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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Antique Washstands


I love using antique washstands.  They are made of beautiful old wood and can be used in many ways.  Washstands also may be found in many different furniture styles.

A Brief History of Washstands

Washstands were created out of necessity before the invention of indoor plumbing.  Before the late 1800s, every bedroom had a wash stand and commode.  Early washstands were two level tables with an upper shelf for a basin and a lower shelf for a chamber set.  Some wash stands had holes in the top shelf for the wash basin, while others were meant to have the basin sit on the shelf.  The chamber set included a wash basin and large pitcher for water, as well as a soap dish, toothbrush cup and shaving mug.  Commode washstands served the same purpose as a simpler table washstand, made like a chest with a bottom cupboard to hold the chamber pot and a jar for dirty wash water.  Drawers were added in some models to store a razor, soap dish and towels.  Some washstands had a lift top with a well inside to hold a wash basin and pitcher.

Using Washstands in the 21szt Century

While there is no longer a need for washstands, they are still beautiful pieces of furniture waiting for your imaginative use in your home!  I have an early painted table style wash stand in my bedroom and use it as a night stand.

I inherited my mother's chamber set, with a wash basin and pitcher, and several other pieces.  I display this chamber set on a primitive hand made pine commode washstand in my bedroom.  This stand has a marble top and a cabinet below with a shelf on either side.  It also has a side towel bar.  The piece is a little bit crooked, as the maker was not a fine cabinetmaker.

Below is a vintage chest style stand.  This is a great piece of furniture in any room, with its drawer and cabinet for storage.  It makes a great entry hall table, night stand, end table, hall table or additional storage piece in a large bathroom.  I am sure you can imagine other ways to use a great stand such as this.  Some stands similar to this one also had a harp shaped towel bar along the back of the cabinet top.  If you see a stand such as this where the top of the piece is about and inch short of the back of the chest, it is likely missing its towel bar.

Please comment on this post to share your ideas with me and other readers.


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