Believe it or not, bathing was once considered a fashionable luxury rather than an everyday necessity. Back in the 18th century, the idea of the clawfoot tub emerged and became increasingly popular among royalty before making its way into homes around the world. Fast forward a couple hundred years, and freestanding tubs took a backseat in bathroom design with the advent of showers and the built-in shower/tub combo. In recent years, however, standalone tubs have made a comeback, and are now a stylish upgrade to any full bath.
Your bathroom is likely one of the most important rooms in your home. Let’s face it—you spend a lot of time in there! Aside from your bed, it’s where your days begin and end. It’s where you get ready and prepare for the day ahead of you. It’s where you unwind, relax and recharge after a long, hectic day. Because of this, it makes sense for your bathroom to be an oasis of sorts, and a beautiful freestanding—or soaking— tub can be the perfect focal point. Today, we are no longer limited to Victorian-style clawfoot tubs, as there are a variety of designs available on the market.
“Currently, freestanding tubs that are on trend would be clean line tubs that mount directly to the floor,” says Lindsey Johnson, showroom manager at Ferguson Enterprises in Lynchburg. “We still sell tubs that come on feet or legs, but there is more of a push for tubs that are flush with the bathroom floor.”
As far as materials, colors and sizes go, Ferguson offers many options to customers. “You name it, and we can probably get it,” Johnson says. Some of the numerous different materials include acrylic, cast iron, metal, stone and composite.
“I love, love the look of freestanding tubs and would suggest it to any customer who was in the market for a tub,” she says. “Freestanding tubs now are very reasonably priced, and can accommodate a deck mount tub faucet, which generally saves on cost.” ‘Deck mount’ faucets, which are affixed directly to the tub itself (like a standard bathtub faucet) are a more affordable option to traditional ‘floor mount’ faucets, where the faucet is a separate fixture placed directly into the bathroom floor. Waterfall deck mounts, which dispense a wide, flat stream of water, are a stylish option for a soaking tub. For the ultimate in cool, a ‘ceiling mount’ tub filler directs a splashless column of water into the tub from a valve in the ceiling, but expect to pay more for this feature.
CMC Supply in Bedford, a locally-owned wholesale business, also offers several lines of freestanding tubs to both contractors and homeowners, with brands including American Standard, Bain Ultra, Maax, Feurco, and Hydrosystems.
“Typical options include soaking tubs, air-jetted, or whirlpool features on most models,” says Jonathan Chisholm, division manager of the Virginia locations. “We have a wide variety of choices in our showrooms. This allows our customers to sit in and ‘experience’ the different styles available.”
Soaking tubs can be found in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. From rectangular to oval to slipper-shaped to asymmetrical, the options are limitless. However, both Johnson and Chisholm agree that contemporary, clean lines are the trend for the future. Sleek, bold and modern, a streamlined silhouette makes a strong design statement, so when choosing a freestanding tub and its location, consider visual appeal in addition to functionality. Since soaking tubs are not limited to a wall or corner, placing it away from walls or at an angle can be especially eye-catching, and the open space around it can actually make the room feel larger.
With these new options and innovations, soaking tubs are no longer exclusive to luxury homes with roomy master baths. Because there are so many styles available, it’s possible to create a spa-like environment in just about any bathroom, and you don’t have to spend a fortune in order to get a luxurious feel.
“Most customers choose their tub for design and space allowed,” Chisholm says. “Other considerations are resale value. When choosing a tub for a new bathroom, we would start with the style of faucet, and move on from there. Budget and practicality both come into play when making the selections. You are not limited to a plain or dull bathroom if you are on a limited budget; however, if you’re looking to splurge, the sky is the limit.”
By choosing a freestanding vessel over a built-in tub, you can make the absolute most of the most private room in your home. With just this one fashionable addition, you instantly gain more style options, an eye-catching space, and a spalike atmosphere for your very own retreat from the hectic world.