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Private Idaho: A Rustic Outdoor Shower in Sun Valley

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Private Idaho: A Rustic Outdoor Shower in Sun Valley

May 31, 2016

A rustic outdoor shower in Idaho’s scenic Sun Valley takes its inspiration from the surrounding landscape. Says Ketchum, Idaho-based landscape architect Ben Young, “You’re out there in nature, so why not experience that feeling of being in nature in your outdoor environment?”

Surrounded by an aspen forest and constructed of simple, basic materials, the design of Young’s outdoor shower is one that would look good in any natural setting. Here’s how to recreate the look:

Photography courtesy of Ben Young Landscape Architect, except where noted.

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Above: The freestanding shower is sited at the edge of a terrace near the master bedroom. “The whole idea is to just be out there in the aspen forest,” says Young. “We have the screening because even in a private area surrounded by trees people like the embrace of screening. It gives them sense of more security and intimacy.”

The structure is constructed of beams of Douglas fir and wall panels of willow twigs. “The top beam has a shadow effect on top of the willow to protect the panels,” says Young. “If you protect them, the panels will last a lot longer.”

The Structure

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Above: A 156-long roll of 39-inch-high Willow Fencing And Screening is $47.35 from Amazon. Photograph via Amazon.

“The key is to design the space so you’re working with the full panel size so you don’t have to cut these willows,” says Young. Cutting is a mess and they splinter.”

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Above: Photograph via J&W Lumber, which sells Rough Douglas Fir timber in various sizes ranging from 2-by-2- to 12-by-12-feet dimensions; for more information and pricing, see J&W Lumber.

Young specified beams of Douglas fir, a long-lasting hardwood readily available on the West coast. “If you’re on the East Coast, you can use light oak or locust instead,” he says. “We stained the beams to get a graying effect.”

Fixtures and Fittings

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Above: A slatted matt that also serves as drainage grate is made of cedar. “You can also make the supportive grate from slates of locust,” says Young, who designed the structure for water to drain directly into the earth beneath the shower.

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Above: A Marlin Stainless Steel Outdoor Shower With Foot Shower is $599.95 from Signature Hardware.

“Depending on local codes, you may have to actually connect to your sewer link,” says Young. “Check that out during the design process.”

For year-round use, Young specified a water-evacuation system to force water out of the pipes and into the same drainage system as the main house. “You want to make sure the pipes don’t freeze if it’s 10 degrees below zero,” he says.

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Above: A wood slat grate serves double duty as bathmat and enables water to drain directly into the earth. For a ready made option, consider Skagerak’s Bathroom Mat, which measures 28.8 inches by 15.75 inches and is $199 from Danish Design Store.

western-cedar-board-gardenistaAbove: Clear-surfaced Western Cedar measuring 1-by-6-by-10 is $20.98 from Lowe’s.

Hardscape and Plants

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Above: Adjacent to the shower is a pathway edged by two ground covers, sweet woodruff and lady’s mantle.

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Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle. Deer-proof and suited to shade, Sweet Woodruff is $7.95 apiece from Great Garden Plants.

“We just used the two different kinds of ground cover, sweet woodruff and dwarf lady’s mantle, to make a nice carpet,” says Young. “It’s low maintenance, so you  don’t have to do much.”

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Above: Photograph via Monticello Shop. A Lady’s Mantle plant is $12 from Monticello Shop.

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Above: Irregular Bluestone Flagstones are available with a natural cleft surfaces in various thicknesses ranging from 3/4 inches to 5 inches; sold by weight at Hedberg Supply. For more information and pricing, see Hedberg Supply. Photograph via Hedberg Supply.

Young specified a local metamorphic limestone for pavers. “But you can also use bluestone or a sandstone,” he says. “The ideas is for the irregular pieces to contrast with the clean lines of the structure.”

Finally, get more ideas on how to integrate and design an outdoor shower with our Hardscaping 101: Outdoor Showers design guide.

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