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?
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!
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