16 of the best
Fantasies of a beautiful bathroom invariably feature one thing: a striking, inviting bath. If you’re building or renovating, you might find yourself wandering around showrooms, taking in all manner of tubs. “Bath options have broadened dramatically in the past five years,” says Marc Reed, managing director at Candana Bathroomware. “Previously, your only choices were porcelain, enamelled steel or acrylic. Now we’re seeing baths made out of Corian, resin, stone composites, concrete and even timber.”
These materials have paved the way for a swathe of new designs, says Reed. “Many of these materials are moulded rather than pressed. This means it’s easier to create soft, organic shapes.” Technical advances have also allowed for super-crisp joins, built-in shelves, delicate feet and ergonomic contouring.
Freestanding styles can offer chunky weightiness or the slimmest of rims, while inset and back-to-wall models are
neat and supremely practical. And whereas baths were once seen as purely functional fixtures, designers have recognised their decorative potential, says Daniela Santilli, bathroom marketing lead at Reece. “In Milan this year, we saw bathrooms take on a life beyond the functional, with open-plan designs and softer textures of the sort seen in living rooms,” she says, referring to the recent International Bathroom Exhibition. “Deep, freestanding baths with solid surfaces and organic shapes can make a real design statement in this kind of setting.”
For glamour, freestanding tubs are hard to beat. “A generous freestanding bath adds a feeling of luxury and makes bathing more of a five-star hotel experience,” says Belinda Try, founder of Apaiser. To put your own stamp on the room, you might opt to go with a coloured material, a subtly textured finish, a contemporary shape or a fresh take on a classic style.
Before you fall too deeply in love with a freestanding style, consider whether it’s right for you. First, do you have the space? “You need a minimum of 100mm around the bath to clean it. Any less and it becomes a mould trap,” says Reed. Good news for those without a large bathroom: some bath manufacturers offer smaller dimensions. The Kado ‘Lux’ design from Reece, for example, comes in a ‘Petite’ 1500mm length (the standard version is 1750mm), while Victoria+Albert has announced it will offer popular baths in a choice of sizes.
An inset bath, which is fixed into a surround, can be a more practical option if you have young children or a limited space. Even these are becoming more luxurious, says Tim Jordan, managing director at Bathe. “The detailing has evolved from a simple drop-in installation to flush mounting. Manufacturers are now tightening the radius of the bath edges to ensure a seamless join with the surrounding finishes, typically in natural
stone. Internal designs are softer and more sculpted, too.”
Good looks aside, the bath you select needs to perform well. “Ergonomics – the internal curve of the bath and its height – are extremely important,” says Try.
“You don’t want a high bath you need a stepladder to get into. In addition, it should be comfortable and supportive when you are sitting and reclining.”
The best way to assess comfort is to hop right into the display model. “Climb into the bath to ensure it’s comfortable and will accommodate all family members,” suggests Santilli. “A deep bath is best for adults, whereas a shallow bath is more accessible for children and older users.”
“People often want a big bath because the space allows it,” says Reed, “but the ideal size for most people is 1700mm. I always suggest choosing a bath that will be practical and comfortable. Fill in excess room space with a stool or plant.”
‘The internal curve of the bath and its height are extremely important. You don’t want a bath you need a stepladder to get into.’ Belinda Try, Apaiser
Kado ‘Neue’ 1730mm freestanding acrylic bath, $1900, Reece; 1800 032 566 or reece.com.au. >