Many don’t give much thought to the room itself; we do what we need to do, wash our hands, and go. But here’s the thing: toilets, sinks, and showers (or bathtubs) didn’t always come in the same configuration as they do today. In reality, bathroom designs have altered drastically over the previous 500 years, and QS Supplies in the United Kingdom sought to demonstrate how and why these changes occurred.
Since 1520, the firm has collaborated with graphic artists to develop a collection of images depicting how bathroom designs have evolved every 100 years. The photographs and thorough explanations provide us with a unique peek into the history of this crucial space, and it’s rather intriguing to learn that your great-great-grandparent had a completely different idea of what a bathroom should look like.
1520-1620: The Home Bathtub as a Controversial Luxury
“A household tub was a luxury for the rich in the 16th century. Bathers heated the water in a cauldron before there was a hot tap and under-floor heating. For warmth, a free-standing wooden bathtub would be positioned up to open fire.
The toilet is a hole in the corner on the right, overlooking the roadway. Hand-washing was done with a lavabo or ewer (jug) and basin. The lavabo was usually made of brass and hung above the fireplace on a trammel hook to be rotated to the spout-side when required. If you maintain fresh flowers in the bathroom, an antique jug and bowl combination makes a lovely adornment or vase.”
Dealing with Smells, 1620-1720
“By the 17th century, bathing in public in front of other people was no longer fashionable. Instead, the family would take turns using the hot water in the house tub, which had been coated with steel to keep it warmer for longer. This was inconvenient, so even households with bathtubs bathed seldom. Perfumes and pomanders fought for control of the air in the streets against the odor of trash and the ‘great unwashed.’
The flush was devised in the 1590s, although it wasn’t popular until the nineteenth century. Instead, a chamber pot would be maintained under a washbasin on a washstand in your bedroom for nocturnal wees. The washbasin and jug in a wealthy household would match, and the chamber pot may be part of the same set as well.”
Through the Looking Glass, 1720-1820
“By this time, the commode, which is a seat or box with a hole in it, had gained popularity. To capture the waste, users would place a porcelain or copper pot beneath the hole. The S-pipe, on the other hand, was created in 1775 by a watchmaker called Alexander Cummings. This was one of the numerous events that led to widespread use of the flush and the modern washroom as we know it today.
Mirror glass was costly to produce until the late 18th century, and only the wealthy could afford them. The looking glass was a prestige symbol, and it was sometimes wrapped in little curtains to add glitz and intrigue. However, as technology progressed, mirrors became less expensive and more ornate at the upper end.”
Toilet Paper for the Rich, 1820-1920
“The industrial revolution arrived in the nineteenth century, the population surged, and the United Kingdom confronted a public health catastrophe. One hundred people may use a single toilet in certain congested towns, causing the toilet to overflow into the streets and waterways. The government enacted regulations to raise standards, and the installation of sewers and indoor plumbing increased the prevalence of flushing toilets and flowing water.
All of this plumbing signified the end of moveable commodes and basins. The modern washroom was born as a dedicated space for personal hygiene, with stationary sinks and bathtubs. Thomas Crapper and Henry Doulton, as well as JL Mott tubs, were popular at the time. Exposed pipes were fashionable, and they were embossed, glazed, or gilded to provide visual interest. The copper bath is a result of the Georgian era’s copper mania. In 1880, toilet paper was patented and marketed at Harrods.”
1920-2020: Tiles Everywhere
“The contemporary bathroom, like modernism, interior design, and consumerism, grew in popularity over the twentieth century. To absorb residents’ expendable spending and brighten their bathrooms, designers and manufacturers invented many accessories, including towels, toothbrushes, bar soap holders, vanity drawers, seat coverings, and shower mats and curtains. By the outbreak of World War II, electric lighting had become prevalent. That matching bathroom set in peach, mint green, or flamingo pink is all the better.
Let’s speak about tiles for a moment. In the 1950s, bathroom tiles became commonplace. Much of the ceramic tile was done to such a high standard that it is still visible today. For a while, plastic, considered a space-age substance, was also a popular tile material. The tile was and continues to be bright, sanitary, and waterproof. Ceramic tiling is still a wise option for a long-lasting bathroom renovation – keep the tiles simple, and you may change the color scheme and furnishings later if you want to refresh the space.”
Free-Floating Suite in 2021
“From the barrel tub, we’ve gone a long way.” A 3D bathroom designer uses science to improve problematic places. All forms and solutions are now feasible thanks to materials that weren’t even available before the beginning of the century. Fiberglass, acrylic, and porcelain coatings are stylish as well as functional. Free-standing oval, pebble, or double-ended bathtubs are now looking attractive at a fair price, replacing the apron-front (enclosed) bath that dominated the twentieth century.
For an ultramodern spin on the historic basin stand, a free-standing bath necessitates a floating sink. It adds to the amount of space on the ground floor, making even the tiniest bathroom appear more extensive and elegant. To complete the zero-G effect and make cleaning the smallest room a joy, pair it with intelligent taps and a tankless hanging toilet.”