Since the ‘vintage’ boom in the early part of the last decade, the word has come to mean anything from kitsch to retro to just pre-loved and repurposed. For the most part, it’s become a catch-all for most things that aren’t off the shelves of a high-street chain. A vintage bathroom can be many things, but for the sake of narrowing our tips down to a manageable list, we’re taking the more usual image that the word ‘vintage’ conjures up, one of floral prints, soft pastels and gently weathered furniture.
So, if you want to create a timeless look, making use of pieces that are either antique or just unique and updated, read on for some of our favourite vintage bathroom ideas.
One of the key words to keep in mind when developing your vintage theme is “restraint”. It’s an easy style to over-do, which can result in an overbearing twee-ness that you’ll soon tire of. So, before you go out and buy the entirety of your nearest Cath Kidston, choose the elements of your bathroom that will carry the theme. Floral wallpaper? Great, but keep your towels and curtains or blinds plain. Nice shiny chrome shower enclosure with a state-of-the-art touchscreen digital shower? Wonderful, but are they going to blend well with all those blooming buds and pretty pastels?
Your bathtub is an excellent starting place for your vintage bathroom decor. A freestanding roll-top bath just screams “vintage chic”. Of course, if you already have a built-in bath, no bath at all or a limited amount of space – and you’re not doing a complete refit – this might not be the most practical of options. But if it fits with your room and your plans, this can transform a room with a splash of vintage elegance. It will also turn taking a bath into a really special event.
Roll-top baths can be either cast-iron or plastic. Cast iron baths are heavier and more expensive than plastic but they look more authentic and hold in the heat brilliantly. You’ll generally see them with a white or black exterior but you can paint the outside of your bath to help it blend seamlessly into your colour scheme. You’ll need to use a primer on a plastic bath before applying your chosen colour. Eggshell paint provides the best finish, whether or cast-iron or plastic.
For your showering needs, you’ll want to steer clear of anything too futuristic looking, which is where the Mira Realm mixer shower comes into its own. Its tasteful chrome finish, oversized fixed shower head and ornate handle bring to mind indulgent Victorian bath houses, while the thermostatic controls are purely 21st century.
There are many ways to use your walls to define your vintage theme but none that work more effectively than wallpaper. Go for soft pastel colours and floral motifs for that classic vintage British feel. Of course, paper and water don’t always mix well, so if you’re using a traditional wallpaper, you’ll need to use a varnish to seal the paper once it’s on the walls as the moisture in the air can cause it to peel. If the idea of a floor-to-ceiling print is a bit much, wooden panelling or some vintage wall tiles on the lower half of the wall will not only break things up a bit, they also blend brilliantly into the theme. If you’re opting for patterned vintage wall tiles, it’s better to pair them with a plain paper or painted wall in order to avoid pattern overkill.
One of a kind
Your walls and tub are sorted, now to fill the rest of the room. Avoid the temptation to source everything from a one-stop homewares superstore and instead devote a little time to digging around antique shops and fairs for the right mirrors, cabinets and accoutrements. The likes of Crystal Palace Antiques are virtual Aladdin’s caves for this kind of project, with floor after floor of individual items that will help set your vintage style bathroom apart.
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