The Traditional Bathroom


If your tastes are traditional rather than contemporary it is easy to create your dream bathroom with beautifully styled suites that re-create the period feel.

Vintage bathrooms, especially those that embody the design values of the early 20th century are currently more popular than ever. Here are some style ideas on how to design your own traditional bathroom.

The Fixtures

Freestanding claw feet baths are what make a traditional style bathroom. Nowadays you don’t have to trawl through antique stores to find one. They can be purchased from many of the modern bathroom showrooms.

Chrome and brass fixtures are vintage, but polished nickel or copper will lend a sophisticated, modern take to your bath. Wall-mounted faucets for the basin or the tub will streamline the appearance without the clutter of complicated plumbing, and enable you to incorporate a modern raised sink bowl without compromising your design.

Free-standing console sinks, rather than a cabinet or counter-mounted sink, were typical in the early-20th century.

High level cisterns with polished Victorian style plumbing will add extra period charm to your traditional bathroom. As will high fashion radiators and nostalgic showers with ‘drench’ showerheads.

Dark wood storage units are the way to go in a traditional style bathroom.

Bathroom Tiles

Browse books and magazines to get ideas for the particular vintage look you want. If you really want authenticity, choose the colours for paint and tile that were used at that time, or you can be experimental and use your own favourite shades.

You can opt for a pristine all-white tile (and there are many shades of white from which to choose) or choose warmer accents with a splash of colour here and there.

Mosaic tiling is a popular period style both for walls and floors. Natural materials that are time-appropriate will also enhance the vintage vibe so avoid synthetic materials unless they replicate a natural one like marble or stone. In addition to tile, you can evoke a nostalgic feel by using wainscoting or bead board to cover the walls, with period-appropriate window treatments and wide baseboards to finish the look.

Finishing Touches

1920s bathrooms featured other distinctive elements that have made a comeback today. One example is hot water heated towel rails. These were the rage in those early decades but were phased out during the war. When the economy rebounded, heated towel bars didn’t make the same comeback.

It wasn’t until the mid ’90s that they started popping up in bathrooms again. Warm towels can be one of the most luxurious parts of a relaxing bath. Electrically heated towel bars are available in different finishes from a variety of bath fixture and department stores.


European safety regulations are rightly rigorous, stating that bathroom fittings must be completely encased to avoid shorting and electric shocks, and double insulated with the bulb and all metal parts covered.

Don’t ever be tempted to use a conventional light fitting that’s not intended for bathroom use. Light switches must be either outside the bathroom or fitted with a pull cord.

See Also
bathroom decor
Accessorising Your Bathroom
Bathroom lighting
Bathroom Lighting Ideas