From transforming wooden bath boxes to the Jacuzzi tubs of today, check out how the evolution of the bathtub shaped modern bathroom design!
The history of the bathtub is complicated and shifts from source to source. This confusion can be contributed to H.L. Mencken, a newspaperman, who wrote a convincing article about the history of the bathtub entitled A Neglected Anniversary; wherein, he stated that the bathtub was invented on December 20, 1842.
Mencken was so convincing that his hoax has lasted all the way into the 21st-century. Though he is technically to blame, Mencken would beg to differ. He saw his article as harmless and thought he was providing a much-needed laugh in a time of war. He found it preposterous that people took his article seriously; after putting in obvious absurdities, he was puzzled people still believed it was true.
Now let me tell you about the real history of the bathtub. Bathtubs are a substantial reflection of how society has changed overtime. As time has changed, and decades have passed, so has the bathtub. It is unclear when the first bathtub was actually invented. Some would say 1596 or 1883, some even argue that the bathtub goes as far back as 3300 B.C.
Despite these inconsistencies, what we know is that it is here now. Before the invention of a beautiful thing called "indoor plumbing," tubs started out as portable and were easy to move. People would go into their storage and pull out a chamber pot or wash bowl so they could bathe. These items were large, but could be easily lifted. They could bathe anywhere; indoors or outdoors as the tub was easy to lift. After indoor plumbing had been created, people shifted to built-in bathtubs. Built-in tubs were easier to clean and more convenient.
Via The Daily Apple
During the 19th century, bathtubs were likely to be a metal trough, made from sheet copper or zinc. Unfortunately, hot running water wasn’t yet an option for the masses! People had to heat their own water and add it to the tub. Some people during that time did have the latest water warming device, but naturally they were on #teamrich, i.e. the elites.
Via The Daily Apple
Those who owned one of these neat water warming devices were likely to have their bathtubs in a wooden box. I think the idea of having my bathtub anchored in a wooden box would be pretty cool. I could have some cute accessories displayed on the edges, and all kinds of other fancy stuff. Of course, I’m only considering the positives. We shouldn’t forget the fact that water and wood do not mix well.
One of these wood inventions was the Mosely folding bathtub. The Mosely folding tub is an uber cool, sneaky 19th-century transformer. Instead of Transformers: Robots in Disguise, it's more like Large Wooden Box: Bathtub in Disguise. If I owned one, I would invite friends over to guess what the huge wooden box in my living room held. Oh you think it’s a box? Bam! It’s a bathtub.
Via Wanda Couch
Over time, bathtubs began to be steel-cased and only rimmed by wood with legs made from bronze. Different metals were utilized, and changes had to be made for bathtubs to be more resistant to rust and discoloration. Eventually, people ditched these inconveniences and adopted glaze instead. The purpose of glaze was to create a shield between the metal and the water. Though a good idea, when the glaze was used on metal it began to swell and in due course the glaze began to chip. All of this led to the adoption of porcelain as a better tub material.
To them porcelain was like getting 1000+ likes on your Facebook picture, trending on Twitter, or gaining tons of new subscribers on YouTube. It was an exciting time for bathers because they had something that would not rust or discolor. At the beginning of the 20th-century, the porcelain bathtub was still at the top of its game.
Ultimately, people started to consider bathrooms as rooms consisting of a flushing toilet and bathtub. The showers that we have today are based on a therapeutic treatment of multiple sprays of water, which was supposed to rejuvenate the skin and body. In modern times, people prefer a variety of different bathtub options. Some people would choose a built-in tub, others a cast iron one or even a tub with a clawfoot design. We love variety!
Bathtubs have varied in color, overall design and structure, and have been subjected to changing times and differing societal needs. Some of the changes that I find interesting and really cool have to do with the color shifts and changing design of bathrooms.
There is a logical reason why the typical bathtub and toilet are white and not black. Though black is sleek and a color that can be used in just about any design, it was not the ideal color to use in the bathroom. The color black is very good at hiding little flaws and shortcomings, which is not beneficial when you need to see grime and other nastiness so that you can clean it. White bathtubs and toilets were chosen because it is easier to see when they are dirty.
Simple, right? Not so much! In the 1920s, the bathroom began to be seen as an avenue for design and typical white accessories began to be challenged. A variety of different colors were tried and, by 1929, colors had expanded to the entire bathroom design and not just the bathtub and toilet. First, people explored the lighter colors such as pastels and nudes; then, they got a bit more daring and explored deeper hues of royal blue, the darker of the deep reds, and even mint green.
Changing the fixtures in a bathroom is like getting a tattoo; it’s fun at first, but if you decide you don’t like it, removing it is pretty darn hard. It is not a simple change of paint, but removal of a bathtub and the addition of a new one. We should all appreciate these early designers for going against the grain. Because of them, we can go into our local Walmart or Target and buy all kinds of bathroom accessories in any color we choose.
After doing the research to write this post, I have become obsessed! So I chose some of the best bathroom designs (in my personal opinion, of course) that I am sure you will appreciate as much as I do!
Here are a few examples of clawfoot bathtubs. They can come in a variety of different colors, though the basic ones are white. These designs capture an antique look, but bring it into the 21st-century. I think all of these bathrooms are amazing. I really have a thing for this blue tub here. I don’t know why, maybe because blue tubs aren’t all that common. It just seems so modern, and quite frankly, it’s awesome. It has a traditional feel with the clawfoot tub, but this is totally a small modern bathroom!
Via house to home
I know I said bathtubs are not black on the inside because it’s harder to see when it isn’t clean, but I said nothing about the tub having a black outside! This sleek black and white tub looks amazing in this monochromatic bathroom. I love the mismatched bathroom tile design here. It’s so eclectic and just plain awesome! Totally an awesome modern bathroom design!
This is a crazy cool modern bathroom. Like, a fireplace AND a chandelier? Whoa buddy, talk about living the life! This has got to be the perfect bathroom for lounging in a nice bubble bath while reading a book, and having a small fire crackling in the fireplace. Sounds like heaven to me! I am also really digging the classic white tub and the relationship it has with the bold yellow chair and dark walls. The chandelier appears to be made of wire and is structurally fascinating. Which of these modern bathroom designs do you prefer?
Via Abigail Ahern
I really like the look of the clawfoot bathtubs. But these freestanding tubs are simply gorgeous! Their designs are sleek, smooth, and crisp. I love that they are not typical and, in fact, they are quite unusual. You will not find these in your average home, but from a design standpoint they make the bathroom look very appealing. This tub here may be somewhat large, but I think it would work really well in small bathrooms too.
This smaller freestanding tub is pretty awesome as well. I love that it is deep and round, and that it has that cool tree stump for a table or stand next to it. What a great place to have candles and other decor set up, or even just to set your book on while you get in and out of the tub. Ths decor is simple, yet very relaxing. This would look great in a small bathroom!
Another large freestanding tub! I love the faucet on this one and how it has a removeable head to wash those hard to reach places (you know, the spot riiight between your shoulder blades). This modern bathroom also has that fantastic storage area, which can also be used in small bathroom designs. I have one similar to that in my bathroom. I keep my towels rolled up nicely on it, and use the remaining shelves for bubble bath, salts, and other yummy things to put in my bath to make it even more relaxing.
Via Style Me Pretty
A built-in bathtub simply means, as the word implies, a tub that is built in. It does not stand alone as a separate entity; it’s anchored to the floor or wall or both. I really love the three bathrooms featured here because they have so much character. They spoke to me and I replied by adding them to my favorites list for when I design my bathroom in the future. I do like this bath design here with the separate glass enclosed shower. It feels so rich and like it’s one of the best places to chill, whether you like a long hot bath or a nice shower! This is definitely some awesome bathroom inspiration!
This bathtub here reminds me of a pool. A very tiny personal pool or hot tub. I absolutely love this one. Slipping into this tub would be a piece of cake, just be very careful around this tub if you have small children. This is one of those luxury bathroom designs which includes a grown up tub built for gentle relaxing and minimal effort in getting out of said tub. You can literally just roll out and burrito yourself into a nice fluffy towel. This one gets an A+ from me!
This last bathtub has its own wrap around area for placing books, candles, soaps, and anything else you could need while in the tub! I also like the room around it. Blues and deep browns are very relaxing colors, which make them perfect for a luxury bathroom! Another simply gorgeous bathroom design.
Are clawfoot, freestanding or built-in tubs the best? Please share our post and comment to let us know which one of these designs you like the most and why!
**Featured image via Design Trends
The following websites provided information that helped tremendously with this blog: OldHouseJournal, The Museum of Hoaxes, Vintage Tub & Bath, English for Everyone, Colonial Williamsburg, BrightNest, Snopes, and houzz.