During consults with clients who are embarking on a new design project, we often talk about their number one must, that one thing they dream of, and sometimes we will hear free-standing tub. We’ve even had a client with a small master bath who sacrificed a double sink and almost considered nixing the frameless shower too if it could not fit. I’m not sure exactly what the allure of the free-standing tub is but it is certain that they are beautiful. I guess its possible to think of it as the apron sink of your bathroom. That one element that just keeps intriguing you and making you want to come back for more.
There are 2 main free-standing tubs designs, clawfoot and pedestal. The clawfoot made its iconic debut into the world when bathing started becoming fashionable in Europe in the 18th century. Taking a bath is so much fun it is hard to imagine it was ever not fashionable but I digress. The size options and clear space around the clawfoot make them a good choice for smaller bathrooms, but they pack a punch, and can also be used to make a statement in a large space. The clawfoot is most notably made out of cast-iron with porcelain enamel.
In general cast-iron tubs with porcelain enamel provide more opportunities to integrate different colors and textures into your design. You can go with shades like white or black, use raw metal, or do something a little brighter like a mint green water-color which we feature in one of our inspiration photos for this post. They also are known for being high quality, everlasting, and classic.
Pedestal tubs are overall a bit larger than their friend the clawfoot, grander and heavier, with clean lines. However, despite their look, they also come in acrylic. Acrylic doesn’t have the best reputation out there, and only comes in white, but there are some nice aspects of it. It’s low maintenance and lightweight, modern qualities. You may not need to worry as much about reinforcing the floors, especially in an older home, to accommodate the same size cast-iron pedestal tub.
Depending on how you look at it, and your personal preference, an acrylic tub may feel warmer when you get in, unlike metal which may feel cooler to the touch. On the other hand, some may say that the acrylic doesn’t keep the water warm for long periods of time, also a good point. Lucky for us, the best of both worlds are available in pedestal. Some are even made from a one-piece casting of volcanic limestone and resin which is absolutely amazing when you think about that type of construction. If you are more of purist, this would definitely be the way to go. Or if you believe in heritage and artisanal manufacturing as being the hallmark of quality, then you may be interested in a Waterworks construction, where material specification is non disclosed trade secret.
One thing we haven’t talked about much is the tub filler. You’ll want to consider the type of tub filler you need when selecting a free-standing tub (wall mount, deck mount, or free-standing), from what side the tub will fill, and the length the spout. If you have a wide rimmed tub, you’ll want to select an extra long spout. Narrow tub ledges may be compatible with more tub fillers. I think we will need to do a separate post on favorite tub filler hardware one day.
Whether you’re renovating or doing a new construction, there are a variety of options to suit your free-standing tub dreams. Free standing tubs are not really design style specific. You can mix and match vintage with modern and vice a versa. They will always look tranquil and attractive. It is part of their mysterious charm.
Wishing everyone a treat-yourself-blissful-bath (hopefully with a glass of wine) and this free-standing tub round-up.
Some of our inspiration over on Pinterest: