A beautiful addition to your home, a freestanding bath will fit in almost anywhere. With traditional and contemporary roll top designs abounding, they're having something of a revival. And they don't have to be confined to the bathroom: you could put your new addition in your bedroom for a touch of boutique hotel chic.
Traditional roll top baths have graced stately homes for centuries. While your own bathroom might be a little more humble than that in a listed manor house, you can choose to have one of these striking features grace your period home - and it needn't cost the earth! Buying a second-hand cast iron bath is one way of establishing your green credentials in the bathroom as well as saving money; you can then clean it up and repaint the outside, or get it professionally re enamelled, to give the old bath a new lease of life. As the centrepiece of a refitted bathroom, this could look simply stunning.
If your home is more 21st century than Victorian era, though, you'll find a wide variety of contemporary freestanding baths available from a range of manufacturers; using modern materials and design techniques, they're able to diverge from the traditional shape and do something a little bit different.
Whether your style is traditional or contemporary, you'll need to know your terminology before you go shopping. Freestanding baths come in two main lengths and several basic styles. The classic roll top is a generously sized bath, while the slipper is a little shorter, being raised at one end to support your back and neck as you soak. Either of these styles can be either single or double ended: a single ended bath has the taps at one end, and a double ended bath has the taps in the middle, so that the bath can comfortably accommodate two.
If you're short of space, and a slipper bath isn't right for your room, a 'back-to-wall' style gives you the look of a freestanding bathbut with a straight edge which fits up against the wall, saving you vital inches. Alternatively, a corner style will make still better use of space by fitting up neatly against two walls.
A range of materials are available too: from traditional cast iron through to modern acrylic or stone resin. Bear in mind, though, that a bath will be very heavy once it's filled with water, and the use of heavier materials will compound this issue: make sure that the joists of your bathroom floor are strong enough to support the type of bath you favour.
Much of the beauty of a freestanding bath lies in its accessories: a traditional roll top bath would not have the same visual impact if it was missing its intricate clawed feet and its freestanding taps. Similarly, the clean lines of a contemporary freestanding bath can be enhanced by some simple, modern, wall mounted taps, or you could bring an oriental look to your bath by choosing a model with wooden block feet.