Decorating with a Claw Foot Tub

Beth Asaff
Claw foot tub

Because they aren't built into your bathroom, decorating with a claw foot tub can feel like a challenge. With a little ingenuity and a feel for the style you are after, it's possible to create a design with your tub as the focal point in no time.

Types of Claw Foot Tubs

Many people refer to the more generic free-standing bathtubs as claw foot tubs. In fact, a true claw foot tub is made of cast iron or acrylic and stands on four feet or legs. These feet may come in a variety of shapes and sizes from the classic ball-and-claw to the more dramatic lion foot. In addition to this, there are a few different types of claw foot tubs to consider for your space, each with their own design elements.

  • Slipper tubs
  • Dual slipper tubs
  • Roll-top tubs
  • Dual roll-top tubs
  • Flat rim tubs

Slipper and roll-top tubs are more old fashioned in appearance, while flat rim tubs can be more transitional in appearance, particularly when using a more subtle ball foot. Depending on what type of tub you have, you may choose to allow the rest of the bathroom design to follow the tub's style or to create a more transitional look for the space.

Decorating with a Claw Foot Tub

There are several things to keep in mind when decorating with a claw foot tub. Because the tub is not built into the wall and leaves the floor visible beneath it, be sure to take into account several design elements.

Shower

Do you plan on using your claw foot tub as a shower as well as a tub, or is it standing alone with a separate shower unit? Risers with shower heads and attached curtain rings are available to transform your tub into a shower. Consider tiling the walls around or behind the tub as you would a traditional shower to help protect them from errant spray.

Run a decorative tile border at about eye level and coordinate your shower curtain to a color in the border for a cohesive design.

Flooring

Your bathroom flooring will be visible beneath the tub. If you want to keep the bathroom design consistent with style of the tub, consider using a mosaic pattern on the floor of the bathroom for Victorian style. Basketweave or Octagon-and-dot patterns can be found in a wide range of colors and materials to complement any home. Try painting the outside of the tub in the same color as the accent in the floor, and using a border of the floor pattern on the wall with subway tiles for an updated look.

If the design you are after is more modern, use oversized tiles on the floors. The clean lines will contrast with the tub, giving the bathroom a funkier feel.

Color

While nearly all claw foot tubs are sold white, their exterior is actually meant to be painted. Consider a black tub in a black and white bathroom, or a red tub with a flat rim for a more contemporary look. If you are particularly artistic, you can also paint the tub in a design, such as a vine or floral pattern. Repeat this design in the bathroom sink, and pick up colors for it for the towels and throw rugs to complete the look.

Period Accents and Making Claw Foot Tubs Work

If you are trying to keep the decorating with a claw foot tub to a period feel, be sure to purchase all the plumbing from a claw foot tub specialist. They can assist you in the small details such as a plug for the drain, special colors for the feet and shower curtains designed to wrap the tub. Regardless of the type of style you are trying for, keep your bathroom design as cohesive as possible while using the tub in the design, and you won't go wrong.

Decorating with a Claw Foot Tub