I’ve talked about cottagecore at length – from what the style is to how to recreate it at home. But there’s one room in the house that’s never talked about in the cottagecore movement: the bathroom. It seemed strange; the bathroom is arguably the most important room in the home, and can be a huge source of wastefulness. So I asked myself, “Can you make a cottagecore bathroom?” The answer is yes, but it doesn’t look exactly the way you might think.
Vintage-Looking Tub, Modern Plumbing
When imagining the perfect cottage bathroom, a freestanding, clawfoot soaking tub is always part of the picture. In some renditions, the tub is even outside to get you closer to nature. In reality, appearances aren’t everything; and opting for a recycled bathtub or true vintage can be a very expensive and often inconvenient option. Having an antique cast iron tub professionally resurfaced is a great investment if you know what you’re getting into, but old-fashioned, bucket-filled washtubs aren’t nearly as romantic as you imagine. Any time you use old plumbing fixtures, they’re going to be water-inefficient, have poor water pressure, and likely contain lead. Instead, look for vintage-styled tubs and fillers made with updated materials and modern pipes to avoid water waste. A material with good heat retention, like cast iron or copper, will help you get more out of each bath.
Pick the Most Efficient Shower Head
Bathtubs unfortunately aren’t efficient in water consumption or time spent. A more practical day-to-day option is the shower. A lot of trends lately emphasize big, rainfall-style shower heads to get the luxury of a bath in every shower, but they’re incredibly wasteful. The bigger the shower head, the more water it’ll use. This isn’t just a water bill problem; most builder-grade plumbing physically can’t put out enough hot water at a good pressure that larger (or multiple) shower heads need. Instead, adjustable or multi-function shower heads let you pamper yourself when you really need it, without wasting water the rest of the time. Most come with similar settings, but you can figure out which options you prefer and pick a nicer shower head that prioritizes those.
Reduce Water with a Dual Flush Toilet
A vintage toilet is a no-go. At best, you’ll have a lot of annual water waste because older toilets are simply less efficient. At worst, you have a toilet incompatible with your modern plumbing hookups and need an expensive renovation to accommodate it. An alternative that fits with the cottagecore idea of sustainability is actually going modern. Updating your toilet to a dual-flush model is sustainable and saves you money every flush. If you aren’t familiar with what that means, a dual-flush toilet has two buttons (usually on the top of the basin) that changes how much water is used when flushing. This helps reduce water consumption by adding a lower water option to your standard single flush.
Bring in a Bidet
Another way to lower your bathroom waste is to add a bidet. They look similar to (and take up as much space as) toilets, but perform a different function. They may sound intimidating to use at first, but have many benefits for your bathroom. If your skin’s easily irritated by pads, wipes, and other products (even unscented), water reduces the need to use any. And while it may seem more like more water usage to clean your behind with a bidet, it lessens the need for toilet paper. All toilet paper, even the sustainable brands, require gallons of water to create. While the water usage is more visible to you when running a bidet, it’s not more than what’s already been used. Some free advice? Even if you don’t swing for a bidet and stick with paper, never flush “flushable” wet wipes; they’re the quickest way to clog your plumbing.
Shop Secondhand Vanities?
All that said, there are some elements you can source reused, like your lighting fixtures, mirrors, or bathroom vanity. Items like these often show up at second-hand home improvement stores. If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can even up-cycle vintage furniture. Old dressers or cabinets can be refinished and have holes drilled in for a sink and plumbing. That said, you want to make sure any second hand fixtures are in good enough condition to stand up to the heat and moisture of a bathroom. A good sealing coat will go a long way toward keeping reclaimed bathroom furniture in good condition.
While a cottagecore bathroom doesn’t necessarily look cottage-like, it has clear sustainability that’s at the core of the movement. So keep in mind: cottagecore isn’t the same thing as shabby chic. Especially in the bathroom, it’s much less about distressed white paint and more about creating a space that has a minimal footprint – both when you’re building it and long-term.