Antique Bathroom Ideas

Kate Miller-Wilson

Bring Antiques Into the Bathroom

Although it may not be the best environment for storing your grandmother's doll collection or your set of first edition books, you can incorporate a number of antique items into your bathroom decor with ease. The key is choosing things that won't be damaged by moisture and that represent your favorite styles and eras.

For a simple, early 18th or early 19th century look, incorporate your antique glass bottle collection from this era. The pale aqua glass works perfectly with beadboard and clean lines.

Add an Ornate Mirror

For a simple farmhouse or Scandanavian style bathroom, it's fun to add a single ornate piece that really draws the eye. An antique mirror, easy to find at any antique shop, is an ideal option since mirrors belong in the bathroom, anyway. Don't worry if the silver is coming off the back of the mirror; the dark spots and streaks will only add to the antique charm.

Turn a Printer's Cabinet Into a Vanity

Printer's cabinets are fantastic for storing small items, and the bathroom is full of little things like toothbrushes, hair accessories, makeup, and other small toiletries. You'll have to keep an eye out for this type of piece since they are usually in high demand, but it's an instant showstopper in a 19th-century industrial style bathroom. Top it with pale marble and keep the other fixtures simple to let it be the star.

Put an Old Ladder to Use

You can find old ladders on the secondhand market, often for under $100. Either painted or left with the original rustic finish, these tools work well to hold towels next to an antique tub. This is a great look if you're interested in creating an early American style bathroom with a simple wood vanity and clean lines. Ladders also make great accessories in farmhouse bathrooms.

Let the Tub Be the Focal Point

There's nothing that says "antique" like a clawfoot tub. Available at architectural salvage stores, these cast iron beauties were popular during the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. You can make the rest of your bathroom design match the era of your tub, or you can keep everything else simple with glass blocks and uncomplicated tile. Either way, the tub will be an instant focal point.

Incorporate Wicker

Wicker pieces, many of which were designed to handle some moisture, are great in a bathroom. If you choose something like this vanity, which has the clean lines of Art Deco furniture, it will call to mind the early 20th century. To show it off, keep the rest of the bathroom simple with uncomplicated wallpaper or beadboard and period-appropriate fixtures. You can find wicker furniture at flea markets, antique shops, and estate sales.

Add Some Antique Textiles

If you want to call up an era like the mid-19th century, textiles are a great way to do this. You can use antique fabric to make curtains or re-purpose an old tablecloth or lace panel. Keep the rest of the bathroom very simple to allow the beautiful fabrics to take center stage. Keep in mind that antique textiles can be damaged by moisture, so it's best to use them in a powder room that won't have a lot of steam. You can find textiles from many eras at your local antique store.

Showcase a Victorian Chair

Sometimes, it's difficult to incorporate a single antique chair into your regular decor. Fortunately, the bathroom is the ideal place to do this. If you have space in your bathroom, it's nice to have a place to sit down or to set clothing while you bathe. An ornate Victorian chair placed next to a clawfoot tub becomes an instant focal point and creates a distinctly late 19th-century look. You can often find single chairs like this for under $100 at vintage and antique markets.

Showcase a China Cabinet

Another way to bring Victorian style to a modern bathroom is by adding a china cabinet or curio. These useful pieces are perfect for holding towels and toiletries, so they earn their keep in a busy family bathroom. They also look stunning paired with a cast iron tub and pale colors. Pick one up at a yard sale or flea market.

Don't Forget the Lighting

No matter what style of antique bathroom you have in mind, don't forget to carry the look over into the lighting. This is a great place to bring in a Victorian crystal chandelier or other antique fixture. Just make sure it's rewired for use in a bathroom. You can find these fixtures at architectural salvage stores. Choose one that fits the era you're working with, such an ornate Art Nouveau chandelier for a house built at the turn of the 20th century.

Bring in the Antique Stained Glass

Your bathroom is the perfect place to showcase a gorgeous antique stained glass window. Because this room requires privacy, it's a good idea to have something over the window. Hanging a lovely stained glass window in its original frame is a great way to add color and provide the privacy you need. You can find stained glass windows at many antique stores, often for a few hundred dollars. Compliment the stained glass with matching Delft-style tiles for a look that calls to mind 17th century Holland.

Some careful touches can go a long way in making a bathroom stand out with a beautiful antique style. Get inspired and look for pieces that work for you.

Kate Miller-Wilson
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Antique Bathroom Ideas