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Building Today, Volume 1 Number 2 (January 1937)

Hot — and — Cold

page 38

Hot — and — Cold

Whatever the discussion about contemporary functionalism versus old world charm in the design of a home generally, there will be no debate over the introduction of a thoroughly functional bathroom. Probably in no other part of the house has the change been so universally apparent as that which has taken place here.

Not many years have passed since the average citizen managed with a "tin" bath set up in the washhouse. Later the then modern bathroom was equipped with enamelled bath on legs, complete with califont or chip heater. While right up to the present it has been good sales propaganda to be able to say of a house "h. & c. water laid on." No home built to-day would be considered complete without some system of constant hot water supply with points to bath, basin, shower, sink, etc., and nearly all baths are of the completely built-in type, while all kinds of exciting finishes are applied to walls and floor. This change is very largely due to the introduction of the excellent hot water storage systems, the various attractive new wall and floor coverings, the beautifully designed baths, basins and accessories. Also to the application of stainless steel, chromium plate, and the recognition of the need for more light and air. In planning, the bathroom must be considered in relation to the rest of the house: its place is definitely en suite with the bedrooms. In the larger homes there may even be a bathroom to each bedroom; in the small house, where expense must be considered, it is desirable that the bathroom be placed next, or as near as possible to, the kitchen. This economises plumbing and conserves the hot water supply in a small system.

page 39

To-day there is a wide variety of bathroom equipment and selection is largely a matter of £ s. d. Complete bathroom sets may be obtained in a variety of colours. The majority of baths are built in, either with tiles, some kind of panels or, in the more expensive type, the bath itself is complete with apron. By far the greatest number of baths used here now are made in New Zealand. Basins range in price from about £2 to £14, and even higher, depending on whether they are a simple wall type supported on brackets, or pedestal type complete with stand. The more elaborate ones come complete with taps, usually with mixing device and plug release. An inexpensive wall basin can be set between two cupboards and a panel screwed on to hide supply and waste pipe. Space will not permit a detailed description of all the soap holders, towel rails and other smaller equipment which go to make up the complete set. The shower may be a simple overhead type or on a swivel at shoulder height. Adjustable needle and spray heads are also obtainable. A thoroughly equipped shower box has two or three rings of pierced chromium plated tubing round the sides so that the bather is sprayed from head to foot. To get the maximum efficiency from the shower the hot and cold water should be evenly balanced in pressure with some kind of stabiliser.

Bathroom walls can be covered with a variety of materials and it is here that one of the greatest changes has taken place. The various materials available include plain fibrous plaster wall sheet enamelled, various grades of compressed fibre board or asbestos sheets, all finished in enamel, plain white glazed tiles, coloured and patterned tiles, opaque glass, or etched mirrored walls. This section is well catered for. Where expense has to be considered first, a small portion at back of bath and basin can be tiled, or for a slightly greater outlay a dado can be formed in tile or glass. Some of the very expensive overseas homes have bathrooms lined from floor to ceiling with tinted mirrors with designs etched on by sand blasting.

Baths: 1855–60. From a contemporary catalogue of George Jennings, of Lambeth. From "A History of Everyday Things in England, Part IV: 1851–1934," by Marjorie and C. H. B, Quennell.

Baths: 1855–60. From a contemporary catalogue of George Jennings, of Lambeth. From "A History of Everyday Things in England, Part IV: 1851–1934," by Marjorie and C. H. B, Quennell.

Floors may be covered with cork tiles, or mosaic tiles, rubber, composition, or linoleum. Of these rubber is most commonly used here. It is laid in sheets 1/8-in. thick and is permanently fixed to the sub-floor with an adhesive and forms a hygienic and moisture proof covering. It may be obtained in a variety of colours which can take a definite part in the colour scheme. Designs and patterns may be inlaid into the background.

You will gather from the foregoing that you can quite easily spend as much or more on your new bathroom as you will spend on your new car, but it is possible to achieve a bright, efficient bathroom with simple, inexpensive fittings.