12 Best Bathtubs To Install for Ultimate Relaxation

Soaking Bathtub with Rustic Bathroom
Photo: Nancy Nolan

For many buyers and potential homeowners, a giant soaking tub is a primary bathroom must-have. Whether you're escaping a less-than-magical day or the flurry of to-dos, your bathroom can become a spa-like retreat overnight. Well, almost overnight. Read on for 12 ways to create a retreat fit for your bubble-bath dreams—plus, our picks for the best tubs to install in your next bathroom renovation.

01 of 12

Knock out a Nook

Palais Pedestal Soaking Tub
Laurey W. Glenn

Our Pick: Palais Pedestal Soaking Tub, starting at $3,775; restorationhardware.com

If you're building a new home or have some flexibility with space in a current bathroom renovation, designate a special alcove just for your soaker. Here, the alcove's windows flood the room with light, while simple Greek key-trimmed curtains easily slide closed to offer much-needed privacy. Placing your tub in its own nook creates a cozy spot for a good book, a glass of wine, and long bubble bath.

02 of 12

Fall for Freestanding

Cadet Freestanding Tub
Laurey W. Glenn

Our Pick: Cadet Freestanding Tub, $1,469 - $1,996; americansignature.com

Outfitting an old house with a new bath? A freestanding soaker tub is easier to install than a built-in one, as your contractor will have more flexibility with the placement of bathtub faucets and other plumbing fixtures. This type of tub also provides a strong focal point for a room. Treat it like a sculpture for the bath, but keep the rest of the space completely symmetrical.

03 of 12

Install an Unexpected Tub

Henrick Textured Copper Slipper Tub
Helen Norman

Our Pick: 66" Paige Copper Double-Slipper Tub, starting at $3,559; signaturehardware.com

Opt for a striking, unique bathtub that sets the tone for your entire design. A freestanding tub in gleaming copper—reminiscent of a throwback washtub—is just one of endless options. If you love a retro look, try a clawfoot tub paired with vintage wallpaper. Or, if your taste is more refined, select a ceramic slipper tub, and let it be the prized focal point of your bathroom. Tip: Installing a ceiling-mounted curtain rod imparts privacy, while also puddle-proofing your floor.

04 of 12

Create the Illusion of Space

Bathtub with Apron
Hector Sanchez

Our Pick: Studio 60x32" Bathtub with Apron, $658; americansignature-us.com

Mirrors in all forms—mounted, standing, or hanging—can brighten a dim space by picking up existing light. With the right placement, they can also make a small room feel larger. Positioned above the tub and nestled between space-saving storage hutches, this three-panel mirror tricks the eye into perceiving more space beyond the bath. Add a sleek, solid marble surround to a simple built-in bathtub and a coat of dark glossy paint on the trim to give the room a glamorous vintage look.

05 of 12

When In Doubt, Go Classic

White Claw Foot Tub
Laurey W. Glenn

Our Pick: Aqua Eden Classic 5.5 ft. Cast Iron Polished Chrome Claw Foot Double Ended Tub in White, $999; homedepot.com

A white clawfoot tub is a timeless choice in any house, regardless of the home's age. Combining this go-to with other time-honored elements—like a white pedestal sink, stainless fixtures, gleaming white molding, and honed marble floors—offers your bathroom a clean, will-never-go-out-of-style vintage feel. For those tackling a home renovation (and perhaps overwhelmed by options): This style is always a safe bet if you've got future homebuyers in mind.

06 of 12

Create a Focal Point

Cast Iron French Bateau Tub
Eric Piasecki

Our Pick: The Whitby 68" Cast Iron French Bateau Tub, $8,030; penhaglion.com

A room without focus often falls flat. Make a splash with an elegant, freestanding tub in a shimmering, silver patina. If you pick a unique tub like this, consider keeping the rest of the installed elements in the room—think countertops, light fixtures, and bathtub faucets—classic, even if the rest of the room is splashed with bright color and pattern. Silhouetted by a pair of windows and accented with graphic wallpaper and blue-painted trim, this tub steals the show.

07 of 12

Pair Rustic With Classic

Classic Victorian Clawfoot
Laurey W. Glenn

Our Pick: Classic Victorian Clawfoot, starting at $5,424; restorationhardware.com

Placing a timeless clawfoot soaker tub in a rustic space highlights its utility and simple beauty. If you're not brave enough to install the tub over real wood planks (as pictured above), consider installing faux-wood tile—today's varieties look just like the real thing, without the fear of moisture-warped floors. Pair this look with uncomplicated accessories, like simple wall art, eyelet café curtains, and vintage baskets filled with guest towels.

08 of 12

Go for Glamour

Freestanding Bath with Antique Oval Faucet
Laurey W. Glenn

Our Pick: Memoirs 60" x 32" Freestanding Bath With Center Toe Tap Drain, $5,503; us.kohler.com

With: Artifacts Floor-mount Bath Filler Trim With Hand Shower, $2,520; us.kohler.com

Just because it's a bathroom doesn't mean that the space should be undecorated. Baths can be just as glam as any room in the house. This freestanding tub, installed beneath a unique copper chandelier and outfitted with burnished brass fixtures, is the perfect mix of simple and lavish. If your space is on the smaller side, try adding accessories like a stool or vintage rug to lend a bit of opulence.

09 of 12

Bathe in the Light

Escale Freestanding Bath
Tria Giovan

Our Pick: Rêve 66-15/16" x 36" Freestanding Bath with Brilliant Blanc Base, $6,276; us.kohler.com

Center your bathtub in front of a large window to frame a beautiful view and let in a bounty of natural light. We love the dramatic detailing of the iron window frame—it helps draw attention to the arch of the window and the view beyond—but for the surrounding space, keep things simple. Paint your walls and ceiling the same shade of white to minimize distractions.

10 of 12

Elevate Average

Black and White Bathroom Style
Laurey W. Glenn

Our Pick: Duravit Architec 60" x 30" Alcove Soaking Bathtub, $875; wayfair.com

Not quite ready for a full-fledged bathroom renovation? Take your bubble baths to the next level by hiding a ho-hum built-in bathtub behind chic custom design elements. Dress the bathtub opening like a window, hanging the curtain near the ceiling with enough length to reach the floor, and surround the tub area with eye-catching wallpaper, graphic glossy trim, and a killer light fixture.

11 of 12

Look to the Sky

Pedestal Soaking Tub
Laurey W. Glenn

Our Pick: Piedmont Pedestal Soaking Tub, starting at $10,870; restorationhardware.com

A bathroom without a window can often feel damp and dark; here, a 4-foot circular skylight in the ceiling floods this windowless space with sunshine. The designer also set the stand-alone tub in an arched nook against a planked wall to sharpen the tub's sculptural effect. No view? No problem. A grouping of simple botanical prints behind the tub mimics the look of a leafy vista.

12 of 12

Bring the Outdoors In

Soaking Bathtub with Rustic Bathroom
Nancy Nolan

Our Pick: Signature Bath 67" x 31" Soaking Bathtub, $1,599; wayfair.com

Not every room needs a show-stopping soaker tub; here, Mother Nature takes the cake. In this dream bathroom, a textural palette that includes stone columns and earth-toned flooring strikes a balance between cozy-rustic and modern-industrial. Show off your home's surrounding landscape—and make it feel like a part of the room—with help from a picture window with a single pane of glass.

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