From stately claw-foot tubs to sumptuous furnishings, bygone bathroom amenities from decades—or even centuries—past are winning over modern-day homeowners and making a comeback in residential bathrooms around the country.
A popular accent in 19th century bathrooms, the claw-foot tub continues to make a splash today, valued for its classic silhouette, deep basin, and highly ornamented feet. This claw-foot tub, flanked by two roomy granite countertops, exudes old-world elegance, with its silver-capped feet and handheld shower head.
Clean lines and pristine ivory fixtures define this traditional bathroom, but it’s the shapely pedestal sink that draws the eye with its unexpected pop of visual variety. While pedestal sinks take up less visual (and actual) space than a full vanity, they lack the storage that a vanity provides. That said, many pedestal designs incorporate generous ledges that can hold everyday bath and shower essentials.
For a stylish alternative to the pedestal sink, homeowners with a nostalgic bent may opt for a console sink, a design in which the sink basin is perched on not one, but two slim legs. The spindle legs and the sinuous curves of this sink basin soften the look of the rustic-style brick tiles behind it and find their complement in the circular vanity mirror hovering inches above the sink.
Furniture in the bath? The concept may sound strange to modern ears, but this design choice once represented the height of fashion. This Victorian-style bathroom successfully revives the luxe concept with a selection of wow-worthy furnishings. The ornate claw-foot tub with gold floor-mounted faucets makes a striking impression on its own, yet it’s the beautiful bench, elaborately upholstered chairs, and dressing table that make this a retreat fit for a queen.
If you long for a vintage aesthetic, eschew run-of-the-mill neutral tones in favor of rich colors like the dramatic turquoise chosen for this tranquil space. The daring color palette continues throughout the room, evident in the ebony claw-foot tub, green marble countertops, and dark hardwood floors. Expansive windows that look out on a verdant view keep the space from feeling claustrophobic.
The sink basin is usually the last place in the bathroom where you might think to add a splash of style, but maybe it should be the first. Embellished with an intricate blue-and-white pattern inspired by hand-painted Mexican Talavera pottery, the sinks set into this Jack-and-Jill vanity are transformed from purely functional accents into mesmerizing pieces of art.
Cream-colored walls, an unblemished white claw-foot tub, and a wooden privacy screen paint a picture of unassuming beauty in this calming bath. Underlying it all, a crisp white octagonal floor tile with black dot accents delights the eye and energizes the spirits.
Gilded accents, symbols of wealth, power, and refinement, have adorned both public and private spaces over the centuries. These regal design elements work equally well in today’s bathrooms. Just see how tasteful this round, gold-rimmed mirror looks against a canvas of elegant, understated wallpaper!
Separate Hot and Cold Taps
Two-tapped sinks, unlike the more contemporary single-spigot design, were common in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They continue to be a staple in bathrooms across Britain, although stateside they’re more common in historic houses. But if you’re in search of a more rigorously vintage bathroom, adopt the English tradition. This classic example—a sink basin with an ornamental braided border and two tall taps—amps up the bathroom’s style without cramping its utility.
Although stained-glass windows are often regarded as a purely aesthetic accent, in the intimate setting of a bathroom they can provide needed privacy and seclusion. In this sprawling full bath, stained-glass windows with floral motifs let in sunlight while concealing bathers from prying eyes.
You don’t have to retrofit your old bath with new appliances and fixtures to re-create the opulent ambience of yesteryear. Take a cue from this custom bath, which gets much of its appeal from ornamental hardware in retro-inspired finishes. The little details, from the toilet flush handle to the brass shower head, achieve a regal atmosphere on a relatively modest budget.
Do you crave the privacy of a shower but can’t bear to part with your classic claw-foot bathtub? Take inspiration from this clever design, and hang a colorful curtain from a ceiling-mounted rod. Pull the curtains closed when you shower, or even when you bathe, to gain a secure sense of privacy while you soak away your cares.