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History of Bathroom Vanity Furniture

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The origin of bathroom vanity furniture is fairly recent…

Vanities must have begun as simple tables to hold a jug and basin, and then evolved into the washstand. Men often washed under a hand pump into a horse trough in the back yard, while ladies used jugs and basins in their bedrooms. It would have been the duty of the daughters of the house to fetch water from the well and heat it in great copper urns on the kitchen fires. They would then take jugs up to the bedrooms, including jugs of hot water for their father and brothers to shave. In wealthy households, kitchen maids and chamber maids would have had this job.

Construction of Basins and Washstands

Jug and basin sets were made of earthenware, ceramics or enameled steel. They were set upon a washstand. The washstand was very similar in shape and size to the average modern vanity. They were made of wood and had marble slabs for countertops and a back splash of tiles.

Today reproductions of washstands are made on similar lines. The really old washstands that have survived up to today frequently have marble tops and a back splash of antique tiles, such as old blue and white Delft. Washstands like this are valuable and you can’t even think of drilling holes for hot and cold water faucets through those tiles.

A vessel sink with a hole for the sink drain is about as far as you can go. You should probably consider wall mounted faucets. Antique jug and basin sets were usually placed on these washstands. For a slightly authentic touch to your bathroom vanity furniture, you might like to have a replica jug and basin made, or adapted, with a hole in the bottom of the jug for the water pipes. You then mount the jug tilted over the basin, so that the jug acts as the spout for the hot and cold water. The faucet handles would be mounted on the wall on either side of the jug, and above the back splash.

Wood is the classic material for a vanity bathroom sink. Bathroom vanity furniture is very similar to a cabinet style of bathroom sink, but often they are lighter or smaller. They are fashioned after the olden days’ bedroom vanity or dressing table, with mirrors and drawers and sometimes cupboards and shelves. The cabinet bathroom sink is generally larger and often made from old sideboards or other items of antique furniture with doors, drawers and mirrors.

Later Bathroom Vanity Furniture

Then bathroom vanity furniture became a draped dressing table after the style of the dolly varden ladies dress fashion of the late 18th century. It is consisted of a frilly or lacy underskirt and an over skirt of soft floral material gathered up at intervals so that it fell into into panniers revealing sections of the frilly underskirt.

These were very popular in the 1950’s for little girls and young ladies. It went with the whole theme of the feminine bedroom. It was only later, when the en suite bathroom became affordable and in vogue, that the dolly varden became more than a dressing table and included a bathroom sink as well.

Contemporary Bathroom Vanity Furniture

Among contemporary bathroom vanity furniture, metal vanities are some of the most beautiful.

Some metal vanities are fashioned out of thin and delicate strips, bent, curved and straight but not elaborately curled. The sink, a vessel type, can be round, oval or conical and made of subtle luminous partly opaque glass, without decoration. The only decoration is the stand itself.

It almost gives the impression of a spider’s web, but subtly so.

But it is not a faithful imitation of a web, it just gives that look …… almost as if a spider started to spin the web then abandoned it and moved on.

Curls and spirals are sometimes used, and not just for a retro look either. These give the impression of a creeper with tendrils creeping up towards the vanity shelf or vessel sink holder. Often beaten bronze or copper is used to shape leaves or semi geometric flowers here and there. Once again, it isn’t obvious, the way antique furniture is, with realistic copies of plants. It is like an impressionistic painting. You look at it and see the vines, or imagine you do.

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