by Jane Powell, author & Linda Svendsen, photographer
“The hands-on source book for creating or restoring a stylish Arts & Crafts/bungalow bathroom.”
If you really want to know about bungalow bathrooms, you need to get ahold of Jane Powell’s Bungalow Bathrooms. It is full of well-researched facts about bathrooms as well as an abundance of images of historic bathrooms, restored & newly created retro bathrooms. A variety of beautiful hardware, fixtures & multi-colored tile gleam from the pages.
It is getting more difficult to find, so I suggest doing an online search for it, or checking with your local library.
Jane was a dedicated scholar & hands-on restoration expert. She was a thorough & meticulous researcher, motivated by her passion for bungalow & their preservation. She was dubbed, “The bad girl of bungalows,” because of her firm stance on accurate restoration & apposition to the demolishing of historic structures. She spoke at events all over the country & I met her when she came to speak at a neighborhood event I produced. We got along great!
There is no fact that exists about historic bathrooms that she doesn’t cover. So, this article by me is going to tell you what you can find in her book- not Cliff’s notes, but more like an outline so that you will understand how much you need to read the dang book. Additionally, the book is comfort food for the eyes. Jane has a deep & thorough understanding of design so the book is laid out impeccably.
I personally created or restored 5 bathrooms with the help of this book. It is not only the encyclopedia of bathrooms with more data than you could even imagine, but also the owner’s manual. Jane was a hands-on preservationist & in none of her books is this more apparent than in Bungalow Bathrooms. It is a labor of heart, head & hands.
THE FASCINATING CONTENTS OF BUNGALOW BATHROOMS
The book starts out with the history of the modern bathroom. She sends us back to Knossos, a city in ancient Crete, 1700 B.C. The book opens with her statement. “The evolution of the modern bathroom is neither linear nor orderly. Some ancient civilizations had bathrooms that were far more modern than the average bathroom of the mid-nineteen century.”
This is where her research & writing most interest me. Building design & decor do not stand alone but are influenced by the science, technology & culture & resources & politics of the time. I am always intrigued by building design & decor because these things influence the science, technology & culture & resources & politics of the time. In them we see life today, & if we are astute, life tomorrow.
She takes us from Crete through the Roman Baths, the Dark Ages, Henry III’s palace privies (for the hoi polloi it was chamber pots dumped into the streets) to the appearance of showers in the 16th Century. She treats us to a poem written in by Jonathan Swift 1729 about, well, pooping & then informs us that the bidet was invented in 1710.
We are introduced to the more modern flush toilet with its high tank sending water down to propel waste.
She explains that most of the bathing in the 19th Century had to do not with cleanliness, but with health, & it was not until the end of the century that bathing & cleanliness became connected.Her information is peppered with great illustrations making it easy to travel back in time to understand these discoveries. She includes a great number of old advertising pieces so you can see how the old fixtures & old bathrooms really looked.Jane continues on to describe the evolution of plumbing & by 1900, the bathroom starts looking like the rooms we recognize.
PICTURE PERFECT BUNGALOW BATHROOMS
As with all of Jane’s books, the photographs by noted architecture photographer Linda Svendsen, are abundant & beautiful. They show us a vast range of bathrooms from the pristine white of the early 1900’s through the wild- colored examples in the 1920’s- 30’s. We see complete rooms & bits & pieces of rooms, all described in detail, along with a ridiculous amount of fascinating trivia.
This is not one of Linda’s images, It is of one of the 5 bathrooms I restored/created with the help of this book. When I did the restoration in this house, my 1925 bungalow in Tampa, Daltile made this pinwheel pattern only in black & white. I picked out the black centers & my poor tile installer stuck in all the green ones. In 2 bathrooms! Most of my fingernails have grown back.
Did you know that “Toilet paper made its first appearance in 1857, when Joseph C. Gayetty introduced, ‘Gayetty’s Medicated Paper- a perfectly pure article for the toilet & for the prevention of piles?’ ” Betcha didn’t. In each section she gives tips for Obsessive Restoration (Me, me, me!) & also offers a Compromise Solution. Her suggestions are very detailed & well expressed. She also includes a resource list, some of which might be out of date because the book was published in 2001. (Not to worry, I’m working on a resource list.)
TABLE OF CONTENTS (With my notes about them.)
History of the Modern Bathroom
Nuts and BoltsPipes & drains
Electrical & lighting
Radiators & wall heaters
Fixtures- sinks, tubs & showers & toilets & bidets
Interesting towel racks, cup & t.p. holders & shelves
There’s also a diagram that shows different types of cabinet latches, hinges, pulls & tile edging
Cabinets & knobs
Walls & ceilings
Doors & windows
Tile- some amazing tile!
Layout and Design
Determining the original layout
Installing a new bathroom
More beautiful tile!
Assessing Your Needs and Dealing with Professionals
Contractors & subcontractors- tile setters, painters, flooring pro’s, carpenters, cabinet makers, electricians & plumbers
Interior Designers & building inspectors
I have purchased several copies of each of Jane’s books. As the local preservation maniac in 2 bungalow neighborhoods, I loaned them to many people & had to replace them multiple times. Bungalow Bathrooms is the only one that I have that is signed. I bought it at the first event I ever produced for Jane, not knowing how dear she would become to me. (If anybody out there has one of my signed books, which she sent to all the people whose homes were in her books, I’d love to have them back. I’ll give you one of my replacement copies. You aren’t Suzanne & Dennis so it will be just as good!)
READ ABOUT ALL OF JANE’S BOOKS!
& last but surely not least
P.S. I have the permission of the family to speak about Jane & her books & to use the images of Jane, some of which were provided by them.
STAY IN THE BUNGALOW KNOW!!!
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