The British Bathroom: One Can Never Be Too Careful!

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Hi there. What have you been up to? The weather over here has been so nice this week, and I have been having a one-person pool-less pool party over here from the hours of 11:30 to 1:30, when the sun comes into our conservatory just right! This includes sunbathing, drinking lots of iced sparkling water with a squeeze of grapefruit, and listening to a constant stream of bird calls. I am a very happy camper!I thought I’d continue our house tour, and combine it with a some interesting facts about British bathrooms. I have not researched anything, but I will tell you this:  They are very paranoid about them!  I would also like to mention that it was really hard to get any decent pictures in here, since all of the light streams in one window and blitzes everything else in my camera’s eyes.
So, here it is. I think the size is really great– generous but not too big.

 When I bought this rug for our home in Germany, I never imagined it in the bathroom, but I really love it in here.

At first, I was a little distressed about not having any cupboards or anything, but moving this big dresser from Germany in here solved all of those problems. In the top drawer, I have put in boxes for each of us, and arrange all of our toiletries and things we need in each one– it works out very well! Then the other drawers have plenty of space for towels and other stuff, keeping it all out of sight, which is the main goal.
OK, fun fact #1 about British people and bathrooms:  They are completely freaked out about mixing hot and cold water! The box on the right in the shower is the special water heater/ hot-cold mixer for the shower, which has two dials to help you get it right.

Also notice: no shower curtain or shower door. One must keep all of the shower spray carefully contained on three sides. The glass panel swings away when you need a bath, but this set up also makes for a whole lot of water leaking onto the bathroom floor.

There are separate hot and cold faucets for the bath tub– too dangerous to mix the water inside the pipes down there, I guess!
Temperatures are also strictly segregated at the bathroom sink, which is a REAL hassle! We had this in our house in Portland, but that was only because it was 100 years old. This one is modern.
By the way, my distaste for labeling continues into the bathroom, and I found these pretty pump dispensers to decant soap, shampoo, etc. into. I love our view out this window, into our garden below. At night if it’s clear, you can see tons of stars out this window– we are lucky to live somewhere with very little light pollution!A couple more things I love: Our towels. And the radiator that keeps them warm and dry. When we were getting rid of everything before our move to Germany, I had the forethought to order some basics like dishes, sheets and towels from Zara Home to be delivered to our apartment when we moved in. I splurged on good towels– and plenty of them– and have been glad I did ever since!I hope it’s not awkward to have these two staring into the shower… But I love this portrait I found for a couple euros at the flohmarkt.Also, let’s just take a moment to enjoy the anemones. Happy Spring!OK, moving on… I don’t have a picture for this British bathroom quirk, because it’s about what’s missing rather than what’s there:  There are no electrical outlets in British bathrooms. Not one.

Not even a light switch!  Light switches are worked into the ceiling, with a string to pull for turning the light on. When I first got here, I didn’t really get it, and thought it was super impressive that every bathroom was equipped with an emergency alert system– the kind of pulls I saw only in hospital bathrooms in the USA!

Nope, that’s how you turn the light on, because what could be more dangerous than some kind of electricity in the bathroom? Water! Current! Death!

So people do not heat style their hair in the bathroom, or anything like that. Sometimes there are special outlets that are just for electric shavers installed in bathrooms, but not in ours. Luckily, I rarely use a hair dryer or flat iron– but when I do, I have to plug it in somewhere else in the house– usually in the dining room, where there’s an outlet close enough to a mirror.

I’m still trying to figure out what the big deal is. Yes, the voltage here is higher, but it’s also high in other European countries, where you can flip the light switch on, or plug a radio into the wall. Even without the electrical options, we like ours. I am thinking it would be great to paint this room a warmer color at some point, too. What do you think?Just standing around in my bathtub… That’s safe, right?

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14 Responses to The British Bathroom: One Can Never Be Too Careful!

  1. greatdana March 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    This has nothing to do with the bathroom but anemones are my newest favorite flower and I love yours! I like your bathroom too!

    • Ariana March 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

      Thanks Dana! I am really just waiting anxiously for peony season, but in the meantime anemones and ranunculus are keeping me very happy!

  2. Julie A. Cox March 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Ariana, I like seeing your updates and what you’ve done to make your place a hone. You always do such a great job with your kitchens. No electrical outlets in British bathrooms, could this happen more in homes where there are renters?

    • Ariana March 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      Hi Julie! Thanks for liking my kitchens– I love to work in there, so it feels easy to put the work in to make it an inspiring space for me. The electrical outlet thing is standard throughout the UK. Super interesting, right? On my facebook page, a bunch of people from the Philippines chimed in about how frequently they get shocked by their water heaters, and how it’s just no big deal! That is kind of my mentality– be smart, pay attention! But here they won’t let you electrocute yourself. 🙂

  3. Great Scott March 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    I am loving this home tour. You have great taste my dear – that rug is AWESOME! I actually like how it warms up the cool tone of the bathroom. I don’t think I’d paint it at all! And yes – what a pain with the whole half glass on the shower and the hot/cold issue with the sinks. Why, oh, WHY??? Looking forward to the next stop on the home tour…

    • Ariana March 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

      Thank you so much, Sarah! It does feel like a total luxury to have a real rug in the bathroom, especially since it’s laid out with a big open space in the middle. I really don’t get all the oddities of British bathrooms, but I like this one more than the one I had in Portland, so I guess I can’t really complain much!

  4. Nats March 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Yep no sockets in the bathroom is completely normal in the British bathroom, water and electricity is a big no no, I’m so used to it that I wouldn’t even think about straightening or drying my hair in a bathroom, even though we live in Germany now and have sockets in there, it freaks me out too much! And separate taps in bathrooms is pretty normal too I never even thought about it before as being weird, I suppose it’s where I grew up so have never questioned it, I have a half glass door thing in the UK and now in Germany and I hate them, water everywhere! Love your outfit btw!

    • Ariana March 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Hi Nats! It’s funny, I think the dangers of electricity and water are just engrained into the minds of people here, and there is no other way. But for people who grew up just making sure not to drop the blow dryer into the bathtub, it all definitely feels a bit overkill…
      Thanks for the outfit compliment!

  5. Kristen March 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Hello! I’ve just been reading through your “tour of the house” posts and I’ve really enjoyed them 🙂 You have a great sense of blending the old and the natural. I love it. Thanks for sharing!


    • Ariana March 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      Hi Kristen, thanks so much for stopping by, and for that nice compliment! It is really fun to have these antique pieces from Germany that add so much character to an antique house, and I am enjoying finding some British pieces to throw in there as well!

    • Marisa April 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      I wanted to tell you that I just moved into a new place last week and like you have no cupboards in the bathroom – except a tiny space under the sink. I was thinking of getting a dresser and then I remembered reading this post about how you put boxes in the drawers to keep things organized. So I am totally stealing your idea! So simple but I honestly don’t think I’d have thought of that. I was also inspired by your distaste for labels (something I hadn’t really thought of before but you are SO right) and bought myself a cute hand soap dispenser. This is also partly because I am an obsessive hand washer and it will be cheaper if I can buy my hand soap in bulk from Costco and just refill. But anyhow, thank you for these pieces of inspiration – I appreciate it very much! And I LOVE your rug!

    • Ariana April 10, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      Marisa– it makes my day to hear that you got some inspiration from my own home! That is absolutely one of my favorite parts about blogging. Good luck as you get settled into your new space, I hope it feels sweet and homey in no time.

  6. Susan Gaines March 16, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    I agree with Great Scott, the rug & room color are great. Thoroughly enjoyed the tour!

  7. Megan July 9, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    You made me think about my bathroom… Although I guess what needs some improvent the most in my house is the hideous flooring. Do you know a good company which takes care of flooring aberdeen? The tiles are cracked and outdated, they make the whole bathroom look disgusting.

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