20 elegant antique bathrooms from the 1900s: Sinks, tubs, tile & decor

Elegant antique bathrooms from the 1900s Sinks, tubs and decor

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Elegant antique bathrooms: Classic designs & decor

From the J. L. Mott Iron Works, Fifth Avenue & 17th Street, New York  – 1908

The following illustrations of bathrooms are the outcome of many years’ experience, both in the tiling and designing of the plumbing fixtures.

A modern mansion with any pretensions to completeness should, in our opinion, have a bathroom for, not only every suite of rooms, but for every guest’s room, an arrangement which is the leading feature of all our new high-class hotels; nor is it necessary that a bathroom should be large to be both handsome and complete.

All bathrooms in high-class work should be tiled, and even in medium-class work, some tiled rooms add very much both to their appearance and comfort, and may be comparatively inexpensive.

Wide antique bathroom sink

Tiling makes possible not only the sanitary but the beautiful and artistic modern bathroom. Our designs are delicate and refined, while the quality of the tiles is of the very best, all of which is strikingly shown by the eleven bathrooms which are part of the varied and complete exhibit at our show rooms, many of which are illustrated on the following pages.

Tiling to be satisfactory must not only be carefully designed and selected, but should be set by skilled, reliable and careful workmen; our experience of many years in this particular branch of tile business has developed a very high class of these skilled workers.

All brass goods shown are nickel-plated. They can also be furnished in polished or yellow brass, silver-plated brass or Mott’s crown white metal.

“Art Nouveau”

Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (9)


To the architect, this interior is most interesting and suggestive — it solves the problem, by the tile partition, of obtaining a recess bath in conjunction with a most desirable arrangement of the needle bath. The tile partition forms one side of the recess and, likewise, one side of the tiled enclosure for the needle bath.

Tiling — The design is pure Italian renaissance, delicately tinted in four colors, with 1/4″ border line in gold, or, if preferred, it may be white and gold, or plain white throughout.

Italian style vintage bathroom suite


Plaza vintage bathroom suite


This is an excellent arrangement for a bathroom of moderate size and price. The “Windsor” lavatory, while requiring little space, has an extra large basin. 

Tiling — The decoration is a colonial garland and is furnished in white or various tints. The floor tile is Moresque and may be glazed or unglazed.

Windsor style vintage bathroom suite


Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (3)

“Regent” bathroom suite & decor

This bathroom represents, in the highest degree, the union of the practical with the ornate. The three main fixtures are recessed; the drawing of the curtains converting the bathroom substantially into a dressing room.

The “Regent” imperial porcelain bath and receptor for needle bath are built into the floor and wall. The toilet table is provided with a manicure bowl.

Tiling — The arrangement and shape of the fixtures lend themselves especially to the design, which is architectural in character and effect, and a distinct departure from the conventional patterns in bathroom tiling. The tiles are exclusively our own in design and modeling, the tint being a delicate white with dull finish, giving an ivory effect.

Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (2)

MORE: Antique kitchens from the 1900s that will make you grateful for modern conveniences


Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (1)


Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (14)

Antique bathroom “Baronial”

The “Nouveau” lavatory with its simple effective design is the index to the character of this bathroom, both as to the fixtures and the tiling. The ” Reina ” imperial porcelain bath.

Tiling:  The tile frieze is an elongated leaf pattern molded in high relief. Being a bold pattern, it is usually preferred in plain white; it may also be white touched in green.

Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (8)


Victorian vintage bathroom suite

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Gold Medal bathroom “Paris Exposition”

Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (12)


Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (11)


Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (10)

Bathroom “Marsden”

It is now generally recognized by architects and owners, in planning a residence or mansion, that sufficient space should be reserved for the bathrooms.

By so doing, they permit the installation of extra-large lavatories, with ample room on top of slab, such as the “Marsden” and and, when desired, the extra-wide “Alhambra” bath shown above. The needle bath and water closet are set in recesses.

Tiling: The walls are white glazed 6″ tiles with tinted ribbon tile set near top and bottom. The door and window casings are tile, suitably modeled.

MORE: Colorful ’40s bathrooms: Retro restrooms in rainbow hues

Elegant antique bathrooms 1900s (7)

Good plumbing: Only the best bathroom fixtures now tolerated

The Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, Minnesota) May 01, 1902

There is no part of a building which makes more for the health and comfort of the occupants than the plumbing. The bathtub was once a luxury; now it is a necessity.

Poor plumbing may be a constant annoyance and menace, and in this year of 1902, there is no excuse for its going into a house. One need only look into the showrooms of a good plumber to see that the modern plumbing ideas are practical, cleanly, sanitary and artistic; one need only to consult the building regulations or the specifications drawn by any good architect to find that unsanitary plumbing is positively inexcusable these days.

These things are becoming so well-understood that good plumbing is the rule nowadays, and only gross negligence in the choice of a plumber will make possible unsatisfactory results.

The hottest antique bathroom fixtures from the turn of the century

Bathroom fixtures of the Edwardian era

Speaking of some of the conditions of the plumbing business at the present time, W W Sykes said:

“There has been a remarkable evolution in plumbing matters in recent years, and it may be said to be still going on. It is not so long ago that open plumbing was a novelty. Now no one thinks of boxing away fixtures and pipes where they are hidden from view.

“The tendency is towards simplicity in construction. This tendency has been greatly hastened by the introduction of solid porcelain and enameled iron fixtures which are now superseding marble in many buildings.

The enameled iron has the advantage of being lighter than marble and without joints, more cleanly or more easily kept clean and absolutely impervious.

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“But the greatest advance in the manufacture of fixtures has been in the solid porcelain baths and lavatories. Almost any kind of a basin or bath can be found of this make. Lavatories are made small enough for a corner in an office, and elaborate enough for the finest bathroom. Baths are made plain and elaborate, but all for utility and sanitation.

Antique bathroom fixtures from the turn of the century

“Plenty of luxurious attachments can be added to suit the finest taste. The porcelain lavatories are really the proper thing for a house and bathroom — no attached basin, no joints, no basin to be broken — and easily cleansed.

ALSO SEE: 23 vintage pink bathrooms: See some wild bubblegum-era midcentury home decor of the 1950s & 1960s

Porcelain, marble and enamel top materials for bathroom fixtures

“The enameled goods, as well as the porcelain and marble fittings, are made in more artistic designs every year, and we find that people want to make their bathrooms and all plumbing accessories just as attractive as possible. They demand the best and we are satisfied with only first-class goods and superior workmanship.

“To bathe in a tub is not in the last analysis the best bath. Such great improvements have been reached in shower baths that today a first class bathroom is not complete without an overhead shower either in conjunction with the tub or in a separate watertight compartment.

The variety is large. Needle, spray and rain baths are mostly used. The rain or spray baths are easily put in over an ordinary bath. The rain bath is a splendid arrangement for any who cannot endure strong spray, and are arranged so that the head may be left dry if desired.

How to keep your bathroom glistening, clean and white (1905)

“Water closets [toilets] without tanks, or with low down tanks placed just back of the seat, are fast replacing the prevailing closet with the tank on the wall with connecting pipes.

“All the improvements generally tend toward better service from the different fixtures, simplicity in construction and more self-cleaning. This with greater convenience for the users and added luxury without additional expense recommend them to all.

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“As far as the present year is concerned, we, like everybody else, have a greatly increased trade in view. The amount of building in Minneapolis will be larger than ever before. This is especially true of residences.

“Outside of the city, there will be an immense amount of building, including many public buildings, which will be plumbed in the most modern way. It will be a busy season all through.”

The hottest antique bathroom fixtures from the turn of the century (1)

How to keep your bathroom glistening, clean and white (1905)

The San Francisco Call (California) October 15, 1905

In the household, the bathroom ranks with the kitchen in importance. Though the culinary department seems to be the pivot on which domestic affairs turn, the bathroom, for obvious reasons, caters largely to our comforts and well-being.

In our up-to-date bathrooms, of white porcelain, glistening tiles and nickel plate, we cannot take too much pains. Their immaculate appearance not only makes the place an inviting spot — and we are there a good bit, come to think of it — but keep it sweet and sanitary.

Not a speck of dust should be allowed in these headquarters of cleanliness. Every shelf and every ledge, big and little, we should be able to use if we wanted to as a plate for apple pie. The porcelain tub should be white as snow always. 

How to keep your bathroom clean and white (1905)

There should be present always a good disinfectant… A precaution to take in other rooms of the house as well as the bathroom is the burning of a sulphur candle, say once a month.

The tiling can be cared for the same as the porcelain. If rugs are used, they should be shaken every day. The constant tramping over them brings in samples of pretty nearly everything from the street.

The disinfecting of a bathroom should have a big share of attention whenever there is a stoppage in the drains — bathtub, basin or closet — it should not be allowed to remain an hour. It holds accumulations that should be cleared away at once.

Elegant antique bathrooms from the 1900s: Sinks, tubs & decor

Minutest attention to its sanitary condition is necessary. This is a simple matter, though it can grow into an expense as can the appointments. As to the old bathrooms, little need be said. There are not many of those left.

Sand soap and hot water, and perhaps a dash of coal oil, will keep the tin tub in order, if used faithfully — say, three times a week. Wiping the woodwork wainscoting and the linoleum floor with an oiled cloth every housekeeper knows of.

MORE: What is a needle bath? Find out & see 6 examples

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Comments on this story

3 Responses

  1. These bathrooms are pretty wild — I especially like the “needle showers”! What are the fixtures that look like mini tubs, and what was their purpose? They don’t look like bidets.

  2. What beautiful bathrooms! I like that they explain how clean they should be kept too.

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