Once Standard Bathroom Fixtures We've Left Behind

Once Standard Bathroom Fixtures We've Left Behind

Bethany Adams
May 25, 2011

It may seem like a no-brainer that a tub, toilet, and sink are all you really need to keep clean. Early in the last century, though, indoor plumbing and ideas about what constituted good hygiene were both under development leaving plumbing supply companies and consumers alike a little confused as to what constituted "standard" bathroom fixtures. Click through the jump to see some of the standard fixtures we've left by the wayside…

1. This pink bathroom (via Retro Renovation) from the late 1930's is pretty close to what a lot of us probably grew up with. But what is that tiny sink for? Brushing your teeth! It's a dedicated "dental sink." I guess people figured there would be less risk of germs spreading if your hands and your mouth didn't share the same sink....not a bad idea, now that I think of it.

2. This second bath (via Create and Smile) from the turn of the last century seems pretty self-explanatory, except for the small flat-topped tub in front of the sink. Believe it or not, at one time a foot bath was standard-issue for every indoor bathroom. Why? Even with indoor plumbing, people didn't bathe every day and a tiny foot bath used less hot water to freshen up after a long day of work.

3. Finally, this last early bathroom illustration (via 1912 Bungalow) from the Standard Plumbing Supply Co. includes a sink, a tub, and the previously mentioned foot bath (presumably the toilet is out of sight). It raises the bar with a cage shower--where water is forced through the pipes of the "cage" and you get spritzed from all around--and a sitz bath. What's a sitz bath? It's kind of like a bidet, except you submerge your lower half in the tub and soak. I can only imagine this was another hot-water-saving feature like the foot bath.

So, as you can see, we've really pared things down over the years. Most of us would consider a bathroom complete if it had a toilet, sink, and even just a shower, so maybe the tub is the next "standard"-issue fixture to go. What do you think? Could you live without a tub? Which formerly standard fixture would you like to see have a comeback?

Image Credits: Retro Renovation, Create and Smile, 1912 Bungalow

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