Wendy and I have been designing a lot of bathrooms lately, and we’ve been having a blast playing around with new products and design trends.

 Let’s start with bathtubs. Forget about those big, clunky jetted tubs that were the standard luxury bathroom must-have in the ‘80s and ‘90s, surrounded by space-hogging tiled tub decks. What most people want these days are beautiful, sculptural, freestanding tubs.

 Here’s one of my personal favorites, Hansgrohe’s Axor Urquiola, designed by the fabulous Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola:

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I love the pretty cutout at the foot of the tub, perfect for hanging a towel. And it has an equally lovely sink to match:

Axor sink (2)

Unfortunately, the tub photo depicts a couple of the biggest challenges our clients have had with stand-alone tubs: Namely, how do you fill the tub if there’s no surround for the faucets, and where do you put all your stuff? That giant floor-mounted tub filler may be appealing to some people, but a lot of our clients find them to be too industrial-looking, and a distraction from the tub itself. And they’re expensive!

Also, while it’s all good for an advertising photo to show a delicate little side table artfully arranged with pretty decorative items, most of us have a somewhat less attractive array of shampoo and conditioner bottles, razors, body wash, and other products.

One solution that has worked well for several of our clients has been to build a floating shelf or a narrow deck, either on the wall behind the tub, or off to one side. That gives them a spot to mount a standard tub filler (and a handheld shower wand, if they so desire), plus shelf space for products.

Here’s one example, on a project that we recently completed:

Scearce tub final

For this particular bathroom, we built a floating shelf with bump-outs along the front to allow the hand-shower and tub filler to clear the edge of the tub, and to add a little visual interest. The mosaic used along the edge is repeated in the shower, which is opposite the tub and connected with a river of pebbles on the floor.

Of course, this is just one solution. For another client, we’re mounting all the controls on the wall and adding angled shelves at the end of a vanity cabinet for storage that’s out of sight but within reach. Yet another has one end of the tub tucked completely under a floating shelf for a space-saving storage and plumbing solution.

 We’ll be posting photos of other projects on our website as they’re completed, so keep watching for more great tub design ideas!

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