Why a free-standing bathtub always my first choice.


When I am asked to renovate a home, that renovation almost always involves renovating a master bathroom. When I am renovating a master bathroom, it almost always involves a bathtub, and when I select a bathtub it almost always is a free-standing tub. Why?

Bathtubs are a source of opulence and privilege. From their very inception, the bathtub was only found in the wealthiest of homes, if not the sole domain of a noble. To this day they continue to hold a general perception of success in society. A bath is not only used to cleanse oneself, but more importantly to offer relaxation and serenity. To this end there are a dizzying array of upgrades and add-ons that can come with your tub. With options for Bubbles, massaging jets, colors that offer “healing” properties and even scents injected into the water ( all available on free-standing models ) the choices seem endless. Believe me, I have seen it all. The one thing I consistently advise a client on however, is that the tub be free-standing.

1. A free-standing tub is more elegant

While a drop-in or built-in tub has a lot to offer, it's very design demands that it must become part of the room. The room built to accommodate the tub. A free-standing tub has the opposite effect. The tub becomes a focal point of the space. It stands away from the other elements and offers itself as a definition of the design. The tub itself, and it’s filler, become integral to the overall design of the room, and telegraph a look from the moment a guest arrives. For this reason, I usually select the tub and it’s filler first, and then allow those selections to guide me through the selection of all of the other elements and fixtures in the room.


free-standing tub with offset floor filler
free-standing tub with offset floor filler

free-standing tub with wall filler
free-standing tub with wall filler

2. A free-standing tub makes the room seem larger

This may seem strange at first, but a free-standing tub will always evoke a sence of space. Due to the fact that the tub is sitting on the floor, and typically has a lip on either side that tapers up creating negative space both beneath it and behind it, the room seem larger. This negative space casts shadows and adds dimension. A visitor sees the large tub and thinks of it’s size, but the brain calculates the three dimensions of the space using the obvious tile on the floor and behind the tub and is tricked into thinking the room is larger than it actually is. This coupled with the fact that the tub is typically set in the room to be the anchor of the space, makes the bathroom seem larger and more opulent.



modern bathroom with free-standing tub
modern bathroom with free-standing tub

In this bathroom, space was at a premium. By using a free-standing tub, I was able to create space and allow the room to breath more.

3. Free-standing tubs are less expensive

Don’t believe me? That’s exactly the point. The truth is, I can usually source a standard free-standing tub for a third of what a drop-in soaking tub or jacuzzi will cost. When people see the bathtub installed, the assumption never is that it was the more economical choice. No matter what your budget, cost is a consideration. Why spend more for something less impactful?

4.Don’t forget the filler

There are a myriad of tub fillers that can be used with free-standing tubs. The two most popular are floor-mounted, and wall-mounted. The floor mounted filler allows the tub to find a compliment with a beautiful display of the faucet rising out of the floor. Sometimes the filler is set behind the tub, but often it is set off to one side. By setting it off to the side, the design of the faucet really complements the tub and sets a tone for the room. A wall mounted fixture is a cleaner look, and can make the tub have more symmetry as there is no filler on one side throwing the picture off balance. This design can allow for a more modern looking bathroom, and if mounted on a natural stone backsplash, a really classic look.

Free-standing tub with floor filler
Free-standing tub with floor filler

Free-standing tub with wall filler
Free-standing tub with wall filler

free-standing tub with ceiling filler
free-standing tub with ceiling filler

For all these reasons and more, a free-standing tub is always my first choice. That is not to say a drop-in soaking tub or jacuzzi is not a strong choice. In general, today’s modern master bathroom design calls for persona, imagination, clean lines and a sense that something extraordinary is taking place. In my mind there is no better starting point than a free-standing tub.


all images ©2020 cristian deseta design

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