Beautiful vintage bathrooms over the decades

  • In: Blog | 28th March

The bathroom is an essential space in any home and can provide the perfect blank canvas for designers to inject their particular style. From the patterned vintage tiles of the 1930s to the bolder colours of the outspoken 1970s, the humble bathroom suite has certainly gone through a transformation of sorts over the years.

Each decade has put its own stamp on the space where most people kick off their shoes and indulge in a little relaxation. So we’ve put together some of the boldest, beautiful and defining vintage bathroom designs over the past 100 years.

 

1920s

This particular 1920s bathroom was all about the patterns. From the hexagonal tiled floor and floral wallpaper to the bold shower curtain and tiled wall markings, it’s full of 1920s Tudor character. Smaller details add to the feel of this roaring decade, from the wooden mirror to the vintage lights and quirky shelving units.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

In the early 1920s, neutrals and pastels were a predominant theme, and, as you can see, bathroom wall finishes consisted mainly of tiles. The toilet was usually home to its own nook, as is the case with this pale pastel bathroom. From the fish to the waves and all of the quirky detailing in between, this sea green colour palette is typical of this era.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

 

1930s

Moving swiftly into the 1930s, bold colours and sleek lines were highly sought after, though there was still a fondness for decorative bevelled glass. This stunning turquoise bathroom with softer pale yellow detailing is a typical snapshot from the era.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

With Jazz music hitting a serious high note, so entered the ‘art décor’ interiors indicative of the 1930s. Teals and pastel colours were a firm favourite of this decade, making the bold blue tiles you see below a common choice. The detailed yellow wallpaper adds to the effect.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

The 1930s seems to possess quite the fondness for fish related design elements, as per this eye-catching bathroom. Sticking to the previous decade’s penchant for neutral wall tiles, it retains some of the 1920’s features but with a definitive 1930s nod. The wallpaper, curtains and floor tiles certainly channel the Streamline Moderne movement of the 30s.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

 

1940s

The 1940s bought with it the chance for some new interior design prospects, of which functionality was one. Though many of the features associated with the 1930s era remained, as tiles and flooring were put in as the houses were being built. One change that became a bathroom standard, however, was the addition of linoleum flooring. This became a staple for most 40s bathrooms.

This navy and soft peach coloured floor and wall tile combination showcases the modernised function over fashion element. Though the stained-glass window highlights one of the more decorative bathrooms of the time.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

As many family homes suffered the effects of World War II, the subsequent recovery also saw a change in the interior design of some 1940s homes. It also made way for richer, bolder colour schemes as the bathroom was more widely recognised as a family-friendly area. However, as austerity reigned during this period, very few bathrooms contained personal touches, such as this.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

 

1950s

As the 1950s approached, so did the introduction of personal taste, such as this bold green design below. As people began stripping out old tiles and fittings, they were able to incorporate their own decorative touches. You could also see the influence of a little “Rock’N’Roll” with an era that focused very much on getting rid of the old to make way for the new. Old Hollywood Glamour was also a given in this decade of unique design.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

The post-war era also saw changes in the way people decorated their bathrooms.  Cue symmetrical design elements such as the double sinks in this particular bathroom, alongside matching bath accessories.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

As personal touches started to work their way in, the older, more neutral colour schemes of decades previous paved way for bolder, brighter palettes, such as this one below. For the more style-conscious homeowner, bathrooms became a place where people were proud “to leave the bathroom door open”.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

 

1960s

Ah, the swinging 60s. From Rock’n’Roll to flower power, this era introduced retro patterned tiles and nods towards Neo-Edwardian furnishings. Paying homage to the more mainstream culture, features such as built-in furniture like this one became the norm. The 1960s also saw the addition of shower baths and all new bathroom trends like these blush pink coloured ceramics.

Quirky features such as the pendant lighting, built in shelving units and other decorative accessories like this interesting bathroom added to the 60s trend. This decade was truly the time for people to start expressing their personal style.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

Speaking of personal style, take this eye-catching bathroom. From the groovy patterned flooring to the bold orange colour scheme and contrasting wallpaper, this bathroom is exactly what you’d expect from the era of hippy decor. It was also the beginning of standalone showers just like this one.

@vintagebathroomlove / Instagram

 

1970s

When it came to interior design, the 70s was certainly one of divisive attitudes. Take a look at this bright purple roll-top bath, Hollywood glam mirror complete with dazzling lights, and some pretty dramatic evil eye wall art. It’s the perfect blend of classic and contemporary, all rolled into one.

@vintage__interiors / Instagram

From one bold bathroom to another, the 70s were all about taking risks and channelling your own style. And Mustard yellow was a big hit, as you can see.

@70svintagelove / Instagram

It was also the time to make your house guests green with envy, specifically Avocado Green as per this heavily tiled, heavily glossed bathroom suite.

@verdant_rosedale / Instagram

 

1980s

In a time of world-changing events, big hair, shoulder pads and Dallas-related drama, there wasn’t really much to be said when it came to bathroom interiors. Aside from a colour palette change - from the vibrancy of the 70s to more muted, pastel shades like the below, the 80s wasn’t a particularly defining decor decade for your daily bath.

@andrelikeafox / Instagram

Tropical prints and tiki-style decor were a firm favourite for many, while this pastel pink bath was typical of the kind of bathroom colour scheme expected of the time. The plant lurking in the corner was also a welcome addition. Ferns, in particular, were the 80s bathroom plant of choice.

@olivialovafrance / Instagtram

Known to some as the decade that “fashion forgot”, the 80s did also see some intriguing design changes. Built-in cabinets became a thing of bathrooms past, and the more opulent the bathtub, the better. Stairs leading up to your soak? It was absolutely acceptable in the 80s.

@rainybeck / Instagram

 

1990s

As the 1990s reared its super stylish head, it was all about two very important words - Laura. Ashley. Epitomising elegance and a preppy style swathed in magnolia paint, propped up by period features, Laura Ashley was the style everyone wanted. It also saw the introduction of exposed, larger-sized vanity mirrors, and glamorous lighting such as this picture from Carla Bast Design.

@carlabastdesign / Instagram

Spilled over from the 80s, plants were also a prominent, more permanent feature of a 90s bathroom suite. Spotlights started popping up, too, alongside features such as glass brickwork and understated white cabinets, while people also started dipping their toe into shabby chic design elements.

 

2000s

From here on it, things started to take on a much more modern look. It makes sense considering we entered a brand new millenium. It’s all about marbled surfaces, bold gold accessories and super slick gloss finishes.

The 2000s also marked the beginning of the popular nautical theme. From ships to yachts and whales to anchors, this theme featured heavily in many a noughties bathroom. It also saw the introduction of black and white bathroom flooring tiles like the below, and yes, the popular fern kept its humid place.

 

2010s

With the rise of social media and the beginning of the ‘gram, bathrooms began to take on a much more minimalist theme. Cue seamless storage trends, wet rooms and walk-in showers alongside freestanding baths.

As you can see from the below and the above, rainforest showerheads also became a big hit. Spa-inspired bathrooms, in particular looked set to be a growing trend of 2010.

 

2020s

These days, the desire for Instagram worthy pictures is enough to make anyone rethink their bathroom decor. Plants, prints and personal touches look set to be the way forward for this decade. The introduction of technology could also make way for some bold enhancements, such as smart toilet seats and talking mirrors. It could also pave the way for some comebacks of decades past. That 1930 patterned tile you thought was forever gone? It’s already making its way back into some more modern bathroom suites.

As the future of the bathroom suite looks set to comprise a mixture of classic and contemporary style, one thing’s for sure. Walk-in showers, walk-in baths and wet rooms are all fundamentals of the modern bathroom and can provide the ideal solution for anyone with mobility issues needing a safer, more secure place to relax and wash away the day.