Bathroom Sink Timeline

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Should the washbasin or lavatory be open or enclosed? Wall-hung or set on a pedestal? In the 1940s, builders outfitted new homes with sink bowls dropped into built-in base cabinets, a convention that persisted for the rest of the century. When the restoration movement took off in the 1970s and ’80s, however, renovators rediscovered many of the historic styles, and handsome reproductions appeared.

Vintage Style

By 1900, the Victorian concept of a sink “bureau” was disappearing, as plumbing catalogs showed sinks that were open underneath. Exposed plumbing was considered more sanitary (and certainly more accessible). Separate hot and cold taps were the rule until the 1930s or later; today, mixer faucets come with porcelain lever handles or cross-handle taps for an old-fashioned look. All options are in play: You can find furniture-like cabinets in Arts & Crafts style, Beaux Arts console sinks, and pedestals from neoclassical to Art Deco. For 1950s color, though, salvage is your best bet.