Freestanding baths are central to rooms dedicated to relaxation and wellbeing, and never has that been more important than in the past year
While the bathroom has long been a place to escape the rigours of daily life, never before has there been such a requirement to have a space at home to relax and nuture our physical and mental wellbeing.
Taking a bath has been scientifically proven to have restorative benefits, from heart health to breathing, so hand-in-hand with a focus on home improvements it’s unsurprising sales of freestanding baths are on the rise.
Head of marketing at Bette Sven Rensinghoff explains: “Freestanding baths can be one of the most effective ways of creating a relaxing, rather than merely functional, bathroom, as well as adding style and luxury.”
And marketing manager of BC Designs Sally Cutchie agrees, commenting: “Since the kbb sector reopened in June 2020, we’ve actually seen an increase in demand for baths…There is a consensus that freestanding baths are a luxury item, but we are finding that people are investing in them as they come to appreciate the luxuries found at home.”
And with PWC reporting consumer confidence at its highest levels since 2008, revealing consumers have more income and a desire to spend after a year of lockdown restrictions, this bodes well for continuing freestanding bath sales.
And the market for freestanding baths has been broadened, not only with a variety of materials to offer a choice of models at a variety of budgets, but also sizes to fit smaller spaces.
Marketing Manager of Clearwater Faye Froy states: “Design innovation has meant that baths, once crafted from expensive materials such as copper and stainless steel, can now be made using affordable materials such as acrylic.
“For homeowners with smaller spaces, advances in design mean they can choose from a variety of back-to-wall freestanding designs or showering baths – they needn’t compromise on luxury because of space.”
Duravit has recently introduced its Cape Cod collection in smaller sizes, including a freestanding bath, and Bette has developed shorter versions of its freestanding baths, such as a 1500mm version of its BetteStarlet Oval silhouette model.
Sally Cutchie of BC Designs points to the development of its product portfolio which includes smaller freestanding models: “For those with smaller spaces, we have launched several or our best-selling baths in smaller footprints so that people don’t have to compromise and go without a freestanding bath.
“We have even launched the freestanding Tamorina Petite in April which is just 1400mm.”
But, arguably, one of the greatest influences continuing to build momentum in on freestanding bath sales has been the injection of colour in the bathroom.
With professional interior designers and aspiring home renovators taking to Instagram and Pinterest to showcase their stand-out schemes, their bold use of colours has been splashed across social media.
Since the bath is the largest item in a bathroom, forming a focal point of the space, it become the natural easel. Victoria+Albert Baths recently joined forces with Wallpaper magazine to launch a colour palette for its baths.
Sven Resinghoff says: “We are seeing more customers choosing a freestanding bath in a colour to increase the feeling of cosiness and to aid relaxation.
“While white is still the most popular choice, the use of darker colours is increasing in popularity, to create a cosy and relaxing interior space in which to switch off from the stresses of the outside world.”
In fact, Kaldewei recently introduced bi-colour freestanding bathtubs combining black and white in gloss and matt shades.
The injection of coloured baths in the space, also fits the trends for greater personalisation in home décor.
In fact, creative director of Imperial Bathrooms James Stevenson adds: “We have seen a significant rise in requests to use of Bath Painting Service, and frequently people are opting for vivid or strong tones as a means to create a centrepiece in a smaller space, and are no longer sticking to safe neutrals.”
This demand for personalisation has even impacted on the choice of model in the BC Designs portfolio, as Sally Cutchie continues: “The Boat Bath remains our most popular model for a variety of reasons. It works in both contemporary and traditional space, so it can be used in lots of different style homes. It is also great at blending two styles together and bringing the look together.
“The other reason is that fact that it can be customised and hand painted. Homeowners want individuality in their homes like never before, and having a bath painted to the colour they want is a huge selling point.”
Safe and sustainable
Interestingly, although sales of freestanding models are strong, on first impression they seem at odds with global mega trends which include a greater need for sustainability, and meeting the requirements of an older population.
Sally Cutchie of BC Design argues baths can be water efficient, commenting: “Some of our freestanding baths can be purchased where the overflow has yet to be drilled. Positioning a lower overflow restricts the amount of water that can be used in filling the bath.
“There is also an argument that, along with a bath being a luxury item, having a bath is a luxury experience and might be something that a homeowner indulges in once a week so therefore isn’t using a vast amount of water.”
While training manager at Grohe UK Adam Logan looks to the use of ‘green’ materials in bathtub manufacture, such as recyclable titanium steel, adding: “At a time when sustainability is a priority across all industry sector, freestanding baths that use ‘greener’ or recyclable materials are now an option for those looking to be more considerate to the planet during the planning stages of their bathroom refurbishment.”
And manufacturers have worked on enhanced safety features too to aid accessibility for multigenerational household.
Adam Logan of Grohe UK explains there is “increased importance being placed on features such as innovative anti-slip technology that offers users a textured surface for extra grip and safety.”
Certainly, industry experts believe fortune favours bathroom designers who are familiar with the array of freestanding baths now available.
Sales and marketing director of RAK Ceramics Ben Bryden concludes: “The market for freestanding baths is already strong but we can only see it growing even further.
“Wellness and health factors combined with the ever-advancing manufacturing technologies that enable a range of materials and colour choices to be introduced to market make this an exciting product category for retailers to take advantage of.”