Baton Rouge bathtubs: style, fashion and hubris | Entertainment/Life


Bathtubs. White, rectangular and ubiquitous, they’re all pretty much all the same, right? 


As even a quick trip to a local plumbing or hardware store will teach you, the world of bathtubs is a world unto itself. There are big ones and small ones, corner ones and freestanding ones, light ones and ones that are so heavy they’ll fall through your floor (unless you reinforce it, of course).

In order to investigate said world, we took a trip to the Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery on Baton Rouge’s Pecue Lane. There, we were ably guided by Sonja Phillips and Mary Margaret Singer, two experienced and (very) patient guides. 

Obvious questions first. What’s the coolest bathtub going right now? 


Sonja Phillips points to a dress standing stone tub while speaking to showroom manager Mary Margaret Singer at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery.

“It all depends on what you want to do and what feels best for your space,” Singer says. “But the most popular one in the building world right now is the freestanding (tub) because it’s just so pretty.”

She points to one gleaming under the store’s many, many lights. “The allure of freestanding tubs is you can put them anywhere. They speak on their own.”

We all look at the tub, which seems almost proud under our gaze. How can a bathtub seem proud? Half an hour of staring at the things will do that to you.

“It’s like a work of art,” she adds.

We nod.

The primary types of bathtubs are the undermount/drop-in (installed underneath a rim so the surrounding area is covered), freestanding (very chic) and three-wall alcove (solid, does the job). The latter is generally the least expensive of the bunch. 

If freestanding tubs are in, what, then, are out? Plenty, probably, but good luck trying to find those triangular, spa-style tubs that were popular at the turn of the 21st century.


Sonja Phillips talks to Mary Margaret Singer about, well, bathtubs, probably.

“Can you actually get those things in stores anymore?” I ask, recalling the beloved pink tub of my childhood that seemed, and still kind of does seem, so modern, so cool. Rather emphatically, Phillips and Singer shake their heads in unison.

(Side note: They are available online if you look hard enough. Don’t be discouraged, Millennials.)

Ducking the occasional light fixture, we wind our way through dozens of gleaming, sculpted monuments to relaxation. The prices are often startling, with many appearing to be in the $1,300 to $5,000 range, though they can go higher.

The fixtures come separately, generally speaking, and they’re not necessarily cheap either. Gold, we’re told, is particularly trendy for fixtures right now. Go figure.

For all the glitz on display, though, the price range is broad.

“The sky’s the limit, but we can meet any budget,” Phillips says.

Case in point: Wandering downstairs, we spy a humble three-wall alcove model that’s priced at a very reasonable $600 or so.

Our photographer, Javier Gallegos, falls into thought.


Jack Barlow, pretending he’s Fernando Alonso, tries out a tub at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. 

“You know, that’s about the same price as an Xbox,” he points out.

Gaming or bathing? In the world of bathtubs, as in life, it’s all about personal priorities.

One of the joys of bathtub shopping is trying the things out. This makes sense — if you’re dropping a decent chunk of money you’ll want to know what your tub feels like — but there’s something odd about hopping into a tub in the middle of a brightly lit storeroom in front of strangers.

At first, anyway.

“We’ve sold this one many times,” Singer says, guiding me over to a particularly attractive freestanding tub (a Signature Hardware — Hibiscus 67″ rectangular acrylic soaking tub with integrated drain, overflow and tap deck, priced at $2,279, to be exact).

It’s comfortable.

Actually, it’s really comfortable. It’s just like what I imagine being safely wrapped in the cockpit of a racing car feels like, except instead of hurtling around a racetrack at 200 miles an hour, I’m in a quiet, brightly lit storeroom with salespeople towering over me. So nothing at all like being in a racing car, then.


An $8,040 freestanding acrylic tub, left, and a $5,970 freestanding stone tub are displayed together on the first floor of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. For our photographer, the stone won out.

Once I pull myself out of both the tub and my F1 dream — cozy bathtubs really can transport you — I try a much smaller one.

“Now, see how cramped it is?” Phillips says. “Your knees are definitely over the water level.”

It actually doesn’t seem too bad, but not being able to properly fit into it is, to be fair, a bit of a red flag.

Now to get into the serious stuff.

“So, what’s the most expensive bathtub you have?” I ask.

Phillips and Singer give each other a knowing look. “I was expecting that one,” Singer says. “Let’s go downstairs.”

We head down and there it is: an $8,000 acrylic tub called the Parisian.

I’ve had enough bathtub tryouts for one day, so it’s time for the photographer to give it a shot. Turns out, like our guides keep saying, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. He kind of likes it OK, but it’s the classy freestanding stone tub next to it, coming in at a good $2000 cheaper, that really takes his fancy. Goes to show.

Later that evening, I find myself explaining the benefits of matte black bathroom fixtures and the popularity (primarily among males, it seems) of full-body shower systems to my wife. I’m bemoaning the lack of circa-1997 spa-style tubs when she stops me.

“Yeah, but did they have any of those pretty freestanding ones?” she asks. Shows what I know. 

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