Ever since indoor bathrooms replaced outhouses, their layout and aesthetic has been on the move. What began as a purely utilitarian space has quickly become a focal point of the home, helping keep you clean, comfortable, and moving forward in all your daily activities. Over the past 100 years, a dizzying number of changes have evolved bathroom designs—and the bar continues to move, even today. So, before you get started on your much anticipated bathroom renovation, take a peek at all the changes over the years for a little bit of inspiration.


The Switch to Built-In Bathtubs and Pedestal Sinks

When outhouses made their big indoor debut, plain white clawfoot tubs, wall-hung sinks, and exposed plumbing pipes were definitely the norm. By the mid-1920s, however, all that started to feel a bit drab and was notoriously hard to clean.


With the 1918 pandemic right on their heels, homeowners started to make big changes in the name of cleanliness. They switched to built-in tub designs and pedestal sinks with much of the plumbing hidden out of sight. But they didn’t stop there. They also opted to go for big, bright colors that made the space really pop and brought a little sunshine indoors.


subway tile


A Rise in Popularity of Subway Tiles on Floors and Walls


To beautifully compliment all of the colorful sinks, toilets, and bathtubs, homeowners warmly welcomed the use of tidy subway tiles on the floors and walls. These tiles were not only aesthetically pleasing, but also really easy to scrub clean.


In fact, when wiped down on a regular schedule, these tiles never seem to require much elbow grease to shine like new once again. For those reasons, subway tiles remained a popular choice through the decades, only coming in second to oversized natural stone tiles.


From Basic Toilets to Futuristic Designs


Although toilets quickly evolved to their current form and function by the 1920s, a wave of innovation inspired designers to take a second look at its build. The streamline industrial design trends of the 1930s kickstarted this movement, resulting in toilets with aerodynamic designs and a powerful flush.

Through the decades, toilet designs have continued to evolve, mostly to improve comfort, prevent clogs, and reduce water usage. Today, it is possible to get one-piece, wall-mounted models, high-tech bidet-equipped designs, and everything in between. There’s even one that can check your urine for a myriad of diseases, detect pregnancy, and verify that you are getting all your vitamins.


Continued Refinements of Bathtubs and Sinks


Bathtubs, sinks, and toilets continue to shift and change through the decades in response to all the different design trends. Here’s how:




Large jetted tubs with stepped surrounds became quite popular in the early 1980s. Freestanding soaking tubs came back into favor soon after but arrived without their clawfoot base. Of course, accessibility drove innovation as well, with a walk-in bathtub conversion available to those who cannot step into the bath with ease. As these designs came into popularity, the modern bathtub grew apart from the shower. Glass-walled shower stalls were put up in the same room instead and quickly became the hallmark of luxury.




While pedestal sinks look charming, they lack the room needed for personal care items and storage. The desire for those elements drove designers to put in larger vanities with built-in sinks and lots of drawers and cabinets. Not long after, a desire for something a little more luxurious brought vessel sinks to the forefront of bathroom designs. Made from stone, glass, or ceramic materials, these sinks sit right on top of the counter and pair beautifully with matte black, brushed nickel, and bronze faucets.


The great thing about doing a bathroom remodel today is that you can select the designs from your favorite eras to guide your project — and don’t have to do it alone. Your team at Matrix Home Solutions can help you create a plan, select all the right materials, and complete your project to your specifications. To get started, all you have to do is schedule your free quote and browse bathroom renovation designs while you wait.