Stylish retro photos are proving to be just as valuable in terms of inspiration material for your wardrobe as they are for your interior design. And if you’re one of the many people seeking creative ways to spruce up your space, taking a peek into the past could provide some totally refreshing and unique ideas. One area you may not have considered? Vintage bathroom decor: Whether you’re looking to shop out authentic antiques or just hoping to recreate the vibes from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s, throwback imagery can help inform your next mini home makeover — and the experts agree.
Anna Brockway, co-founder, and president for vintage decor hub Chairish has noticed shoppers gravitating toward pieces from the past more than ever. “Design lovers have always had a strong appetite for vintage decor, but since starting Chairish in 2013, we’ve definitely seen a dramatic increase in people shopping vintage,” she explains. “Our audience loves vintage pieces for their one-of-a-kind appeal, craftsmanship, and because buying vintage is kinder to the planet. Plus adding vintage to your space makes it instantly chic!”
And while looking back on old interior imagery can be a great way to gather ideas, Brockway notes that the latest way to play with vintage decor in the home is by mixing up different eras. “While there are certainly some time periods in design that have returned to the spotlight, like Mid-Century or English Country, we don’t see our shoppers gravitating towards just one era but instead see our shoppers mixing creatively mixing pieces from various stylistic periods to create one-of-a-kind spaces,” she says. (Terence Conran’s beloved design books are a great source of these and he’s even got versions specifically for the kitchen and bed/bath.)
In fact, interior designers like Sara Barney of BANDD DESIGN actually recommend combining vintage pieces with contemporary ones to give just enough of a nod to the past — while still keeping your space totally fresh. “Mirrors and lighting are my go-to pieces to search for when antique/vintage shopping because their historic character makes a beautiful statement without overpowering the general aesthetic of the room,” she explains. “For bathrooms, in particular, I would stay away from vintage tiles and materials along those lines that don’t need to risk the extra wear and tear.”
And Brockway agrees. To keep your bathroom feeling mostly modern, she suggests using vintage accents as the statement-makers (think rugs and art). “It’s a wonderful way to juxtapose these vintage pieces with newer details like bathroom fixtures and linens,” the interior expert says.
Now all you need is a little inspo to get started on your own bathroom refresh. Ahead, find some bold vintage spaces from which to get decor ideas — plus the exact pieces Brockway and Barney say are worth stealing.
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Vintage Bathroom, Circa 1980
This bathroom in Yves Saint Laurent’s Marrakesh home is bold, exotic, and totally luxurious — as you might expect of the designer. The one-piece that could help you instantly recreate this mood in your own bathroom? A vintage Moroccan pendant lamp. “The light fixture in this bathroom would be stunning in a modern space to give it a unique feel and add some personality,” says Barney.
Vintage Bathroom, Circa 1954
This pastel powder room from a 1954 issue of House and Garden manages to be both feminine and mod, and Barney says a vanity stool could bring a similarly luxurious and interesting touch to your bathroom. “A small but mighty detail: The addition of vintage seating, whether a slipper chair, vanity stool, or upholstered bench, is the perfect way to add a bit of flair to your bathroom,” Brockway adds.
Vintage Bathroom, Circa 1985
The standout element in this 1985 bathroom? The lush, jungle effect from the inclusion of plenty of greenery. Copy this look in your bathroom by adding some faux or low light plants on shelves (especially the kind that are prone to growing down, creating a vine effect). Then you can amp up the vintage factor with your planters, Brockway offers.
Vintage Bathroom, Circa 1968
The brocade-patterned walls give this bathroom from a 1968 issue of Vogue the wow factor. “Because of their diminutive scale in comparison to other rooms in a home, a bathroom is a great place to go wild with your walls,” says Brockway. “Make a splash with bright and bold wallpaper with a vintage-inspired pattern or print.”
Vintage Bathroom, Circa 1985
Brockway loves the bamboo accents in this ‘80s bathroom interior. “Chippendale, as well as rattan, wicker, and cane in the form of baskets, seating, and shelving, are all fabulous additions to any contemporary powder room or bathroom,” she says. And faux styles will work especially well in your bathroom’s damp environment.