The Victorian era revolutionised the way modern homes are designed through the introduction of a formal bathroom. Prior to the 1850s, the concept of a single, compact space to both cleanse and relax was not common to most. The Victorian era was certainly a turning point in bathroom history has continued to influence the modern bathroom.
Introduction of the Sink
While many had to frequent public bathing precincts, upper-class households with indoor plumbing had the privilege of owning their own bathroom. These rooms were complete with decorative washstands and washbasins of which we know today as the sink. The wealthier the household, the more elaborate these were. You could find pedestal style installations enclosed in wood to act as a piece of furniture, while others were decorated in hand-painted floral patterns.
The Clawfoot Bathtub
Due to the revolutionary invention of plumbing, the use of bathtubs became increasingly available to the middle class. Beforehand, families would take turns bathing in a tin tub usually situated in the kitchen where the water was boiled on the stovetop – how times have changed!
The porcelain clawfoot tub is a true Victorian icon that has found its way into many modern bathrooms due to its timeless charm. The tub had a roll top with the ball and cast iron feet and was designed to fit into compact spaces. In the later years, the tub was even often painted in gold to intensify the luxurious atmosphere.
The Victorian bathroom was treated as more than just a cleansing space; it was a haven of style and personality. It was decorated to feel like a parlour and compliment other rooms in the home with furniture-like fixtures, rugs, art and wallpaper. Porcelain tiles featured in many bathrooms, coupled with pastel coloured or embossed tiles and florally decorated, pink or blue sanitary wares. Affluent households decorated elaborately with a combination of tile and white marble, and shower and bath mixers were typically painted in gold or chrome to amplify the style.
As you can see, many Victorian design elements are still present in modern bathrooms. The pedestal sink, the use of gold and chrome tapware, marble features and clawfoot baths are popular and timeless choices, as well as the inclusion of decors such as art and rugs. The Victorian period has also influenced how we view the bathroom – it is more than just a cleansing room, it is a personalised haven.