Monday, November 16, 2009

Seeking bathtub advice

Perhaps it is because my mother was English, but I have always had a love for baths and bathtubs. When I spent a month in England in '97, touring the great stately homes around the countryside, I was quite at home with all of the country hotels that only had bathtubs, no showers (my husband was not so pleased). To me, even the sight of a bathtub makes me feel instantly relaxed, and the bath has always been a place where I retreat when I feel any kind of physical or psychological pain.
By the time I went to college, I had already moved seven times because of my father's career. As a child, my sister and I always shared a 'kids bathroom' with a standard built in tub and shower. As long as I had a bathtub, I was not picky. A shower-only set up would have caused real angst for me.
When I was a junior in college, I lived in the garage apartment of a family who had five little girls. In exchange for room and board, I tutored the children and assisted with the daily afternoon logistical challenge of managing five children at five different schools, with five different sets of afternoon activities. This was the first time I had a claw foot bathtub in my life. It was a real vintage tub, and I loved it (although, I hated taking showers in it). This is not a picture from the actual guest house in which I lived, but the set up was very similar - the tub was also the shower, and had a shower curtain exactly like this. It was unusual and a bit rare at the time, as whirlpool tubs were all the rage in the early 90s.
Now, it seems like every newly built or renovated bathroom I see has a freestanding bathtub. This is the tub that was in the Christmas Showhouse (interior design by Susan Ferrier, picture taken by me). When using a freestanding tub in a space like this, it truly looks like a sculpture, doesn't it?
Nate Berkus bathroom
Another freestanding tub picture that has recently caught my eye. Design by Nate Berkus.
Through this beautiful picture, I discovered a designer who is now one of my new favorites. So striking is this vignette that it was selected as the cover of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles this spring . Would this space be nearly as beautiful with a built in tub? The answer is a resounding no. The freestanding tub allowed for the floor to ceiling antique mirror to be placed behind it, which is a large part of the charm of the space. Interior design by Amy Morris, image via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photo credit Steve Pomberg.
This is one of my favorite pictures from Kerry Joyce's portfolio - I have admired this photo for years. The combination of the freestanding tub and the mirror strikes me as very European, yet also Californian too (Joyce is out of LA). Again, there is no way that this space could have been made so beautiful with a built in tub.
Sarah Richardson often uses freestanding tubs in her bathroom designs. They combine a vintage look with a modern feel.
When I think about all of the pictures in my files, this one comes to mind immediately as my 'dream bathroom'. I think it is because of the light fresh colors and the beautiful pattern on the floor. The tub is interesting to note - somewhat freestanding, yet it is also enclosed and has a ledge. I believe this is called a 'drop in' tub, as it has a finished rim and was made to drop into a custom surround. Image via House Beautiful, design by Jacqueline Derrey Segura, photo credit Simon Upton.
I also have some beautiful pictures of built in tubs in my files. This was an iphone photo I took at a tour of homes two years ago - it was truly one of the first tubs I have seen in a while of a new or newly renovated home with a tub that is not freestanding. This one is an undermount tub as it is mounted underneath the stone. Upon further reflection, this was a renovation of a bathroom and there probably wasn't space for a freestanding tub.
Image via Velvet & Linen - one of my all time favorite tub pictures. The shutters are so charming. So, it is definitely possible to have a beautiful arrangement of tub and window with a built in tub. Interior design by Kelly Harmon.
Grant Gibson, designer extraordinary and a blogger too - designed this master bathroom space. I love the look of a tub that appears to be set in a single piece of carved stone.
One of the most romantic images of a tub, from a post on sconces by Cote de Texas. Taking a bath in here would feel like being in a little hidden room.
This picture is also in my 'favorites' file - the tub tucked into the arched space, the sconces, and the window over the tub are wonderful elements, and work even better when all brought together in this vignette.
I have always thought that my dream bathroom would have a tub in an alcove, with an undermounted or drop in tub, but definitely not a standalone tub. Where would I put all of my magazines and books (the tub is the best place to read, and many a magazine and book have become casualties of my fondness for reading in the tub)? Are standalone tubs uncomfortable? Why am I now starting to turn my eye to freestanding tubs all of the sudden? I think it is because of the sheer sculptural beauty of a freestanding tub, the European charm of them, and the fact that they are now 'de rigueur' in Atlanta. I am starting to get persuaded.
So, readers, I would love your thoughts on bathtubs in this day and age. When you have the luxury of space and beautiful natural light (it might not be practical in a city apartment), what type of tub would you select? Why have we seen a resurgence of freestanding tubs over the past few years? For those of you who have a freestanding tub, do you like it? Is this one of those 'classic' design elements that will remain timeless because it represents historical design, or is it something that will be a sign of the times and outdated in 10 years? I would love to hear your opinions. I am not fixated on having jets in my tub or anything, I am more of a purist about just a simple tub. And yet, I have always thought that I would do a tub in an alcove like some of these pictures. Help!

To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
To follow my blog on facebook, click here.
To visit my online store, click here.


  1. Thank you for all these beautiful images and this very timely post.

    My grandmother had a claw foot bathtub and I loved it as a child. For the past 5 years we have lived in our 100 year old farmhouse without a bathtub. I have missed the luxury and relaxation of taking a bath so much that we are now adding 2 new bathrooms to the house. Our current tiny, ill placed bathroom off the kitchen will be converted to a much needed pantry. One of the new bathrooms will have a simple freestanding tub (no jets). It should arrive in a couple of weeks. I plan to sip champagne by candlelight while I take my first soak. I'm looking forward to this after so many months of living in the dust and chaos of our renovation project.

    I encourage you to go for it. Design the space for your dream tub and do it. Ours will be placed in front of triple windows for the natural light and a view. Don't over think what you "really want" or talk yourself out of it for fear that it might be trendy. A relaxing bath in a lovely space is timeless.

  2. Gorgeous images.... made me want to go have a soak!

  3. What gorgeous pictures! I'll be referring back to these when we update our bathroom. Love your blog!

  4. Beautiful dreamy bathrooms. I, too love bathtubs. Growing up in France, we did not have showers but only bathtubs with handheld showers. I do most of my reading every night in the bath. When designing houses, I put a lot of emphasis in the bathrooms/spa as they are intricate parts of client's well being.

  5. Clawfoot tubs hold special memories for me. My grandmother had one and to this day I am a bath taker. My friends laugh when I tell them that water hitting me in the shower is offensive and uncivilized :) I would not miss the jets in a tub. For me they are just more noise--I like the quiet and the candlelight. I love the freestanding ones with a small table beside them for your candles and books. Can't wait to see what you decide. I love the pictures!

  6. i don't take baths at all - ever. I like a shower. But I would do anything to be able to rip out my enclosed tub and put in a free standing one, like what Brooke has in her Oxnard house. I love that tub - and her entire bathroom.

    no question at all to me - freestanding!!!!

  7. I have a drop-in tub similar to the one before the Grant Gibson photo with a glass-enclosed shower next to it. Actually, there is limestone halfway up the shower and surrounding the tub which also adds an alcovey feeling to the tub and a bit of privacy for the shower.

    You'll be disappointed to know that the tub is rarely/never used.

    I also have a clawfoot tub in front of a window in another bath. They both look nice.

    I think free-standing tubs in the middle of rooms are trendy and that the trend will pass. I have seen them in person and I always have the desire to shove them against the wall. :-)

  8. The house before this one had a clawfoot tub - the floor had to be replaced (I used a classic pattern that was period appropriate). While the tub was waiting in the garage, I had the feet brass plated (they were very beautiful feet!). I then order the brass hand held shower and matching fixtures.

    On days when I had done a lot of gardening - and sweating - I would come in and get right in the enormous tub, (it was on the first floor) sinking down 'til only my head was out of the water!

    The walls were papered in a beautiful rose pattern from Motif Designs (now defunct?) - every man that ever came into the house to do repairs or whatever, made a huge fuss over that bathroom - don't tell me men don't like flower patterns - they do!

    I don't have such a tub anymore but I miss it! Go for it - you will not be sorry!!

    Suzanne on St. Simons

  9. I am a bath person and use my tub every day. I am having the same dilemna as you. I am planning a bath redo soon and I am thinking of replacing our 19 year old built-in two-person jacuzzi with a free-standing tub on a platform because one of the best views in our house is out the bathroom window. Thanks for the beautiful photos and food for thought.

  10. I would love to have a free standing tub in my bathroom. They're classic and not a trend in my opinion since they've been used since indoor plumbing first became available. Bathrooms can all look the same and so standard. A beautiful free standing tub is like a beautiful piece of furniture. It turns the bathroom into a retreat and a room in it's own right.

  11. The enclosed tub you featured from my blog was designed by Kelly Harmon. Every room she touches just oozes charm. What makes that room is the shutters on the window and the simplicity of the rest of the room.
    When we renovated our home in Oxnard I knew that I wanted to use a pewter tub. It would be the focal point of the room. I love my tub because it's really deep, so I can rest my head on the back. My kids love it too. The tub is from a company in England called The Bath Works.

    I definitely vote for the free standing tub!


  12. I have the exact Kohler tub that is shown in your second photo. It is also in an alcove much like the one in your opening photo (the one with the large antique mirror.)

    I absolutely love the tub and use it every night, just to relax or to get warm on cold days. The lack of a ledge does not bother me at all - I actually temporarily set things in the window ledge behind the tub, but the only drawback to the tub, for me, is that it is very difficult to clean behind it. But, I still wouldn't trade it for anything!

    Good luck on your decision - but I say go for it - you won't regret it!

  13. Lovely post! Those pictures are beautiful.

    I am not a bath person, however, I prefer the look of the built in tubs over the freestanding. I like being able to put candles, plants, bottles of bath salts, towels and other decorative objects around the tub to create a relaxing atmosphere. With a freestanding tub, you'd need room for a table to hold your wine glass, book, phone, etc. Just my preference.

    I lived in England as an young teenager and our house did not have a shower so we had to take baths. I didn't really mind it there, but when we returned to the States, the bathtubs were so much smaller that I got out of the bath habit. Since then, I think I've only taken baths when I was pregnant!

    When we built our last house, the builder had put a jetted tub in the specs, but we swapped it for a beautiful, oval drop-in tub with a marble surround. The swap saved us a bundle in our bathroom allowance and actually allowed us to do the marble over tile.

    I think you should do what YOU want and not worry too much about trends. It sounds as though you will really use your tub so it should have features and a surround that you want. I am confident it will be beautiful - based on the pictures you've shared with us from your inspiration files.

    Best of luck with the new house!

  14. I am thoroughly enjoying the responses to this post!I am also going to print it out for my architect and designer to read (alas, they do not read blogs at all...).

  15. A free standing tub can be like art with the many beautiful options available........ They are timeless, classic and look so inviting, who wouldn't want to soak in one every day? (OK, maybe not Joni :)). If the space allows my vote would be for the free standing. Though, might I add, that the image with the free standing/built in tub by Jacqueline Derrey Segura would be a nice compromise, for adding wood panels adds a classy touch.
    Good luck.

  16. Are you clairvoyant by any chance?!

    We are in the design stages of a master suite. I obsess over pictures of bathrooms, specifically those with free standing tubs.

    I toured the Christmas House yesterday afer reading your post, and LOVED the bathroom. I went back twice to bask in the beauty of that tub!

    I grew up with a claw foot tub, and when my mother renovated that bathroom 25 years later she put in a gorgeous new one.

    I once owned a rental property in
    Ashevlle, NC that had two old clawfoot tubs. They added so much charm.

    I'm not interested in jets either.
    The free standing ones I have researched are all well over $2500.
    Yikes! If you or your readers come across any rescources that are less expensive, please share! I really want one!

    I really enjoy your bolg, I just never commented before!

    Kristen W. in Atlanta

  17. I love how you so endearing describe your love for baths. That being said, go for the free standing bathtub! Let your children have fond memories of their Mother's bathtub as many of your posts show. I love the mirror behind the tubs which gives privacy and brings in light. One thing that needs to be addressed is... people able to see in if the tub is in front of a window. In one picture, there is a house across the street. Lowering a blind or a drape could close in your wonderful bath.

  18. I really enjoyed this post. LOVE the tub in the Cote de Texas pic.

    Being more of a shower than bath person myself, I've always focused on shower spaces more. Guess because I am usually rushing through my morning routines and look at "bathing" as more of a task to get done than time spent relaxing and even pampering myself. However, a stand alone tub, especially like those in your pics, is definitely more sculptural visually and seductive emotionally. If I had one in my home, my whole thinking towards bathing would be shifted, for sure.

    After reading your post I am now a firm believer that every home should have a shower in order to cleanse the body and a tub to relax the mind.

  19. I love the idea of the tub in an alcove. It just seems like it would make bathing so cozy. Does that make sense?

    The last image is my favorite.

  20. I love the tub in the Kerry Joyce photo and also sarah Richardson, I don't care for the ones trying to be squared off with the rounded sides, either it's contemporary or it's not.

    I would love a free standing tub, I think it just says luxury--because it takes space to be able to do it which is a luxury!! As long as a bathroom is white-on white or cream-on-cream, I think it can be timeless!

  21. For me I would choose a free standing tub. I especially love the zinc tub that Brooke used in one of here bathrooms. The tub is a like a piece of art!! Just stunning.

  22. Stacia brought up a very good point about careful placement of the tub when it comes to privacy. Our mountain farmhouse is rural and we live with 100% privacy except when we have house guests. Still, I will be putting up curtains, shutters, or roman shades for the sake of guests. I love the luxurious look of floor to ceiling terry cloth drapes. Both of our new bathrooms will have to multi-task. And when the guests go home our bathroom windows will be wide open to the views and the sounds of nature.

    If windows behind a tub are not an option, antique or window pane mirrors are a lovely alternative.

  23. I'd take any of the tubs you featured, but my favorites are the freestanding.

    I currently have a large 2-person jetted built-in tub that I absolutely hate. It is a real pain in the back to clean. And to get a bath is a major event -- it takes too long to fill and is such a waste of water, so I take showers more often.

    We are moving in a year. Otherwise I'd tear this monstrosity out and install a freestanding tub.

  24. I prefer a free standing tub. Mainly for two reasons; classic and you don't have to deal with all the useless tchotchkes to decorate the deck. I have this thing about keeping it clean and simple and not having a bunch of stuff around just for the sake of having a bunch of stuff. That being said, if you are actually using the tub, which sounds like you do, then you need to try and accomodate for all the necessities that you don't want out, additionally, you need to make sure you have a place for those necessities which bathing. The freestanding tub can be problematic in that capacity if you don't have one of those trays, so something to consider. Oh, and for what it is worth, love a little stool, chair or bench. Must have a place to sit regardless of deck or no deck. My two-cents...hope it is all going well!


  25. Your lovely post poses the question that many people have when redesigning/building a new bathroom.

    I prefer an enclosed tub, albeit beautiful the free-standing tubs can be. I think coziness is important in soaking, especially at night. If I were building, I would enclose the tub in an alcove
    (centered on a window wall, if possible) and have open storage on both sides: places for candles, magazines, soaps, towels, etc. I would place two sconces on each side, but may also put a crystal chandelier centered above the tub. I think this scheme calls for an all-white marble floor and tub-surround.

    Because bathing can get chilly (esp. in colder climates), I'd put beautiful curtains on each side, pulled back but able to enclose the tub.

    The alternate style, and very space-practical, is the one which Grant Gibson did in your attached Gibson photo: tub/glass-enclosed shower together.

    Hope this helps! Thank you for such a great blog!

  26. Absolutely love the Sarah Richardson bathroom. And if I had a big, beautiful tub like this, I'd want a window next to it. You can never have too much natural light.

  27. I have a jacuzzi tub in an alcove. While the ledge to it is quite narrow I do have a nook with glass shelves in it where I can keep my bath accoutrements. I like that I can reach anything that I may need once I am already soaking. I don't use it often {who has time to slow down these days to take the time for a bath, although that may be the good thing about baths}. I think I would feel kind of "stranded" in a stand alone tub, unless you had a table or something nearby for whatever you needed ~ a book, a glass of wine, whatever you put into your bath water.

  28. Reading all of these posts makes me realize that another thing I love about my tub set up is the window - I sometimes do my best thinking while looking out of the window of my bathroom, while in the tub. In fact, seeing the view through the window above my tub was the moment that my husband and I made the decision to buy our current house (almost 13 years ago). I wish I had put a picture of my bathroom in this post, but now I have inspiration for another post.

  29. I completely sympathize with your dilemma; I, too, have a bathroom which is in dire need of a dramatic facelift. One reason that I have ignored its constant cry for help is that I constantly debate the layout - mostly the tub configuration. It always comes down to form over function.

    Over the years, I have designed countless bathrooms for clients and have learned a couple of things about tub configurations. If the tub is an under-mount then the point where the stone meets the top of the tub is often uncomfortable when you are bathing (assuming you are relaxing). It is difficult to have the stone angle properly so that it doesn't dig into your neck or back since it rarely meets the tub seamlessly..

    An over-mount tub is not as appealing to me visually, but it offers more comfort, as do most freestanding tubs. The roll of the back is a fairly comfortable spot to rest your neck., and yes, the freestanding tubs always look striking. Your point about not having a place to put your magazines, coffee, etc is well taken, but I would use that as an opportunity to find a wonderful piece of furniture to place next to the tub - a low table, a slipper chair with a tray, the options are endless. The other advantage to the free standing tub is that you don't have the expense of the slab and tile, although the freestanding tubs tend to cost more as can some of the beautiful plumbing fixtures that accompany them. Still, you aren't as locked into the color of the slab & wall tile which is good for me since I constantly redecorate everything. Everything, that is, except that dreaded bathroom of mine. Perhaps you have given me the inspiration to get started. Guess I'll begin my search for a freestanding tub! Hmm..

    Love your blog - it lives up to its name and is always inspiring.
    All the best,

  30. As the case in some many areas of a house usually the architecture of the room will didcate whether to use a free standing or tub deck. I always prefer the beauty of a free standing tub. They usually cost more - the tub and the standing tub filler are more expensive however their graceful lines and pure beauty can give a bathroom a very elegant feeling.

    I have done some very pretty undermouted tubs that were wrapped in wonderful curved paneling and stone decking. Sometimes you can achieve something every unique and wonderful tubs as some of the pictures on your blog displayed.

    Since you are building a house and are probably working on the plans you have the luxury of making these types of decisions now. Often when I first meet with a client and we are working on floor plans, we will tweak many of the areas to get the exact look and feel of different rooms. Do not hesitate to take your time during this planning phase of the house and work out the details now instead of the costly tweaking during construciton. We have totally redesigned bathrooms, closets and bedrooms (kitchens and other areas) to fit into the footprint of the house while still giving the client a better configuration. Even some of the very best architects don't always get these spaces perfect. It is truly a collabrative effort between the architect, designer and home owner.

    Judy Long

  31. Ah! I have recently redone my own bathroom and did not have room for a freestanding tub- I also worry about dust and dirt behind it and cleaning in general. So I opted for a undermount tub (Ultrabain)with marble skirt and top.

    I have always thought the surface mount ackward to get into. The pro is if something breaks it is easier to lift out than break through the stone. Being a designer, I have used both in clients homes- actually it is about 50/50freestanding versus encased. Hummm, will have to ask these clients their thoughts now that they have had time to soak!

  32. We remodeled an old farmhouse. I'm now redoing the bathroom with the "free standing" tub in it....which I still love after five years and will keep (vintage....found in an old barn and restored) however, the worse thing I did in the remodel after looking at previous blogs and your post of photos, was to take out the window above the bath tub. I wish I wouldn't have done that now but thought we would be the shower in as well (we have neighbors that could see in). There is another window in the room and it's a very small bath. The window over the tub lends itself to an open airy feel (love Velvet Linen one with the shutters best)! You should go with the one you mentioned in your post that came to your mind first (1st instincts are best) (pink walls)but use a free standing vintage tub instead? They're charming and you really do feel like a queen while bathing.... it's something about the entire shape that evokes relaxation and dreaming? Luanne

  33. for visual drama and impact, NOTHING beats a free standing tub- stunning! and completely classic.

    if a client wants a pretty freestanding tub (and has the space- they require room around them so they don't look crowded), you bet they are going to get one! but i also warn them of the reality of freestanding- they look beautiful in pictures as you've shown, sculptural and serene but in reality, especially if they will be used frequently, they can't be used as the photos show, they require accompaniment to be useful, usually a couple pieces of furniture (not a problem really- i LOVE furniture in the bathroom). you'll need a table (close to tub rim height for acccesability) to set the things you like to have with you when soaking- a glass of wine, a book, a candle, bath salts and maybe a natural sea sponge etc. i like a chair too, to perch a big fluffy towel and your robe on.

    drop-in tubs with marble (please) or tile (less please) decks pose their own problems- yes, you have an area to set down all the items listed, so they are practical in that respect, but the converse problem is that items tend to *stay* there- nothing worse then spending thousands of dollars on your dream bathroom and then cluttering it up with some half burned candles and a nasty plastic bottle of head & shoulders... ;-) (solution- make sure built-in storage is available NEAR tub. some master bath suites are huge, and you don't want walk half a football field after your relaxing soak to put your things away).

    if you go for a marble surround, i love the look of rectangular deck with a classic oval tub. the 'drop-in' tub you've shown with the projecting lip isn't as aesthetically pleasing as the set in tubs, but comfort wise it looks a little superior- rounded lip as opposed to a straighter edge. that would be a call i'd let my client make, based on how they actually see themselves using the tub. personally, i'll go for the pretty as opposed to practical version every time, but i'm not living there & using it, so i can't be a total nazi about aesthetics vs. comfort...

    last, the picture from joni's with the sconces is just lovely, and it's something to keep in mind- bright overhead lighting can ruin the spa experience, so additional lighting on a separate switch near the tub is a great idea.

  34. I love that baths have always been such a part of your life. A charming way to weave a story, and ask a question at the same time.

    Maybe you should go to a bath store and get in a freestanding tub, see what you think. You have fond memories of freestanding tubs from your past.

    I would love to see a picture of your bathroom, looking forward to that post.

  35. Lots of food for thought. Based on our last meeting, the master bathroom was possibly going to be reconfigured - the designer wanted it with the bathtub facing the side of the lot (which is very, very private) vs. facing the front of the lot. I look forward to seeing what everything looks like in the next meeting (Thanksgiving week). I have told my architect that I want an enclosed tub, but now I am going to open up the topic for conversation at the next meeting. I am loving this feedback!

    Yes, if you have clients who take baths, please ask them what they think and let us know!

  36. Speaking as tub-cleaner-in-chief at our house, our big, built-in-a-niche tub is beautiful, a great place to bath and a ROYAL PAIN to CLEAN. You have to get into the tub to clean all around.

    A free stander would easily fit in in our space and I'd be able to get all around it to keep it clean.

  37. I cast my vote for freestanding tubs!
    I redid my bathroom a couple of years ago and put in a freestanding claw foot tub...custom painted with William Morris flowers and vines. So glorious, I sometimes just sit in it without any water.

    I often don't think built-ins are very comfortable, although that Kelly Harmon one might change my mind. And I am totally in love with that romantic, dark alcove from Cote de Tx!

  38. Tough questions!

    I grew up in an old country house with a long clawfoot tub. It was perfect for a long soak, but when I was a child, my parents finally equipped it with a shower and curtains, like the one you showed. I did not care for showering in it, but stll love it for a bath when I go home. They had it refinished at some point and it still looks great!

    About the new tubs, I honestly really found the freestanding tubs annoying when I started seeing them everywhere. Some looked too steep to be comfortable and like you said - where do you put everything? I was never a big fan of those little trays piled with clutter. But, like you, they are growing on me as sculptural elements. I don't think they will ever be a trend that goes out of style unless you pick too sleek a look. If you chose one with a historical look, it will always just look European and chic!!

    I would lean towards the drop-in style with ledges. I love them in an alcove, especially if it is a generous size, with a window over top. Then you can mount a mirror, say, at the foot of the tub in the alcove, etc. I will email you a photo of an alcove tub I really like the look of! The ledges make a lot of sense for books, the soap dish, shampoo, etc.

    I think the alcove tub and the free-standing are both classics if you chose a historical look and nothing too "slick".

    Tough call - follow your heart. xo Terri

  39. I love the freestanding tub...You could have a precious little rococo slipper chair to the side to "shelve" your stack of magazines. Just imagine the patina of a Venetian painted wood leg against the uber white gleaming porcelain. You've pretty much hit every single favorite tub photo. The dustballs, the vacumn access issue? Eeh. Let them eat cake. Merci, Trish

  40. Great post and wonderful comments. I totally agree about taking baths, and I get my best reading done in the bathtub. My small 1920's house has a built-in tub with tile shower surround that is wonderfully deep and the outside has a lovely curved profile similar to the Amy Morris designed bath -- don't see anything like that these days! If I was to build (and I'm contemplating a master bath addition to a mountain cabin), I would love the tub to go in a windowed niche with windows on three sides (privacy is not an issue). A free-standing tub looks wonderful but takes more real estate, and I do wonder about cleaning in the back of it, if it's in a smaller tub-sized niche, as well as cleaning around the exposed pipes. As a baby boomer, I have to confess that getting in and out of a tub is becoming more of an issue, and I think the built-ins with a ledge might make it easier. Love the look of the undermount, but would worry that the marble/stone would hurt my back. The whole idea is comfort, after all. I would definitely go to the plumbing fixture store and try some out. I'm not interested in a jetted tub with the maintenance and cleaning issues. For beauty and charm, nothing beats the freestanding, but it might not be the most practical and is probably going to be the most expensive option (unless you use a refurbished vintage one) in fixtures and space. Please do keep in mind that not all of your readers can afford these luxury 'spa' bathrooms as much as we may admire them.

  41. This was absolutly enlighting
    all those beautiful tubs.
    I am a tub person too. It blows my mind as I drive by farms here that have claw foot tubs for the cows water.

  42. I say go with a freestanding tub-- it is classic and won't go out of style. I would pick one that has sides that don't angle greatly, as that would lessen the standing room of the actual tub if you also use it as a shower. Love the pics!

  43. Before reading all of these comments, I never thought about the fact that an undermount tub would probably not be the most comfortable for soaking because of where the stone meets the tub. Maybe this is the kind of tub that looks great, but it is form over function. Since this tub will be used frequently, I think it has to be the freestanding or the drop in style. I might have to do some bathtub shopping tomorrow, which is so premature but sounds like fun. At the very least I will be able to tell the builder what the expect in the master bathroom budget.

    Had I not posted on this, I would have probably ended up with a pretty but extremely uncomfortable tub! Thank you, and keep the comments coming. I am enjoying reading each and every one!

  44. I prefer the bathroom to appear as a regular room that just happens to have plumbing fixtures. Although there are some good looking free-standing tubs available today, a built-in is more luxurious in my mind for the Master Bath. (A child's bathroom could have a free-standing tub). Drop-in tubs fall into the same category as recessed downlights -- they can be dealt with if necessary, but best avoided. A template must be correctly made for a marble deck with an undermounted tub; if correctly executed, there is no discomfort at all. Of course, one would want a regularlly-shaped tub -- none of those bobsleds! And it goes without saying that the material of a new tub should be cast-iron and not acrylic!

  45. One thing I like about free standing tubs is that it can create the illusion of more space because the floor continues all the way to the edge of the bottom of the tub. If you do a built in the floor stops at the box built for the tub to sit in/under which is usually bigger than the tub itself. I also like how the free standing tub eliminates all the clutter that generally gets put on the deck.

  46. I love both! For me, it really depends on the space and what is feasable, not forced. If you have the space for it, go for it. I had a freestanding, only thing I didn't like was no place for towels, soaps, candles (glass of wine) and what not. So the front would get a bit cluttered with a little side table, a chair or even a bench.

    Good luck! I'm sure whichever you choose will be stunning.


  47. I vote for a built-in tub in an alcove. The freestanding are beautiful, though. One thing, those big mirrors look gorgeous behind the tubs, but personally I am not looking to see myself in a mirror whilst getting out of the tub! Yikes.

  48. Beautiful post. I love the elegance of the free standing tub, but like others have concerns over where you put all your "bath accessories." If you find a lovely table to put near the tub and it does not bother you to have to reach for your things than I would go for a freestanding tub. Otherwise, choose a built in tub, set into a pretty alcove a la Gil Schafer.

  49. The freestanding tubs are so classic and love the design lines of them. One day I will do this. It would be a major project at this time!

  50. I live in a city apartment, but have always wanted a clawfoot tub. So, when we renovated our place last year I searched high and low for one that would fit our teeny bathrooms (just under 5' wide). I found this one (hope the link works) at Plumbers Surplus online:
    American Bath Factory B1-2540-WW-NH-M2-15-CH-C1-LH Jester Traditional Clawfoot Bathtub in White, Ball and Claw Feet in Chrome, No Faucet Holes, Champagne Blower Left. It looks like a traditional clawfoot, but is made of a lighter material and includes air jets. And, I love it! So relaxing. Of course, if you have more room than we do, there are several larger models (I can only dream of those! Especially the slipper style ones that wouldn't fit in our place). Also, for faucets, etc., we used NeedPlumbingSupplies.com, which seemed to have better customer service than PlumbersSurplus.com. Hope this helps! Good luck.

  51. Oops, I forgot to mention that I also use a circular chrome & glass end table from Z Gallerie to corral all my magazines, etc. I place it next to the tub - even in our teeny bathrooms, there is room. So, that could be a solution if your only hesitation about a free-standing tub is where to place candles, etc.

  52. Think about what you enjoy when bathing, in addition to a great view and lots of light. When bathing, I like the air in the room to get warm and toasty, so I like a small bathroom with a low ceiling. Make sure the shape fits you comfortably and that the bottom has enough traction to keep you from slipping. If you read in the tub, where will you store your reading material, if you use a free-standing tub? Are you legs long enough to get in and out of the tub easily? Is it also easy to keep your tub clean? Make sure the tub holds enough water under its overflow drain. Where will you wash your hair?

    Have fun deciding!

  53. Oh my goodness! I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond, because I have a HUGE opinion. I LOVE TUBS! I literally take a bath every night. Bath salts and French soaps are two of my largest expenses! I, too, spent my very young adulthood in a house with a roommate where we shared a antique bathtub/shower. I had always dreamed of having one. Like literally, it was in my dreams... I thought it would be great, but there were some problems with it. 1. I was sharing the bathroom, so I was always afraid she would walk in. 2. I HATED TAKING SHOWERS THERE!!! The shower curtain stuck to me, there was no place to shave my legs, and I usually felt grosser getting out that when I got in 3. (this was actually a shocker for me) The bathtub is my #1 place to read interior design magazines, but in the antique tub the ledge was so high I couldn't rest the magazine on the side, and it's hard to read just holding it up ... also, if you finished one it was impossible to grab another one off the floor because the tub was so high...

    All that being said, I love antique tubs, and if I ever get the chance to design my own home I WILL have one. I have a whirlpool tub/combo right now, and there is def. much to be desired! I know you will make an excellent choice!

  54. Hi My vote is for free standing with a beautiful table,stool or chair to lay your books and magazines. I think a deck can become just another place to have to decorate and then it can become contrived. You love good art,design and architecture so enjoying the site of your tub will be as equally important to you as the bathing process. Look at the tub as sculpture and you will come up with just the right answer. I love the way Sarah Richardson mixes the mondern with the antique so interesting. Keep the space visually open and clean and sculptural, that is what I like. kathysue

  55. That is gorgeous. I had a friend who had an old house with claw foot tubs. SO PRETTY


  56. My parents have a free standing tub in their new house and it definitely makes the bathroom from an aesthetics standpoint. And according to my mom (dad doesn't use a bathtub, as most men don't), it's also quite comfortable.

    I do think freestanding tubs are popular right now, but I wouldn't call them trendy. After all, how long have clawfoot tubs been around? I think this one is pretty trend-proof.

  57. I love this post - thanks for introducing me to some new designers too. I love Amy Morris' design with that gorgeous oversized mirror. Perfection.


  58. Great post! I love a freestanding tub - no question. But when presented with the issue in my own home renovation I went with a built-in. Why? It really worked better in the space and was more practical for the room. Plus in the end I couldn't justify the extra money. I think mine was $700 and the free-standing would have been at least $2500. Plus the faucet and additional plumbing fixtures would have been well over $1000. It was over my budget so I had to pass. Maybe in the next house!!!!

  59. Another amazing roundup- I'm so ready to redo both the bathrooms in my house, I just bookmarked this post so when the time comes I can refer to it for inspiration!!! Thnx

  60. TTI!
    While I do love the look of a freestanding tub, I like to feel the coziness of walls surrounding me, and I like it to be more private. If I could choose from all that you displayed, I would go with the Image from Velvet and Linen. I do adore those shutters. Lovely. Currently, I have a drop in with the finished rim.
    Good things to ponder.

  61. I am a bath addict ...can't live without one. All of these images do the bathtub proud but my vote, if you have the space, is for the free standing style. A bathroom is just that, a room so I always consider the bath a piece of furniture. Good luck choosing....xv

  62. My vote is for a traditional free-standing tub in an alcove. I'd mirror the back wall the same shape and height as the tub so you will have a place for your books, bath salts, candles, etc. on a curved countertop. If you don't have a window, then frame in a large antique mirror.

  63. I am currently remodeling a home we purchased. The home was only 8 years old, but there had been a leak in the shower and the entire floor of the bathroom was compromised, so the bathroom had to be gutted. It orignally had a built in jetted tub and seperate shower.

    I chose to use a free standing pedestal tub. I love the look of those gorgeous mirrors behind the tubs in your post, but my bath came with a leaded glass window behind it. I am going to add white drapes like in the second picture in your post, for privacy. To see my bath here is a link:


  64. Wow, I am laaaate to the comments on this one! I'll put in my two cents worth, and sorry if I am repeating something aleady said in the 63 comments before me. You seem to keep saving images of the Empire Tub by Waterworks (my favorite, that I've used about 10 times now) and the Vintage Tub by Kohler. Both are stunning and I am never disappointed when I see them installed. Hope that's helpful.

    I've always wanted to do the build-a-box, pop in a tub thing; but freestanding wins me over everytime.

  65. I absolutely think it's an updated classic that is here to stay. If I had my choice, it would definitely be to have a free standing steel or copper tub, in a cozy little nook. With a beautiful inviting chair or ottoman nearby, and a beautiful old Book case - which would hold towels and soaps, and books..;-)

    off I go to dream land..:-)




Related Posts with Thumbnails