When it comes to choosing sanitaryware for your bathroom, much depends on the space you have to work with, the bathroom design scheme you want to create and how you use it — is it a family space or a master suite, for example.

Baths, sinks and WCs are usually split in to two bathroom design categories — built-in and freestanding. From contemporary to classic, there’s a plethora of designs out there. So where do you start? Read our pros and cons guide to help you decide which option, or a combination of the two, will work for your bathroom.

The Built-in Bath

The Oasis drop-in bath

The Oasis drop-in bath, £1,795, from Waters Baths of Ashbourne, is part of the Botanics range, and is made to be enclosed.

Built-in baths are designed to sit within a cradle, which can be bought along with the bath. Alternatively you can get them with adjustable ‘legs’. You can buy acrylic side and end panels to fit around the bath, which tend to be a cheaper option, but aren’t always the most aesthetic.

Another option is to build a timber frame for it to sit in. The frame you build can be as deep as you like — the more space you provide around the bath, the more space you have to keep toiletries to hand.

Don’t forget the frame will conceal pipework so make sure there’s access to the plumbing in case it needs attention. For a more luxurious look you can cover the frame with painted timber panels, or plasterboard and tile it.


  • They offer lots of storage potential
  • The frame can be tiled to match the rest of the bathroom
  • They tend to work out cheaper than freestanding baths


  • Less opportunity for ‘wow factor’

(MORE: 7 luxury bathroom design ideas)

The Freestanding Bath

freestanding Clearstone bath

This freestanding Clearstone bath finished with a modern stainless steel outer, £4699 is part of the Clearwater range available from the Pure Bathroom Collection.

Freestanding baths include the classic roll-top, along with a whole host of new designs — from bateau baths, contemporary slipper-style baths to creations formed from stone.

They can certainly create a real focal point in the bathroom.

But bear in mind freestanding baths sometimes require a wall or floor mounted tap so you’ll need to make sure the plumbing can accommodate it. As a result this option can be more expensive than deck mounted ones.

If you want a freestanding bath but are worried about the practicalities of one with a shower over, many now feature one straight edge so you can actually sit it against a wall.


  • They are the ideal way to create a focal point
  • There is a huge choice available, from traditional roll-tops to contemporary stone models
  • They can look more elegant than a built-in bath and can take up less space


  • They tend to lack the storage opportunities that built-in baths offer
  • They are not always practical where a shower over the bath is required

(MORE: Family bathroom design guide)

The Built-in Sink

The Self Countertop ceramic basin

The Self Countertop ceramic basin, £115 from Frontline Bathrooms, sits above a unit like the example above. A great option if you’re after a boutique look.

Built-in sinks sit within a vanity or storage unit moulded into contemporary countertops or period-style basins set into timber or marble units. The often wide edge around the sink provides space for toiletries.


  • They offer huge storage opportunities
  • They look sleek and are available in materials such as timber or composites, to compliment the rest of the suite and interior scheme
  • They can be set at whatever height you wish


  • They can take up more space than freestanding
  • They tend to work out slightly more expensive

The Freestanding Sink

Ellipse freestanding curved sided sink

The Ellipse freestanding curved sided sink, £795 from Waters Baths of Ashbourne, stands proud in this bathroom.

Freestanding sinks include pedestal, semi-pedestal and wall-hung basins. They tend to come out cheaper overall, with standard pedestals being amongst the cheapest — although there are some higher priced designer versions out there. 


  • Standard designs are cost-effective
  • Easy to conceal unsightly pipework if they feature a pedestal
  • Perfect for traditional-style bathrooms


  • No space is provided for storing bathroom essentials
  • Full pedastals are at a set height which may not suit everyone or every bathroom

The Built-in WC

Darling New WC

The SensoWash Starck C Shower-Toilet Seat from Duravit with Darling New WC, around £469, is a wall hung system with pipework hidden behind the wall.

In contrast to the freestanding designs, built-in WCs have their cistern and pipework built into a stud wall, or a unit built out from the wall. They have a sleeker, more contemporary look with just the pan visible, along with what is usually a push button flush mounted on the wall. Wall-hung WCs fall into this category too.


  • Ideal for creating clean lines
  • Possibilities for creating storage space


  • Needs to be built-in into a stud wall or unit
  • Can work out as a more expensive option

(MORE: Bathroom flooring)

The Freestanding WC

Freestanding Lima Close Coupled Toilet

The freestanding Lima Close Coupled Toilet and Basin Cloakroom Suite, £139.97 from Bathroom Takeaway

This design includes low-level models and traditional high-level designs that come with a chain flush. They are the cheaper option and less time-consuming to install, but can lack the seamless and more modern appeal of built-in designs.


  • Generally work out cheaper than built-in
  • Suit traditional-style bathrooms really well


  • More spaces to get lodged with dirt
  • No space for storage

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