Style Guide: Characteristics of Traditional Bathrooms

Style Guide: Characteristics of Traditional Bathrooms

Catrin Morris
May 10, 2011

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a bathroom "traditional". After all, traditional is a rather vague blanket term that often overlaps with retro, vintage and eclectic styles. Perhaps it is easier to define what traditional bathrooms are not: They are not "spa-like", sleek, daring or minimalist. To me, traditional bathrooms are dominated by classic elements that transcend contemporary trends.

These bathrooms tend not to jump out at you as decade-specific (e.g., a retro 40s bathroom with pink and grey tiles), though they often contain elements of another era. Nor do traditional bathrooms make wild or whimsical statements with overly ornate or eclectic elements. Still, while traditional bathrooms are more likely to defy short-lived design trends they need not be staid or bland. Classical bathrooms can be calming, subtle and elegant. And they are incredibly adaptable: It is easy to spice up a traditional, unfussy foundation with simple, impermanent design elements (accessories, lighting and towels) that can be easily (and cheaply) changed over time.

What are some characteristics of traditional bathrooms?

1) Natural stone or porcelain subway or hex tiles
2) Natural stone countertops (e.g. marble) in neutral colors
3) White cotton towels and bath mats
4) Freestanding bathtubs, especially claw foot tubs
5) Pedestal and console sinks or sinks with a traditional cabinet base
6) Hinged mirrored medicine cabinets
7) Vintage or antique mirrors
8) Chrome or nickel-plated fixtures
9) A lot of neutral color and/or white, including a black-and-white combination
10) Wainscoting and wallpaper

Here are some examples of traditional bathrooms from our House Tours:

1 Jenika and Robert's 1944 Bungalow Renovation.
2 Shannon and Aaron's East Coast Yuppie Bungalow.
3 Isabella and Jay Take on Inwood.
4 Mariegael's "Blarney Stone" Bathroom.
5 Corina's Hollywood Glamour on a Budget.

6 Angelique's Feminine Vintage Harmony.
7 LonAnne's Vintage Texan Charmer.
8 Matt's Eclectic Luxury.
9 Grace and Collin's Coastal Cottage.
10 Stefanie and Luke's Brooklyn Limestone.

11 Marc's Victorian Compound in Hollywood.
12 Before & After: Catherine's Instant Bathroom Makeover.
13 Catrin & Chris's "New Traditional" in Woodley Park.
14 Nate and Julie Channel the Colonial Aesthetic.
15 Alex's Granny Chic.

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