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Living Space: Freestanding tubs taking center stage in the bathroom

By By Kathryn Weber
May 15, 2014 at 12:15 a.m.

From traditional claw-foot models to Japanese-style soaking tubs, there's something to match your decor.

Interest in creating the perfect bathroom retreat shows no signs of slowing down. And one item has become the standalone star of many a makeover: the freestanding bathtub.

Built-in whirlpool baths or tubs used to be the way to go, but today's tubs are getting the star treatment. They've evolved from being a pleasant place to a soak to taking center stage in the bathroom.

Focal point

Designers always talk about focal points - and for good reason. They create a point of interest in any room. Manufacturers have taken notice of the new interest in tubs.

There are wonderful freestanding tubs available now with lots of aesthetic appeal that can easily become the chief point of interest in your bath.

For maximum style impact, a freestanding tub can be tucked into a corner, placed against a wall, or anchored under a window for a soak with a view. Unless your home has a slab foundation, placing the tub should be an easy job for your plumber.

From traditional claw-foot models to the Japanese-style soaking tubs, there's something to fit with your decor. Tubs come in a wide range of different shapes, including square and oval. Kohler's Stargaze tub has a square shape that works in both contemporary and transitional homes.

If you really want to break the style mold, try a round tub. The Istanbul or Hampton models from Barclay Products will set your bathroom apart.

Healthful soak

More than good-looking, freestanding tubs are often the go-to choice for therapeutic benefits. Even if your motivation isn't health-related, having a tub that you can fully immerse yourself in is a luxurious plus.

The Japanese have long known the value of a good soak and favor compact yet deep tubs to fully experience the pleasure of bathing. Of course, there's extra cost to these tubs because they're completely finished and not just one-sided like traditional drop-in models.

Cost points

The more unique your freestanding tub, the more this will be reflected in the price. Round tubs can run upward of $5,000, depending on the material. You can expect a starting price of $1,000 for a simple freestanding bathtub made of fiberglass like the Terra model, and costs can run up to $19,000 for the Roma natural stone bathtub.

A good mid-range estimate for a cast iron tub like the Langley double slipper tub is around $2,000. A Victoria and Albert limestone-resin mix that insulates well and feels warm to the touch - and is stylish to boot - will set you back $3,000-$4,000 depending on the style you choose.

Today's freestanding tubs are a new take on a old style that's more relevant today than ever. While creating a beautiful silhouette in your bathroom, making a design statement and providing therapeutic benefits, a freestanding tub hits on all the marks.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.

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