Skip to main content

21OAK may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to decorate a vintage bathroom that will wow your guests

vintage bathroom with sink and shelves
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Vintage elements can add a charming touch to any room, including a bathroom or powder room. These historical touches should reflect the time period of the 1920s to the 1950s. So vintage elements would evoke thoughts of the Roaring Twenties as well as the World War II era.

Any later than the ’20s to ’50s would be considered retro, but as with any decorating style, you can sneak in some elements that you find personally appealing. After all, it is “your” style. Add vintage touches to the floor, walls, and with the accessories to tie the look together.

Recommended Videos

For many, the Roaring Twenties and WWII sort of blurs into a depressing color palette of browns and dingy greens, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The ’20s were an eclectic blend of styles — there was a bit of Art Nouveau going on, some Egyptian influence because of the fascination with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, and a continued influence from Asia.

Egypt brought a palette of blue or black with gold accents; an Asian-inspired palette included gold, but with red and black; and Art Nouveau brought jade green, pink, and some blue and yellow to the decorating party.

If you’re designing a small vintage bathroom, or even a massive one, incorporating these vintage elements will sure make it a showstopper.

The floor and the walls

Vintage bathroom tile on a wall
Shutterstock

On the floor, there are the tiny white octagonal tiles with the little black diamonds that just scream vintage. Place tile partially up the walls with jade green tile; use an accent strip of black tile at the top for a vintage feel. The tile size should be subway tile.

Another option would be penny tiles that are, of course, small round tiles. A fabulous look in a smaller bathroom or powder room would be copper penny tiles. Pair that with a white pedestal sink, some thick white Turkish towels on the towel bar, and gold fixtures, and you’ve got the makings of a super-looking vintage powder room.

In a larger bathroom, go for the white floor tiles and hang some wallpaper. Wallpaper options would be subtle floral prints or a light pastoral print. By pastoral, we mean farm and country scenery. No ducks, cows, roosters, or milkmaids.

If wallpaper isn’t your bathroom “go-to,” use a neutral on the walls like a light blue, a subtle mint green, a creamy yellow, dusty rose, or taupe that leans more brown than yellow. Use a glossy white on the woodwork to provide contrast to the rest of the elements in the bathroom.

Your artwork should convey a sense of history, so look for reprints of vintage movie posters and art prints featuring toiletries and bath products.

Accessories and furniture

Have some fun with styling and accessories. Organize hair brushes and hair products in vintage containers or containers that carry a vintage vibe like bins made from unfinished wood. Carry through that same look with rough-hewn benches or chairs.

Use a distressed cupboard cabinet to store linens. Use a dresser for a vanity. Look for an older dresser with curvy, rounded sides and a similar look on the feet. Work a little magic with a saw and you’ll be able to insert plumbing and a sink. 

Pedestal sinks certainly convey a vintage look, but then, what to do with everything that usually goes into the vanity? A larger cupboard should be able to hold linens as well as containers with those smaller items that would go into vanity drawers. Go for crystal knobs on the cabinetry as well as on the faucet and in the shower.

There should be plenty of opportunities to pick up vintage furniture at secondhand shops and salvage yards. There are also some great reproductions available. Most larger cabinet lines include “distressed” as a finish option.

If you’ve got the room, a claw-foot tub or a reproduction would be oh-so-vintage. 

But don’t despair if you’ve just got a shower. There’s some vintage opportunities when you get your shower curtain. 

Vintage shower curtain in mirror
Erin Profaci/Unsplash

Channel the 1940s and 50s and get a shower curtain with a scalloped lace decoration at the top or tassels on the bottom!

Ditch the colored bath towels to keep that vintage bathroom look. You want thick, white Turkish towels because they screamed luxury in the ’30s and ’40s. 

Getting that vintage look in the bathroom is not that difficult, but if you need some inspiration, look at reproductions of advertising from the ’20s through ’50s and study the details. Binge-watch old movies holding the remote and “pause” at the bathrooms. And, as always, put a part of you into the room and own that decorating style. 

Need more? Check out our list of the best vanity stools for your bathroom.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Kathleen Ostrander
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kathleen has worked for United Press International and she's written about everything from style to pets for newspapers…
These pergola ideas will add style and shade to your backyard
Take your outdoor oasis to the next level with pergola decor and design ideas
Pergola covering an outdoor kitchen

When you've chosen a pergola to adorn your landscape, there are many ways to complete the look you want. From an easy-covered patio extension off your kitchen to a freestanding structure covered in your favorite flowers, you won't regret making space for a pergola. For an extra dose of style and shade, transform your backyard this summer by pairing your outdoor oasis with some of our genius pergola ideas below — and don't be surprised if you become the envy of the neighborhood!
Pergola with built-in seating

A pergola with built-in seating offers a harmonious blend of style and functionality to your outdoor sanctuary. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, this feature maximizes space utilization, creating a cozy outdoor retreat for relaxation or social gatherings. The integrated seating encourages outdoor enjoyment, whether lounging with a book or hosting intimate conversations with loved ones. Such a design fosters seamless outdoor living, bridging the gap between nature and comfort.

Read more
7 color palette ideas for your home that won’t end up looking dated
Creating a cohesive color palette requires a little knowledge about color theory. Here are our tips
Person choosing paint colors from color pallet

Before you can launch into your next remodel and start planning a new layout for your space, you need to decide on the color palettes. Color can have a great impact on the aesthetic of the space, and it can even impact the mood of the people in the room. For this reason, deciding on your home's color scheme can be tricky. You want something fresh and lively that doesn't look too dated or so trendy that you'll get sick of it in a few weeks.

If you're overwhelmed in the paint aisle of your local home improvement store, make it easier on yourself and choose one of these fan-favorite color designs.
Start small

Read more
The best ornamental grasses to beautify your yard
From ground cover to privacy, these grasses offer a ton of benefits
Country garden with a variety of ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses are nature's paintbrush, adding elegance, texture, and movement to any landscape. Whether you're aiming for a serene garden retreat or a vibrant outdoor space, these versatile plants can be tailored to suit your aesthetic preferences and functional needs. Let's explore some of the best varieties to elevate your outdoor environment.
Visually striking ornamental grasses for focal points

Some ornamental grasses are so visually striking that they can serve as the focal point of your garden design. Their unique colors, shapes, and textures command attention, adding drama and personality to the landscape. Here are a few that are sure to make a statement in your yard.
1. Purple millet
With its dramatic purple foliage and striking seed heads, purple millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is a show-stopping addition to any garden. This annual grass thrives in full sun and well-draining soil, making it perfect for adding a pop of color to borders, containers, or mixed plantings.
2. Dwarf pampas grass
Dwarf pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana "pumila") packs all the visual impact of its larger relatives into a more compact form, making it ideal for smaller gardens or containers. This perennial grass produces fluffy white plumes in late summer, adding a touch of elegance and interest.
3. Ravenna grass
Known for its towering stature and graceful arching foliage, Ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae) creates a striking focal point in any landscape. This perennial grass thrives in sunny locations with well-draining soil and is drought tolerant once established, making it a low-maintenance choice for adding vertical interest to your yard.
Mounding ornamental grasses that add texture

Read more