How to create a vintage black & white bathroom

bw-bathroom-t92439760Vintage is a term bandied about a great deal by designers these days, but what does it mean for the average American homeowner?

In terms of interior design, vintage usually refers to one of these three themes: Victorian, Art Deco and the 50’s and 60’s.

We’re going to take a look at how each of these vintage styles can be pulled off by using the simple but classic black and white color palette. So if you’ve been considering “retro” for your next bathroom renovation, this is the post for you.


Victorian is generally overstated and not averse to clutter. A Victorian bath is populated with little glass bottles, gilt mirrors, detailed lamps and crafted bureaus. With form reigning over function, think of a white claw foot bathtub and a glittering crystal chandelier.

Modern fixtures of Victorian design are not difficult to find and it is worth purchasing these items new as opposed to seeking out used antiques.  The Victorian era is not well known for safe, reliable design. Go with a predominantly white room, perhaps with black stenciled design on the walls. It’s also possible to find Victorian patterned wallpaper in a black and white print.

Art Deco

Art deco is a vintage option that will be more popular with minimalists.

Look for wall sconce lighting with frosted glass and bold black and white geometric floor and wall tile designs to complete this look.

Claw foot bathtubs are out for this era. Instead you’ll need a freestanding bathtub that sits directly on the floor. Black and white was a common color choice of this period, especially when combined with small, checkered-pattern wall tiles.

A pedestal sink works well with this style and it is particularly important to select a well matched mirror to hang over the sink.

The 50’s & 60’s

A white pedestal sink, a rectangular bathtub and a black and white linoleum floor set the tone for these bathrooms. Chrome fittings and furniture with chrome or plastic legs were definitely big in the 50’s. Pastels were popular then too. Use a variety of ice cream colored towels or mats to highlight the room and give it a distinct 50’s feel.

The 60’s look is similar but with bigger, bolder shapes. Think big circles or checks on the wallpaper and perhaps a transparent shower curtain with large white and black polka dots.

With both of these looks there is a danger in making your bathroom look too authentic, particularly if you live in a home built during this time period.

If this is your concern, blend in a few modern features, such as a luscious modern shower head or a wall mounted toilet. Modern additions will give the impression that you designed the bathroom intentionally for this period.

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