This Video Shows the Wild Evolution of the Bathroom Over 500 Years

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Centuries ago, having a bathroom break was a communal affair — Greek nobility would line up next to one another on marble benches to relieve themselves. While the bathroom has since become more private, the actual room itself has undergone quite a transformation in the past 500 years.


A new video from UK bathroom supply store QS Supplies tracks the evolution of the loo from 1520 to 2020 in just 90 seconds. While it is fundamentally the same, certain elements once considered luxury are now commonplace things most of us couldn't imagine living without. Of course, this only covers certain advancements and cultural preferences, but it's a fascinating look.

According to the site, in the 16th century, only the wealthy could afford to have a bathtub in their home. They were comprised of a free-standing wooden structure located close to an open fire to keep warm. Meanwhile, the toilet consisted of a hole that hung over the street, known as a garderobe. Sounds sanitary! Side note: the reason we call it "the john" has to do with John Harington's flushing toilet invention; he published a pamphlet about it in 1596.

By the time the 17th century rolled around, bathtubs had become even more private, with family members using the same bath (instead of strangers). The tub was now made of steel to keep the warmth, but filling the tub still proved to be a challenge for many families, so bath time wasn't super often. The good news is that many homes had chamber pots for going to the bathroom by then.

Around 1720, the first toilets were seen in homes, consisting of a seat with a hole in it and a copper pot. The invention of the "S-pipe" in 1775 would lead to the invention of the modern toilet.

After the 19th century, with the advent of modern plumbing and sewer systems, bathrooms began to take shape as we know them today. They became dedicated spaces for washing and grooming.

With the advancement of technology and materials, might we be seeing even more drastic changes to the bathroom by the time 2120 arrives? In the meantime, check out the full video to truly appreciate the advantages we have now.


Laura is a New York City-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, and design. Her work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, and more. She's a sucker for a good curbside furniture find.