 36″ wide? It makes sense if the adults typically shower, but need a tub for bathing small children.

  4. Pamela says

    I know where one is here in North Little Rock. It is in a Realtor School on JFK. I told him that the tub was a collector’s item and he laughed. It was white however, if memory serves me. I see so many people destroy pink bathrooms and think they are being soooo creative and updated. When I told them I sold an old chocolate brown Kohler toilet for $135.00 they think I’m fooling. Geeeeesh….

  5. says

    It’s funny that they’re marketed (rightly) as a solution for small spaces, but the image shows it installed in a huge bathroom… some things never change!

    • Robin, NV says

      Hah! I noticed that too. But I guess having the smaller tub allowed them to include the linen cupboard.

  6. Brian T says

    I recently went on a neighborhood tour of homes in Lexington KY that included a four-story apartment building from the first half of the 20th century. The building has seen many incarnations; currently it’s condos and apartments, several of them only one room with incredibly tiny kitchens and bathrooms. We saw at least five bathrooms with tubs like this or a little longer — not long enough to sit in and stretch your legs out. Can’t say that I see any advantages over a full-size tub. The effect was “We are cutting every possible corner to provide the bare minimum that can be described as a tub.” I found myself thinking “This looks like apartments designed to house people who have just gotten out of prison.” At the same time, there was a monastic appeal — just stick me in one of those studios with an iPod and a Kindle …

  7. Megan says

    Aha, so that’s what it’s called! We have a gray receptor tub in our yellow+gray (1957) master bath that I love. It let the builders put two full baths in our house, which is great for guests (or kids if you have them). The only awkward part about our tub is finding shower curtain liners. The tub is a modern stall width but doesn’t go down to the floor like modern stalls do.

    • lynda says

      You could make one. Decorator fabrics are usually 54-60″ wide and that would make a perfect width. Buttonholes would work for the curtain rings. You could use a nylon liner and just cut off some of the width and make sure the holes match up with the buttonholes on the fabric curtain.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Good advice. Cutting down a standard liner (with pinking shears) and the cloth shower curtain (with a new side hem) is exactly what I did with the shower receptor in my 1982 camp trailer. (It came with an accordion plastic door that harbored mildew and bumped elbows.) And I used to bathe my little granddaughter in the tiny tub when she was about four. She was delighted with it and exclaimed, “Just the right size for me!”

        • lynda says

          Lately Premier Prints has been my favorite decorating fabric. I like the prints and the weight of the fabric.

  8. Chelsea says

    I came across one of these during an estate sale in Florida in a cheery yellow color! It was positioned in a daisy-themed bathroom meant for kids. It was all original tile work too :-).

  9. Mr Kim says

    Here in Europe they were quite common until the 80s, I seem to recall. They were called «half tubs» in some countries. Nowadays they are considered d### and even h###, so everybody replaces them for shower bases forgetting that sinks are too small to wash blankets, curtains, carpets, etc. (if they’re made of a washable fabric, that is). And, yes people sat down inside à la Indian and had… er… half baths.

    • sam says

      and saved water, and had enough hot water leftover for a shower or for someone else. There’s a lot of good reasons for these. Although for soaking, nothing beats a deep, but small footprint japanese bathtub – they are fantastic and going in my house one day when I redo the master bath. if you havent seen them, they are deep, usually have abuilt in seat and the water comes up to your shoulders, your neck if you scooch down some. (and I’m 6 ft)

  10. Ashley Gorzelic says

    Hi – I’m in the process of purchasing a home that was built in 1960 and has the original blue bathroom (minus original toilet). It has a tub just like this one that you’ve posted and it is blue with a seat area similar to neuvogue 2-50. The whole bathroom is original blue vanity original tile work and it’s immaculate. I’d be happy to photograph it for your page if you’d like. I was actually searching and found this page when I was looking at how to preserve my new classic bathroom.

  11. Becky says

    My grandparents had one of those in their master bath. Their bedroom was an addition my step-grandfather had built onto the 1950’s ranch in the late 60’s. If memory serves, it was harvest gold.

  12. Susan says

    We grew up with one, complete with the corner seat, and it is still there! My parents built a small cape cod style house in 1959. The upstairs had the bathtub installed but the bathroom was not completed until the early 70’s. Until that time, it was the “sewing room” and that tub was a favorite hide and go seek spot!

  13. Pamela Enright says

    A receptor tub, know I now what our tub is called! Our house was built in 1879, we know a woman who said when her parents bought the house in the 1950’s the bathroom only had a toilet and sink, her father installed this tub when I tell people our tub is only 36″ by 36″ they can’t believe it!

  14. Eunice Ibarra says

    We have a white Neuvogue in our Pink Bath and I LOVE IT! That was one of the selling points in our 1955 Home.

  15. DavidF says

    Had one of these in the first house I lived in when I was a toddler. Never knew it had a name other than “little bathtub.” My parents refurbished a small farmhouse in the early ’60s that had supposedly been built in the 1840s and never had indoor plumbing. They only had space for the tiniest bathroom possible in a house that essentially had no space set aside for a bathroom, so that probably explains why they went with it.

  16. LB says

    I have something that looks like the Lahoma in the upstairs bath in my 1941 Cape, except the dimensions are slightly smaller (39″ wide by 29″ to the wall by 11″ deep). It’s white and it’s the only original feature in that bathroom (previous owners remodeled in the 80s). We only use it as a shower. I think the low height would make it a little awkward for bathing a child since there’s nothing to lean against when you’re kneeling outside the tub. I cut down a vinyl shower curtain liner and regular fabric shower curtain to fit. I used the extra fabric to make a matching valance for the bathroom window. I love that it leaves room in our bathroom for both a linen closet and a clothes closet–if there was a regular tub in there we’d lose the clothes closet. We do have a full size tub in the first floor bathroom. Wish I knew how my bathroom originally looked!

  17. Terri says

    I have one of these (in pink of course) in the house I maintain for a disabled family member. They also came in triangular shape for corner showers. Beyond awesome.

  18. Terri says

    I will get pics of mine (the tile is not nearly so gleamy) and a pic of the triangular one that is in a house I know is for sale.

  19. rebellemichelle says

    Do you know of anywhere that still makes them in this size? we have a tiny bathroom in an old row home in Baltimore and we redid our bathroom and had to put in a shower pan, but since we only have one bathroom I would like to put a tub back in when we renovate again which will probably happen in the next few years. We are just shy of 4 feet if I remember correctly and we couldn’t find anything that didn’t need heavy repairs or that was sized right for us. (we had to get rid of ours because it was badly damaged)

  20. Elizabeth says

    The foot washing aspect mentioned in the promotional literature makes total sense to me. When I was a kid in the early ’60s, growing up on a farm, we didn’t bathe every day. But we were required in summer (when we ran around barefoot all day long) to wash out feet in the bathtub before bed each night. Ironically, this was not completely out of a sense of personal hygiene. It was to stop the bed sheets from getting too grimy!

    • pam kueber says

      Growing up in the 1960s, I do not recall that we bathed every day. My parents also came from rural backgrounds. I recollect getting a bath once a week when I was small. I’m not sure when the “you must shower every day” imperative kicked in, in America…

      • Mr Kim says

        I was born in the seventies and I remember clearly my mother bathed me once a week and, later told me to do so at least once a week (not that she was particularly unhappy if I did more than once, except for the wasted water).
        When governments started taking into account environmental issues,
        I think it was in the eighties (or maybe late seventies), they started with the «shower instead of bath» campaign. Which caught on, and, this enabled people to actually have a shower every day. Because bathing was very cumbersome. For some it was even a luxury.
        In any case, it’s interesting to realise how furniture and decoration is directly linked to social change. And regardless of a particular taste for this or that style, studying how people actually decorated their houses offers a very complete picture of how their lives were.
        So, yes, be aware of the many sociologists and anthropologists that might be keeping an eye on Retrorenovation. You might be the next topic of a graduation thesis 😉 heehee

  21. Ree says

    I have a square one with a corner seat in the master bedroom of my 1955 MCM house and I love it. My 1-year old grandson loves to take a bath in it. When I “refreshed” the bathroom about 4 years ago, the contractor said to save the tub, which I was going to do anyway, because you cannot find them anymore at a reasonable price. Getting it out would have been a huge process too since it is cast iron and the doorway was narrow. I had it resurfaced and it looks brand new.

  22. JKM says

    I had one of these in an apartment I lived in one year in school and my friends and I found it so odd. I’d never seen one before and haven’t seen one since. It was too little to sit in comfortably but one could sit on the edge. The building, probably built in the early 1960’s, would have always been inhabited by students since it was only blocks from the university. I’m sure it was originally white but by the time we lived there in the early 1980’s, it was a sort of dull gray – yuk – and I never sat in the thing!

  23. Peggy S says

    I have 1950s wall tile in my bathroom this color. Does anyone know what the name might be? I need to find this tile in case any of the wall tile is damaged when tub is replaced. I know I’d have to exchange samples to get it exact, but I’m just looking for a place to start. Thanks! Peggy

    • pam kueber says

      Sorry, Peggy, way too many companies to even begin to guess. Send your sample to Chippy at World of Tile (see my stories) to see if she can help you.

  24. Kathy K says

    I have a receptor tub identical to the pink one above, but in a jade green color. It was refinished white by the previous owner. When we moved in one year ago, there was a tiny chip in the white coating. One year later, I noticed that the chip was growing and beginning to curl. 6 hours later, I had the entire tub scraped clean with a razor scraper. It is green once more, but etched and streaky. Any ideas on how to improve the surface? I don’t expect shine, but blending away the streaks would be nice. I love my little green tub!

  25. Sue Flynn says

    My husband and I are purchasing a 1927 American Four Square home and were surprised to find the unusually small bathtub in our upstairs bathroom. I am pleasantly happy to find this website and to know our bathtub is called a receptor bathtub! I love the uniqueness of it and can’t wait to take a picture and post for everyone to see.

  26. teri says

    I have been looking for these for about two years now. We have a home built in the 1800s and have a bath that is so tiny and has a very little shower. Well I was on a trip to WVA and stayed at a hotel that had ones of these little tubs. Anyway I thought what a great idea and could not believe no one makes these anymore. Well I started a search again today and found Honolulu Foot Bathtub. It is 27 x 46.5 x 15.2 inches. Have any of you out here heard of these, because they sound like the modern day version of this bathtub? I think I just may order one and the are only around $250.00

      • teri says

        OK now I am confused, not sure what the difference is between a shower receptor and a small bath tub. Please help explain this so I do not go out and spend $ on something that would not work.

  27. patty says

    I have a pink bathroom and would love to buy a tub like this,its just the right size,where can I find one in pink

  28. Kathy K says

    The tub pictured above is a Kohler Standish bath. I found it on the Kohler website labeled “discontinued.” I’ve been hoping to find a matching toilet for the green one in my second bathroom. Now I know what to look for. I think my green is called Fresh Green.

  29. shannon says

    One of the bathrooms in my parents house has a tub like this. For years my step mom talked about tearing it because of “design/decorative issues”. I’m so glad I found yall, now if I can only convince her to go with the barbie theme I’ve been pushing for since 1990.

  30. teri says

    OK now I am confused, not sure what the difference is between a shower receptor and a small bath tub. Please help explain this so I do not go out and spend $ on something that would not work. I di know that these small tubs are not just like the ones from the 40’s but seem to be good choice since it is darn near imposible to find the old ones.

  31. Linda says

    Becky if you are really interested I am in the process of renovating my bathroom. I have a 1950’s crane receptor tub and 2 sinks in pink all with original crane hardware. Tubs measures approx. 40″ square and sinks are 19″. Located in Los Angeles area. Please respond if interested thru July 2014.

  32. Patti says

    Kohler has a 54″ tub that might work. I prefer the smaller size but this might be a solution. What do you think?

    Kohler K-746
    Seaforth 54″ Enameled Cast Iron Soaking Bathtub for Alcove Installations with Right Drain

    Seaforth Collection
    Length: 54
    Width: 30.25
    Height: 14
    Material: Cast Iron
    Installation Type: Three Wall Alcove

  33. Jeff says

    I salvaged a small tub from a 1924 house we were demolishing. It is a white, cast iron tub, built in application, with a left drain. I saved it because I had never seen one before. It is a Kohler 305-42×36-1S, I was calling it a half size tub or mini tub but it would make sense if it is actually shower receptor/tub combination. Contact me if you are looking for something like this and I can send or post pictures. I have the original drainage piping also if that is desirable.

  34. Lori says

    I just bought a house and there are THREE of these tubs! I may keep one, but definitely not all three. I was just thinking to trash them but after reading your blog I realize that someone out there might be looking for it. Do you think Craigslist is the best bet?

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