How to Design a Retro Bathroom
© All Rights Reserved
A retro bathroom contains an aura of style and the charm of nostalgia. This decorating style provides a lovely space that enlivens your mood in the morning and helps you unwind at the end of the day. The vintage fixtures bring back warm feelings of yesteryears while fulfilling practical purposes of modern lifestyles. The decorative elements are eye-catching, yet not ostentatious. Everything about it screams simple beauty, tradition and comfort. It is not too difficult at all to design a retro bathroom, but before you embark on the project, make sure this style is really right for you.
Should You Really Go Retro with Your Bathroom?
This is a Perfect Style for You if
This isn't the Right Style for You If
You like a relaxing and nostalgically charming atmosphere
You prefer a boldly playful and high-energy ambiance
You enjoy blending tradional designs with your own decorative twists
You favor inventive designs and funky color schemes
You love well-accessorized spaces with a tiny touch of glamour
You are drawn to minimalism
You collect antiques, or have enough time and budget to shop for retro accessories
You want to complete your bathroom décor project as quickly as possible, don't own any retro items and don't plan to spend much money on accessories
You have no problems keeping your bathroom clean and uncluttered
You have small children or have little time for regular tidying of the bathroom
Retro Shower Curtains
Retro shower curtain with black-and-white, pinup girl print. That's why it's called "Sin in Linen"!
This shower curtain is inspired by French vintage posters. Very artistic and chic.
Wouldn't it be fun to have a shower with Marilyn Monroe?
Retro Bathroom Fixtures
- Clawfoot and pedestal bathtubs can make a huge retro statement. Go with a traditional white tub if you want to give your bathroom a neat, clean look. A colored tub can make a fantastic focal point if the shade you choose works with the color scheme of the room. And if you wish to create a retro bathroom with a natural or eco-friendly spin, a wooden tub is an excellent option.
- To complement your retro bathtub, choose stylish, old-fashioned faucet and shower head with a brushed chrome finish rather than a shiny brass version. The luxurious luster of brass fittings may render a Victorian look rather than a retro appearance.
- If your space is limited, consider forgoing the tub and opting for a shower stall. A glass shower enclosure is very popular nowadays but might not fit the nostalgic theme of the room, so go with a simple rail and curtain instead. Better yet, don't forget to pick up a retro shower curtain to enhance the overall look.
- When it comes to retro bathroom designs, pedestal and vanity sinks are smart choices. A pedestal sink is very traditional and elegant, whereas a vanity sink allows you to niftily utilize the space below the sink for storage. Plus, you can paint or distress the cupboard beneath the sink to create a "shabby chic" look as well.
Walls and Flooring
- The colors of the floor and walls play the most integral role on the mood of your bathroom. Pick a shade or color combination that contains an earthy or vintage feel. This doesn't mean you are stuck with only brown, cream, white or gray, though. You can choose a more vivid color if you like, but its brightness should be slightly muted. For example, if orange is your favorite shade, pick burnt or brownish orange instead of bright orange. Likewise, burgundy and pale fuchsia are better options for a retro bathroom than shocking pink. Extremely bright and bold colors convey more of a modern style.
- If you can afford wood flooring, go for it. Nothing would look more traditional than an old-fashioned wood floor. For those of you with a limited budget, consider vinyl or linoleum tiles instead. They are cost-effective, durable, and now come in a wide range of styles. Some well-designed vinyl and linoleum tiles can even imitate the look of marble and wood, but cost only a fraction of the real materials.
- Wall tiles and wallpaper can add a lot of visual interest and glamor, though they are pretty costly. So for low-budget homeowners, simply painting your bathroom walls can save quite a bit of money and doesn't force you to compromise on the retro theme at all. If you pick a proper color scheme as suggested above, it will work out just fine. To make your bathroom super retro, however, tongue-and-groove wood paneling is highly recommended, as long as it is waterproof and specifically made for bathroom use.
A retro bathroom will lose its charm if it appears dim and dingy, so plan your lighting design carefully. Ask yourself how much light you need and what types of lighting fixtures will complement the style of the room. With convenience and safety in mind, consider where to position the fixtures and switches. Also, try to take advantage of natural light as well. For instance, you can position a mirror where it will reflect sunlight into a dimmer part of the room. If your bathroom has no window at all, consider knocking out part of a wall and replacing it with glass blocks, which will let sunlight filter in without revealing the interior space.
Retro Bathroom Décor - Finishing Touches
- If your bathroom has plenty of space, sneak one or two pieces of retro furniture in there. It can be a chair, ottoman, table, trolley or cabinet, depending on how much space you have and whether or not it can blend in with the overall look of the room. However, don't only consider the decorative aspects; these pieces of furniture should serve practical purposes as well. For example, if your bathroom is already equipped with several wall shelves and a large vanity, there's probably no need for another cabinet or trolley. A chair or a freestanding, full-length mirror can be a more useful addition.
- Is there a window in your bathroom? If so, spruce it up a bit. Earth-tone Roman shades made of natural fabric, such as linen or cotton, can lend a French retro look. If you want to go with a regular curtain, choose one with vintage patterns, such as floral or polka dot. For a bathroom with a small window and minimal light, wood shutters can be a smart alternative; they allow sunlight to shine into the room and protect your privacy at the same time.
- Black-and-white photos, vintage posters or cute pictures from old magazines can be eye-catching wall decorations, especially if you have plain walls with no tiles or wallpaper. Frame your favorite ones, hang them up on the walls and maybe put some on your bathroom shelves. Make sure you don't clutter the room with them, though.
- Just because this is a traditional style doesn't mean you shouldn't think outside the box. The second picture on the right, for example, shows how a vintage birdcage can work brilliantly and stylishly as a bathroom storage unit. Use your imagination and don't be afraid to add your own twists to this décor theme. Retro license plates can serve as wall art, and a vintage Coca-Cola bucket wouldn't be such a bad wastebasket at all!
Bathroom Color Survey
Which one of these bathroom color schemes sounds most alluring to you?See results without voting
More by this Author
Minimalistic and unpretentious, a Zen bathroom is a perfect space for both relaxation and pampering. Find out how you can bring nature indoors and create your own realm of calmness.
Sick of your ugly bathroom but don't have much money to spend on a total makeover? These budget-friendly remodelling tips can help!
The article explores the history and philosophy of the Japanese rock garden, in addition to giving step-by-step instructions on how to design and build one.