Along with outdoor living space renovations, adding a hot tub is an extremely popular request from clients this year. No surprise that hot tubs are hot—the pandemic helped us examine our home environments differently, with ways to seek comfort and escape at the top of our to-do lists.
We can’t imagine anything better than melting the day’s stress away in a soothing outdoor tub with a favourite beverage, and no one calling your name. Hot tubs are also fairly easy to add to most exterior spaces. Even if you have no yard, one of the beauties of a hot tub is that it fits into places that swimming pools definitely do not.
If you haven’t done the legwork already, you might think all hot tubs are squarish units that you park on top of a deck (like above). We’re here to show you a wider world of outdoor hot tub possibilities!
Before you splash out on a new hot tub, browse through these ideas to kickstart your creation.
Hot Tub Types & Fun Features
Jacuzzi, whirlpool, spa, and soaker, are all names for the same thing: a large tub used for relaxation, recreation, hydrotherapy, bathing, and/or socializing.
Most hot tubs are equipped with seats and built-in jets for targeting those sore muscles. Other features include drink holders, ergonomic seating, an abundance of jets, and – for those who plan to party in their tub – LED coloured mood lights (it’s true). Luxury models offer extras like integrated bluetooth audio, cushioned headrests, and adjustable shoulder/neck jets.
Hot tubs can be divided into two main types: portable and custom in-ground. But there are many variations on the two, even hybrids. Let’s start our tub tour!
Portable Hot Tubs – Above Ground
Made from a wide range of materials like fiberglass, acrylic, aluminum, and wood, most portable hot tubs have an attractive hard ‘shell’ such as wood, textured acrylic/fibreglass, or sleek composite that looks like stone (see below).
Portable Hot Tubs – With Steps
Customize the look of your tub by building a surround. Set your hot tub in a lush green space and build steps around it, providing seating for those not in the tub (we know at least one person that isn’t a fan, right?).
Portable Hot Tubs – In Decks
A great way to get a customized look without digging is to build a deck around a portable hot tub. In our North Van project below, lowering the hot tub preserves the views to the yard beyond and keeps the beautiful deck space looking expansive.
Custom In-Ground Hot Tubs
Custom hot tubs are constructed from the same materials as pools or with stainless steel, copper and/or tile. They’re often set within the perimeter of a swimming pool, but look lovely on their own—especially with a water feature like an overflow, spill wall, or dramatic lighting. The one below is perfectly situated on the edge of the lounge area to extend happy hour.
Small yard situation? This is where professional landscape design and construction comes in, helping you maximize a tighter space to its full potential! This built-in spa is lined with blue mosaic tile and surrounded by a Redwood deck.
If you live on a slope or have a terraced yard, a custom design will help you make the best use of tricky elevations, incorporating easy access, retaining walls, planters, and seating.
Custom Hot Tub – Au Natural
If you’re after that organic natural hot spring look, in-ground is the way to go. We’ve seen elegantly-crafted hot tubs featuring huge boulders and mini waterfalls. The inside can be smooth or textured, and the interior colour can be adjusted to affect the water’s colour.
Hybrid Hot Tubs
These combine the best of both worlds: a portable hot tub set into the ground and finished with a permanent surround. In our client’s Fraser Heights exterior renovation, the concrete surround reflects the back yard’s hardscaping, and provides a generous smooth edge for seating and drinks.
Hot Tubs for Those Who Prefer Pools
Let’s say your spouse is pushing for a small lap pool, while all you want is a hydromassage. The answer may be a swim spa or ‘spool’ which looks like a long hot tub. It combines jets with a current to swim against for exercise. It’s for real: Michael Phelps has developed his own line of Swim Spas.
The second option is a deep-water plunge pool, which looks like a mini swimming pool (or larger hot tub). Some plunge pools are used for cold water therapy, some for aqua exercise, and some do double-duty as a spa. On hot days a plunge pool is a more sophisticated option than taking over the kiddie pool from the kids.
Hot Tubs for Trend Setters & Influencers
Not all hot-water tubs have jets and bubbling water. The quiet waters of soaking tubs, which have never gone out of style in Scandinavian countries and Japan, are picking up followers in North America with thanks to Instagram.
Round Wood Hot Tub
This retro-vibe tub has made a comeback in North America, but it has never gone out of style in Northern Europe where wood-fired versions are the go-to spa tubs. Our current love affair with natural materials, craftsmanship, and rustic modern design make this hot tub a stylish pick. Below is Californian interior designer Raili Clasen’s own hot tub.
This Japanese soaking tub is nothing new in North America. But as a smaller sculptural tub, the ofuro has gained interest with the ‘Japandi’ design trend and the move towards more minimalist, pared-back lifestyles. Ofuros fit up to two adults for a more tranquil type of escape.
Low-Commitment Hot Tubs
If you want to try dipping a toe into the world of hot tubs without the full commitment, there are less expensive options that are easy to remove (and sell) from your space if it doesn’t work out.
Inflatable Hot Tubs
There’s a good reason that these are largely sold-out online. Buyers are side-stepping the grown-up kiddie pool look by constructing steps and surround seating. Remember: these tubs are soft-sided.
You may have seen these round metal containers – traditionally found on a farm – blow up on Instagram several years ago as alternatives to small above-ground pools. Nicknames like ‘Cowboy Pool’ and ‘Hillbilly Pool’ weren’t so appealing, but millennials have styled stock tanks to be hip, and many have converted them into hot tubs too.
Shanti Wijaya, founder of a boutique real estate & renovation company in LA, made her backyard more COVID-friendly with a stock tank seamlessly inset in the deck, a perfect spot to dangle legs while taking in the forested backdrop.
Find these hot tub ideas and more on our Pinterest page. Need help planning a hot tub addition to your outdoor space? Contact us.
Feature image: Downtown spa with wood shell by Aquatica.