History of the Clawfoot Tub

What was originally marketed as a glorified horse trough (adding legs turned it into a tub) eventually became regarded as a must-have luxury item for the wealthiest homes in America. The clawfoot bathtub, an oval, freestanding tub typically made of cast iron and featuring a rolled rim, has come a long way throughout its American history. Today, this attractive and durable bathroom feature is seeing a strong resurgence in popularity, with builders and renovators opting again for the classic clawfoot bathtub in their designs. What’s the story with freestanding bathtubs? Where did they come from and are they a good investment today? To help answer these questions, here’s a brief look at the history of the clawfoot tub. 

Wartime Bathtubs in America

In the early 19th century, clawfoot bathtubs were a mark of social standing and luxury, placed in private baths in wealthy homes where servants could fill them with water and have enough space around the sides to help a person bathe. Their designs were intricate, with long, sloping backs and increasingly ornate feet to match the design trends of the time. By the time World War I started, the distinguishing feet on these tubs represented much more than decorating sensibilities. Made of metal — a hot commodity in wartime — the feet were often confiscated for the war effort, used to make weapons and war supplies. 

Bathtubs in a Post-War World

The American construction boom that followed each World War emphasized affordable housing, increasingly with indoor plumbing. In order to build more houses for more people, builders swapped the freestanding tub with a built-in tub design, one made with easy-to-clean materials that could come in various colors. The 1950s and 1960s saw various blue, pink and other bathtub choices. As more people lived in communities of matching homes with matching designs, clawfoot bathtubs became a distant memory.

Today’s Return to the Elegance of a Freestanding Tub

Today, as homeowners look for a way to distinguish their designs and add more luxury to their homes, the trend is return to the days of elegance that defined the early clawfoot tubs. Modern home designs are moving away from the cookie-cutter bathtub designs found in most homes, and choosing instead to opt for soaking tubs that stand on their own. While originally clawfoot tubs were made of heavy cast iron, today’s models are typically created with acrylic or fiberglass, providing all the elegance but less of the upkeep required with a traditional clawfoot bathtub.

Are you interested in building a new home or remodeling a bathroom and wanting a soaking tub? Explore the available bathtubs at Modern Bathroom to learn more about today’s market and find the right products to suit you. Our products make it possible for customers to save up to 70 percent on bathroom features, in addition to free shipping and a low-price guarantee. Or if you’d like to get some advice on creating or renovating your perfect bath, get in touch with us today!

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