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Bathroom Designs over the Ages

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The earliest bathroom designs were crafted by nature. The people used to go to pools and rivers to wash themselves. The River Ganges flowing from its source in an ice cave in the Himalayas for 1560 miles has for thousands of years been a source of life and health, with strong religious meaning for many people. The River Nile, was where the hot desert sands were washed from the body. In Ancient Egyptian mythology, the Sun and the River were the creators and maintainers of existence.

The First Man Made Bathroom

The first bathroom was intended for religious cleanliness purposes. Ancient Hebraic texts reveal that ritual bathing was instituted very early on. An ancient ‘Mikveh’ had to hold at least 60 gallons, which was enough to completely submerge the body while washing. The ruins at Qumran, near the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, have revealed quite a sophisticated system of canals and water cisterns, including baths for ritual bathing. They were so health conscious that if they had to bath to wash themselves, they used to bathe in running water. They considered still and stagnant water bad unsuitable for the purpose.

Greeks and Later History

The ancient Greeks and their forebears, especially the Spartans, believed in the invigorating effect of cold baths.

The Roman baths were famous. They bathed socially in communal pools, generally in segregated pools for men and women, but there are some records of wild orgies, with food, music, drinking and sex as well.

Japanese baths have been a tradition at least as far back as the middle of the first century AD/CE. Japan, situated as it is between two volcanic belts, made good use of the hot springs. Their bathroom designs were planned around these thermal springs. The Buddhist religion taught that bathing purified body and mind. Islam directs the believers to bath after sex and purify before touching Quran.

During the middle ages, the black plague scare, amongst other things, gave people a fear of water born diseases. For a very long time in Europe, bathing consisted of washing in a stone trough. There are however, occasional old manuscripts with drawings showing people bathing in wooden tubs. After that, in Europe, bathrooms were limited to a jug of hot water poured into a basin daily, and a weekly small ‘sitz bath’ (sit up bathtub) of water and suds in the privacy of the bedroom. If you were a poor family, this bathing would take place in the kitchen in front of the fire.

Bathrooms Today

It was not until the early 19th century that very bold ladies had baths permanently installed in their dressing rooms. Towards the end of that century the first water heaters were being used. These were the first real bathroom designs as we know them today. Family bathroom didn’t include a toilet for a long time. These were still located outside until the 20th century, and at first they were nearly always away from the bathroom, in separate little rooms.

Since the 20th century, color and décor have become part of bathroom designs. Victorian black and white bathrooms with touches of greens and pinks, gradually gave way to Edwardian chevrons and stripes, and to rich browns, gold, burgundy and wood finishes with gleaming brass. Bathroom designs have since then reflected the ‘Hollywood’ glamor of the ‘30s to ‘50s, ‘flower-power, of the 60’s and the Autumn colors of the ‘70s. Then bathroom designs reflected a brief return to the retro-look of semi Victorian pinks and greens in the 80’s, and after that came the chrome and glass minimalist look.

Today bath-room designs are what you want them to be. You can copy any of the retro designs, a rustic design, or stick to the minimalist look that is still very popular. There is a new openness that allows you to choose any, or an eclectic mix, or even all the styles together. You would probably get away with it if you installed a medieval trough!

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