A Bungalow Era Bath is Timeless

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The typical bungalow-era bathroom is a simple space given to sanitary white surfaces and little ornament. Still, utilitarian can be handsome.

By Patricia Poore

Bathrooms changed between the Victorian 1890s and the modern 1920s; the pull-chain toilet gave way to low tanks, and the combination bathtub/shower arrived. Still, clawfoot tubs were manufactured right up into the 1930s. A tidy three-piece bathroom of, say, 1915 would have included white tile on walls and floor, white fixtures, and plain plaster walls—perhaps glazed (as here) or painted in a pale, semi-gloss finish. Beadboard wainscoting was the cheaper alternative to tile for summer cottages and servants’ rooms. Including natural wood grain is popular for revival bathrooms, whether in varnished window and door casings or a hardwood medicine cabinet—always flanked by light sconces.

Woodwork & Trim
Whether you paint trim or leave it natural, carry over profiles from the rest of the house. Here wood grain (in trim, cabinet, radiator enclosure, and seat) softens and warms the room.

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Tile Wainscot
The main bathroom typically had a wainscot of 3x6 subway tiles; fancier urban bathrooms often had a taller wainscot and a border of colored relief tiles. Unglazed white hexagon tile is standard for floors.

Hardware & Fittings
If brass is associated with Victorian Revival bathrooms and chrome with those dating after 1930, nickel (warmer and less blue than chrome) is just right for this period—and it’s widely available today.

Lighting
The standard is a ceiling-mount fixture and sconces illuminating the mirror. Mission-style brackets with round or square canopies always look good; Art Deco styling is another choice.

Bath Fixtures
Always white: this is the sanitary era and pre-dates colored tile and fixtures after 1929 or so. Wall-mount, pedestal, and leggy console sinks all were in use.

Find vintage and reproduction sinks and tubs with curves or geometric lines, as well as retro-look toilets.

Create an Arts & Crafts Bathroom

Curvy Sink on Legs
A console sink may offer more deck space for toothbrushes. This is the Old Antea console lavatory with 8" center set, just 35 ¾" wide. MSRP $2,208. St. Thomas Creations, stthomascreations.com

Medicine Cabinet as Focal Point
The Parker semi-recessed medicine chest is available with beveled or plain glass and a choice of inlays. Price begins at $559 in quarter-sawn oak, inlay extra. Mission Furnishings, missionfurnishings.com

Mission Sconce, Up or Down
In a choice of nine finishes and 50 shades, the Pacific City sconce can be mounted to face up or down, and has a deep projection option. About $170 as shown. Rejuvenation, rejuvenation.com