The most common type of bathtub is a simple rectangular acrylic tub installed in a corner or along a wall, usually with an attached shower door or shower curtain. But while this is far and away the most common setup, if you’re planning a major bathroom renovation, “common” is probably the last look you’re going for. So if you’re in the market for a nicer tub, here are a few ways to make it the star of your bathroom (as well as a few things to consider before you commit!).
Sculptural Freestanding Bathtubs
Many of the most popular bathtubs these days are freestanding and designed to be eye-catching on their own. From classic clawfoot tubs to more modern, geometric designs, these tubs will be a focal point of your space no matter where in your bathroom you put them. These are a great option for a smaller bathroom because they can be nearly as lean as a standard acrylic tub, and work equally well when placed smack dab in the center of a room or squeezed into a smaller niche or corner. The big challenge with freestanding tubs is that if you don’t install them adjacent to a wall, you’ll need to tweak your plumbing a little, often to accommodate a floor-mounted tub filler, which can be more challenging the farther away from your existing plumbing you want to mount the tub.
Upgrade With A Nice Tub Deck
For a more opulent, traditional look, you might want to consider a drop-in tub rather than a freestanding one. Unlike most standard tubs, drop-in bathtubs can’t stand on their own and need some kind of mount or surround just to stand them upright. That said, what you want the tub deck to look like is entirely up to you; whether it’s a huge, ornate marble installation or just a basic beadboard apron. Often these can be a pretty straightforward replacement for a generic tub, too; they’re a little bigger in all dimensions (especially if you upgrade to a corner-installed tub), but can usually occupy the same space. On the flip side, you can also build tub deck in the center of a larger bathroom to really put it on display, but as with freestanding tubs this requires a bit more extensive renovation.
In-Floor Tubs Make For A More Open Bathroom
A nice twist on the drop-in tub (albeit one that’s a bit more complicated to pull off) is the in-floor tub. These are usually reserved for very modern spaces, often ones with an eastern theme. Rather than stepping up into them, you step down into the tub, the surface of which is level with the floor. The result is a very streamlined, minimalist look that’s great for a zen aesthetic and has a really luxurious, spa-like feel, but the challenge here should be pretty obvious: you’ll need to knock a pretty big hole in your floor to accommodate it, and make sure it’s very, very well sealed and waterproofed. If you don’t have the space to drop your tub all the way down, you can also opt for a middle-of-the-line compromise, with a low step-up mount that places the rim of the tub just above floor level.
A Luxury Take On The Shower/Tub
The worst offender when it comes to boring, generic bathtubs is the shower/tub combo: an acrylic tub paired with a matching acrylic surround or shower wall. But maybe my favorite re-interpretation of this look is a convergence of the trends toward bigger shower stalls and freestanding bathtubs: simply building a shower so big that you have room to put a bathtub in it, too. Before you dismiss it as luxury-overkill, there are a couple neat benefits to this setup. With the right drainage and good sealing, you don’t have to worry about bathtub splashes, up to and including overflowing your bathtub, because the water drains directly into the shower. The shower doors also do a great job of trapping steam and heat, keeping it warmer while you’re bathing and saving the rest of your bathroom from excess moisture.
Tub With A View
If you happen to have a window in your bathroom, installing your bathtub in front of it is a great way to show off both. The window creates a natural point of interest in your space, and placing a decorative tub (or a decorative tub mount) beneath it only redoubles the effect, while the window puts a fairly literal spotlight on the tub itself, creating a beautiful alcove. I also really like this setup because it lets you enjoy sunlight, fresh air, and a nice view while you’re soaking, for a luxurious bathing experience as well as an opulent appearance.
Put It On A Pedestal
All that said, the most effective way to draw attention to a bathtub is to give it a little lift. This works with any kind of tub – whether it’s freestanding or built-in – and goes above and beyond a traditional mount, usually with steps leading up to the tub, or multiple decorative tiers to really showcase your bathtub. Now, if it’s anything more than a single step up, this is really something you can only do in a pretty large bathroom, but if you do have the space to work with, this is really the most opulent, glamorous look you can get.