Original Baths before 1900
Bathrooms, generally speaking, have been utilitarian from the beginning. One exception is the Victorian parlor–washroom found in houses of wealthy urbanites. A rule of thumb is that Victorian bathrooms included some naturally finished wood and were “furnished” with stylish fixtures, floor coverings, even paint decoration and framed art. In contrast, bathrooms after the turn of the century were more often of the “sanitary” variety: tiled, white-painted, easy-to-clean rooms inspired by hospitals.
The bathrooms of the earliest adopters were, not surprisingly, large and lavishly furnished. Layout and decoration followed the conventions of other rooms: The walls had a wainscot (of wood or tile), fill, and frieze sections. Sinks and toilets were set in Elizabethan or neoclassical cabinets sold by J.L. Mott Iron Works and other plumbing-fixture suppliers. A small rug, a chandelier, and paintings hung on the wall completed the outfitting of the room. By the late Teens, however, a general acceptance of germ theory had turned the bathroom into a sanitary white chamber of glossy surfaces and exposed plumbing.