There are two kinds of people in this world: people who wash, and people who bathe. If you’re the latter, you probably know what I mean. Whether you’re taking a hot shower or a luxurious bubble bath, it isn’t just about getting in, getting out, and getting clean. For bathers, the journey (the long soak, the relaxation) trumps the destination (merely getting clean). Now, as a huge fan and advocate of opulent bathrooms and home spas, I’m absolutely in love with the growing popularity of freestanding tubs – especially the trend of putting them in the middle of the room instead of sticking them against a wall.
Advantages of Freestanding Tubs
To have a home spa as such, you need a decent amount of space. Unfortunately, most of the big toys you might want to populate your bathroom with – like a steam bath or shower enclosure – usually need to be positioned around the perimeter of the room, against a wall. Freestanding tubs, though, not only can be moved away from the wall, but actually look better in the middle of the room. If you have the space to do it, upgrading to a freestanding bathtub and putting it front and center will not only make more room for other bath fixtures, but also create a beautiful, elegant focal point for the space. A centralized bathtub will create a stunning, romantic feel and can unify a large space around a single fixture – especially if you pay attention to the details and make sure to match your tiling and fixtures!
What To Know Before You Start
Of course, there are a few things you want to consider before going this route. While it might be obvious that clawfoot bathtubs require special hardware in order to be freestanding, this is true of all freestanding tubs, and adds up to more than just a fancy tub filler. Whether you opt for a classical styled clawfoot or a top-of-the-line luxury whirlpool, the fact is that most bathrooms don’t come with plumbing built into the middle of the floor. You’ll have to undergo some pretty extensive plumbing renovations before you can put in your freestanding tub. So, if you’re thinking about installing one, make sure it’s toward the top of your renovation list and not, say, six months after you installed those nice new heated travertine floors.
Keep It Simple With Ready-To Install Freestanding Tubs
Once you’ve gotten the plumbing installed, though, you still have to decide what kind of tub you want. If you want a traditional soaking tub – whether it’s a classic clawfoot or something a little more modern – you’ve already done the bulk of the hard work. With the possible exception of a built in heater, most freestanding tubs of this type are really only aesthetically different, and are relatively easy to install (at least, once you’re past the plumbing!). On the other hand, if you like a little bubble massage action in your bath, or room for two or more, you have a few more choices ahead of you.
…Or Add Extra Hardware Or Mounts
Because of all their internal equipment and their higher water capacity, hot tubs can be much heavier than other bathtubs. So you want to make extra sure that your floors can support one before you install. Many of them also aren’t totally freestanding on their own. While there are plenty of modern versions that are, many more will need to have a mount built to support them. The effect can be beautiful (and anywhere in your bathroom you can put the plumbing. But it will add a bigger price tag and a lot more work to your renovation. Either way, you’ll also need to decide what kind of jets you want.
Traditional jetted or whirlpool bathtubs produce strong, deep-tissue massaging jets of water. Air system or “pure air” hot tubs produce jets of air bubbles rather than water for a gentler, full-body experience rather than an intense targeted one. For those who like a little of both, or couples that can’t agree on a single perfect bath experience, look for combo tubs instead. These feature both air and water jets, with the ability to switch between the two – or even use both at once. The best ones also come with built-in heaters. If you’re like me and you spent a lot of time in the tub with your nose in a book? Instead of continually topping off your tub with hot water, in-line heating keeps the water the same temperature for your whole bath – and all the way to the last page of your book!
Get Daring With An In-Floor Bathtub
For a truly epic project – and an even more stunning final result – instead of building a pedestal for your tub in the middle of your room, consider installing it directly into the floor. Now, of course, this requires a LOT more construction, and probably would only be feasible on the ground floor. But a beautiful floor-level tub begs to be slid – rather than climbed – into. And if you’re going to go whole-hog on your dream bathroom, why not have your very own private lagoon set right in the middle of the room so you can take it all in? Sounds like a dream come true to me!
If you’ve gotten this far, I’m going to guess you’re a bather, too. But what’s your favorite bath-time indulgence? Is it the tub, the shower, or the steam? If you could make some other part of your dream bathroom the focal point, what would it be? Let me know in the comments!