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Many people like the idea of having an antique inspired bathroom, with period-style furnishings and fixtures to create an air of decadence and luxury. And that’s easy and easier to do – vaguely antique-inspired bathroom vanities are a dime a dozen, and so are clawfoot freestanding tubs. But historically accurate bathroom design can be a lot trickier.
Interior designers at HomeThangs.com introduced a guide to real authentic Edwardian style bathroom designs, explaining historical context of Edwardian style in bathrooms, color schemes, furniture types, materials, and the specific types of bathroom fixtures to use.
1. A History Lesson
Generally speaking, the “Edwardian Period” is considered to be the period from 1901 to about 1920, which comprises the rule of King Edward VII and about a decade after his death. This is the period immediately following the death of Queen Victoria (and the end of the Victorian Era), and is stylistically different in a few ways for some major cultural reasons. First and foremost, by 1901 the middle class had begun to rise up suburbs, meaning lots of new construction and plenty of room for a new architectural style. This was also the time that both electricity and indoor plumbing began to become widespread, and the presence of servants in the home began to recede. Together, that made for wide, open rooms in lighter (non-soot-hiding) colors in simple, easy-to-clean designs.
2. A Note on Toilets
When indoor plumbing had only just begun to become common during the Edwardian period, it’s important to remember that that means the first flushable toilets. Before this time, the facilities were limited to chamber pots and outhouses, and during the Edwardian period toilet designs weren’t what they are today. For the most historically accurate Edwardian bathroom, a cistern style toilet is recommended, like the Victoria High Tank Toilet by Barclay for example, where the tank is elevated high above the bowl and connected by a thin metal pipe, but many of the other designs of the time are neither in production nor particularly practical. Because of the latter, if going to break from historical accuracy, this is probably the one place to get away with it. Most people don’t realize that the use of flush toilets is hardly 100 years old, so even just a decorative wooden toilet seat can probably get one by just fine.
3. Indoor Plumbing, Indoor Bathing
Before the Edwardian period, bathrooms and regular bathing were considered to be unnecessary, even decadent. But with the advent of widespread indoor plumbing, the notion of a permanent space reserved for toiletries was integrated into home architecture for the first time. Previously, both tubs and toilets were portable and not necessarily private (in fact, bathing was often a once-weekly family affair), but the invention of the enameled clawfoot tub by Kohler Co in 1883 replaced temporary tin tubs with permanent fixtures. Edwardian bathrooms featured oval-shaped clawfoot tubs with an even rolled trim all the way around, like the Roll Top Cast Iron Clawfoot from Elizabethan Classics for example.
Bathrooms were still large and made for family use during this period, but were very much in line with the overall aesthetic of cleanliness. In an Edwardian bathroom, there’s tile across the whole floor and tile or wainscotting half or a third of the way up the wall to make the surfaces easy to clean, and the walls above topped with light pastel colors or floral patterns. Empty corners and open spaces were the rule, with only as much exposed plumbing as was expressly needed to fill a Clawfoot Tub and feed the Console Sink and toilet. Edwardian bathrooms, as with the rest of Edwardian architecture, utilized lots of natural light, so there’re lots of large windows, light pastel color schemes, and often bouquets of fresh flowers to emphasize the bright, natural aspect of the bathroom.
4. Bright, Open Bathrooms; Bright Open Fixtures
The form of Edwardian bathroom fixtures followed the architecture and overall design of the time, emphasizing light colors and open spaces. Revolutions in toilet technology meant that ceramic porcelain was becoming widely used, and the material was repeated in clawfoot tubs (like the Imperial Tub from Barclay for example) and simple, open console sinks (like Versailles Console by Barclay). Mirrors and artwork were simple, with simple Mirror Frames. Ceilings were sometimes decorative, with molding or murals, but not nearly to the extent found in Victorian bathrooms. The ceiling decorations were simpler, easier to clean, and done in lighter colors because they didn’t have to hide soot or smudges from gas lanterns.
Unlike Victorian design, Edwardian bathrooms tended to have relatively very little ornamentation. While Victorian design favored lots of small knick-knacks and decorations, Edwardians preferred an uncluttered aesthetic, again relying primarily on floral ornamentation with some smaller clusters of decorations. Edwardian bathrooms were often decorated with beautiful leaded glass windows and large, ornamental or oriental rugs. Simple porcelain fixtures – like the Lutezia Toilet by Porcher, Charleston Bidet by Herbeau, Grand Luxury Archive Pedestal Sink by Porcher, and full-bodied Roll Top Tub all offer a simple elegance, accessorized by decorative wall tile, the rug and window panes, and even the cloth of the curtain or paint or floral wallpaper on the walls.
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