Bathroom History, Research, and Trends

Although the bathroom has changed throughout history, it has always reflected the prevailing cultural attitudes toward hygiene, cleanliness, privacy, relaxation, socializing, and even morality and religion. The development of our modern bath has also been dependent upon evolution in public infrastructure, technology, codes, and other policies.

Today the bathroom is not only the center for personal hygiene, but also a place for relaxation. Research continues to contribute important knowledge related to designing bathrooms for func­tion and safety. Since many bathrooms are being downsized because homes are shrinking in size, the efficient use of space becomes more important than ever. Today’s bathrooms emphasize qual­ity and function, and they make use of a variety of materials and designs to produce a unique and personalized room for a household.

The changing demographic makeup of North American households will continue to alter the way our bathrooms look and how they serve users, especially in light of the growing number of older people in our population. This chapter examines the history of the bath, reviews important research in bathroom design, and provides an overview of key demographic and psychographic trends that are now affecting bathroom design.

Learning Objective 1: Describe how evolving lifestyles and technologies have impacted bathroom trends over time

Learning Objective 2: Describe new trends in present-day bathroom design