Soak stars

Freestanding tubs add drama to the bathroom

Classic
Photo: Thomas J. Story

Once mostly identified with bathrooms in stately Victorians and quaint B&Bs, freestanding tubs are making a comeback in remodels and new construction. "There's been a whole shift in attitudes about the bathroom," says architect Mark Macy. "People are rethinking the bath and wanting a spa-like place to soak and relax. Freestanding tubs offer new ways to do that."

This type of tub, which can be expensive, works in a traditional or contemporary setting. "One of the biggest advantages," Macy says, "is that these tubs free up space, making the bathroom more open and sculptural."

Consider installation choices. You can mount a tub on metal or wood frames or ceramic bases. Setting the tub within a frame or on a curved base adds a modern touch. Traditional freestanding tubs usually rest on ball-and-claw legs.

Know the plumbing requirements. Freestanding tubs typically are not installed near a wall, so they need special plumbing. A tower box conceals faucets and pipes and connects them to plumbing outlets. Other options include freestanding fixtures with faucets and floor-mounted riser tubes that bring water to the tub.

Make the tub a focal point. Consider where you'll place storage cabinets for towels and toiletries; don't let them crowd the tub. Some tub models have towel brackets that can be attached to either end.

Classic

This tub takes center stage. Plumbing for the tub was installed in the floor and wall framing.

INFO: Dual Bath tub from Sunrise Specialty Company (from $1,300; www.sunrisespecialty.com or 510/729-7277 for a distributor)

DESIGN: Michael Mullin Architect, San Francisco ( www.michaelmullin.com or 415/626-1190)

Modern

A sleek skirt around the tub conceals foam insulation which keeps water hot. The white porcelain coating matches the wall color.

INFO: Centroform oval tub by Kaldewei ($2,440; www.kaldewei.com/en ; available from Matrix North America, 877/628-7400)

DESIGN: Jensen & Macy Architects, San Francisco ( www.jensen-macy.com or 415/553-3650)

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