The bathroom is a space made for functionality and luxury alike. Over the years, it has seen many significant changes in design, styling, technology and function. The bathrooms of today are very different to those in ancient times. Here, we will look at the evolution of this space and how to get the best of both worlds.
In the Medieval period, the most common way to wash in the western world was in a public bathhouse, based on the Roman style warm baths Crusaders had enjoyed in the Middle East. Known as bagnios (from the Italian word bagnio for bath) or stew houses, they were very popular until it was found that many of the bagnios had degenerated into fronts for brothels. The baths were very elaborate, made from beautiful tiles with statues overlooking the area and large bathing areas for both sexes, based on the original baths in Rome. They were closed permanently by King Henry VI in 1546.
The Victorian Period
During the Victorian period, personal hygiene was a much lower priority and may sound downright dirty to some! However, men and women during this time only ever washed their arms, hands and faces – often the only skin showing, as was the fashion – leaving the rest to nature. For the upper class, decorative wash stands and basins were common, typically sitting in bedrooms without a dedicated bathroom. These were often accompanied by beautiful porcelain jugs. Some homes did have bathrooms, but this was rare and only found in the absolute upper crust of homes.
However, this same period also saw the development of plumbing, with indoor toilets becoming more common and the creation of flushing toilets as well as more efficient sewerage systems. Much of this happened towards the end of the period.
The 1800s saw public bathhouses return, but in a more modern incarnation. The bathhouse was now made for washing not only a person, but their clothes as well. The space was often separated into the differing sexes, hot and cold areas and even regions for showers.
For the wealthy, grand, elaborate bathrooms within the home were common, taking up huge rooms. While most did not have running hot water, some had the luxury of using taps, while others had their baths filled by maids. These rooms were usually made up of a bath and a sink, with the toilet elsewhere. A typical British roll top bath would be single ended with ball and claw cast iron feet and tap holes at one end of the bath. They could be anything between 1.5 and 3 metres in length, either parallel sided or tapered at one end.
As the 20th century ticked over, bathrooms were revolutionised and became an integral part of households, similar to how we view them today. For a long time, toilets were an outside thing, with Aussies affectionately calling them the Thunder Box. However, this gradually changed and now toilets are often within or next to the bathroom. Pastels were popular for a time until more muted neutrals became the trend. Today, tiles and wood are common, with showers standard and baths often a luxury. A large sink and mirror are also a common fixture now, with toilets becoming a place to get ready from cleaning to makeup.
Into the future
The future sees bathrooms becoming more streamlined and simplistic, while also growing bigger and more spacious. Claw foot tubs will be a thing of the past, with baths more angular, sitting straight on the floor. Frameless glass showers and wet rooms are also gaining popularity along with frameless wall-to-wall mirrors. Toilets are becoming more efficient and ecofriendly, taking up less space and requiring less maintenance. Wood will also be a popular material throughout bathrooms, as well as steel.
The future of bathrooms is exciting to say the least! If you are looking to renovate your bathroom, talk to our team. Whether you want a design of old or futuristic stylings, Darren James Interiors can help! Get in touch today to discuss interior design with our Brisbane consultants.