The great bathroom renovation debate

  1. Should I keep the bath?

  2. Which model of bath is appropriate?

  3. Vintage, updated, or modern bathroom renovation?

1. "With a young family, I'd never buy a house again without a bath."

For young families a bath is an added bonus, but it's not necessary for everyone and could even detract potential buyers.

"I wouldn't worry too much if there wasn't a bath.

For smaller units that may attract a young couple or a more mature individual, a bath is not always a plus.

I wouldn't remove a bath though if the house had three bedrooms or more, as families like to have this option."

Bathtub Guidelines:

  • If you have multiple bathrooms, keep a tub in one of them.

  • If you have toddlers, small children or dogs to bathe a tub is necessary.

  • If soaking in a tub is your surefire way to relax, a tub is a must.

2. Which model of bath is appropriate?

Read on...


Federation Bathtubs

There is a balance between leaving everything "old fashioned" and updating it to the point that it loses the things that make an older home special. 

Federation and Edwardian bathrooms featured oval-shaped clawfoot tubs with an even rolled trim all the way around. But a more modern bath can still be appropriate for you.

Above: Original beautiful Federation bathroom at 17 Mary Street, LONGUEVILLE NSW


  • Bathrooms were still large and made for family use during this period, but were very much in line with the overall aesthetic of cleanliness.

  • In a Federation or Edwardian bathroom, there’s tile across the whole floor and tile or wainscotting half or a third of the way up the wall to make the surfaces easy to clean, and the walls above topped with light pastel colors or floral patterns.




  • Federation bathrooms, as with the rest of Edwardian architecture, utilized lots of natural light, so there’re lots of large windows, light pastel color schemes, and often bouquets of fresh flowers to emphasize the bright, natural aspect of the bathroom.

  • The form of Federation and Edwardian bathroom fixtures followed the architecture and overall design of the time, emphasizing light colors and open spaces.

  • Art Nouveau leadlight windows were a feature, adding beauty and light, while respecting privacy


Left: Victorian bathroom with Art Nouveau decoration

Right: A light filled bathroom with traditional bath 

Below Left: Bathroom at 406 Waverley Road Malvern East Victoria


Above Right: Original Federation style bathroom with modern shower and tap ware

Note: no loo yet installed in these bathrooms....


Free standing baths

Currently free-standing baths are very popular, coming in all shapes and sizes to match the infinite variety of our Aussie bathrooms. Many manufacturers also offer spa baths which are the next step up for the truly luxurious bathroom.






















Above: Burlington Edwardian style bath

A free standing bath is the ultimate bathroom feature. 

  • Whilst beautiful, free standing baths are generally heavier than inset baths and will need to be carefully supported.

  • Many free standing baths do not have tapholes, so choosing your tap-ware is extremely important.

  • Free standing baths are extremely versatile in their design, with a myriad of styles available.

  • Unless you go for a real space-saving design, keep in mind that adding a tub to the bathroom takes up space, and you'll need to allow for additional plumbing connections.

  • If you plan to incorporate the shower above the bath, this will also result in more work, and of course, additional cost.

  • For today's modern family, the bathroom plays a very functional role. If you use a bath, then add one when renovating – but add wisely. Make sure the style of bath suits the bathroom and house, and that the installation allows enough space in the bathroom area.

  • If budget permits, consider the spa bath – this is bound to add value to the property when it comes to selling.[1]

Renovation and a claw foot bath

If your house reflects a Federation design, then a new or restored clawfoot tub will complement this and add to the value of your property.
This leads on to important considerations such as budget and available space. 

  • Maybe you've thought ahead a little and purchased an old claw foot tub which you plan to restore and install.

  • Depending on the state of the tub (how long it's been sitting in the paddock as a stock water trough), the cost to repair and refinish it will be between $500 and $2000.

  • Alternatively, from upwards of $900, you can buy a new porcelain or acrylic claw foot tub.

Above: Spa bath renovation in a Federation bathroom with Art Nouveau leadlight



Above: Hargate in Launceston provides a rare opportunity to experience Tasmania's heritage bathrooms.


Above: Renovated bathroom at Arden, 1045 Burke Road HAWTHORN EAST (demolished)


Above: Renovated bathroom at Rotha, 29 Harcourt Street in Hawthorn


The Claw foot Bathtub

The claw foot tub or claw-foot tub was considered a luxury item in the late 19th century, [2] originally made from cast iron and lined with porcelain. 

Modern technology has contributed to a drop in the price of clawfoot tubs, which may now be made of fibreglass, acrylic or other modern materials. 

  • The claw foot free standing bath is reminiscent of an era of style and decadence. 

  • A beautiful feature piece in a period bathroom, claw foot free standing baths can be beautifully decorated with different coloured feet, exteriors and interiors for that genuine Federation feel.

  • Claw foot tubs usually require more water than a standard bathtub, because generally they are larger. 

  • While true antique claw foot tubs are still considered collectible items, new reproduction claw foot tubs are chosen by renovators and new home builders[3]




















Above Left: Millbrook Double Ended Cast Iron Bath, The Petite Millbrook Cast Iron Bath

Above Right: Salcombe Cast Iron Bath, The Polperro Double Ended Slipper Cast Iron Bath


Clawfoot tubs come in 5 major styles:

  • Classic Roll Rim, Roll Top, or Flat Rim tubs as seen in the picture above.

  • Slipper tubs - where one end is raised and sloped creating a more comfortable lounging position.

  • Double Slipper Tubs - where both ends are raised and sloped.

  • Double Ended Tubs - where both ends of the tub are rounded. Notice how one end of the classic tub is rounded and one is fairly flat.

  • Pedestal Tub - Pedestal tubs, unlike all the styles listed above, do not have claw feet. The tub rests on a pedestal in what most would term an art deco style. Evidence of pedestal tubs dates back to the Isle of Crete in 1000 BC.

Above Left to Right:

1. Randolph Morris 66 Inch Cast Iron Double Ended Pedestal Tub No Drillings - White

2. Randolph Morris 70-Inch Acrylic Double Slipper Pedestal Tub - Rim Drillings

3. Randolph Morris 60 Inch Cast Iron Slipper Flat Rim Pedestal Tub Rim Drillings

4. Randolph Morris 72 Inch Cast Iron Double Slipper Pedestal Tub Rim Drillings - White

Gallery of Clawfoot baths




Gallery of Pedestal baths


Bath Tub Materials

By Prue Tully

  • With plenty of different bath materials to suit your space and price, the following captures some of the more popular choices on the market and how out they could work best for you.

1. Acrylic Baths

Left: Acrylic Bath



Acrylic has become an extremely popular choice for bath materials. Its natural warmth as well as its strength make it a favourite for home renovators. 


Acrylic Baths are a lightweight and affordable bath option. To maintain that high sheen finish and colour, use gentle cleaning products as anything abrasive can damage your acrylic bathtub.


2. Enameled Cast Iron Baths

Left: Enameled Cast Iron Bath

Among the most expensive bath materials on the market is Enameled Cast Iron Baths. Strong and durable, these baths are created by pouring molten iron into a mould.


To achieve their high-gloss finish, the surface is fired and is resistant to scratches, cracks and chips. Be aware that cast iron baths are extremely heavy, but if you’re after that timeless look, this is the bath for you.

3. Steel Enamel Baths

Extremely popular in Europe, steel enamel baths are a fantastic option for bathing.



Exceptionally durable, steel enamel baths are hard-wearing, scratch resistant, hygienic and easy to clean.


4. Stonecast Resin Baths

Stonecast Resin baths are a mixture of ground up stone and resin. For those who are looking from a stone bath but are on a tighter budget, a stonecast resin bath could be the answer for you. Manufacturers are able to mimic travertine, limestone, marble and granite.

Left: Stonecast resin bath

5. Steel Porcelain Baths

Stamped out of a solid piece of steel, steel porcelain baths are then coated with Porcelain to achieve that high gloss finish. Extremely hardy, steel porcelain is highly resistant to scratches, vigorous cleaning and is an affordable bath material option.


Left: Steel Porcelain Bath


6. Stone Composite Baths

Left: Stone Composite Bath


A two-tone paint job emphasizes the beauty of the architectural detailing in the master bathroom and complements the statuesque freestanding bathtub from Kohler. The sumptuous stone top of a vintage Edwardian table from Grant Antiques Gallery adds opulence to the setting.


Stone Composite Baths baths are readily available on the market. A composite material made of crushed stone bound by a polymer resin. Made predominantly with Quartz, baths in stone composite stone feature a myriad of other materials such as limestone, marble, mother of pearl, composite baths have a beautiful natural stone look.

7. Copper Baths

A copper bath is one of the most luxurious choices when it comes to bathing.

Left: Copper Bath

Handcrafted in any shape, copper conducts and retains heat, making it perfect for those long, hot soaks.

Federation-House Information

Details about renovating Australia's Own Housing Style - latest: Federation Gardens
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