Vintage Bathroom Design Trends for Modern Charm and Character
From ornate tile detailing to handmade brass fixtures, vintage trends offer a wealth of interior design inspiration. In fact, vintage décor continues to influence our tastes, trends and styles as much today as in the past. Here’s a roundup of the best vintage bathroom trends making a comeback right now.
Hallmarks of Modern Vintage Style
Vintage touches can be added to bathrooms of any design style. However, they’re especially apt for older homes where homeowners want to preserve the history and character of the space.
Looking at the age of your home, or the style you’d like to embody, can help direct you towards the right design theme. This is important because different design eras are characterized by different shapes, colors, elements and patterns.
Take the mid-century modern-inspired mirror featured by interior designer Emily Henderson, for example. The rounded square edges instantly evoke nostalgia of the 50’s and 60’s. The oval rectangle adds a more sophisticated vibe than standard oval mirrors of previous decades; plus, it adds a softer touch than the straight edges of modern industrial mirrors.
A vintage-inspired bathroom update is also an opportunity to pay attention to small details in the home. Tubs and sinks aside, this is your opportunity to introduce old-world looks in creative ways, says Chloe Taylor at Thrive Global. Vintage knobs, mirrors, toilet seats and lighting fixtures are all opportunities to create more depth in your design scheme. Depending on the look you’re aiming for, these details can make a world of difference.
Sinks and Vanities
When it comes to vintage-inspired sinks and vanities, there is a plethora of options available. Dark wood vanities are trending at the moment, according to Décor Aid and look great with white sinks. Bronze and gold-toned fixtures compliment the old-world look of these vanities, too.
Designer Jamie Banfield agrees that dark wood bathroom cabinetry is making a comeback in today’s bathrooms. He points out that oak will be a popular trend, especially when paired with bold modern touches. “Expect to see old and new elements converge, like vintage cabinetry finished with a high gloss black or a matte pink,” he adds.
Finding a vintage vanity in this old wood style can help create a much more personalized look than buying a vanity from a big box store. In fact, restoring a vintage vanity to its former glory is one of the best ways to add old school character to your new bathroom.
Natural stone countertops can be finished or resealed to create this balance of vintage and modern looks. Or, synthetic materials like manufactured quartz can be added, says emergency fire and water restoration service provider Luke Armstrong. Rich colors and intricate patterns should also be considered during a redesign, as this adds specific vintage character to the piece.
Another idea is to opt for a skirted sink, notes Realtor.com’s Holly Amaya. If you’d like to breathe new life into your vanity sink without a major transformation, this vintage touch could be perfect for you. The skirted sink was popular in the late 1970’s and is experiencing a revival today, especially with millennials.
Fixtures and Tapware
A vintage-inspired bathroom wouldn’t be complete without old-world fixtures. In a bathroom that already has a modern look, swapping new fixtures for old ones is an exciting change that makes a big impact.
Interior designer Christina Harmon says replacing modern taps and fixtures is an easy way to honor days gone past. In addition to making your bathroom more personal, these swaps add an air of quality and sophistication that brand new fixtures might not have. Consider separate taps for hot and cold water, or a detachable showerhead, for example.
Exposed hardware and piping is another vintage-inspired element that never seems to go out of style. Intentionally making gold-toned piping visible can help unify an entire look, according to the team at Rise Above Remodeling. This is especially true when you’re aiming to merge both old and new, as exposed piping offers an industrial vibe that’s timeless.
A similar effect can be created by accessories that feature exposed metal. “Using a brass or burnished bronze is a fun way to make a statement without overpowering your space,” says the interior design studio Bee’s Knees. A vintage light with bronze wiring, for instance, is a low-key way to make a vintage design statement. Mirrors outlined in brass, as well as industrial brass showerheads, can echo this look.
When people think about vintage bathrooms, ornate vintage tubs are often the first thing that come to mind. But when should a freestanding bathtub be considered in a modern home?
Remodelista’s Barbara Peck explains: “Freestanding baths have a reputation for being more luxurious, perhaps because older freestanding tubs, often called soaker tubs, tended to be long and deep so bathers could easily immerse themselves in the water.”
If you’re looking to make a statement and add character and pizzazz to your bathroom, a vintage-inspired bathtub will suit all of your desires and then some.
Bold, unexpected colors are a great example of how vintage style can be paired with modern trends for a look that’s fresh and full of character. Clever’s Lindsey Mather at Architectural Digest showcases a bathroom with vintage pink floors and a matching tub. The space also boasts white walls and fresh greenery that echo today’s modern and Scandanavian trends. Thanks to the pink and white accessories, the look is united to create a perfect balance of old and new that’s entirely unique.
Rachel Martin at designer bathroom retailer C.P. Hart in the UK agrees that bright, bold color is a great way to add vintage character. Specifically, she urges homeowners to look out for blue basins and those with polished chrome or gold taps. “What’s set to turn our heads in 2019 is the emergence of blue sanitaryware as a cool alternative to white.”
White still plays a role in these spaces, she adds, as it balances the bold blue colors without being overwhelming. Instead of painting entire walls white, however, blue fixtures can be balanced with white furniture pieces or marble touches.
Patterned tiles are another staple in vintage bathroom trends — and one that’s popular today. Home builder Travisso points out that geometric floor tiles are especially interesting to add to modern bathrooms for a vintage look. This is because they come in many shapes and styles, meaning they can be arranged in a personalized way. To anchor geometric tiles in a vintage design style, consider pairing them with vintage mirrors, old-world fixtures and upcycled vanity dressers.
One instance of a unique approach to patterned tiles can be found in a roundup by Brit + Co writer Allison Wheeler Collins. In this space, black and white vintage tiles are paired with a white sink and black wall. To prevent the bathroom from looking too monochromatic, small touches of colors come into play including brass fixtures and green, leaf-clad wallpaper.
Stenciled tiles work wonders for adding vintage charm, too. Debbie Gartner at The Flooring Girl explains how black and white stenciled patterns work well for uniting looks from different eras. She says they work especially well for modern farmhouse and retro-inspired bathrooms, and recommends black and white stenciled tiles paired with white wall elements such as beadboard, wainscoting and shiplap.
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