Title:
Architectural Shower Enclosure With Internal Shelves
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bathtub with a shower therein has adaptable, configurable modules, the modules configured to enclose the bathtub and contain water within and provide shelving, and a shower curtain that can be hidden behind a column when not in use. An adjustable header is disposed on top of the columns and the columns have shelves built into them that are accessible from the shower side thereof.



Inventors:
Lethert, Andrew J. (Fort Myers, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/863796
Publication Date:
01/17/2008
Filing Date:
09/28/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOUNKINS, KAREN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Andrew J. Lethert (Ft. Myers, FL, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A shower enclosure comprising: a tub having a upper front rim; two vertical columns, each vertical column resting upon and attached to the rim of the tub; and a header module, attached to the top of each respective vertical column.

2. The shower enclosure of claim 1 wherein, the first end of the header module overlaps on of the vertical columns, whereby a header of a fixed length can be used in an adjustable fashion.

3. The shower enclosure of claim 1 including shelves on at least one of the vertical columns.

4. The shower enclosure of claim 3 wherein the shelves are on the inside and rear of both of the columns.

5. The enclosure of claim 1 wherein the columns are made according an architectural style selected from the group consisting of Keystone, Classical, Contemporary, Colonial and Deco.

6. The shower enclosure of claim 1, further including a pleated closure.

7. The shower enclosure of claim 6 wherein the pleated closure has sharp vertical linear creases at a predetermined distance apart from each other.

8. The shower enclosure of claim 7 including oval grommets in a top portion of the pleated closure.

9. The shower enclosure of claim 8 having a shower rod and shower rings disposed on the rod and in the oval grommets.

10. The shower enclosure of claim 7 wherein the pleated closure has a first extended width and a compact folded width and wherein the compact folded width is less that a width of one of the columns.

11. A method for enclosing a shower having a tub between first and second walls, the tub having a front rim, the method comprising: placing two vertical columns on the front rim of the tub, each respectively resting upon the rim of the tub and respectively abutting the first and second respective walls; and adjustably placing a header module telescopically on the top of each vertical column.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the header module comprises first and second end receptacles and an elongated center member is placed telescopically into the first and second end receptacles respectively to adjust the length of the header.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the first and second end receptacles are attached to the top of each respective column.

14. A shower enclosure comprising: a tub having a upper front rim; two vertical columns, each vertical column resting upon and attached to the rim of the tub; and a header module, attached to the top of each respective vertical column, said header module comprising a first and second end receptacle with each end of an elongated center member extending telescopically into the first and second end receptacles respectively, whereby the length of the header is adjustable in length.

15. The shower enclosure of claim 14 including shelves on at least one of the vertical columns.

16. The shower enclosure of claim 15 wherein the shelves are on the inside and rear of both of the columns.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is Continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/438,157, filed May 22, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, which application is related to and derives priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/758,156 filed Jan. 10, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

The present invention relates generally to shower enclosures; particularly the present invention is disclosed as a decorative shower enclosure having a valence structure with a column on each of two ends, each of the columns installed or placed at the end of the entrance to a bathtub, with the structure having a pleated, retractable closure or barrier for retaining shower water within.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to bathtubs with showers therein and more particularly to such a combination having adaptable, configurable modules, the modules configured to enclose the bathtub and contain water within and provide shelving.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Bathtubs with included showers are commonly installed as units with an enclosure, the enclosure providing walls, a ceiling and a floor for the bathtub-shower unit. The shower nozzle is mounted on the wall within an enclosure above the tub to provide a shower for a person using the facility. Water emanating from the shower nozzle is confined to the enclosure by a shower curtain or, in some cases, a sliding door made from translucent plastic or shatterproof glass. The shower curtain is normally made to drape loosely from a set of eyelets or curtain rings which slide along a straight curtain rod. A set of such rings is normally mounted on the shower curtain rod, which is positioned at or above the height of the shower nozzle. A shower curtain is usually draped in the bathtub below the straight curtain rod so that water is not splashed out of the bathtub. Because the bathtub is below the shower nozzle, the bathtub collects water, which drains from the bathtub.

Doors and shower curtains as described provide required functionality, but in many cases, are incongruous with esthetic principles employed in modern bathroom design. Thus, there is a need for a functional enclosure for a bathtub while having a pleasing appearance.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Herein is disclosed exemplary embodiments including a bathtub enclosure appliance, the appliance comprising modules configured to enclose the bathtub and contain water within. The appliance is configurable and adaptable and may be fitted or installed in almost every kind or type of bathtub arrangement. Enclosure appliance modules, in the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 1-7, (1) base modules rest upon the top of the tub side, the base modules being placed at the extreme ends of the tub sides so the base modules abut the walls of the bathtub enclosure; (2) column modules are received and held by the base modules, the column modules abutting the walls of the bathtub enclosure, and serving as a vertical support structure; (3) top corner modules rest on top of the column modules and abut the walls and/or ceiling of the bathtub enclosure; and (4) a header module, held and supported by the top corner modules, and/or abut the ceiling of the bathtub enclosure.

In a second embodiment of FIGS. 8-12, the enclosure comprises just three pieces, two columns and a header.

The appliance as exemplified in the embodiment disclosed below will be seen to have several benefits and advantages. One such advantage is the appliance is adaptable and configurable and may be installed as a kit in almost any kind or type of bathtub enclosure.

Another advantage and benefit is the appliance may be made in various colors and architectural styles to conform to the desires of the owner.

And yet another advantage and benefit is the appliance kit is simple to configure and install.

The benefits and advantages of the invention will appear from the disclosure to follow. In the disclosure reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof and in which is shown by way of illustration a specific embodiment in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments will be described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that structural changes may be made in details of the embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a first exemplary embodiment of the enclosure appliance installed within a bathtub enclosure, in comparison to a standard enclosure having a shower curtain.

FIG. 2 shows the basic components of the enclosure appliance.

FIG. 3 shows possible architectural styles and motifs for components of the enclosure appliance.

FIG. 4 shows relative placements and positions of the appliance components.

FIG. 5 shows the components in kit form.

FIG. 6 shows placements and structural relationships of base and column components.

FIG. 7 shows structural relationships among column, header and corner modules.

FIG. 8 shows a second exemplary embodiment of the enclosure appliance installed within a bathtub enclosure, in comparison to a standard enclosure having sliding doors.

FIG. 9 is another perspective front view of the embodiment of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the second embodiment from the inside of the bathtub, showing shelves, with the outside of the bathroom being shown in dashed lines.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of one of the columns showing the shelves above the bathtub.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of an upper part of one of the columns from the inside of the bathtub showing an upper part of the column with shelves and showing a pleated shower curtain of a type that will fold completely behind the column, and showing in dashed lines one end of the header to show that it telescopes inside of the top of the column, thereby making the header adjustable to bathtubs of various lengths.

FIG. 13 is a front elevational view like FIG. 10, but showing the header exploded in three pieces to show how the main part of the header telescopes into “boxes” that fit on top of each respective column, thereby easily making the header adjustable in length.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the header of FIG. 13, showing how it is adjustable in length.

THE DRAWINGS—LABELING

In FIGS. 1-7 of the drawings each component or feature will be labeled with a four-digit label. The first digit corresponds to the drawing or figure number. For example, all components or features in FIG. 2 will be labeled as 2xxx, where xxx is the label of the component or feature appearing in FIG. 2. The following labels are assigned to components or features:

020 bathtub

030 enclosure wall

040 enclosure ceiling

100 base module

110 bottom of base module that rests upon bathtub

120 top of base module configured to receive the bottom part of a column module

200 column module

210 bottom part of column module made to be received and held by the base module

220 top part of column module configured to join with a top corner module

300 top corner module

310 part of top corner module made to receive top part of column module

320 part of top corner module made to receive and hold header module

400 header module

500 shower curtain, pleated closure serving as a curtain or drape

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to the accompanying figures an exemplary embodiment, a bathtub enclosure appliance comprising modules, the appliance modules configured to enclose the bathtub and contain water within. FIG. 1 shows the exemplary embodiment, referenced by A, in contrast and comparison with a conventional shower-tub enclosure, referenced by B.

The appliance is configurable and adaptable and may be fitted or installed in almost every kind or type of bathtub arrangement. With reference to FIG. 2 the enclosure appliance modules, in the exemplary embodiment, comprise: (1) base modules 2100 resting upon the top of the tub side 2020, the base modules 2100 placed at the extreme ends of the tub sides so the base modules 2100 abut the walls of the bathtub enclosure; (2) column modules 2200 received and held by the base modules 2100, the column modules 2200 abutting the walls of the bathtub enclosure, and serving as a vertical support structure; (3) top corner modules 2300 resting on top of the column modules 2200 and abutting the walls and ceiling of the bathtub enclosure; and (4) a header module 2400, held and supported by the top corner modules 2300, and abutting the ceiling of the bathtub enclosure.

Styles and Appearances of the Enclosure Appliance

FIG. 3 shows one possible style of the enclosure appliance. For example, components of the enclosure appliance may be selected to complement a decorating motif, and may be made in a plurality of motifs. With reference to FIG. 3, the components of the enclosure appliance are illustrated in several architectural styles. In FIG. 3, base modules are indicated by 3100, column modules by 3200, corner modules by 3300 and header modules by 3400. In FIG. 3 are shown deco, colonial, classical, keystone, contemporary architectural styles. However, it will be appreciated an almost infinite variety of styles and appearances may be furnished by selecting different base, column top corner and header modules. FIG. 3 shows a pleated curtain, which may also be used with the enclosure appliance. The curtain may be attached using curtain rings, a curtain rod or other known means of attachment.

Structural Arrangement of the Modules

With reference to FIG. 4, the base modules 4100 rest upon the wall of the tub 4020, and are affixed in a proper manner, for example using adhesives to attach components of the enclosure appliance. The base modules 4100 receive column modules 4200, and further, the column modules 4200 are adjoined with top corner modules 4300. The top corner modules 4300 accept a header module 4400 as shown. All modules are configured to be joined together to affect a tight seal with the tub 4020, the enclosure walls 4030 and the enclosure ceiling 4040. A standard shower curtain, or special pleated curtain 4500 provides a means of keeping water within while the appliance is used.

With reference to FIG. 5, the enclosure appliance may be made and sold as a kit, wherein the color and architectural style may be selected to accommodate or complement the decorative style of the bathroom housing the bathtub. Modules, components and parts may be made from injection, or vacuum molded plastic materials or may be made from laminated and coated wood or other suitable materials; the modules may be made from plastics, such as Styrofoam, and may be coated with other materials, such as vinyl or similar coatings. For example, the modules may be made from foam-filled fiberglass. The modules may be pre-painted or left natural for painting and finish by a decorator.

With reference to FIG. 6, the bottom part 6110 of the base module 6100 rests upon the rim of the tub 6020, and abuts the wall 6040 of the enclosure. Adhesive is applied to the base module 6100 to attach it to the tub rim. The top part 6120 of the base module 6100 receives the bottom part 6210 of the column module 6200, and is held in place by an adhesive or both.

FIG. 7 shows the configuration and arrangement of the top corner module 7300, the header module 7500 and the column module 7200. The top corner module is retained against the wall 7050 and the wall 7040 of the enclosure using a suitable adhesive. The bottom part 7310 of the top corner module 7300 is held against the top part 7220 of the column module 7200. A portion 7320 of the top corner module 7300 is made to receive and hold the header module 7400. The curtain 7500 is also shown.

FIGS. 8-12 show a second embodiment, which is similar to the FIGS. 1-7 embodiment except that it comprises two columns 2101 and 2201 and one header 2401, which the columns 2101 and 2201 each have shelves 2102 and 2202 therein respectively. Additionally, a pleated shower curtain 7501 is attached to a horizontal bar 7502 by rings 7503.

The pleated shower curtain 7501 is designed to disappear behind either of the columns and neatly collapse down all the way to the mere thickness of the shower rings 7503. Oval grommets 7504 allow for uninhibited complete folding of the shower curtain enclosure. The use of hinges or pleats 7505 for a multiple W shape from above, like having one W in juxtaposition with other W's. The use of lining hinges and pleats also will allow the use of thicker, more robust vinyl or other material yielding a smooth, unwrinkled, more glass-like closure with higher end aesthetics. A preferred embodiment would be a 3 inch pleated closure 7501 with snap on ⅛″ diameter metal wire rings which can be oval or tear drop shaped. The closure 7501 would be made of anti-mold material and offered in various elegant material and colors with reinforced oval connections slots 7504 for maximum closure. A clear, transparent pleated shower curtain 7501 is preferred because it allows good light transmission and eliminates the claustrophobic feelings, while still affording privacy. This pleated shower curtain 7501 is a vast improvement over a simple vinyl shower curtain liner, which would not store compactly behind one of the columns 2101 or 2201. It can also serve as a closure to one set of shelves on one of the columns when the shower curtain 7501 is not in use and also when it is in use. This keeps the shelves 2201 and 2102 easily accessible even when the shower curtain is disposed adjacent to it.

Looking to FIGS. 10 and 11 it is noted that the ends 2403 of the header 2401 extends telescopically inside of a top portion 2106 and 2206 of respective columns 2101 and 2201. This allows a header of a predetermined length “x” to fit adjustably on a bathtub that is much longer than the predetermined distance “x”. If the wall 2700 was to the right of where it is shown in FIG. 12 for example, then the column 2201 would be moved to the right to fit against the wall 2700. On the other hand if the wall 2700 extended to the left of where it is shown in FIG. 12, then the end 2403 would be to the right of where it is shown in dashed lines in FIG. 12. A similar mirror image adjustment of the end 2403 of the header 2401 on the left side shown in FIG. 10 can be made. With this telescoping feature one header 2401 can be used in a wide range of situations. Of course if the distance between wall 2700 and the opposite parallel wall is too close together to use the header 2401, it can be cut off and one or both ends thereof and used in the same fashion as described above.

FIGS. 13 and 14 illustrate show header parts 2106 and 2206 which can be looked at as rectangular “boxes” which have one side of the possible six sides missing. The purpose of missing sides 2106ms and 2206ms is to allow the ends 2403 of the header portion 2401 to telescope inside of the header parts 2106. Once adjusted to the length desired, for example as shown in FIG. 10, then the header parts 2106 and 2206 can be glued to the top of headers 2201 and 2202 to complete the installation. It is to be understood that the header parts can be integral with the columns 2201 or 2202, or comprise part of a three part header system as shown in FIGS. 13 and 14.

Shelves 2202 provide a vast improvement over the embodiment of FIGS. 1-7. The storage space on shelves 2202 permits everything from shampoo to soap to be stored out of the way and out of sight to someone entering the bathroom.

Accordingly, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.