Five different brands — six designs — of “relaxation units” — places next to the toilet for your toilet paper, magazines — and smokes

Longtime readers surely know about “Relaxation Units” — recessed caddies for the bathroom situated next to the toilet to hold all your necessary supplies — toilet paper, magazines, even your cigarettes — in one easy-to reach spot. Some 1963 publicity indicates that some of these even had towel bars that were heated! Hall-Mack Relaxation Units (image from a catalog in my collection, shown above) seemed to have been the most widely distributed, but over the years, with the help of readers — thank you, all! — I’ve collected examples of five different makers: Hall-Mack, Family Hospitality, Satin-Glide, Perma-Bilt, and one “mystery” unit. America was booming … errr, relaxing! — with Relaxation Units!

#1 — Hall-Mack Relaxation Unit:

hallmack-relaxation-unitSarah is among a number or readers who have reported that their homes came with a Hall-Mack Relaxation Unit in their bathroom. Hall-Mack was such a big, national name, that surely this must be the most common brand we still see in the wild.

Hall-Mack Relaxation Unit’s distinguishing features:

hall mack bathroom ashtrayAnd lookie (above), discovered in July 2019, a smaller horizontal unit Relaxation Unit, circa 1956, in an online catalog here. :

#2 — Satin Glide Relaxation Unit: 

I spotted this Satin Glide Relaxation Unit in a 1963 catalog for Satin Glide steel bathroom vanities and cabinetry. So cool you could get your relaxation unit painted, too.  

Satin Glide Relaxation Unit’s distinguishing features:

  • The interior was painted
  • Shelf bottom below toilet paper and smoking nook was thick meta, painted.
  • Magazine rack had straight back.
  • See the complete catalog here.

#3 — Family Hospitality Relaxation Unit:

Above: Kristopher has a “Family Hospitality Relaxation Unit.”

Family Hospitality Relaxation Unit’s distinguishing features:

# 4 — Perma-Bilt Relaxation Unit:

And reader Helen hit a jackpot when she spotted two, New Old Stock Perma-Bilt Relaxation Units at a local ReStore. A true dream find for those of us who get excited about things like NOS Relaxation Units! Note: On the photo above, there is protective tape on the front molding protecting the original chrome finish.

She says:

Distinctive features of the Perma-Bilt: on the horizontal shelf below the TP roll there’s a strip of chrome. They also had matching aluminum magazine rack bars stamped “Universal”.  

#5 — Mystery Relaxation Unit:

relaxation unit vintageHelen also found this “mystery” unit. No markings. It is distinctive for that extra shelf above the toilet paper and smoking nook. Oooooh: A mystery to watch for solving!

Thanks to all the readers who have sent their woddities to me! After nearly 10 years of blogging: Are there any more out there I haven’t seen or featured yet?! Stump the chump! Keep them coming!

  1. pam kueber says:

    Best bet: Do saved searches on ebay using a number of word combos then sit, wait — oh and save your money! Going price seems to be minimum $200 …

  2. Allison says:

    In the 50s and 60s, families were getting bigger, but houses were actually getting smaller than those built in the early part of the century.

    The bathroom was probably the only spot where one could reliably be alone for a while; hence the luxury of the Relaxation Unit!

  3. Kim says:

    “designed with a man in mind” is making me laugh and laugh. I grew up with my single mom, sister, and grandparents in one household, and I suspect my grandpa, the lone male among three generations of ladies, could’ve used a Relaxation Unit. He used to go sit in his car in the driveway and read the paper, to get away from us!

  4. Mike says:

    Oh wow, my uncle had one of those. I can imagine that when younger people see this kind of stuff, they say, “Whaaaaa?” For us, these niceties were expected!

  5. Katie says:

    My in-laws don’t have a metal unit, but they do have a wooden magazine rack on the wall next to the toilet. Now I know where the idea came from

  6. la573 says:

    There isn’t a thing in the Satin Glide photo I wouldn’t love having in my bathroom….

    Did people use to smoke in bathrooms? I guess it was the only room other than the kitchen likely to have an exhaust fan in it Though bizarrely, I’ve rented an apartment that had a Nutone through-the-wall exhaust fan in the bedroom, and another with a exhaust fan hidden behind built-in shelving in the living room (which my stoner roommate loved).

  7. Bonnie says:

    I have never seen or heard of such a thing, but how brilliant! I wish I had one to hold my crossword puzzle books and especially my pens! Darn pens are always rolling under the door and I’m hardly in a position to retrieve them!

  8. Jennie Williams says:

    My grandpa could still go out to the outhouse we saved behind the garage at our family farm.

  9. tucker strasser says:

    I made something similar out of wood that was trim less set in the drywall. One for magazines and one for TP.
    Also made a similar medicine cabinet where the mirror was flush with the wall or a flush door that could be painted wallpapered to match the wall

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