How to Make a Bathroom Look Vintage

Four Methods:PlumbingFlooringAccentsColor Schemes

Most bathrooms are relatively small spaces and, as such, are often neglected when it comes to interior design. A well-decorated bathroom can create a warm, relaxing escape, however. Vintage-style bathrooms have an especially elegant, classy ambiance. In order to make a bathroom look vintage, you should select fixtures that date back to the early days of electric lighting and indoor plumbing.

Method 1

  1. 1
    Install a claw-foot porcelain tub. Detached tubs hearken back to a time when indoor plumbing was scarce. As such, built-in tubs were rare. The claw-foot tub is a classic design, and smooth porcelain was one of the most popular materials for early tubs due to the fact that it is an easy surface to clean.
  2. 2
    Go with a pedestal sink. Like detached tubs, detached pedestal sinks recall an era before the widespread use of indoor plumbing. Select a curvy design to give your bathroom a Victorian look or a straight-edged, boxy design if you want to give your bathroom a Craftsman look, which is the style that immediately followed the Victorian era. If you don't want to lose storage space, consider retrofitting an antique dresser into a bathroom vanity.
  3. 3
    Include a toilet with a detached tank and chain handle. The earliest toilets did not have a built-in tank. Instead, the tank and the bowl were separate, and the tank usually hung on the wall high about the wall. The handle was attached to the tank by a long metal chain.
  4. 4
    Look for the right metals. Chrome and other shiny metals tend to create a modern ambiance. For a vintage style, opt for dull metals instead, like copper, wrought iron, nickel, and oiled bronze.

Method 2

  1. 1
    Try oak or other varnished wood flooring. Wood flooring was one of the earliest types of smooth flooring available, which made it a popular choice for early bathrooms. Choose a highly polished wood that will be easy to clean.
  2. 2
    Consider marble-print tile. Marble has a very Victorian edge to it, but marble itself can be rather expensive. If real marble is out of your price range, then look for cheaper square floor tiles that come in marble print.
  3. 3
    Look for hexagonal tiles. Hexagonal tiles primarily came onto the scene during the Art Deco period. You can go for a completely Art Deco look by selecting bright tiles, or you can mix-and-match vintage styles by choosing hexagonal tiles in a more subdued color, like white.

Method 3

  1. 1
    Install a small chandelier. A crystal chandelier can give your bathroom an elegant appearance, but make sure you choose a small fixture that does not overwhelm the space. Chandeliers predate the days of electricity, but even after electric chandeliers replaced their candlelit counterparts, they served as a desirable mark of high-class luxury.
  2. 2
    Look for individual light fixtures that extend off the wall. Globe fixtures, votives, and boxy lanterns are all potential lighting options if you decide against a chandelier. The fixtures should have noticeable metal settings, and you should completely skip bright bar lights that contain multiple bulbs in one fixture.
  3. 3
    Find wood cabinets. White plastic and painted wood creates a more contemporary appearance. Varnished wood highlights the natural beauty of the wood and would have been far more common in vintage bathrooms, especially during the Craftsman era.
  4. 4
    Skip the cabinets and put up shelving. Cabinets were somewhat rare in the earliest bathrooms, especially during the Victorian era. Instead of using cabinets, you can store your products on shelves. Polished wood and marble shelves look especially vintage.
  5. 5
    Hang an ornate, beveled mirror. Early bathrooms rarely included cabinets or sinks with built-in mirrors. The mirror can be full-length or half-length, but the more ornate the surrounding metal frame is, the more antique it will look.
  6. 6
    Line your shelves with old-fashioned glass jars. If you want to give your bathroom an extra “oomph,” pour your soaps, shampoos, and lotions out of their modern plastic containers and into antique glass jars.
  7. 7
    Take a seat on an antique chair. If you have a large enough bathroom, an antique-style chair may be just what you need to complete your vintage look. Choose a simple chair with a linen-lined seat and back on a basic wooden frame, like a Louis XV style chair. Chairs have the added bonus of acting as another surface for you to store your linens on.

Method 4
Color Schemes

  1. 1
    Go with an all-white motif to give your bathroom a Victorian ambiance. Victorians were somewhat obsessed with cleanliness, and a pure white or ivory bathroom creates as clean and crisp an appearance as possible.
  2. 2
    Add soft, pastel accents of turquoise, pink, and blue if you want a slightly modern twist on Victorian style. Color would not be completely out of place in a Victorian-themed bathroom, but if you introduce color, you should select pastel shades and use them to accent the room’s white features.
  3. 3
    Look for earthy browns, yellows, greens, and reds if you want a Craftsman feel. The Craftsman style drew inspiration from nature, and as a result, warm shades of green and brown were especially common.
  4. 4
    Opt for bright colors, like yellow, green, blue, and pink, to give your bathroom Art Deco pizzazz. The Art Deco age brought about an interest in vibrant hues. Select tiling and wall paint in bright, eye-popping shades.


  • You can stick with a specific vintage style—Victorian, Craftsman, Art Deco—or you can mix and match elements to create a vintage blend. For example, you can look for hexagonal tiles in a marble print or introduce earth-tone towels into an ivory space.

Things You'll Need

  • Claw-foot porcelain tub
  • Pedestal sink
  • Toilet with detached tank
  • Wood or tile flooring
  • Chandelier or wall lanterns
  • Wood cabinets
  • Shelves
  • Mirror
  • Glass jars
  • Antique chair

Article Info

Categories: Bathroom Decorating