Seen at the Interior Design Show 2020: More Killer Bathtubs

CC BY 1.0. These really should come with a safety warning/ Lloyd Alter

These things should be banned, or at least they should come with a real warning.

Last year I complained about the elaborate displays of bathtubs at the Interior Design Show in Toronto, and it seems that the fashion for free-standing tubs is continuing unabated. I complained how awful these are, how they are not ergonomic and not safe; I wrote:

Is this a bathtub?

Is this a bathtub?/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Gathering around the tub on opening night

Gathering around the tub on opening night/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

But everyone thinks they are all the rage. Luke Edward Hall writes in the Financial Times about How to choose a bathtub that will make waves:

If you have space, and for maximum grandeur, go for freestanding. Have fun and consider shape, colour and finish. If you do, you will easily avoid clichés. After all, nothing beats holding court from a bath in the middle of a room.
Bathtup standing on floor

Lloyd Alter/ Condenser side of a CO2 heat pump/CC BY 2.0

One commenter on the FT gets how hard they are to get in and out of, and also how hard they are to clean behind.

I can never see these high-sided efforts without thinking of 'The Death of Marat' by David.
Some of us are closer to the ground than others. Getting my leg over the side of these things is next to impossible and getting out again requires a stepladder INSIDE the bath. You also plainly have well-trained spiders as mine make straight for any nice dark shadowy place the cleaner cannot get to, viz. the space between bath and wall.

I will reiterate my tips for bathtubs that I developed over the years:

credit: My bright white bath with separate shower/ Craig A. Williams

© My bright white bath with separate shower/ Craig A. Williams

  • Showering in the tub is dangerous. Who ever thought it was a good idea to combine a curved flat bottom with soap and water? Never combine a tub and shower. According to the New York Times, "The most hazardous activities for all ages are bathing, showering and getting out of the tub or shower. (Only 2.2 percent of injuries occur while getting into the tub or shower, but 9.8 percent occur while getting out.) Injuries in or near the bathtub or shower account for more than two-thirds of emergency room visits."
  • Never buy a tub on the basis of how it looks but on how it feels. My mother, an interior designer, taught me this: take off your shoes in the showroom and get in the tub and make sure it fits and is comfortable. That's why you have a tub, to relax in comfort! If they won't let you do this, find another showroom.
  • Never buy a 5 foot long standard tub. I am really short and am uncomfortable in a tub shorter than 5'-6" because the inside is way smaller than the outside and the ends slope.
  • Build it in so that you don't have to clean behind it. Put in grab bars or at least put in solid blocking behind the tile so that you can add the bars later. (I did that in my bathroom)
  • Make sure that the rim is wide enough that you can sit on it and swing your legs over. You won't always be young and fit.
Freestanding tub that works sort of

Freestanding tub that works sort of/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

This was the only freestanding tub that I thought could work at all- the controls are accessible on the deck and there was actually a ledge that you could put a book on, although I wish it was flush with the top so that it could work as a seat too. But I thought it less bad.