Expand Your Bathroom and Make Room for a Slipper Tub

By Kerry Knight

Emma & the Washtub textured
Emma & the Washtub textured
(Photo credit: Barney Wrightson)
How have the demographics of the common American family changed the size and functionality of our homes over the past century?

A hundred years ago, home designs in the U.S. were much different than they are today.  For middle class America, they were more functional than elegant.  Kitchens were normally larger, especially in rural areas, because families were bigger.  There were many farm homes, where a couple might raise ten or twelve kids.  Having a larger family virtually guaranteed help in farming the fields, which, before the invention and proliferation of automated machinery, was physically labor intensive.  But feeding more people meant needing a larger kitchen.  Conversely, bedrooms and bathrooms were small because no one spent much time there … folks were just too busy.   In some homes, the bath tub was simply a large, metallic tub, in which families would also later do their laundry. (You’ve perhaps seen photos of those old, metallic washboards, where clothes were washed clean using manual friction?) So aside for a small area this tub and perhaps standalone washing basin, there wasn’t much else in ― or room for ― a full-functioning bathroom.

Sunnyland Washer
Sunnyland Washer (Photo credit: lars hammar)
Likewise, in textile towns, houses were designed primarily for utility.  Companies would move in and build entire developments for their workers.  Some of these were called mill villages.  All the houses basically looked the same, again with small bathrooms and bedrooms being the norm.

Apartments in urban centers were also fairly small, and consequently had limited sized bathrooms and kitchens. One of the advantages of the then newly invented vertical, one-person shower was that it didn’t require as much floor space as a bathroom with a horizontal bathtub that could fit two adults or three or four kids.


Times have changed.  Today, bedrooms and especially bathrooms are two to three times larger than yesterday’s.  There’s far more emphasis on comfort, leisure, design and elegance.  Even in modest homes, modern design calls for a garden tub, double vanities and extended countertops.  Separate showers, a small room for the toilet (often times with its own door), and linen closets are common.

Customer testimonial on Her Claw Foot Tub

With this new look, many bathrooms are sporting new bath tub designs.  Instead of the old, common drop-in tubs, space is available for free-standing, claw foot and slipper tubs, so-called because they resemble a women’s slipper supported by four feet. Pedestal tubs are similar, but instead of being supported by feet, these include a pedestal underneath, hence their name. These modern tubs still manage to reflect a degree of “old world” elegance as they’d become very popular among the aristocracy in late 19th century Europe.  

Today’s common design choices for cast-iron, porcelain tubs are Single Slippers, with a dramatic slope on one end; Double Slippers, with slopes on each end; Double Ended, offering a symmetrical dual slope with a center drain; and of course, the traditional Roll Rim tubs.  The most elegant of these are sturdily constructed of cast-iron and porcelain, and are capable of lasting several lifetimes.  While heavier than traditional drop-in tubs, they’re extremely durable, unlike today’s more common acrylic tubs that fade and show wear and tear rather quickly.

These stand-alone unique tubs can become the centerpiece of the larger bathrooms that are being built today.  Mounted on exotic legs in metallic finishes including chrome, brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze, they create a whole new look in the bathroom.  They offer a very relaxing bathing experience, but equally as important, they suggest a more treasured appreciation for the home itself. 

If your aim is to express your keen decorating skills, one way to do so is by installing an attractive, new claw foot tub in your garden bath.  The exterior (and even interior) of the tub can be painted in a wide variety of colors, if you really want to make a “fashion statement.” (More traditionalists usually opt for neutral) white.  Likewise, there’s a wide range of fashionable yet functional accessories you can buy to make your bathing experience even more enjoyable.

If you have a smaller home, or smaller bath, consider expanding it.  With remodeling, you can add a lot more value to your home.  Simple projects such as adding a longer countertop in a stone finish; or perhaps porcelain, pedestal sink with antique mirror; and, of course installing and a handsome, new claw foot tub, can add tremendous value without breaking the bank.
Get rid of that old, out-of-date drop-in tub and replace it with a new cast-iron, porcelain claw foot design. Its elegance and durability will enhance your bathroom and bathing experience for years.

Short Video about Claw foot tubs

In this article, I talked about the difference between the bathroom sizes and designs of yesteryear in comparison to today. I discussed the various types of cast-iron, porcelain claw foot tubs that are available which can enhance any bathroom’s décor. I also mentioned a few suggestions on popular bathroom upgrades that are available today.

Short Video about Walk In Tubs

If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog.  If you’d like to receive a FREE Walk-In Tub Buyers’ Guide, click here.  Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and I’ll personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.  We hope to be helping you in the near future.

Until next time.

Alan and Kerry Knight are the owners of Tub King, Inc., and SeniorBathtub.com  in Jacksonville, Florida. Together they have many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. Their companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” three years running. If you’d like to contact them, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or send an email  alan@tubking.com.

Related articles