Kitchens and bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms in villas are likely to have undergone several previous renovations, beginning with the introduction of piped water.


Original details

Original villa kitchens were places for cooking and eating – separate dining rooms were found only in larger villas. 

Typically, the only built-in kitchen furniture was a single kauri bench unit with cupboards (see kitchen joinery).

A cast iron coal range was typically built into a wide built brick enclosure with a brick chimney. It was the primary means of cooking and also for early water heating and heating a clothes iron (Figure 1).

Larger villas sometimes had a separate pantry, with wooden shelving, for food storage. Another common feature was a safe.

Wall linings were typically 4" (100 mm) TG&V match lining (for more, see internal linings: original details. Floors were typically polished timber.

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Kitchens were originally altered to incorporate gas or electric ovens (from the early 20th century) and the use of cold and then hot running water (see plumbing and drainage).

The coal range was often blanked off, and new cupboards and an enamel sink installed to replace the original kauri fixture, with cold water from town supply and water heating. 

Most kitchens have now been completely altered (probably more than once) to allow for modern appliances such as the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, waste disposal and so on. 

Kitchens and other service areas were originally located at the rear of the main house. In any villa that has been renovated or extended, the kitchen may have moved from its original location.

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Original details and modifications

Early villas were not built with bathrooms or internal toilets. A long-drop toilet was located in a separate building in the back yard. The only running water in the house was from a rainwater tank to the scullery sink and to the laundry (also in a separate building).

With the arrival of town water supply in the late 19th century, and the later introduction of hot water storage, villas were modified to incorporate bathing and toilet areas (often by expanding the lean-to at the rear of the house).

Initially, the toilet moved into a porch at the rear of the house. Subsequently, bathrooms were added with basins and baths. In time, the toilet moved into the bathroom, which also commonly housed the hot water cylinder.

In early bathrooms, wall linings were typically 4" (100 mm) TG&V match lining (for more, see internal linings: original details. Floors were typically polished timber. From the 1930s-40s, original TG&V wall linings were often lined over with hardboard, with half-round cover battens to joints.

A shower was often installed over the bath (because there was usually insufficient space for a separate shower). If constructed as a separate shower, many are likely to be a stainless steel tray with threshold step and plastic laminate finished hardboard linings.

As with kitchens, villa bathrooms are likely to have been upgraded and modified several times, and may no longer be in their original locations.

Bathroom fittings

Baths became common from about the 1890s and plumbed-in toilets from about 1910. Read more

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Common problems now include low hot water pressure, leaking drains, and corrosion of original pipes. Read More.

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Many will require rewiring as part of any renovation. Read More.