Most of today’s bathrooms have been renovated so that there are few unique and original fixtures left in heritage homes. But the bathroom at left is different – original fixtures have not only survived but they are still in use.
Many Edwardian homes had a sink, a toilet and a bath tub. Showers as we know them today were extremely expensive and uncommon. Higher end homes could boast of a bidet although the idea never really caught on in North America like it did in Europe. Another luxury fixture was the men’s urinal. Made of porcelain or enamelled cast iron, the urinal was mounted on the wall. It was wide enough to ensure the walls stayed clean and was fitted with a horizontal pierced metal tube that could be turned on to spray the unit continuously as it was used. The flush mechanism consisted of a wooden cistern mounted high on the wall with a pull cord attached. The bathroom at left is from the Twin Gables Bed and Breakfast in Calgary. Built in 1917 this expanded foursquare is one of the homes I have featured in the book I am working on.
Another upscale detail in homes (and bathrooms) of this era was the stained glass window. These were popular because they were not only beautiful to look at but they were practical as well. Textured or stained glass panes negated the need for curtains in the bathroom. They served as a decorative element and provided privacy. Stained glass designs ran the gamut from simple, geometric mosaic tiles in jewel tones such as the example below ( also from Twin Gables) to beautifully sensuous Art Nouveau motifs of stylized plants and flowers.
You have two options if you want stained glass in your own bathrooms. 1. You can get a stained glass window custom made and have it inserted into your window frame (obviously on a window that does not open) or as many homeowners do – you can buy an antique glass panel and simply hang it in front of the window. The effect is basically the same – especially if the size of the window is compatible with the size of the stained glass panel. Be careful when hanging them – they are usually very heavy.