• March 2, 2004

Historical Bathroom Photos

Ideas for period perfect bungalow bathrooms

Bathrooms, Inspiration

I have been researching historical photos for ideas to help us when we tackle our bathroom. The photos are taken from magazines, books and online sources covering the early 1900′s to the 1920′s. Most of the photos focus on the early years during that time span.

These rooms may look sterile to our modern eyes, but they were the high-end bathrooms of their day with all the bells and whistles.

Bathrooms were mainly white to appear clean and sanitary.

Wood trim, a wood toilet seat and a rug or two did occasionally sneak in. I really like the window in the above photo.

The bathroom on the right features square tiles on the floor and walls instead of the hex and subway tile more commonly associated with that time period.

Isn’t the tile in the bathroom shown on the right amazing?

You might also enjoy
More Historical Bathroom Photos
Art Deco Bathrooms
Vintage Bathroom Fixtures and Accessories

Comments { 23 }
  1. pammc

    Heather, I really appreciate you sharing the results of your research. I’m on the east coast doing similar house restoration, and find all aspects of your site inspirational and informative. Can’t wait to see your kitchen and bath projects unfold!

  2. heather

    Oh, thanks! I figured that there would be other people out there who would find these photos interesting. I am always trying to walk the fine line between what would have been here originally and what works with our modern lifestyle. I’m compiling some historical kitchen photos that will (hopefully!) get posted next week. Stay tuned…I wish you all the best with your restoration.


    • Cecilia Mitchell

      Can you tell me about the tile on the floor –
      did you find it mostly to be variations on
      white? and what about the bit of tile that
      might go on a wall if I just put a shower but
      not a tub in a room? Would that be white also?
      In 6″ squares on the floor for a small room
      (I mean small! 4′ x 5′) and maybe 12″ squares
      on the wall?
      Thank you,

  3. Pammc

    I found the bungalow forum and your webpage months after we’d already started tearing out our bathroom & turning it into two. Back then, I had no thoughts about maintaining historical accuracy. Now, it’s another story. But, by then, I’d already chosen fiberglass tub and shower fixture. I think that the right tiling on floors & walls will help minimize the fiberglass impact and keep the period feel. But, I struggle with the need for practicality versus historical accuracy, too. That’s why I like seeing how other are approaching this problem.

  4. Lauren

    We’ve been discussing what to do with our main floor bathroom and how to achieve the period look etc. Thanks for sharing these pictures they’re really great!

  5. Lou

    Really enjoy your website. Thank you for sharing your experiences and new expertise with bungalow restoration. My wife Terry and I are in awe! We are currently mid-way through our own bathroom renovation, after at least 2 earlier “remuddles” by previous owners. We are doing our best to restore the original feel of the bathroom. Luckily the tub was spared from the fate the rest of the bath was subject to. Thanks again for being an excellent resource and inspiration!

  6. heather

    Hello everyone! Thanks so much for all your comments. We have been out of town so I haven’t been timely in responding.

    I am finding restoring the bathroom and kitchen to be the most challenging part of the restoration. Maybe it is because these rooms are more utilitarian than the other areas of the house?

    Pammc, I agree that adding period tiles will add a historical touch. Maybe you could also add a pedestal sink?

    Lauren, you are more than welcome.

    Lou, you and Terry are lucky to have the original tub! I think our tub was updated in the 1940 – 50′s. We rescued an antique cast iron tub last year. We also saved a1920′s pedestal sink from the curb side. Both pieces have rust spots but, all in all, are in pretty good shape. They are just waiting to be installed. We are still in the planning stages right now. Best of luck with your project!

  7. Andrew

    Hi, My 1928 bathroom has the original subway tile on the walls and 1 inch hexagonal tile that I just repaired(Its a labor of love). The tub is the built in type made by American Standard in 1927 along with the original porcelain faucet for the tub and shower. The pedestal sink with the mixer faucet was removed long ago but hope to get it back one day. Since my bathroom is original to the 1928 colonial revival thought telling you about the bathroom would help give you ideas. That same tile was in style in 1912 also.

  8. Kris Rohloff

    I wanted to look at your historical bathroom photos, but I cannot find them on flickr. Could you possibly email them to me?

  9. Jessica

    Fixing the bathroom in my 1910 bungalow is next on my list. I was trying to look at your bathroom research, but it says that “yahoo photos is now closed” so all the bathroom links you did I can’t find anymore. Did you happen to move these to flicker or anywhere else? I’m trying to figure out if my bathroom is arranged the way it use to be or not and your research would be a HUGE help.

    I also live in L.A. What resources did you guys find use full for getting bathroom parts? (Sinks and all that.) I also need to get new doornobs because a few in the house are squished. Are the salvage places expensive? Is one better than another?

    Thank you so much for having this blog. It’s been a world of help to me. :)

  10. Carlo Losurdo

    Where did the image: bath_4.jpg come from? Was it a book or magazine. The tub filler that they are showing looks like a J.L. Mott imperial. Strom plumbing make a reproduction of that standing waste and tub filler. Please tell me where you got that image from? I would like to use that tub filler in my bath restoration. Thank you for all the help you have given us through out the years!!!

  11. Heather

    Hello Carlo. I put up those pictures about 4 years ago. I have collected a vast amount of reference materials and I honestly don’t remember where that picture is pulled from. Sorry!

    I’ll go through my materials and if I locate the source I’ll post it here.

  12. Leslie

    My fiance and I have just moved into a 1912 Craftsman Bungalow style house in kansas, while the bare bones of the house are sound, we decided to start with the bathroom. It is very small, but still has the original free-standing ped. tub. We are starting with the floors because they are in such bad shape. I have pulled off all the old cheap sticky tile someone put one, and would like to replace it with ceramic tile. The problem is I have no idea what the decorating style back then was, such as color style and such. My fiance is against all white, can you help?

  13. Heather

    Congrats on the house! First of all let me suggest a wonderful book called “Bungalow Bathrooms” by Jane Powell. I found it wonderfully informative and inspiring.

    Link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1586850814?ie=UTF8&tag=davidchiu-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1586850814

    I have found the “Aladdin Home Furnishings Catalog” from 1916 to be another great resource (everything from roof tiles, to period lighting examples, to home furnishings, and so much more!). Here is a link to bathroom floor tile examples: http://clarke.cmich.edu/aladdin/furnishings/aladdin137.htm

    In Los Angeles, I have seen a few original bathroom floor tiles in the flower pattern, far right in the Aladdin book, minus the geometric border. The floors I saw in this pattern were white hex tile with black flower or a light blue flower pattern.

    Sorry to your fiance, but most of the period bathroom tile floors I have seen were done in white hex tile, even bathrooms in fancier upscale homes. Check out the gallery page at subwaytile.com (this company reproduces historically authentic subway tile) for period bathrooms exemplifying this: http://www.subwaytile.com/gallery.shtml

    In 1912, white bathrooms were seen as clean and sanitary and were the most common. That said, there were bathrooms that were tiled in white but also incorporated an accent color (often black) in a border or some type of all over pattern.

    Personally, I prefer a little more color and am planning on going with a basket weave pattern or a spiral pattern on the floor when we do our bathroom. These floor patterns were less common, but not without historical precedence.

    Here is an example of a basket weave pattern: http://www.tileshop.com/products/detail.asp?categoryID=4&subcategoryID=12&familyID=96&Record_ID=5375&pageIndex=1

    Here is an example of a spiral pattern: http://www.mosaicsupply.com/lyric_unglazed_porcelain_mosaic_tile_spiral_pattern.html

    I hope this has helped! Best of luck with your project.

  14. Stephanie Machen

    I am looking for a reference to be able to date the sink I have. I could send a photo if you would like.
    It has separate handles of hot and cold but the water comes out from an area formed in the sink itself. Make any sense? It is not metal it is ceramic just like the bowl part of the sink. It is a wall hung sink squarish in shape.
    Enjoyed all the photos. Very educational and entertaining. Nice reference material. You did some decent research.

  15. leslie

    Hey Heather,

    I’m chronicling my own bungalow redo in Asheville, NC at http://www.roostinteriordesigna.tumblr.com.

    I would love to use the images that you’ve found in my blog and will give you full credit for their sourcing (providing a link to your site etc.). Just wanted to clear that with you before I proceed. Let me know if that’s ok!

    Thanks and GREAT WORK!


  16. leslie

    Just realized there was a type-o in my blog address…it should read http://www.roostinteriordesign.tumblr.com. But you probably could have figured that out!

  17. Steve

    If you are on the West Coast and have a chance to go to Anaheim you should look up Armstrong’s vintage plumbing and lighting. He has the largest collection of period fixtures 1890-1940 ever assembled. His 45 years of vintage fixture expertise comes in handy when dealing with plumbers that have never seen anything older than 1950. John works out of an old farmhouse on an acre property and is seen by appointment only 714-761-1320.
    Happy hunting!

  18. Erlend Torjussen

    Her er litt inspirasjon til badet.

  19. Julie D. Martin

    My husband and I just sold our modern townhome for a small 1.5 storey home built in 1912…and it needs TONS of work! I stumbled upon this awesome website, and you’ve inspired me. Good news is that my hubby is a professional custom woodworker. I, on the other hand, have no serious skills for this renovation, other than a good eye for decor. So glad to see your dramatic before and after photos. I’m looking forward to showing mine off in a year or too! :)

    • Heather

      Good luck with your restoration! How lucky (and smart!) to have married a professional woodworker. :)

  20. charlotte remodeling

    Great Vintage Bathroom pics. I work for a Charlotte Remodeling company and we are currently restoring a 1915 Stucco Foursquare which has some Spanish/Mission details to it. We do quite a bit of Historic Restorations and Since the previous owners of the property have butchered the original bathrooms we are doing alot of leg work to find vintage items form that period such as clawfoot tub, pedestal sinks, mission style light fixtures that will bring back life into this beautiful historic home.

  21. Casey

    These are great. I’m noticing that glass shelves were common but typically only used when a mirror rather than a medicine cabinet are in place. One picture shows a glass shelf and med cabinet but the med cabinet has to be very high to accommodate it.

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