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 here to suggest a way to fit even more luxury into your bath-time paradise: put a freestanding bathtub in the middle of your room instead of sticking it against a wall.
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 bathtubs, though, like this gorgeous Era Double-Ended Bathtub not only don’t need to be adjacent to a wall, but actually look better in the middle of the room.
If you’re like me and believe there’s no beating a good long soak in a tub of hot water, a freestanding bath can not only make more room for other bath fixtures, but also creates a beautiful, elegant centerpiece for your bathroom. Whether you install a regular tub like this Riva (though 6 feet long and with an 89 gallon capacity is hardly ordinary!) or a whirlpool, using a bathtub as a focal point can create a stunning, romantic feel that unifies a large space around a single fixture – especially if you pay attention to the details and make sure to match your tiling and fixtures!
Of course, there are a few things you want to consider before going this route. While it might be obvious that Victorian bathtubs like this Era Slipper clawfoot tub require special hardware in order to be freestanding, that isn’t all they need. 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, and 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.
Once you’ve gotten the plumbing out of the way, though, you still have to decide what kind of tub you want your centerpiece to be. If you want a traditional soaking tub, classical clawfoot tub, or just a really big, fancy bathtub like this Morphosis, that’s pretty much that. With the possible exception of a built in heater, most 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.
Because of all their internal equipment and their higher water capacity, hot tubs can be much heavier than other tubs, so you want to make extra sure that your floors can support one before you install. Once that’s taken care of, you still have to choose what type of hot tub you want to install. Traditional jetted or whirlpool hot tubs produce strong, deep-tissue massaging jets of water that some consider extremely therapeutic, but might be too intense or abrasive for some. On the other end of the spectrum are air system or “pure air” hot tubs like this Allusion Pure Air that 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, hot tubs like this Real Salon combine the best of both worlds and can adjust between all air jets, all water jets, or a combination of the two, for a personalized experience every time you – and your sweetie! – climb in to soak. The best ones also come with built-in heaters, so if you’re like me and you spent a lot of time in the tub with your nose in a book, rather than pouring in more hot water to reheat it, the tub maintains its own temperature until your feet are pruned and you turn the last page and pull the plug!
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 tub like this Fuzion begs to be slid – rather than climbed – into. And if you’re going to go whole-hog on your dream bathroom, why not get the full experience, with a private hot-spring-like steam bath, a glass walled summer storm in your rain shower, and your very own private pond 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!