The Most Ignored Building Code In America – Chandeliers Over Bathtubs Leave a comment


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In my last post, I shared that before my computer crashed last week, I had found a beautiful chandelier that I wanted to use for our master bathroom, and I wanted to put it above the bathtub. It looked almost identical to this chandelier, but the price was about half of this one.

So yesterday, I went on the hunt for the cheaper version of that chandelier that I had previously found, and in the process, I found this one I like so much better.

Bubble chandelier from Chandelieria

I love that light so much!! I would have already snatched it up except for one thing.

During my whole search for the illusive cheaper version of that first chandelier, I started thinking whether or not I should even be putting a chandelier above the bathtub. After all, most chandeliers above bathtubs are a violation of national building code in the United States.

Are you aware of this? I was. I’ve been aware of it for years, and yet, I’ve put chandeliers above bathtubs at least three times in the past. And obviously, it’s not just me. If you go to Pinterest or Houzz or Instagram, you’ll find literally hundreds and hundreds of examples of chandeliers being installed above bathtubs.

It took me about five minutes this morning to collect 74 images of chandeliers above bathtubs on Pinterest. Here’s a sample of them…

https://chandelierias.com/products/modern-semi-flush-cluster-bubble-chandelier

Go to Pinterest and put “chandelier over bathtub” in the search and check it out yourself. And these pictures are coming from builders, designers, decorators, bloggers. I saw pictures from very well-known magazines, and even a couple that were from a Parade of Homes, which means that the builders signed off on this and knew that hundreds of visitors to the Parade of Homes would see it and some would be inspired by the idea.

(Note: If you’re reading this post on any website other than Addicted 2 Decorating, that means you’re reading on a site that is stealing my blog content. I hope you’ll consider joining me on my actual blog by clicking here.)

You can go to Houzz and search the same thing with the same results. It took me about three minutes to find over 30 examples of chandeliers over bathtubs on Houzz.

I know some of you may be thinking that some of those chandeliers are hung high enough that a person standing in the tub can’t reach them. And that’s true. I’m only five feet tall, and without shoes and standing flat on my feet, my reach is 76 inches. I’d probably be able to touch very few of those chandeliers when standing in those tubs (although there are a few that are ridiculously low, and I could definitely touch them).

But the building code might shock you. It says that the lowest point of the chandelier (including any non-electrical parts like crystals or baubles of any kind that are attached to the light fixture) must be eight feet above the highest point on the walls of the bathtub.

So that means that with the bathtub I’m using, which stands at just under 24 inches high, the lowest part of a chandelier above the tub would have to be 10 feet from the floor. Well, that’s a little hard to do when my ceiling is eight feet high. In fact, that would be virtually impossible to do in any bathroom with a ceiling less than 12 feet high. I mean, with 11-foot ceilings, you could get away with some kind of large flush-mount or maybe even a semi-flush mount. But finding statement light fixtures that don’t hang any lower than 12 inches from the ceiling is virtually impossible.

So that means that close to 100% of the chandeliers you see installed above bathtubs in America are a violation of national building code. And yet, we see them all over the place, including very nice shelter magazines, Parade of Homes, HGTV, builders’ websites, and all over Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram.

Why do you think this is? Seeing that this is being done just as much by builders and designers as it is by regular homeowners and bloggers, ignorance is certainly not an excuse. Builders and designers know (or should know) the building code, and yet so many of them choose to ignore this particular one.

Which brings me back to my bathroom. I desperately want to join these thousands of people, including builders and designers, who ignore that building code. I want that bubble chandelier above my bathtub, hanging from my 8-foot ceiling. I can see it in my mind, and I think it would be stunning. And since I don’t climb on the sides of a tub, and my reach is only 76 inches, I can’t see how that chandelier could ever be a danger to me hanging above the bathtub — a bathtub that will never be used by anyone but me.

Because if I go the responsible way, and get a statement light to be hung in the center of the room where people will be walking through the room, that severely limits my options. Like I said above, finding a statement ceiling fixture that can be used on an 8-foot ceiling and leave enough clearance below for walking is incredibly challenging. But I did find a couple that I like.

This first one is a light that I’ve loved for years. And if I’m ever going to use this light anywhere, this bathroom would be my last chance to use it because our future master bedroom and family room will both have ceiling fans (a necessity in Texas), and I already have lighting I love in all the other rooms.

And the second one is kinda sorta like the bubble chandelier in that it gives that same bubble/cloud look.

Vega brushed brass flush mount light from CB2

So here I stand at these crossroads. Do I follow the path of the other designers, builders, bloggers, homeowners, magazine publishers, etc., who ignore this building code, and in doing so, get exactly what I want in a room we’ve been waiting years for and that we’re paying tens of thousands of dollars for? Or do I have to be the adult in the room who says, “That’s against building code. I’m going to find other options that meet the building code.”

What would you do? If you were paying about $30,000 for a top-to-bottom custom bathroom, and your vision included a chandelier above the tub, what would you do?

And if you were a blogger who shares pictures of her home online, potentially seen by hundreds of thousands of people, would your decision be different?



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