Kohler Habitat Masterbath Environmental Enclosure: $20,000 bathroom luxury c. 1978

Kohler’s Habitat Masterbath Environmental Enclosure introduced in the late 1970s was an indoor sauna-meets-sunning bed with three cycles: Sun, Steam and Rain. According to reader Ryan, it cost $20,000 back in the day — wow! Want one?: It comes with this 1979 time capsule house in Sturgis, Mich., via listing agent Dennis Bamber of Cressy & Everett Real Estate. In their comments here on the original story, readers identified a bunch of wonderful features inside this amazing house. Reader Steve H. was first to spot the Kohler Habitat Masterbath Environmental Enclosure.

Steve said: 

I wonder if that big recessed box in the bathroom (right after the pool pics) could be a Kohler Habitat Environmental Enclosure?

Featured as a discontinued item on Kohler’s website (photo above)

A brochure on ebay

There can’t be many of those around anymore!

And then Ryan responded to Steve H.:

I thought the same thing about the Kohler habitat. Those were over $20K back in the 80s!

Googling around, I found the Owner’s Manual to the Kohler Habitat Masterbath here. It explains the three cycles. Yowza. I need one NOW!  Talk about “spa” bathrooms — they weren’t invented in the 21st Century — this is proof they were invented in … 1978!

Thank you, Steve H. and Ryan, what fun fun fun — in the sun, steam, and rain! This one also makes the Woddities — “wonderful oddities” list — 11 years into this blog, they’re harder and harder to come by, we’ve seen soooo much.

Fab photos by Randy Mason of Next Door Photos Michiana 

  1. ineffablespace says:

    It would be interesting to know how many of these were manufactured in the first place, and whether this still works.
    (Although I doubt I would use the “sun” option of something this old especially, even if it still turned on.)

    My feeling about houses of this size, and with these sorts of features, new and old is that while people seem to be able to afford to build them, not nearly as many people seem to be able to afford to keep them. And loads of people could afford this house now, looking at the purchase price, but again, could they afford to fix it and maintain it? Houses like this ultimately tend to have a very short life-cycle in the scheme of things.

    1. Dan Hoyer says:

      If I remember correctly, the lamps were heat lamps not UV. Back then we were more interested in putting tanning oil on and getting the full effect of the sun outdoors!

    2. I don’t know how many were manufactured but however I have one of them in our master bedroom. Took me forever to determine exactly what it was, but with the help of a friend was able to find the patent number and discovered that it is a 1978 Kohler habitat.

      1. John Ficarrotta says:

        Back in the 1990’s my Seattle based company sponsored a reward trip to Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Being from back East I had no idea what it would be like; but I was the head of the Seattle office so I played my part. The place on the lake was breathtaking. But what made the trip was I got upgraded to the Presidential Suite on the top floor. Maybe you have seen it. The glass bottom pool on your balcony coming off the Master Suite. Doesn’t get much better than this one. The hot tub on the roof from you room. Etc.

        In the bathroom of this Master Suite was one of these shower habitats and it was great. It was a conversion from a stall shower.

        It had all the features; but closing the doors and setting to steam was by far the best. I always wanted one after that but never did oblige myself.

        Thanks for the cool memory.


    3. Carlee says:

      That’s what I was thinking- maintenance alone would be costly/time consuming. We live in a house built in 1961 with many original features- keeping up with a few things around here has sent us on a wild goose chase to find the right people/person to do the job we need. A place like this could need many things fixed often, aside from day to day care. But I love it and would totally live there if I could afford it and have a butler. Haha

    4. Karen L Strickland says:

      We have one ( bought a house built in the late 70’s ) with the original manual and it has a printed face page with the # 205 hand typed. So at least 205 were built ?

  2. Dan Hoyer says:

    Actually I was the first to identify it. 😉 LOL…I just couldn’t remember what it was called. As soon as I read the email, I looked at the photos and saw it! First one of those I ever saw in operation…. Xanadu house in Wisconsin Dells! “The home of the future!” Fore some reason “Personal Environment” was stuck in my head. I was awestruck as a 14 year old when I saw that house.

    I still want a 1970s/80s future dome house! With computer control by a bunch of Commodore 64 computers… and robots. Not to mention the round bed with stereo in the headboard, and in floor Jacuzzi and in floor breakfast nook. Even the kids room had a hidden slide to get down to the lower levels.

    I’m so glad someone else was able to identify this and it is posted here now.


  3. Steve H says:

    Perhaps not the most practical fixture, but undeniably cool and of its time. It’s sort of like the extreme styles you see in Milan fashion shows. Not many will actually buy the stuff, but it does influence the design of more prosaic things. I really love the shiny curved frame (fiberglass, perhaps?). It’s so “Space 1999”!

  4. Debbie in Portland says:

    For a little perspective on how expensive the Habitat truly was: in 1978, you could buy a two-bedroom, bath-and-a-half home in Portland, Oregon for approximately the same price.

  5. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Amazing! I agree with Ineffable–I would not use the tanning bed feature. Even if it works. Talk about possible vintage nastiness. In the 1970s, you could have had your whole bathroom done for $20,000, with luxurious fixtures, etc.

  6. la573 says:

    I recall these still being in Kohler bathroom catalogs well into the ’90s too when I did bathroom renovations. I never saw one installed, either in a showroom or a home. Lots of amazing luxury fixtures in Kohler catalogs from the ’90s. Still about 15 porcelain color choices. Amazing showers and baths. Do they still make that medicine cabinet where the water shoots out from the middle of the mirror? I want one.

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