6 Designers on the Best Freestanding Tub Brands for Sudsy Soaks
Make it the centerpiece of your bathroom.
Published Sep 30, 2022 2:18 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who freak out if their hotel room doesn’t have a bathtub and those who don’t even notice. If you fall into the former camp, then you likely already have a mood board of soaking tubs in beautiful bathrooms accompanied by picturesque views. And we’d venture to guess that several of those photos feature a freestanding tub—the queen of the bath world.
By all means, travel to far-flung corners of the globe in search of the perfect freestanding tub. But we also think you should install one in your own home for everyday luxury. Leaning on advice from seasoned designers, we pulled together a list of brands to know when researching your options, plus a shopping checklist to help you make the best choice for your home and bathing preferences.
Boston-based home goods brand AllModern is a source for designer Anne Sage when creating a bathroom space. “While the company does carry name brands like Kohler, my favorite freestanding tubs are AllModern’s own brand because they’re timeless, well priced, and usually in stock—and come with a smooth shipping and returns process,” she tells Domino. The offerings, she says, are also versatile. “This one is just a classic oblong that would suit a bathroom of almost any aesthetic, from modern to transitional to traditional. It’s also really fantastic if you’re working with a smaller footprint. I used it in a small 1920s bathroom remodel that Domino featured last year, and it was just right.”
For designer Natalie Myers, Signature Hardware is a trusted resource for freestanding tubs, and particularly for the vast selection of sizes and shapes in the resin category. “I never order acrylic freestanding tubs because they feel too slight and bulbous in a plasticky way,” she says. “Signature Hardware is helpful with more traditional silhouettes if you are updating an older house, as well as offering copper tubs.” The Kentucky-based brand has been around since the late ’90s and is known among designers for its collection of well-made bathroom and kitchen pieces that span fixtures to vanities.
A household name among design enthusiasts, RH is one of designer Emma Beryl’s go-to sources for a freestanding tub. “One of our favorite freestanding bathtubs to use is the Piedmont Pedestal Soaking Tub from RH,” she shares. “We used it in one of our client’s primary baths in their New Orleans home and it totally transformed the space.” Beryl notes that the silhouette is a good balance between classic and modern: “It bears resemblance to a quintessential freestanding tub, while also feeling fresh through its use of clean lines.”
Another pick that gets Myers’s stamp of approval is Badeloft, which hails from Berlin and stocks an impressive (and unique) inventory of luxury bathroom products. “Badeloft is more contemporary, with the added bonus of being able to add on a bubble jets feature to some of the tubs,” she says. “It also has a wide selection of resin colors and drain cap finishes.”
Based in the U.K. and with an international presence, the Water Monopoly buys, renovates, and sells antique baths plus reproductions, resulting in a truly memorable end result. “It’s one of my favorite brands for freestanding tubs,” designer Lizzie Green shares. “The colors on offer are playful and different and can make a huge impact in a space.”
Though designer Jennelle Butera proposes stone tubs from Stone Forest for modern, organic-feeling mountain projects, MTI Baths is her primary source for freestanding tubs of all varieties. “It has several shape options and different materials to choose from for various projects and budgets—including mineral composite, stone, and acrylic, to name a few,” she says. The company is based in Georgia and has been around since the 1980s.
Dedicated entirely to claw-foot and freestanding tubs, Penhaglion is a favorite of designer Nicola Manganello. “You can totally customize with this brand,” she says. “Send it your color details from any paint manufacturer and it will match in a gloss or eggshell sheen.” The artisan baths—crafted with materials like steel, stainless steel, aluminum, nickel, brass, zinc, and copper—are manufactured in St. Petersburg, Florida.
There are several silhouettes to choose from when looking for your freestanding tub. The claw-foot style—identified by its four “feet”—dates back several centuries and evokes a sense of nostalgia and regalness. There’s also the pedestal (or skirted) tub that rests on a plinth.
Beyond those two silhouettes, the single-ended bath is perhaps the most classic design, in which one end is rounded for comfortable reclining. Similarly, the single slipper also has one end for lounging, which rises up to resemble, not surprisingly, a slipper. There’s also the double-ended style, with two rounded ends that allow you to choose which side you’re on (also a great pick for two people). Likewise, the double-slipper is also raised on both sides and, depending on size, could accommodate two bathers. With the double-ended and double-slipper styles, the faucet and drain will likely be in the center.
Another term you’ll come across with freestanding baths is roll top, which is essentially when the edges look like they’ve been rolled over. You can also get a freestanding tub that’s reminiscent of a circular Japanese soaking bath. “We’ve used circle tubs quite a bit because they fit into corners better and there’s still room for two,” Manganello says.
Material and Finish
If you want a freestanding tub that makes a bold statement, the material and finish can make a big impact—think: copper, stone, or stainless steel. If it’s something timeless and modern that you’re after, consider resin, cast iron, or acrylic. “Matte resin tubs look more contemporary, but a glossy finish is easier to clean,” Myers notes. For designer Jamie Haller, an antique tub is always the preference. “My favorite freestanding bathtub is a vintage claw-foot tub,” says Haller. “I prefer an authentic refinished cast-iron tub with 100 years of soul attached.”
The size of your freestanding tub will largely depend on the square footage you’re working with. “Larger tubs (70-plus inches) are better for taller people, but make sure you have the clearance you need around the tub for cleaning—a few inches all around—so the space doesn’t feel too crowded,” Myers says. Weight also plays a factor. “Make sure your floorboards or joists can support the bath you go for,” Green says. “You may need to reinforce the floor for a stone bath.”
Unlike their built-in counterparts, freestanding tubs are easier to install, as they don’t require sealing or mounting, and installation usually only requires a call to the plumber. If the lines for hot and cold water are in the floor, there’s more flexibility with placement of the tub and a freestanding faucet, though if they’re located next to a wall, you’ll likely end up using a wall-mounted faucet and the tub will need to be placed beneath.
For many, a simple soaking tub is enough to make you feel deeply relaxed. However, there is the option to bring in bubbly reinforcements. “If you’re willing to splash out for a higher price point, my mom recently installed a freestanding tub with jets in her primary bath,” Sage says. “It’s such a luxe touch and takes the bathing experience to a whole other level.”