22 Cool Retro Bathroom Ideas That Will Work in Your Modern Home

updated Dec 9, 2023
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Modern and farmhouse bathrooms have been wildly popular as of late, but if you’re feeling a little burnt out by clean lines, rustic beams, and super sleek materials, a retro bathroom might be a worthy style contender for your home. So forget the shiplap and shiny chrome finishes and instead set your sights on throwback design ideas that’ll make your bathroom unique and vintage-inspired — yet still fitting for a more updated home.

In order to truly remodel your bathroom into a retro wonderland, you have to consider everything from the lighting and paint to fixtures and hardware. You also have to be cognizant of the line between nostalgia and kitsch, that is, if you aren’t looking for a fully old fashioned vibe. If black-and-white checkered tiles from the ’50s aren’t quite your thing, swapping them out for an option in a more subtle colorway might make your space look less like a diner. If you prefer a 1920s spin, you can simply add one or two Art Deco sconces to give you just a touch of Great Gatsby style — as opposed to a full-blown prohibition speakeasy feel. 

No matter the style you respond to or decade you select as your inspiration, there’s a way to make a retro look work in your space. Below, all the inspiration you need to create a bathroom that’ll transport you back in time whenever you set foot in your space.

1. Pair black, white, and yellow

For a retro look that feels quintessentially ’50s, take a cue from the pastel-drenched bathrooms of the time by combining yellow, black, and white hues. In this charming space, Sara McDaniel of Simply Southern Cottage further leaned into the vintage palette with matching floral accents and a checkered shower backsplash.

2. Add fluted accents

Details matter! This moody bathroom by Judith Wright Design features a gorgeous fluted sink and matching gold light fixtures. These delicate accents perfectly complement the vintage-style floral wallpaper and wood-and-marble vanity for an elegant-meets-old-school look that feels far from boring.

3. Infuse pops of color with decor

Have an all-white or neutral bathroom? Skip the big renovation and incorporate small touches of retro-inspired decor, as seen in this fun setup by interior designer Jackie Terrell. Adding unexpected pops of color with linens, step stools, rugs, artwork, and even accessories like soap dispensers can instantly transform your space on a budget.

4. Opt for a pedestal sink

Pastel tones, vintage-style signs, wood wall paneling, and a cleverly-placed pedestal sink pull this green-hued bathroom together, designed by Sara McDaniel of Simply Southern Cottage. Popular in the early to mid-20th century, pedestal sinks lend an instant vintage or retro allure, plus there are plenty of styles to choose from, inspired by a variety of decades past.

5. Embrace colored appliances

While colored fixtures like toilets, sinks, and bathtubs have been making an interior design comeback (Kohler even released a Heritage Colors line this year to celebrate their 150th anniversary), there’s no denying their inherently retro quality. Pastel shades like yellow, pale pink, blue, and light green feel particularly appropriate for a vintage-style bathroom, as seen in this design by Victoria Meadows Interiors.

6. Bring in a retro wallpaper

Everything about this retro bathroom by @onedelightfulhome is amazing. The patterned wallpaper and peach-hued tiles give a retro vibe, while the countertop and sleek, vessel sink bring us right into the current century.

7. Partially pink

Just about everything about this stunning bathroom by @vintagebathroomlove is modern; like the large, gleaming mirror, black accents and chic lighting. But the pink tub, toilet and sink serve as a reminder of decades long past. 

8. Consider a sweet pink and white color scheme

This petite vintage bathroom is girly in the best way with a pink pedestal sink, tiles, and more. The Art Deco-inspired mirror plays into the vibe and plenty of green plants contrast effortlessly against the soft pink hues.

9. Appreciate green done right

The idea of a green sink and toilet may set off an alarm bell in your mind, but it’s done so right in this unique bathroom. The homeowner actually found the toilet and sink for free and had them installed for a retro bathroom with modern elements.

10. Embrace unique tiles

The sweet floral tiles in this teal and white vintage bathroom are so unique. Try installing a similar statement tile in your space.

Credit: Erin Galvin

11. Keep things light and fun with pink and blue tiles

You can’t find a more quintessentially ’50s bathroom than one with a color palette consisting of light pink and light blue. But in this particular Los Feliz, California bathroom, a retro pet portrait gives it a little ’60s, Warhol-inspired touch, too. Consider going sans a shower curtain, as seen here, to show off your vintage inspired tile work, if you’re more of a bath person.

Credit: Amy Stewart

12. Embrace yellow

For a dose of classic period style, look no further than the scalloped sconces, black tile trim, and pedestal sinks in this California Victorian home. The light yellow painted walls of this vintage bathroom warm up the design scheme and keep the room from feeling dark or dated on the whole. 

13. Consider a retro pink tub

In this cute Los Angeles home, the peachy pink, black, white, and burgundy tile, along with the smooth pink tub, are reminiscent of the ’50s. To put a more modern spin on these elements, these renters curated a colorful gallery wall, which is a design element you don’t often see used in a bathroom. This personal touch takes materials from the past and makes them fresh and relevant for today. 

Credit: Chas Metivier

14. Take a trip to the ‘70s

The ’70s certainly made an impression in this West Hollywood home. While the thought of an all orange bathroom might sound like a tricky design scheme to pull off, it just works in this bathroom. The scarlet colored accent border and shower niche is a nice way to ever-so-slightly break things up, and the vertical orientation of most of the tiles helps to make the small space look larger. 

15. Install retro pink and black tiles

It wouldn’t be surprising if you stumbled across “The Pink Ladies” hanging out in this New Orleans bathroom. One look at black-and-pink tile, and it’s tough not to think back to the times of drive-in theaters, diners, and poodle skirts.

16. Go back in time to the ‘60s

For an ultra ’60s vibe, mint green is a great choice. This Oregon bathroom still feels fresh though, thanks to a few earthy wooden accents and a few strategically placed plants.

17. Install floor-to-ceiling black tiles

All black tile, marble, and gold accents bring a glamorous ’80s vibe into this retro Montreal home’s vintage bathroom. White vanity cabinets and Hollywood-style dressing room lighting keep the space from feeling dark and dated.

18. Embrace metallics

Metallic accents mixed with opulent marble give this colorful Nashville bathroom subtle Regency Moderne influences. For a space that has extra 1930s and 1940s flair, focus on mixing a bit of eclecticism with glamorous metallic finishes and hardware.

19. Add a touch of mid-century modern

While mid-century modern is a sweeping term for several decades of style, this Portland bathroom incorporates some hallmarks of the MCM movement well. The Sputnik-reminiscent wall decor, funky patterned shower curtain, and blue bathroom fixtures make for a colorful tribute to retro design. 

20. Throw it back with checkered tiles

A ’50s influence can be seen in the pink tub and checkerboard floor combo in this small bathroom. That splash of mustard yellow in the bath towel, as well as the graphic shower curtain, bring the whole look to a slightly more modern place.

21. Combine mint and peach

Nothing screams retro quite like pastel tile. The peach and mint palette seen in this Austin home make a convincing case for sticking with lighter hues and shiny finishes to provide a touch of old school style in a bathroom. 

22. Combine florals with a vintage clawfoot tub

Pre-Joanna Gaines farmhouse style had a moment from the turn of the century up to the early 1920s. This Australian farmhouse bathroom features a clawfoot tub, floral curtains, and rustic, aged wood—all elements that perfectly capture this era’s style and still can look sweet in a space today. 

Additional reporting by Carolin Lehmann