What's this weird bathroom cabinet-like thing for?
October 23, 2012 11:15 AM   Subscribe

My friend's apartment had a small fixture in the bathroom that I've never seen before. Help me identify it.

Earlier this year my friend moved out of an apartment in Philadelphia that had a bathroom fixture that was foreign to both of us. In its closed state, it looks like a metal plate in the wall. When you push on a corner of it, it swings open and there are two metal rims, high and low, that look like they could hold a bottle of some sort, except there's no bottom for said bottle to rest on. It doesn't look like it's missing any pieces. The apartment was in a high rise of recent construction, so this isn't some odd relic that is no longer relevant. Or is it? We both were stumped about what this thing is.

Picture of it closed here.

Picture of it open here.

I have seen nothing like this before or since. What is it for?
posted by Fuego to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Our bathrooms have this, except ours has a bottom. Ours are designed to hold toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a cup. Ours has a clear plastic part that goes on the bottom, that is removable in order, I assume, to be able to more easily clean it. Looks like this one is missing that.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:22 AM on October 23, 2012

Best answer: I think it's one of these types of toothbrush-toothpaste-cup holders, but it's missing plastic pieces on the top and bottom.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:24 AM on October 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Toothbrush and toothpaste holder.
posted by Kololo at 11:24 AM on October 23, 2012

My parents' house has this. Yes, it's a toothbrush holder.
posted by Stewriffic at 11:28 AM on October 23, 2012

I have one in my bathroom. It's for toothbrush/toothpaste/rinsing cup, etc.
posted by chara at 11:34 AM on October 23, 2012

Best answer: Oh my goodness. I haven't seen one of those in years.

Yes, it's a toothbrush-toothpaste holder. My folks had one in their 1918 Tudor house in Minneapolis, but it's likely that it was added when the bathroom was updated in 1963. Ours had the little plastic tray that got all gross from dripping toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes.

I used to play with it all the time. I'd hide things in there (like little plastic animals or marbles) to surprise my dad when he went to get his toothbrush in the morning. He'd then hide things like that in there for me to find when it was my turn to brush my teeth. They got rid of it years ago, and I wish they'd kept it. It was just kind of a cool thing to have.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:37 AM on October 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Huh, that seems odd to me, as the bottom rim didn't seem amenable to a plastic part being inserted in there. It was also an odd size for that, such that the average toothbrush would be too long to fit inside (it was only about 6 inches high). Were toothbrushes shorter, once upon a time?
posted by Fuego at 11:38 AM on October 23, 2012

Were toothbrushes shorter, once upon a time?

Anecdotally, yes. I remember the toothbrushes of my youth being much shorter, with slim, straight handles. No rubber grips or ergonomic bumps or angles either.
posted by jamaro at 11:51 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick answers! My friend lived in that apartment for a couple of years and I'm just now getting around to asking about that. I wonder why these aren't in more homes, especially when you hear things about how many germs a toothbrush can get on it in the open near a flushing toilet.
posted by Fuego at 12:04 PM on October 23, 2012

(My daughter is three and plays with this constantly. Her current use for it is to pretend it is the place to put a urine sample, because playing doctor is THE THING).

As for why more people don't have them - they're kind of a pain to clean. They're also in spots in bathrooms where if I were designing a bathroom in the 80s, I would have put a giant walled mirror. So, they were hot in the 50s-60s, and then fell out of favor, perhaps?
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:34 PM on October 23, 2012

That looks more like a shaving implement holder, where the upper notch is where the shaving brush would hang. (presumably, there is a missing mug or attachment that sits in the bottom ring.)

But that's just a guess.
posted by gjc at 3:46 PM on October 23, 2012

Heh, I have one of these. Yes, it is a toothbrush/cup holder though modern toothbrushes don't fit except maybe the cheap ones you get in overnight flight kits. I don't use it but periodically get the idea that the space would be *just the thing!* for something or other. I had to get up and see what is currently in there (tooth-whitening crap I forgot I had and a vintage souvenir glass). And yes, there is also a giant, walled mirror.
posted by Morrigan at 4:04 PM on October 23, 2012

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