The Bathtub

The Bath. A time to relax and rejuvenate. There is nothing quite as soothing. It is small wonder that this time tested ritual has become a focus of beautiful design. I was reminded of how important a bathtub can be when enjoying the latest issue of Elle Decor and seeing this brilliant example of a "bathing room":

Elle Decor, September 2008, Photo by Grey Crawford

What struck me about this space was not just the beautiful tub (Waterworks Candide tub), but the very beautiful and witty tub filler dreamed up by the home owners/designers Fisher Weisman. A stream of water flows down from a shell encrusted "chandelier" reminiscent of the unique creations of Tony Duquette. Question....just where does one turn it on? No matter...this is my idea of luxury.

Another master of the bath is Axel Vervoordt. Bringing that European sensibility, he never fails to bring a certain sophistication and fresh simplicity to this kind of space. Here he has placed a nineteenth century zinc tub in a bedroom. Heaven.

Another of my favorite bath spaces was created by Vicente Wolf. I think that combining different styles and periods will always make a space more interesting, and Mr. Wolf accomplishes this with great style. His Baccarat sconces and English eighteenth century mirror are the perfect foil for the blue glass walls and contemporary concrete tub.

Another designer who never disappoints is Michael Smith. This example of his authentic style takes me to another time.... one where things were slower. And isn't that what one would want when trying to unwind in the tub? Look at the details: the basket of magazines, reading glasses on the stool, the fresh towels, slippers at the side of the tub. And of course Rover waiting patiently. Perfection. (All bath fittings and fixtures designed by Smith for Kohler).

House and Garden, December 2000, Photo by Melanie Acevedo

This bathroom was created by Juan Pablo Molyneux for jewelry designer John Landrum Bryant. The bath here is adorned by Bryant's signature tiger heads on the tub face as well as the filler (Custom created by Bryant). The fantasy comes through, but in a way that is not overstated. Very "chic" I think!

Veranda, January-February 2005, Photo by Hickey-Robertson

This bathroom has all of the elements necessary for a long relaxing soak. Designers, art dealers and home owners Cynthia Cage McClain and Robert McClain thought of everything: candles, reading material, a little wine, flowers. Mix these with such personal, beautiful art and photography, and one feels like this is really home.

House and Garden, October 2005, Photo by Francois Halard

Milan based designer Roberto Peregalli created this amazing Master Bath for Claudio and Maria Luti of the famous family firm Kartell, most well known today for the production of the Philippe Starck Ghost Chair. I love the Robust-patterned marble flooring with the striped Venetian stucco walls. The dramatic Carrara marble tub surround contrasts so wonderfully with the Kartell Eros chair here.

Veranda, September-October 2006, Photo by Alec Hemmer

This bathroom just says "California" to me. Designed by Napa Valley designer Barbara Colvin this space is beautifully done. I love the French Doors off the garden and the stone floors. The simple elegance and connection to the outdoors creates such a wonderful spa-like atmosphere.

House Beautiful, July 2006, Photo by Karyn R. Millet

One of designers I am following lately is Ken Fulk. This California designer created such a pleasing space here using the Vintage Bath form Kohler, the owner's leaded glass pendant, and the Greek Key trimmed Roman Shade. Victorian side chair from Swallowtail. Very pretty!

Southern Accents, September October 2008, Photo by Pieter Estersohn

I love this bath with it's Loius XIV mirror and antique Swedish chandelier. Designed by Amelia Handegan for a couple in Charleston, it has a very European flavor. The pale gray-blue and white palette with the pewter and gold metal colors seems to be something I am drawn to time and again.

Southern Accents, July-August 2008, Photo by Roger Davies

Phoebe Howard decorated this beautiful bathroom for a vacation house in Ponte Verde Beach, Florida. A custom mosaic floor and hand-painted mural are what make this bathroom unique. So very pretty. The tub in this room seems to show up quite often in bathrooms that catch my eye. It's classic style works in so many places. Like in this all white bathroom:

House Beautiful, November 2006. Photo by Pieter Estersohn

Sally Markham created this vision in white for a couple in Connecticut. White glass mosaic tile line the walls and the floor creating quite an ethereal effect. One could float away to dreamland here. The heart shaped chair becomes an exclamation point against this white palette. Lovely.

House and Garden, July 2005, Photo by William Abranowicz

In contrast to the more traditional western aesthetic, this bathroom incorporates a decidedly Eastern influence. The architect William McDonough creates a sanctuary in the style of a Japanese country house. One could sit forever in this custom tub from Concrete Works looking out at the meadow of native grasses on South Carolina coastal island.

House and Garden, July 2005, Photo by Jonn Coolidge

The Master Bath in this Spanish Colonial Revival home takes on the California Craftsman flavor through the artful use of custom tile by Ann Sacks. Designer Jarrett Hedborg created a wonderful, cozy bathtub alcove here. I love the arched window echoed on the interior with the tiled arch. Beautifully done!

Elle Decor, July-August 2005, Photo by William Waldron

This is such a fun loving design for a bathroom by designer Robert Couturier. He combines glass tile and mosaic pebble floors with fresh and vibrant colors. This tub is is the Paris tub by Water Monopoly.

Elle Decor, July 2003, Photo by Dominique Vorillon

Then we have the classic claw foot tub. There is a nostalgia about it that cannot be put aside. This beach house bathroom in Malibu designed by Kerry Joyce is brightened by the sunny yellow-painted tub. I love the mosaic floor with the label identifying it as the "boys" bathroom. The surfboard is a fun touch.

Elle Decor, August-September 2003, Photo by Simon Upton

Another example of the classic claw foot provides quite a contrast to the way it is used above. This elegant New Orleans bathroom was designed by Ann Holden of the two Ann's of New Orleans: Holden and Dupuy. I love the New Orleans feeling here of the rustic painted wood plank floors paired with the silk drapery panels. The claw foot here was found at a salvage shop. The sink and fittings were original to the house. I love the photo reflecting the room through the antique mirror.

This is a round-up of some of my favorite tubs and the spaces they occupy. To get going with your own private sanctuary, you can start by looking at the Waterworks website. Many of the tubs can be found there. And for those on a budget, salvage shops are a great way to go. I hope this room, one of the most often used, can become a place for more than just the everyday chore of getting "ready". I hope it can become a place to relax and spend some down time.