A Nod to Old-School Classics

A Nod to Old-School Classics

Catrin Morris
Jun 7, 2012

When I search for "traditional" bathroom styles, a plethora of images pops up that looks nothing like the kinds of classic bathrooms found in historic American homes. Somehow, traditional has become less about classical style and more about ornate flourishes, dark wood, and heavy, overlapping patterns and textures.

These bathrooms remind me of something out of an ostentatious 1980s soap opera. My fantasy bathroom, on the other hand, would try to recreate some of the simplicity and beauty of the classic rooms found in homes from the early 20th century.

Think mosaic tiles, lots of white porcelain, a simple metal mirror, and old-fashioned faucets and fixtures. To add a bit of personality I would play around with colorful, modern window treatments, wallpaper or linens.

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1 I would love to find a very cool, sinewy old ceiling light, like this unusual century-old light fixture found in a Millbrook, NY home. Via New York Social Diary.

2 I love the way swing-arm sconces look in bathrooms. They give a whole new layer and dimension to a room. This is the Wallace swing-arm sconce, a reproduction of the kind found in factories and offices in early 20th century America. Rejuvenation, $300.

3 I would love to find a cool Art Nouveau mirror for above the sink; I think the contrast of soft curves would be lovely against the sharp angles of this traditional, classical bathroom. Another option, though, is to go for the kind of mirrors one would find in older pre-1940s bathrooms. I love this Maddocks mirror from Vintage Bath, $1,200+.

4 While this is certainly not in keeping with the classical theme of my fantasy bathroom, I think a funky modern print like this Josef Frank Loops fabric would be fun as a roman blind. (From Svenskttenn.) An alternative would be a wall of wallpaper in a fun mid-century pattern, or even a William Morris Arts and Crafts style fabric for the blind. But I love the idea of the color and contrast that a Josef Frank pattern would bring.

5 This is the kind of funky, vintage find that would give a bathroom real character. It's a nickel plated brass "wall sponge basket" that is supposed to hang over the bathtub, but would look cool anywhere on the wall. The plating is mostly gone, which gives it an edgy, antique look. Vintage Plumbing, $450

6 Julia Bridge Three Hole Deck Mounted Lavatory Faucet with Metal Cross Handles, by Waterworks, $1,447. Very classic and very pricey!

7 I like this Hutton glass door hutch and base from Restoration Hardware, $379+. Because I am in love with console and pedestal sinks, it is essential I have a piece of storage furniture in the bathroom. It would also be fun to track down a vintage pharmacy cabinet in white.

8 This Dunbar toilet roll holder was inspired by an early 1900s original. From Rejuvination. I am ready for a return to the old-school accessories in the bathroom, which were often made of porcelain and had a nice smooth chunkiness to them!

9 How fun is this Dunbar cup holder, a replica of a 100-year-old porcelain cup holder. And it is removable for easy cleaning. Rejuvination, $44.

10 The 1930s-inspired Michael S. Smith mosaic basketweave from Ann Sacks is the ultimate version of this classic design. I would pair this with his lovely clean subway tile (or really any decent subway tile). If I could find a beautiful simple mosaic border I would possibly add a simple trim, too.

11 Again, sticking with a very classical look here. The Belle Epoque Vitreous China Two Leg Single Console is made of white porcelain, in a durable vitreous china. What I love is that it has a ton of countertop space compared with most non-vanity sinks. And it is so un-trendy right now. I am getting a bit tired of the ubiquitous "spa bath" look. Waterworks, $2,816.

(Images: As credited above)

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