Create the Look: Spanish Colonial Bathroom

From sweeping stucco archways to delicate hand painted tiles, Spanish colonial architecture has remained a sophisticated choice since it first became popular in America in the 1920’s. Even for homes that don’t follow a Spanish style, the soothing and approachable feel of this design theme makes it a solid choice for bathrooms big and small.

Here are the decor and design elements to follow when creating a Spanish colonial bathroom.

Characteristics of Spanish-Inspired Design

Although Spanish colonial design has been modified throughout the decades, there are a few elements that remain true throughout all reinterpretations. Jackie Craven, author of The Stress Free Home: Beautiful Interiors, explains that these include stucco siding, arched doorways and spiral columns. Additionally, patterned tiles, stone elements and iron features play an important role in differentiating Spanish themes from other design styles.

Whether remodeling an existing Spanish Colonial home or creating a Spanish-inspired bathroom in new construction, it’s important to preserve the integrity of building materials where possible. For example, consider a successful example of a Spanish colonial remodel. Patrick O’Toole, editorial director, publisher and co-owner at Kitchen and Bath Design News, says that the remodelers of this home paid great attention to detail where possible. Keeping the home true to its roots, the designers preserved all the wooden floors and reused or re-case most of the old hardware.

Spanish Revival design is all about drawing from culture and history, so it’s best to use repurposed, vintage or handmade decor and design elements when possible.

Elegant Arches

Incorporating a creative doorway or door is one of the best ways to add Spanish flair to your bathroom.

HGTV digital lifestyle journalist Farima Alavi says arched doorways add an old-world Spanish feel to a space. This is especially true when arched entryways are paired with more rustic elements, such as wrought iron fixtures. Sometimes, a home might be built or purchased with an arched doorway leading into the bathroom; however, it can also be added during a home remodel.

If changing the doorway shape isn’t an option, homeowners could consider replacing a traditional door with one crafted from dark wood and authentic hardware elements. CAL American Homes showcases a bathroom with a sliding barn door in deep mahogany, adorned with wrought iron rivets.

Another way to incorporate arches into a bathroom is with alcoves. Built-in niches and shelves adorned with colorful pots and other Spanish-inspired decor is a simple, yet powerful way to bring more Spanish influence into a bathroom. Luxury real estate agent Cindy Ambuehl adds that these niches can also incorporate painted tiles to add an exotic statement.

Spanish Tile

A Spanish Colonial interior isn’t complete without thoughtful consideration of floor tiling. Most Spanish Colonial themes showcase clay tiles, explains Mission Tile West, a company that creates ceramics, terracottas and stones for interiors. Traditional Spanish tiles can also hand painted, fired or glazed.

The tiles can appear in colors beyond terracotta and tan, too: blue, yellow, green, white and red. In fact, patterned tiles featuring combinations of these colors are typical of Spanish Colonial interior design. This style first emerged in America when a California company, Malibu Tile, started manufacturing vibrant, glazed clay tile in the 1920’s.

Handmade tile retailer Fireclay Tile explains that many Spanish-style homes during that era featured this tile, and it remains one of the most popular ways to incorporate Spanish design themes into a home. Other tile companies are reinterpreting those patterns on different materials. For example, Granada Tile’s Spanish Colonial tile collection features blues, greens and yellows in on smooth concrete.

High Contrast

High contrast color schemes add sophistication to Spanish-inspired interior designs. As seen in a home designed by Deirdre Doherty Interiors, black and white patterns can amp up the contrast and class of a traditional mediterranean bathroom. The bold bathroom floor pattern is grounded in Spanish colonial style, yet the black molding and framing that exists throughout the bathroom adds a modern and industrial touch.

Art and decor can also be used add contrast to a Spanish-inspired bath. Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson, site director at ELLE Decor, points to an all-white bathroom balanced with touches of black in the fixtures, cabinetry and geometric floor pattern. However, it is the black and white painting that draws the most attention.

Sophisticated Cabinetry

Being that majestic wood is an ongoing theme across Spanish interior design, it’s no surprise that sophisticated cabinetry is an unmistakable feature in Spanish-inspired bathrooms.

Matt Powell at Homepolish showcases one approach to Spanish revival cabinetry in the bathroom of TV producer James Ehlers. This bathroom features traditional patterned tile along with stained wood cabinets and accent pieces. The broad double vanity is punctuated by two classic mirrors outlined in the same reddish wood stain, bringing additional warmth to the space.

A more modern approach to Spanish-inspired cabinetry is featured by Remodelista cofounder Sarah Lonsdale. This bathroom, which is filled with both Spanish and mid-century modern touches, blends a light wooden vanity with wrought iron light fixtures and mirrors. The limestone floor features an accent rug with a black and white pattern, echoing that usually found in the tiles themselves.

Another modern interpretation of Spanish revival cabinetry is found in a home designed by Oatman Architects. This impressive California mansion features a sprawling master bath with a gray-washed vanity topped by marble. The dark wood and wrought iron touches around the bathroom, including the mirror frame and light fixtures, add Mediterranean character to the room.

Tubs and Sinks

Elegant freestanding bathtubs also have a place in the Spanish Colonial-Inspired bathroom. Design firm Christopher Architecture Interiors features a luxurious bathtub in a sunny corner of a Spanish-themed home. The tub is styled alongside a vintage wooden stool with crossed legs, which serves as a table for toiletries and towels. The tub is complemented by uniquely shaped marble tiles, creating depth in the space, which is a useful design feature especially in smaller bathrooms.

Another idea for incorporating freestanding tubs into a Spanish-inspired bathroom comes from Steve Richmond Fine Homes. In the master bathroom of a Spanish Colonial home, the bathtub is set before a large window. The wall behind the tub features a pair of light fixtures, which amp up the historic feeling of the room.

Sinks can also assume or enhance a Spanish colonial style. Old House Web highlights a handcrafted wrought iron sink stand in their product showcase. The stand is available in a variety of finishes, including oil rubbed bronze, copper, silver and gold — but the simple black best adds the contrast and elegance that characterizes Spanish style.

Images by: Manfred Antranias Zimmer, boo ist online, Egor Shitikov