by Robert Gryczke
“Do something good for your body so that your soul may live there with pleasure,” Saint Teresa of Ávila once wrote. And little brings more relaxation into the home than a warm bath. But before the relaxation comes the decision. Take heed!
The right material: wood, glass or titanium steel?
Baths are available in any shape, and now also in any colour – even clear. But let’s be honest: who really wants to clean this huge area of glass? And that brings us neatly to the question of the material and what the free-standing bath should be made of.
Enamelled steel began its triumphal march early in the last century, replacing the versions in cast iron and galvanized steel sheet that had until then been just about the only options. Today, free-standing baths are even available in natural stone and wood. However, when it comes to the relationship between robustness and weight, materials such as sanitary acrylic and blends such as Quaryl and mineral cast have also proved themselves. By contrast, the glazed titanium steel by Bette is a proven classic based on a certain competence and experience that separates the wheat from the chaff. The model BetteLoft Ornament with its geometric external pattern confirms that this does not have to be at the cost of modern luxuriousness.
Photo: © Bette
Just for me or for two: how big should my free-standing bath be?
A free-standing bath need space, but that’s something we’ll come back to later. The same also applies to the person inside it. The bath’s dimensions are first determined by two factors: the number of users and their height/build. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to try before you buy – and better in the dry at first.
“My bath is mine alone!” Congratulations. If you don’t have to share your free-standing bath, aren’t a giant and generally prefer to sit in the bath rather than lie in it, then the BetteStarlet Oval Silhouette, 1500 cm long x 420 cm deep, could well be the perfect choice for you.
Two of you in your home sweet home, but want to avoid the kind of squeeze experienced by sardines in a tin? Them the model in the comfort size, 1950 cm long x 950 cm wide x 420 cm deep, is more likely to be your happy-ever-after.
Claw feet and hammocks – which design would you like?
Of course, a free-standing bath is always an eye-catcher. But remember, it has to fit in the bathroom, or the bathroom at the end of the free-standing bath. Depending on whether the chicken or the egg came first. What it boils down to is a number of factors that need to be established and will help to make the decision for or against a particular design.
Such as whether you can actually get into the bath. A free-standing bath in the shape of a hammock? Not a problem, but ask yourself whether you’ll still be able to climb in and out of it in a few years’ time. Questions such as these don’t occur with traditional designs – but others do.
With their slightly anachronistic touch, the free-standing baths with claw feet – golden lion claws spring to mind – that are absolutely on line with the retro trend are popular again. They look dead smart and radiate the charm of bygone decades, although of course today’s models aren’t tipped over to empty them, but are fitted with outflows and taps to connect them to the mains and waste water lines. These modern additions are usually exposed, though, and that can detract somewhat from the retro charm. If a free-standing bath sits directly on the floor (without feet), the situation is a little more straightforward.
Fitting a square peg in a round hole: free-standing baths and where to put them
A free-standing bath needs space. That doesn’t mean you have to start thinking about moving into a mansion, but by the same token you should have a minimum floor area of about 15 square metres to play with.
Allow a space of about half a metre between the walls and other bathroom elements to be on the safe side technically and design-wise. Experts advise against positioning the free-standing bath right in the middle of the room if there are no adjoining elements such as a wall, room divider or similar. Ideally, the free-standing bath should be close to at least one wall. The reason for this lies in our mind: we don’t like feeling exposed and vulnerable. An adjoining wall creates a feeling of security, which in turn increases our well-being.
Statics and pipes: points to consider with free-standing baths
For the installation of a free-standing bath, we generally advise contacting a professional fitter in advance. With regard to the planning, it is worth having a structural engineer on hand. Free-standing baths are often very heavy in themselves. And who wants their bath suddenly to come crashing through the ceiling of their lovely old apartment?
The most important consideration is without doubt that the necessary connections should be in place in the area where you want the bath to go. Thanks to the flexible hose, which is today included in most models, it is possible to tilt the free-standing bath a little to make sure it is level.
If, on the other hand, the bathroom is a little cosier is size, then an entirely free-standing bath might not be quite the right choice. This is probably a good time to have a look at the special designs that are available. Then even corners and recesses can suddenly become an attractive spot that you might not have considered before for your dream bath. A number of wall and corner versions that have the appeal of a free-standing bath are available here, and open up a wide range of architectural options.
As you can see, there’s nothing difficult about having a free-standing bath. It’s all down to the planning. Very unusual models in particular can be more difficult to integrate in existing designs than the more traditional ones. Consequently, the latter, in the direct comparison, are also more suitable for later installation.
We hope you enjoy your new free-standing bath.
Have you got any suggestions or tips for home-builders? We’d love it if you were to exchange ideas with other readers in the comments section.