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Finding The Right Freestanding Bathtub: Beyond The Clawfoot

I spend a lot of time steeped in home design trends – styles old, new, and otherwise for every room in the home. But I have to say, I love bathtubs. I love them as a design element, a focal point, and of course as a vessel for bubble baths. If you really want to wow me, show me a well-designed bathroom featuring a big, beautiful freestanding bathtub. But too many people think that a “freestanding bathtub” just means a clawfoot tub, when there are so many beautiful classic and modern designs out there to choose from.

The Classic Clawfoot

Marie Louise Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub From Herbeau
Marie Louise Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub From Herbeau

Of course, the most iconic type of freestanding bathtub is the clawfoot, and these are popular for a reason: the design comes standard with the weight of history, and the sophistication of bygone days. Clawfoot tubs are just plain elegant. But there are many types of clawfoot tubs to choose from – whether you opt for an authentic antique, a cast iron replica, or a new, lightweight acrylic design. There are also several different iconic shapes to help you combine a classic style with the look and comfort you want.

Elegant Pedestal

Midas Oval Freestanding Bathtub 34 x 71 x 18 VZ3471RS from Venzi
Midas Oval Freestanding Bathtub 34 x 71 x 18 VZ3471RS from Venzi

But even if you love a classic, vintage look, clawfoot tubs aren’t the only option. In fact, pedestal tubs often have radically different designs – like this curvy slipper tub with its column-style base – that fit well with an opulent antique design. In fact, personally I think clawfoot tubs look better with a simple, cottage style decor, where pedestal tubs are more suited to elegant marble floors and a decor that’s generally a little more grand.

Copper Tub

Essex Copper Freestanding Bathtub SC-ESX-66 From Sierra Copper
Essex Copper Freestanding Bathtub SC-ESX-66 From Sierra Copper

Another option that (I think) is overlooked all too often is the copper tub. These are definitely a high end luxury option (as they’re made from solid, often raw or unrecycled copper), but more than any other type of tub, these are made to last the life of your home and then some. Most models are like this one: based on a classic double-slipper design with a pedestal base that’s very 1800’s Sherlock Holmsey, but you can also find some highly modern, geometric designs if you look. I like these for the inherent advantages of copper (like easy maintenance and a naturally antiseptic surface), but also for the rich, natural patina that develops over time, which makes every copper tub a one-of-a-kind organic piece of art – the perfect focal point for a dream bathroom.

A Modern Twist

Encore 70x33 Rectangular Soaking Bathtub PBT-ENCORE-7033-CR by Pacific Collection
Encore 70×33 Rectangular Soaking Bathtub PBT-ENCORE-7033-CR by Pacific Collection

If you’re going for a more modern look, any of these tubs would be way, way out of place (unless, of course, you were aiming for a big time urban chic look). But if that’s the case, you shouldn’t count out a freestanding bathtub. In fact, this Encore tub is about as modern as they come. The rigid rectangular design is a bit tongue-in-cheek, mirroring the design you’d expect from a conventional tub/wall, but popped out into a freestanding bathtub. The straight, simple lines are perfect for a modern decor, as is the slightly deconstructed look, for a simple yet surprisingly sassy design.

Love The Curve

Riviera 67" Soaking Bathtub PBT-RIVIERA-6728-CR by Pacific Collection
Riviera 67″ Soaking Bathtub PBT-RIVIERA-6728-CR by Pacific Collection

Then again, not all modern freestanding bathtubs are quite so angular. In fact, for every one that sticks to a very rigid geometric design, there’s one that plays with shape in an interesting way. Depending on what you have in mind, there are plenty of unique freestanding tubs out there – ones made of unique materials, designed to create optical illusions, or just something like this Riviera tub, which has smooth, curved sides with delicate, pointed tips rather than the more conventional rolled-top slipper style backrest – a look that’s just different enough to catch the eye and play on tradition.

Simplified Modern Design

Serenity 70 x 31.5 Freestanding Bathtub VTU-1170 from Virtu USA
Serenity 70 x 31.5 Freestanding Bathtub VTU-1170 from Virtu USA

Finally, there are a whole slew of simpler modern designs, like this sleek, elegant Serenity tub from Virtu USA. Made with simple, often slightly egg-shaped designs, these modern freestanding bathtubs are the opposite in every way of the conventional clawfoot: they’re unadorned and unornamented, with simple hardware and minimalist silhouettes. But in a modern bathroom, the effect is similar – a clean, white, shapely bathtub that draws the eye, centers the room, and ties together a luxury design.

So before you assume that all freestanding bathtubs are clawfoot tubs, take a look: you might be surprised at what you find. Which of these designs do you like? What kind of freestanding bathtub are you looking for?