In real estate, bathrooms and kitchens often make or break a sale. In the late 19th century, indoor plumbing was becoming commonplace and homes were increasingly becoming electrified. This meant that kitchens and bathrooms were, perhaps for the first time, an important consideration when buying or renting a home.
When bathing and toilet facilities earned a permanent place in the home, the toilet was often segregated to its own room – the water closet. Sewer gases were a worry for Victorians who thought these gases caused illness.
The first pressurized flush toilet was invented in 1906, a couple decades after the first toilet paper on rolls in 1883. The first disposable feminine hygiene products made their debut five years later, but were very expensive.
Sinks were referred to as lavatories and were generally small with no cabinetry underneath.
The first tubs were made of cast iron or had copper bottoms. These posed problems. Iron rusted and copper discolored. In 1903, porcelain tubs were developed – the famous claw foot tub. They were, however, expensive. In 1911, new homes would be built with a new feature, a built-in tub.
Before electric or gas water heaters were developed, water either had to be heated on the stove and carried to the tub or it had be heated while in the tub. Under-the-tub water heaters caused many accidents. They often scalded the bather by making the bottom of the tub dangerously hot, or they exploded.
Modern showers were developed in the 1860s.
Kitchens were separated from the rest of the home and generally contained a walk-in pantry and/or a china closet. Before the 20th century, built-in cabinetry was uncommon. Kitchens had workbenches for food prep. The first counters were butcher block, and floors were tile.
The first kitchen sinks had indoor pumps that brought water into the house directly from the well. These later were replaced with plumbing. The farmhouse sink that is popular in many 21st century houses and remodels would have looked right at home in a Victorian kitchen.
In the early 20th century, most stoves were powered by gas. Electric stoves did exist, but did not become popular for several more decades. Before this, stoves were heated by wood, charcoal or coal.
Many homes today have washers and dryers located in the kitchen. The first electric washing machine went on sale in 1911.
When was the last time you remodeled a bathroom or kitchen? Leave a comment below.
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