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Art Deco Lighting For The Bathroom Restoration And Design For The

Art Deco Lighting For The Bathroom Restoration And Design For The Art Deco Lighting For The Bathroom Restoration And Design For The

Improved task lighting in bathrooms was of growing interest during the Deco era, and the prime focus was the lavatory mirror used for shaving and make-up. The recommended solution for a shadowless reflection was to mount matching fixtures at either side of the mirror. The iconic Deco-era example is the streamlined tube, which reflected the nation’s growing fascination with speed fueled by the early days of commercial passenger flight and the popularity of rail travel.

Wall tiles are squares set on the diagonal, which produces the geometric zigzag pattern so common in this era. The accent border offers a yellow-and-black tulip design. Narrow bullnose tile trim throughout rounds the corners. Original fixtures are butter yellow. (Other popular colors of the time included salmon pink, orchid purple, and black.)

Kick-start your Arts & Crafts bathroom restoration with these stylish, period-friendly takes on the bungalow bath.

Lights flanking a mirror cut down on harsh shadows and offered optimum illumination for grooming. The shades here—called turtles because of their resemblance to the critter—could also be mounted facing the wall, and often sat on brackets made of porcelain that featured convenient, built-in electrical outlets. (Photo from Bungalow Details: Interior)

Another ceiling option was a simple globe set into an Art Deco-influenced base bearing a heavy, repeating geometric pattern full of the chevrons and sunrise themes so closely connected with the style. While the base was ornate, the light was also understated thanks to low-profile dimensions and a pairing with a simple milk glass globe. Original bases were most likely made of brass or chrome, but modern lighting companies offer these light fixtures in a range of finishes, as well as a selection of globes that feature additional geometric details, such as concentric circles ridged into the glass or repeating raised squares.

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Tagsterms:Linda Svendsenart decoDemetra AposporosbathroomsPeriod LightingOld-House JournalOHJ November/December 2006

When deciding on your porch light, the good news is that more than one light type can be the right choice.

If you’re aiming to beautify a bathroom from the era between the wars, your first stop might be Paris—the 1925 Paris Exposition, that is. That famed exposition introduced Art Deco to the world through a wealth of cutting-edge modernist designs, and it was also the source of the name. Within a few years, Deco crossed the Atlantic to become the design imprimatur for American consumer goods throughout the 1930s. Its influence can be seen in creations as disparate as storefronts and theaters, furniture and packaging, and even such basic household fixtures as bathroom sinks and lights. And if what you specifically seek are lights, you’re in luck. What follows are a half-dozen authentic lighting styles appropriate for 1930s bathrooms, almost all of them available through today’s reproduction lighting companies.

Streamline styling is related to Deco, but inspired by aerodynamic engineering, it stripped down ornamentation, played up fluid lines, and highlighted industrial materials such as shiny chrome accents. Sometimes polished aluminum, a material borrowed from the nascent airline industry, was used. While streamlined tubes were often enclosed to offer a diffused glow, they also could be open at the top to provide stronger ambient light. Various styles could have accents of concentric bands of chrome and sport elongated, decorative metal finials.

Art Deco was considered revolutionary because it turned its back on the vegetable and animal motifs found in traditional designs to embrace angular geometry and the machine age. The style grew out of two popular early 20th-century avant-garde movements: Cubist art and Bauhaus architecture, both of which were defined by sheer, faceted surfaces. When this ultra-modern thinking made the leap from art canvasses and buildings to furniture and industrial items, those angular lines softened to create the distinctive flowing geometric forms that became iconic of the 1930s. Deco’s exuberant take on design also came to embody a sense of optimism, something desperately needed by an American public stuck in a downtrodden decade.

Marvin Windows and Doors offers customized, high-performance windows and doors.

Crown Point Cabinetry offers custom cabinets for period style kitchens, baths, offices, laundry rooms, home bars and more. Styles include Shaker, Arts & Crafts, Early American, Victorian and Transitional.

Don your shades for a close look at early 20th-century lighting.

In a well-cared-for house, elements dating to 1951, 1930, and 1911 were preserved in the startling kitchen.

Fan shades were another shape popular for sidelight designs because they exaggerated the chevron pattern so integral to the Deco movement. Often, the fans repeated themselves like ripples formed in water by a skipping stone. Because fans were open at the top and sometimes the bottom, too, they offered the benefits of indirect light via a beam that bounced off of the walls and then onto the person in front of the mirror.

Where sidelights were impractical, a single fixture over the mirror became the next best thing for illuminating personal grooming. One popular design was the organic shape of a turtle’s shell morphed into a stylized, softly angular, geometric form that was open on the bottom (where the turtle was flat). This design afforded bathers a direct light just above the mirror. Shades were usually made of milk glass and sometimes had black or colored lines decorating their edges. Turtle shades were incredibly popular owing to their versatility. Because they could be installed horizontally with their opening facing the floor or vertically to face the wall, they could also be used as sidelights. This flexibility gave homeowners several decorative options for lighting bathing areas.

The toilet niche is typical for an Art Deco bathroom; Sunset magazine covers on the walls date to 1933, the year the house was built.

Tile adds color & convenience in a small Arts & Crafts bathroom.

We were lured here by the tile. In 2009, we left our beloved 1912 Craftsman home for this 1933 casita, or Spanish bungalow. We were smitten by its gorgeous, over-the-top, green-tiled Art Deco bathroom, an exclamation point on an exceptional house.

By the 1930s, the prosaic built-in tub was often elaborated into a high-style, partially enclosed niche or recessed shower compartment. Because these compartments created a cavelike environment and frequently had a lower ceiling than the rest of the bathroom, they called for their own ceiling light. Sometimes these lights were regular ceiling fixtures, but they could also incorporate a heat lamp for sun-ray comfort.

Tagsterms:Spanish architecturebathroomsSarah HilbertArt Deco BathroomJaimee Itagakitileart decoOHI May/June 2012Old-House Interiors

A close relative, design-wise, to the turtle shape was a shell-shaped shade that moved way beyond Mother Nature. These shades exaggerated and softened a shell’s edges to play on the ideas of streamlining, and the fixtures could be installed above a mirror as either a single light or pair.

The bathtub recess boasts a magnificent “shark fin” opening.

The popular idea of putting showers or tubs into their own alcove made it necessary to install a second ceiling light in those areas.

Its eclectic facade inspired the owners of this San Francisco house; they honored original interior features but also included colorful flourishes from well into the 20th century.

Fixtures installed above a mirror cast a spotlight on the person looking into it. Often, such mirror lights were the only source of illumination in bathrooms from the era.

The basic light for any bathroom in the early electric era was a central, ceiling-mounted fixture, and round ceiling fixtures throwing off bright overhead light were a common sight by the 1930s. Lights designed in repeating circle shapes, with cut motifs of decorative ribs, catered to the decade’s fascination with geometric shapes, and their ceiling-hugging designs kept them unobtrusive and aerodynamic. Shades could be made of both clear glass and milk glass, and the mounting was usually a shiny chrome, or in the case of the old advertisement shown on page 36, genuine chromium plate.

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When it comes to lighting bathrooms of the 1930s and ’40s, you can’t go wrong with a little Modern design.

Our bathroom is 7 1⁄2′ x 9′ with an additional 3′ x 3′ toilet niche. It’s relatively simple—no fancy elevated tub deck or enclosed water closet here. We’ve been told the shape of our unusual shower portal is called a “shark fin.” At over 7′ tall, it does suggest prowess. A wall heater labeled “Markel Heetaire” remains, no longer operable but offering a decorative grate.

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This brilliant Art Deco bathroom, original to the 1933 Spanish-style bungalow, features a shark’s fin bathtub recess, green tiles and buttery fixtures.

Another memorable sidelight design paid homage to the burgeoning skylines of the day with shades shaped like a building reaching for the sky. Molded of frosted glass and bearing a shade that was completely enclosed, these fixtures radiated a soft glow. The shades were usually three-tiered, often bearing vertical striations on each section—a form that mimics the famous Deco design of the Empire State Building. Original lights were mounted on porcelain brackets and sometimes color-matched to a bathroom’s tile work. Porcelain was considered particularly appropriate for use in bathrooms because it was non-porous, easy to clean, and therefore sanitary. Sometimes the brackets also harbored electrical outlets for plugging in the wide array of grooming appliances that were just being marketed.

Like many Art Deco bathrooms of the day, ours is a riotous tile showcase: tile on the floor, walls, countertops, and inside the shower. Alternating seafoam- and jadeite-green hexagonal tiles form a honeycomb pattern on the floor.

The treatment may appear garish to some 21st-century eyes, but these candy-colored rooms beg for preservation. Our bathroom is not what you’d call timeless; in fact, it is an undeniable period piece. But it’s sure not fuddy-duddy. In our eyes, no amount of modernizing, no steam shower or his-and-hers vanity could improve upon its brilliance.

The bathroom is a marvel of color and a time capsule of design—and, we’ve learned, it’s also a love-it-or-hate-it kind of room. It’s been interesting to see visitors’ reactions: They either shriek in delight, or they just smile politely. I imagine the second group is thinking, “Only one sink? Such a small mirror? A combination tub/shower?” We love it; the bath takes us back to flappers and Art Deco opulence, to the advent of modern design and convenience, to a domain unique in design history.

MTI offers fine bath products in acrylic, engineered solid stone and wood, all manufactured with care in the USA.

An Art Nouveau townhouse slated for apartment use gets restored to its former beauty.

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The late 1920s witnessed a shift in thinking on the ideal bathroom’s design, transforming an austere white space into one that was blooming in color.

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