Thursday, 10 May 2012



‘What did the romans ever do for us?  Apart from the aquaducts, sanitation, the roads, irrigation, medicine, education and wine; well they also invented public baths’.

Communal baths remained the place to keep clean right up to  the 1800’s when bathing became out of favour as it was seen as a carrier of disease. Instead people relied upon heavy perfumes to cover up their body odour.

Thankfully with the industrial revolution in the 1900’s came ‘plumbing’ which actually means ‘lead’ in Latin. With it came the private outside loo and flushable water closet ; believed to have been designed by Mr Thomas Crapper of Yorkshire.

Bath time however  was still a  portable and social affair, the tub was generally made of a wooden trunk with a metal lining in order to make it waterproof that would be pulled out for everyone to take their turn on bath day. This was until Mr. Kohler a manufacturer of metal implements modified  a horse trough by enamelling it and adding legs to create the first free standing bath and from there evolved a more permanent ‘bathing room’.

Actually having a room in the house dedicated to bathing alone only dates back a hundred years, many of the Victorian town houses in Teddington didn’t have  a designated room so a bedroom has been  appropriated for this use.

Once bathrooms had become commonplace in the 1920’s  the fashion was to keep bathing separate from the wc, both in relatively small rooms and this carried on right through to the 1970’s. These days with improved plumbing and ventilation methods we tend to prefer a larger room with both the bath or shower  and wc together.

Today bathing is now considered a necessity but I believe it also an important daily ritual. First thing in the morning start off with  a really powerful shower in a nice warm room,  plenty of space to dry yourself and all your favourite pampering products easily at hand then your world is a positive place. Then your day should carry on in that vein.   Similarly if you enjoy a long soak in a huge roll top bath at a chic hotel suite then you are likely to feel fairly relaxed about life.

Critical factors for a great bathroom are:
Good water flow rate and pressure: essential to a good cleansing experience
Large shower enclosure: 80cm  x 80cm standard shower enclosures  always feels uncomfortable, it is important to be able to duck out of the flow sometimes for shaving, exfoliating etc.
Large work surface: traditional pedestal sinks have nowhere for your products or toothbrushes and often have  a curved surface which is useless, you need a good sized  vanity top so all your products are to hand.
Good storage enclosed and open: most bathrooms have no storage which is very frustrating as you need to keep back up products and toilet rolls somewhere.
Natural light: this is not always possible but really makes a difference for shaving and plucking, if a window is not possible then wall lights either side of the mirror at eye level  will create a good light without casting  shadow over your face. Also little feature lights in recessed shelving create  great mood lighting. It is good to have the lighting on 2 circuits, one for general lights and one for mood lights so you can chose a more ambient feel when you want a long relaxed bathe.
Space to dry: dress and pamper: really tight spaces and space saving fittings can be quite frustrating.
Warmth: a warm floor and heated towel rails really make a difference in winter.
Beauty: of course the bathroom should also look great, I am not a fan of full height tiles all around  the room as it can feel quite clinical, natural stone is wonderful  but can be hard to maintain if you have children.  Matt tiles rather than gloss are a good compromise to create a modern look, you only really need full height tiling around the shower. Leaving some walls as a paint finish is cheaper and makes the room feel a bit softer.

By Tanya Dunbavin