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Victorian washstands have been repurposed with real finesse for use in some of the UK’s most stylish homes. In modern dining rooms they’ve become handy side tables holding everything from bowls of roses and statement ceramics, to homework books and the daily post. In bedrooms they’ve become charming dressing tables, providing pretty, practical places for cosmetics, jewellery and trinkets. Meanwhile, in hallways they hold hats, gloves and key bowls. Whichever way they’re utilised, Victorian washstands are a great example of how quality furniture that’s properly cherished, always lasts from one era to the next, matching the needs of new owners. Take a look at some of the washstands currently for sale here at Vinterior.
What is a Victorian washstand?Simply, a washstand is a table-like structure designed as a place for the Victorian man or woman to complete their daily ablutions. Most popular during the 18th and 19th century, as personal hygiene was increasingly prioritised, these items became obsolete in their original purpose with the advent of modern plumbing. However, those that survive remain fantastic, adaptable pieces of furniture that have been updated and repurposed in many interesting and diverse ways.
The classic Victorian washstand was built of rosewood, walnut or mahogany that was darkly glossed in the style then popular. Most versions had marble tops, to protect from splashes of water. Some featured a basin area and soap receptacle, others simply had space for separate heavy jugs and bowls. Just as nowadays there’s a wide price range of bathroom suites sold, in Victorian times washstands were marketed to meet every budget. Some were very simple and almost utilitarian in design, consisting of just a table and shallow back edge, with trestle-style legs and perhaps a single drawer.
At the other end of the market, upper middle-class Victorians were buying ostentatious, showcase pieces both as standalone items and as units within bedroom furniture sets. Sometimes created as double-use items, they had intricate Gothic-revival carvings, huge mirrors, and thick slabs of creamy Italian marble.
Whilst stunning, you may find a more modest Victorian washstand fits more readily into your home. For example, a hip-height wash stand with a tiled back, single cupboard, deep drawers and barley twist legs is a fantastic storage solution in a busy kitchen or dining area. Sometimes upcycled with a lick of pastel chalk paint, and with their brass fittings polished up, these moderately proportioned washstands are eye-catching and very useful.
If you are hoping to introduce some Victorian opulence to your bathroom, perhaps you should opt for a marble topped piece with finely turned legs, or a generous cupboard space for towels and linens.
Wherever you place them and whichever style you opt for, these precursors to the modern basin make versatile additions to the contemporary home.
Like the look of Victorian washstands?Lending your home a sense of heritage, as well as often being entirely unique, a vintage Victorian piece of furniture is a great investment. Finding an elegant washstand for your home can have the power to elevate your interior design to the next level, as you show both your creativity and eye for style.
Vinterior is a website you can visit time and time again, always spotting something new. Browse the furniture and home accessories, visualising them as part of your life and home, taking inspiration from the different eras they reflect.