Powder Rooms

A popular modern item for any home is a guest bath or what is called a powder room, usually on the first floor of a house. They usually do not have a bath or shower but instead a toilet and sink.

The idea of the term ‘powder room’ goes back to the 1700s when the wearing of wigs – both men and ladies. These wigs usually had powder on them to make them white in appearance. Since the powder could spread as it is placed on the wig, those who could afford it, had a separate powder room to work on the wig. It was not just those who lived in the house who used the powder room but guests also.

When that hair fad faded the name for a small room to freshen up in stayed ‘powder room’.

Having a powder room became very popular in the late 1940s and into the 1950s with the housing boom and people living in the suburbs. The phrase used was; “ I need to powder my nose” – referring to makeup but it also referred to using the toilet.

Some powder rooms even added to an older house could be placed under a staircase, in a small closet, but usually with no windows.

So due to powder used on the 1700s powder wigs, many people have a powder room in their home.

Photo: Applying powder to a wig in the 1700s.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

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Vintage Hairstyles

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