Sculptural freestanding bathtubs add a Wow! factor to any house.
Years ago, when I wanted an amazing focal point for my bathroom, I fell in love with a traditional slipper tub on claw-foot legs. That was one of the few freestanding bathtubs on the market at the time. Long and deep, it delivered an unforgettable spa-like experience every time I sat back for a long soak while looking up at the stars through the skylight we added in the ceiling. 100% bathtub bliss! Today, my choice might be the same. But freestanding bathtubs come in so many styles, shapes and materials there is no absolute answer to the “which is best” question – only options, plus a few basics to keep in mind.
Two shapes — rectangular and oval – tend to complement most bathroom spaces and are available in a variety of materials including porcelain, glass, stone and heavy-duty enameled cast iron. These days, though, I favor tubs made of acrylic, an affordable material that looks great, is easy maintain and doesn’t require special equipment (or a team of body-builders) to get up a flight of stairs. While the material is contemporary, the Duchess bath [top] has a classic slipper silhouette with Victorian-style claw-and-ball feet that raise it off the floor and push it towards a furniture look. (Plus, curves on both ends and a center drain make it comfortable enough for two!)
In contrast, a rectangular tub, with squarish sides, has a decidedly more modern-home feel. This Baron tub, looks hefty and substantial because it sits directly on the floor — no flourishes there. However, it weighs about 110 pounds. Like many freestanding bathtubs, it’s also longer than a standard (60- x 30- x 14-inch) built-in tub and the side is higher since it’s designed for soaking. I always pay special attention to height to be sure the necessary soaking depth is balanced against getting in and out easily.
When I slide into a tub, I want to lean back against the end and find it as warm and comfy as the water. So, while the marble Roman Style Bathtubs I’ve written about in the past are undeniably gorgeous, the phrase “stone cold” comes to mind. The Monarch, another acrylic beauty, has that stately-home quality and good depth but a handy dip towards the center to keep it accessible. Characters in Downtown Abbey may have servants to assist them in the bath but I think most of us would be thrilled to find half an hour of alone-time in a big tub filled with half a ton of hot water luxury.
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