Soaking by Design

Soaking by Design

In an era of instant messaging and overflowing inboxes, carving out time to disconnect and unwind is essential. With a calm, relaxed mind and body, we create the foundation to navigate life’s challenge. Of course, one of the simplest ways to access this state of wellbeing is the centuries-old practice of soaking. Immersed in hot water, our breathing deepens, our nervous system resets and we surrender to the present moment. Ahhhh.

So what’s your soaking situation? While a myriad of bathing salts, oils and bubbles are available to enhance the experience, only two elements are absolutely necessary to get your soak on: hot water and a tub. We’re here to explore the latter, in all its mind/body/soul-healing glory.


A freestanding clawfoot tub is an elegant choice that never goes out of style. The ball and claw version (in which the foot looks like a claw clutching a ball) originated in Holland in the 18th century, eventually catching on with English aristocrats. By the late 19th century, the clawfoot tub was a popular luxury item. These days they are available in a range of materials, including cast iron, fibreglass and acrylic. (Hint: acrylic is the easiest to clean!)

The simplest clawfoot tub shape is the roll rim — level all the way around with a curled lip. But for a little more aesthetic interest and comfort, you might opt for a slipper style, with one or both ends raised in the shape of a slipper. (You back will thank you.)

White is the classic colour for a clawfoot — and the safest bet for style longevity — but if you want a touch of drama, consider a custom-painted exterior! Black and grey are both sophisticated, on-trend options. Shades such as blue, green or yellow will add a surprise pop of personality to your bathroom.


Sleek, simple and modern — the minimalist bathtub is a ticket to serenity. Several styles fall under the minimalist umbrella, but for the most part they will be a neutral shade like white, black or wood and have a straight edge (no lip). From there, you can play with size, shape and material.

For a Japanese-inspired look, opt for a deep cedar tub in a rectangular shape. (The scent of cedar is an instant de-stressor.) Keep the rest of the bathroom white, and the wood will pop, making the tub a focal point.

If you prefer curves, consider a freestanding oval tub. Accent with a black or chrome faucet in a simple shape.

The most unique minimalist style also originates from Japan: the round soaker tub. Of a lesser stature but deep enough for full immersion, this tub is ideal for smaller bathrooms. (And those who prefer to sit as they soak.)

The simplicity of a minimalist tub works best in a bathroom with lots of natural light. To keep the overall look cohesive, go for a neutral palette and keep the counters clutter free.


For some, soaking is an opportunity to indulge in a moment of luxury. Glamorous, dramatic design has a place in the world of bathing too!

Choosing an unexpected material for your tub can give it an instant “wow” factor. A burnished cast-iron tub, for example, has a metallic finish that reflects light beautifully. A marble tub, with it stunning natural veining, offers a sculptural, elevated look.

Other stone materials such as limestone, granite and sandstone can be used for a custom-designed tub that stands out as a piece of art in your bathroom. (Keep in mind that special structural framing is required to support the weight of these heavier tubs!)

Another glamorous option? The tiled tub. A custom exterior patterned with tiles is one of the more rare and unique ways to enhance your tub. This look can also bring in a worldly feel, with tile inspired by Moroccan or Spanish design, for example. Tile is also an excellent way to add colour to your tub without having the entire exterior painted one shade.

Whether you lean classic, minimalist or glam for your tub style, you’ll want the bathroom’s other elements to continue the theme. Classic clawfoot tubs pair beautifully with florals, stripes, black and white palettes, and brass fixtures that take on a patina over time. Minimalist tubs are complemented with wood cabinetry, polished concrete and neutral tones. Glam styles can be enhanced with bold lighting fixtures that stand up to the tub’s drama.

If soaking is central to your dream bathroom vision, why not choose your tub first? From there, you can design the rest of the space to play off of it. Bring in flooring, fixtures and finishes that unify the overall design while letting the tub remain the showpiece. Most importantly, remember to close the door, turn the water on and take time to soak. This is your personal retreat.

By Courtney Tait