bathroom design history

History of the Bathtub

Nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a hot bath.  Throw in some essential oils and a few aromatherapy candles and you have an inexpensive at home retreat.  With the current home spa trend reaching a fever pitch,  the bathtub certainly as come a long way from the tin vessel that had to be hauled in and filled with buckets of water heated over a fire.


Early bathing plumbing systems have been dated to 3300 BC,  when copper water pipes were discovered beneath a palace in Ancient India.  It was during the Roman Empire that daily bathing became the custom and both public and private baths were commonplace.

Water Color of a Roman Bath House by Leon F Nowak

Before indoor plumbing became the norm, portable bathtubs, were used.  These large, relatively light containers made of tin or copper were usually positioned by the fireplace and filled with hot water.  Legend has it that the phrase “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” originates from the idea that an entire house hold would share the same bath water starting with the head of the house and ending with the baby.  Since the water would be so dark with dirt that the baby could be accidentally tossed out.

baby in tin bathtub

The wealthier the home, the larger and more elaborate these vessels became

Antique copper bathtub

By the mid-19th-century, some larger homes became equipped with water heating devices allowing the bath tub to be permanently built in usually surrounded with a wooden box.

Built in metal bathtub
The Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House

The iconic clawfoot tub, originated in 18th century Holland.  With it’s signature ball and claw design, this cast iron tub became the height of fashion bathing in the 19th century.


Most early bathtubs were fabricated from cast iron with a porcelain glaze fire on top of the metal.  Cast iron had many drawbacks as it is very heavy, remained cold even after hot water was added, and rusted easily if any of the glaze chipped away.  In the early 1900s, manufactures began producing the solid porcelain tub in both freestanding and built in forms.

Porcelain tub

White porcelain was the norm as it appeared disinfected and hygienic.   That changed around the 1930’s when color pigments were applied to the unglazed vitreous finish.   Pink, blue, and green bathrooms were wildly popular through end of World War II.

Pink bathtub

Today, bathtubs come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, materials and functions.

Kohler whirlpool tub
Mark Brand Architecture

Freestanding tubs have enjoyed a resurgence over the last few years, with designs to fit all design styles.

Photo by Jared Rice

Mr. H says:  You can never have too many bubbles in the bath-Enjoy!

design history furniture

Wonderful Wing Chairs

Developed in the 1600s as a means of protecting those sitting fireside of drafts or flying embers, the English born wing chair remains a beloved chair style and is a stylish addition to any interior.

Early wing chair designs were constructed entirely from wood with flat, broad arms.

Antique wood wing chair

During the late 17th Century, demand for an extra level of comfort in seating pieces led to the upholstering of the wood frames.  By the 19th Century, chairs were generously padded, mostly with a very firm horsehair stuffing, and upholstered in luxurious velvet or damask fabrics.

Antique upholstered wing chair

The familiar, Queen Anne style wing back, with its rounded and scrolled lines, crossed the Atlantic to the American Colonies and remains the major influence in traditional wing chair design today.

Queen Anne wingback chair

Antique and vintage wing chairs have an enjoyed a resurgence of sorts thanks to companies like Chairloom’s who repurpose old chairs into a fresh work of art.

Chairloom before and after wing chair

Bold, colorful textiles breathe new life into a common chair form

Duralee fabric wing chair    Print fabric wing chair

Don’t despair if granny didn’t leave you her antique wing chair as reproductions abound such as the Baron’s Court Wing Chair from Baker Furniture

Baker Furniture Barons Court Wing Chair

If your aesthetic leans more modern, many manufactures craft their own contemporary spin on the classic wing chairs lines.   Swaim Narly Wing Chair

Swaim Narly modern wing chair

Kravet Navarre Tall Chair

Kravet Navarre wingback chair

Mr. H says: A house without at least one comfy chair is soulless-Enjoy!

architecture design history interior design

Lordly Living

This structure is instantly recognizable by those obsessed with the award-winning British television period drama series, Dowtown Abbey.  This is no fictional set though as this is Highclere Castle, the real life country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon.

Highclere Castle

Completed in 1878, Highclere Castle is a fine example of the Jacobean style of architecture.   Being that it took nearly forty years to complete, many of the public rooms represent different interior design styles.

In the Gothic style Saloon Spanish leather wall panels add to the opulent atmosphere

Highclere Castle The Saloon

Stunning red upholstery and dark carved wood in the Victorian library

Highclere Castle Library

The lovely green silk walls of the South drawing room is a study of French Rococo Revival style.

Highclere Castle Drawing Room

17th Century Dutch paintings are striking against apricot walls of the Smoking Room.

Highclere Castle Smoking Room

Mr. H says: A house is more than mere shelter, it should prop us up emotionally-Enjoy!