Unlike today’s minimalist bathrooms with their sleek lines, bathrooms of the past were adorned with unlikely colors, bold patterns and interesting textures. As interior design continues to shift back towards vintage looks, these exciting bathroom styles are making a comeback.
Here’s how to leverage the bold, unapologetic vibrance of vintage bathrooms to support a truly unique and old-school look.
Colors play a major role in helping bathroom tile feel more vintage. Architectural Digest editor Lindsey Mather features a number of tile ideas in her article on how colorful vintage looks can work in the bath. Blue and mint make a big splash in these images, and they’re often seen either as monochromatic colors or as compliments to a balanced black and white palette.
Pink is another color that looks great on tile in a vintage-inspired bathroom. One of the best ways to understand how pink succeeds in the bath is to look at bathrooms where the original pink tile has been preserved. For example, this bathroom refresh featured by Jordan Ferney at Oh Happy Day leverages the original tiles for a minimal, construction-free makeover.
Pink, black and white work in harmony to make things feel fresh and new without sacrificing character of the old. If you’re still not sure about pink in the bathroom, consider the fact that they might actually boost a home’s value. Maria Carter at Country Living says that pink bathrooms are incredibly unique, meaning they just might seal the deal for future buyers.
Black and White Tiles
Black and white tiles instantly add a vintage touch to the bathroom, whether they’re used on the floor or the walls. Monochromatic tiles are a smart addition because they can complement virtually any design theme and they rarely go out of style.
To see how black and white tiles look in a more modern bathroom, check out this bathroom designed by Kate Lester. Here, a mosaic black and white tile pattern is complemented by white subway tiles and black fixtures, two elements characteristic of modern design.
Another approach to black and white vintage tiles comes from Edie Wadsworth at Life in Grace. The master bath features octagon and dot tiles with black grout, adding vintage class and character to the space. In her children’s bathroom, one-inch hexagon tile gives the space its own kind of vintage feel while remaining consistent with the overarching black and white theme.
Opting for black and white tiles in marble or glass might help support a more sophisticated approach to this classic vintage style. For example, consider a bathroom designed by Mark Williams Interior design Associates. Lead designer Mark Williams opted for carrara marble and black granite basketweave tiles for the floor of this classy bathroom.
For a more dramatic look, consider nixing the high contrast effect of the white tile for an all-black tile design. To see what an all-black approach to tile might look like, consider the original 1920’s art deco bathroom in the home of singer Sheryl Crow. Digital editorial assistant Katherine McGrath shows how in this Hollywood house, original black glossy tiles across the walls and floor are nicely balanced with white grout. Additionally, pops of pink in the decor add another layer of vintage that feels just right.
Adding wooden elements keeps any tile pattern warm and grounded. The creative blog Bre Purposed features floor to ceiling white tiles in two patterns. While this might normally make a space feel stark, the wooden tub surround, benches, towel rack and furniture make it seem rooted and grounded in a more natural ambiance.
Patterned tiles can infuse your bathroom with a historic and cultural feel. In Top Ten Mosaic Ideas to Freshen Up Your Bathroom on Mozaico, artist and blogger Chantal Menhem showcases mosaic patterns featuring elegant human figures. Experimenting with figures in black and white tile is another option for incorporating a daring and exotic feel in a bathroom.
Angular chevron tiles can also make a space feel more art-deco, according to Nerang Tiles. Although this pattern is traditionally seen in black and white to create a vintage look, you might also consider experimenting with other color options.
Art deco-inspired tiles can make it easy to incorporate vintage patterns in the bathroom, too. To see how this works, check out this tile from tile manufacturer and retailer Original Style, which has with a classic art deco fan design. This design in particular features a bold, modern look that instantly reminds of Great Gatsby and the roaring twenties. It would work especially well in a bathroom that features original plumbing fixtures or floor tile from the era.
Using Patterns for Visual Effects
When considering mosaic tiles, you might also consider arranging them in a creative pattern to achieve a certain effect. For example, BuzzFeed market editor Elizabeth Lilly explains that wall tiles can be used in place of wallpaper for an easy-to-clean decorative option. Specifically, she says that arranging them vertically helps draw the eye upward to help the ceiling appear higher. In turn, vertical patterns help make a small bathroom appear larger.
Another interesting thing to remember is that in the past, tiles may have been arranged differently than they are today. Designer Elizabeth Victoria Barnes points out that this is especially true when it comes to subway tiles. While modern subway tiles typically meet ground tiles at the bottom, they used to be adorned with a unique base tile that differed from the rest. Adding this base tile can add a more authentic look that also helps break up the tile on the walls to make it look varied and taller.
Using textured tiles can add a worn-in, vintage feel to the bath. Media professional Jill Connors writes that tiles with a crackle finish have a more old fashioned effect. Additionally, handmade tiles can be great for this look since they’re imperfect and imbued with character.
Textured tiles are a win-win for incorporating both old and modern trends because they’re set to play a major role in the coming years, according to the online retailer Walls and Floors. Natural slate tiles are great for adding color and depth in a way that’s natural and warm.
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