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Beyond The Classic Clawfoot Tub: Stylish Freestanding Bathtubs For A Contemporary Bathroom

Clawfoot bathtubs are the number one go-to choice for anyone looking to get something more than just the average bathtub. They’re beautiful, iconic, and carry a sense of history with them – after all, they do represent the origin of the modern bathtub in this part of the world. But classic clawfoot tubs aren’t the only bathtubs that have a unique appearance. In fact, many designers are revisiting and revising the most traditional bathroom styles to give them a sleeker, more contemporary edge. If you’d like your bathtub to act as an elegant modern statement piece, here are a few slightly less traditional options you might want to consider.

Non-Claw Feet

Barclay Athens 67" Cast Iron Tub With Wooden Blocks CTSQH67-WH
Barclay Athens 67″ Cast Iron Tub With Wooden Blocks CTSQH67-WH

Part of what makes clawfoot bathtubs so striking is simply that they’re lifted up off the ground. Just that little bit of white space between the bottom of the tub and the floor commands a second glance and sets them apart from conventional drop in or apron style soaking bathtubs or even whirlpools. But while a bathtub does need feet to pull off this look, they don’t need to be claw feet. Everything else equal, it’s the intricate claws that give clawfoot tubs their classic, iconic look, so swapping them out for wood blocks or simplified metal feet will give the whole bathtub a much more modern look.

Add Some Angles

Prima 32 x 71 Freestanding One Piece Soaker Tub VZ3271G from Venzi
Prima 32 x 71 Freestanding One Piece Soaker Tub VZ3271G from Venzi

Classic clawfoot tubs are all about the curves, from the traditional roll top to sassy slipper tubs. Which means that the easiest way to deviate from this classic style is to simply opt for a slightly more angular tub. Now, you probably don’t want a bathtub that’s all hard lines – some of those curves are what make clawfoot tubs so comfy to soak in. But sharpening out a few corners and aiming for an overall more angular, geometric shape on the outside will immediately make a bathtub look much more modern. All those straight lines work well with a modern, minimalist design, and when done right have their own uniquely appealing aesthetic quality.

A Little Asymmetry

Hansgrohe AXOR MASSAUD 18950000 Freestanding Tub
Hansgrohe AXOR MASSAUD 18950000 Freestanding Tub

Clawfoot bathtubs are pretty unfailingly symmetrical. Even one-sided slipper tubs are symmetrical in one direction. But many modern bathtubs are playing with this convention, shirking perfectly matched sides and edges in favor of more interesting shapes. Once again, this doesn’t necessarily change the inside shape of the tub (though it can), but instead re-envisions the bathtubs as a three dimensional artistic object, rather than a standardized fixture. The one drawback of this type of bathtub is that, unlike more symmetrical shapes, they don’t always fit quite so well up against a wall or in a corner. Conversely, they make amazing statement pieces that can hold their own when installed free-floating in the middle of a large room. Even a simple curved shape that’s brought out slightly one one side can be incredibly striking, and make for a totally unique appearance that you just won’t get from a more traditional freestanding tub.

Make It Metal

Acrylic 66" Freestanding Tub With Stainless Steel Skirt ATOVN66-SS from Barclay
Acrylic 66″ Freestanding Tub With Stainless Steel Skirt ATOVN66-SS from Barclay

Maybe one of the longest-standing traditions in all of bathtub design (not just clawfoot tubs) is that bathtubs are almost always white. Traditionally that meant porcelain and more commonly now it means acrylic, but with the exception of some colored enamel during the 60s and 70s, bathtubs are almost universally white. What that means, though, is that opting for anything else makes the bathtub immediately eye-catching. Some designers are starting to sell bathtubs in solid black, but personally I prefer something a little more unique, like a metal bathtub. Copper tubs are pretty common with a more traditional style, but bathtubs finished with stainless steel are still quite rare, and absolutely scream modern. For a slightly more industrial look, keep an eye out for steel tubs with banded, rivet-style detailing, but for a sleek, clean modern look, a smooth and unadorned surface like this one will do just fine.

Something Statuesque

PietraStone 30 x 67 Freestanding Bathtub VZ6730CDSXLWXX from Venzi
PietraStone 30 x 67 Freestanding Bathtub VZ6730CDSXLWXX from Venzi

For something really daring, look for tubs that break away from the conventional bathtub shape entirely. Of course even the most unusual bathtubs will still be five to six or so feet long with at least one sloped side to lean back on, but pretty much anything beyond that is fair game. With a little searching, you can find some truly stunning modern freestanding tubs with lovely, sculptural exteriors – everything from unusual shapes to optical illusions. This stunning modern take on a slipper tub, with a flat bottom and sleek, elegantly curved high back is a personal favorite, but there are easily hundreds of unconventional designs out there from dozens of manufacturers – some more wild than others – that you can easily use as a signature centerpiece for your bathroom.

 So if you’re looking to dress up a modern bathroom, you might want to look beyond the basic bathtub – there are a whole lot more unique, stylish alternatives out there. What do you think of these distinctive modern bathtubs? Let me know in the comments below!