I’ve always had a fascination with bathrooms and being pregnant four times I’ve been able to see a lot. However, standing in a Norwegian bathroom feels a little odd. Some don’t have windows, some have the shower right over the toilet and some are large enough to fit a whole bedroom in. But what certainly makes them even odder is the use of space.
For many Norwegians who live in apartments or small houses there is often not enough room to fit a bathroom. Most of these bathrooms are tucked into the middle of the house with no windows. To save space the shower has no border and if the space is too small the shower sprays right over the toilet. Don’t even think about trying to squeeze a bath in there.
The shower nozzle is usually attached to a hose so you can take it off and hose down the soapy floor into the drain usually under the toilet. Most bathroom flooring has a layer of thick vinyl which is best for the heating rods under the floor to warm up the floor in winter. Some older bathrooms have a small electric heater stuck to the wall.
I must admit that having a smaller bathroom with shower hose makes it mighty easy to clean. However, we bought some water balloons the other day for Lilu’s bath-time and because the bathroom is so small the little suckers just didn’t pop – they would just bounce from wall to wall no matter how hard we threw them!
Most house bathrooms have a lot of space. This might sound great but when they still use the poky bathroom fixtures the openness can be a little eerie, especially when you are showering to the wall and there’s nothing but air behind you.
These spacious bathrooms make me cringe at all the mopping you’d have to do. You see, in Norway after a shower it is necessary to squeegee the floor to help the water go down the drain. This makes the floor dry a lot quicker and you won’t get a mouthful from the person who walks into the bathroom next. (In Norway it is custom to wear socks in the house – nothing worse than walking around with wet socks!)
Both Poky and Spacious bathrooms can have a ‘Pop-Out’ shower. This is very handy especially if you want to contain the water – less squeegee-ing to do. Shower shutters are attached to the wall and swing out to make the showering space. This type of fixture is essential if you have electrical appliances in the room or clothes drying on a rack. Drying clothes in the bathroom is very common in Norway as hanging your clothes outside in the winter can freeze them solid. Hence, it is a rare thing to see an outdoor clothes line in Norway – they have almost become extinct.
Having a shower shutter can make all the different for those people who don’t like being naked in a big white room with nothing else behind them.
Aqua Tank Bathrooms
It has become a trend in Norway to be sprayed from all directions rather than the conventional way… from top to bottom. I have to admit, these look pretty scary like some sort of torture chamber or the last Houdini contraption. But these types of showers are vertical spas and they usually come with a pull down seat so you don’t have to strain yourself standing up all the time.
Many Norwegian houses are built in the old style with steep roofs. This is so the snow can easily slide off. The steep roofs look charming on the outside but unfortunately they can make it difficult to fit in modern commodities.
However, with careful designing and the basic rules of space (you can’t put tall things in a short space!) bathrooms that have been left to the attic can work out quite well.
As you can see the trick is to put the bath where the low ceiling is. I have also seen toilets under such a low ceiling however you always have to remember the roof when you stand up again, and who does that? As bedrooms are generally up in the attic too, beds are normally placed under the low ceilings. It certainly stops the kids from jumping on the bed!
Bathrooms with Baths
Baths are not very common in Norwegian homes. It seems only the bigger (more expensive) homes have baths. You do get the common bath under the shower but Norwegians seem to think ‘if we’re going to get a bath why not get a REAL bath’. Norway can be like Texas when it comes to baths.
The first thing an Aussie would think seeing a bath this big: How much will it cost to fill the thing up? In a lot of countries you have to pay for water but in Norway water is free! Norway has so much of it I think there would be an ‘off with their heads’ protest if the government started charging for water. (By the way, the below design isn’t my favourite.)
To some Norwegians ‘more is more’ – if it fits then is goes in. Even when bathrooms are small Norwegians still squeeze in a washing machine and dryer. The below bathroom even managed to fit in a sauna.
Unfortunately Norwegian houses don’t come with a laundry room and I’ve never seen a washing machine in the kitchen like in the UK. Everything to do with washing goes in the bathroom. If a bathroom has both washer and dryer they are normally stacked on top of each other to save space.
I’ve been brought up to think that electricity and water are not good together but Norwegians don’t seem worried about the odds of being electrocuted because, well… every bathroom has at least a washer or dryer or wall heater or mirror lamp that gets condensation all over it during showers.
Normally luxury bathrooms are in houses that cost NOK 5 mill+ (an above average house). Some Norwegians have a habit of buying things for show especially stuff that is considered ‘continental’. However, most of the other Norwegians well know that these things aren’t necessary, (Norwegian practicality), and just roll their eyes at such ego enhancing toilets.
However, I was surprised to see that many houses that cost NOK 15 mil+ had very down to earth bathrooms. No over the top colours, no gaudy trimmings, just function with a dash of minimalism. I guess they had enough money that they didn’t need to show off.
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