How to collect reclaimed bathroom fixtures and furniture

Make the most of salvaged bathroom furniture - colourful, quirky and environmentally friendly, it looks equally striking in contemporary and traditional schemes

Great Western Railway toilet roll holder

No matter how many sleek and modern loos, sinks and taps you see, few have the enduring appeal of an antique find. ‘I think people generally like to buy salvage because of the character of the items,’ explains Rupert Woods, owner of architectural salvage yard English Salvage. ‘That, and for the funny names – I currently have a ‘Silent General’ cistern in stock and people love the Thomas Crapper loos!’

A blue and white lavatory pan with a high level cistern

Antique bathroom items can cost anywhere between £100 to £5,000. Though, accessories such as toilet roll holders and chain pulls can be found for as little as £30.

‘You should always speak to your plumber before buying large pieces,’ explains Woods, ‘as they are often incompatible with modern bathroom plumbing and require more time and effort to install.’ It’s also important to check the surrounding joists and flooring, as antique pieces are often heavier than their modern equivalents.

A white art deco double basin

Much like the elegantly distressed Victorian basin and loo in Joel’s washroom, Woods’ most popular items aren’t cosmetically perfect. ‘Older sanitaryware often isn’t stark white; it has a softer finish. Customers also search for Edwardian basins with crackle glazing, so that they can mismatch imperfect pieces together.’

While those 1970s favourites – avocado or burgundy bathroom suites – may not be making a comeback any time soon, Edwardian, art deco and Victorian versions certainly are.


This feature first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Homes & Antiques.