During the medieval times in England, men and women used to wash in open public baths as per ancient Rome. In the mid 1500’s these ‘bagnios’ as they were known were permantently closed by Henry VIII because of the promiscuous behaviour! The English were never as clean again until the building of municipal public baths in the 19th Century. Grime had seeped deep into the skin and psyche of much of the population due to non bathing.
Today’s luxury bathroom design
Whilst the bathroom has been an important part of household daily life for many years, the “luxury bathroom design” as we know it today has evolved since the early part of the 20th Century although many larger properties had a luxury bathroom design around the 1800’s.
In 1851, The Great Exhibition gave everyone a view of what an inside bathroom would be like. People were willing to spend a penny by trying George Jennings Monkey Closets in the Retiring Rooms at The Crystal Palace giving way to the first type of public toilets and caused quite a stir! During the exhibition 827000 visitors paid one penny to use them. For the penny they got a clean seat, comb, towel and someone to shine their shoes. To “spend a penny” soon became a popular saying for “going to the toilet”.
Bathrooms were modest during the 1920’s and 1930’s, with only wealthy people being able to enjoy a luxury bathroom design in their houses at all including roll top baths. However, during this time a group of Europeans began to market the tap at prices affordable to nearly everyone.
Bermondsey Public Baths
In 1927 the Bermondsey Public Baths opened and 1 out of every 500 houses in this area of London finally had a bathroom. What they lacked at home (a lavatory of their own!), local people found in a grand building with 2 swimming pools, 126 private baths in cubicles and Turkish baths, and saunas.
In many parts of the world this is how people without access to bathrooms kept clean for centuries. The Bermondsey Public Baths were closed in 1973, by which time it was difficult to find an old house without a plumbed-in bathroom.
The “luxury bathroom design”
During the war in Europe bathrooms remained a room designed for function only and certainly not luxury. It was the washroom for the family and their clothes. During the post-war boom the development piped hot water into bathrooms using gas or electric power revolutionised the process. Instant hot water finally started to introduce the idea of luxury to the bathroom, making it a place of comfort practicality. In the 1960s the combined mixer allowed the water temperature to be easily controlled by one hand preventing the sudden changes in temperature.
In the 1970’s, the bathroom gradually became more design orientated. Although bathrooms retained their functionality, more and more were decorated and styled. An increasing amount of colours became available with fittings to suit personal preferences. The luxury bathroom design was now a concept, and the bathroom became a place of relaxation.
The modern bathroom today is aware of fashionable trends in bathroom and interior design, but retains some of the more eco-friendly principles developed in the 1990’s.
Design magazines and websites are still full of images of luxury bathroom designs and sometimes have a floor-to-ceiling picture window which can overlook a city or other scenic views of the countryside.