When it comes to designing a truly peerless bathroom, you really have to go all the way. You see, a designer bath isn’t just one thing – not your bathtub, not your shower, not your vanity, but the way all the parts interplay. For a modern style bathroom, this is pretty easy to do – all sleek lines and minimal decor in a matching color scheme, and you’ll have something unified. But a regal, antique style bathroom requires a little more coordination – while the period of your pieces don’t necessarily have to be historically accurate, or even corresponding, texture, color, and light become much more important. For a bathroom suite that’ll make you feel like royalty, you’re really going to have to put the decorating back in your decor and put a little attention into the details.
In the several hundred year period across multiple European countries that we broadly consider “antiques,” bathrooms were a quite a bit different than they are today, not the least because of a lack, in certain times and places, of indoor plumbing. Put simply, for a long time, bathtubs were always freestanding because plumbing wasn’t a consideration – so in a period style bathroom, it’s freestanding or bust, and unless you opt for a copper tub, clawfoot is really the way to go. There are lots of shapes and styles, from elegant slipper tubs like this Charleston one to simpler rolled edge soaking tubs. As well, you would have found a pitcher and a bowl set atop a dresser in place of a sink, so opt for a vanity like this Walnut Tesla that has the look and feel of a piece of furniture rather than something to set your sink on.
Texture is also incredibly important. Historically, the big mansions and palaces you’re basing your bathroom on had fabric wallpaper or tapestries and big, thick rugs, each with its own unique character. Now, while you probably don’t want to hang gilded velvet wallpaper in any room, adding fabric to a bathroom is a great way to instantly ramp up the level of luxury. It’s unexpected and opulent – whether you actually go for textured walls or wall hangings, a nice thick rug, heavy, ornate window treatments, or simply opt for a cloth (rather than plastic) shower curtain, swags of heavy cloth will give you the depth and texture you need to manufacture something truly lavish. Pair that with more furniture styled vanities like this Buttercream and even a few pieces of actual accent furniture like this Tola Slipper Chair and that nice low Cocktail Table, and your bathroom will start to feel like a place to relax, bathe, unwind, dress, and ready yourself for the day or for bed – which is exactly what bathrooms used to be.
Of course, you should have a little fun with it. This canopy style shower curtain over this Slipper Tub is one of the most fantastic design elements I’ve seen in a long time, paying homage to antique decor without being restricted to anything too traditional. Again, though, the thick, furry rug and textured walls – to say nothing of the fabulous shower curtain – add a lushness and depth to the decor. And note that this room pairs a gorgeous Wing Chair with a Louis IV table style Console Vanity and a second over-the-tub table in a similar style, carrying the curvy antique legs throughout the room though each of the pieces is inspired by a different period. The inclusion of those two big, beautiful Mirrors doesn’t hurt either – not only do they pick up elements of the decor, but they also reflect the space back on itself, making the room look even larger and more lush than it is, and helping to brighten a slightly dim room. If there’s one thing you really want to go bold with in this type of bathroom, it’s the mirror – opt for something like this curvy Cleopatra, which is classy and classic but also quite eye catching.
Coordinating colors is another way to help unify an eclectic antique style. Opt for creamy, golden or rose-toned off whites rather than pure white to give your bathroom a radiant glow. Sticking to the same color family throughout will make your bathroom look pristine without being sterile, with the lovely warmth of aged ivory. In this bath, pairing a deep roman tub with a simple, architectural deck mounting evokes the Classical inspiration behind many period styles. Again, the subtle use of texture in the curtains gives the room a lavish feel, while the simple Bench Seating adds both functionality and that little hint of parlor style opulence you’re looking for. And adding in a full marble fireplace doesn’t hurt either!
That said, don’t be afraid of contrast, either. Add a few pops of pure black to that cream-and-ivory bath for a much more dramatic look. The dark/light contrast is a little more modern, but you can see the similarities – a black rather than white Console Vanity and accent shelves, a Taliaferro chair in a darker color scheme, a cast iron Clawfoot Tub with a black finish, and even a set of black Besty Lamps. These are very simple swaps, but make for a much different overall impression. And, heck, many genuine historical bathrooms were done in dark red, gold, wood, and copper, so anything short of neon green and you’re probably kosher.
Lighting is also absolutely crucial to a good royal-suite style bathroom. If you hadn’t noticed, many of these bathrooms have one or more crystal chandeliers. This one, which is overall a slightly more contemporary approach with strong antique elements, has three just counting those visible from a single angle, and each one is subtly repeated by the room’s many multiple mirrors. Not only does this ensure that you’ll have all the warm, bright light your heart could desire, but the historical crystal design of something like this Crystorama Chandelier also helps your vintage theme ring authentic, and adds a heaping helping of opulence to your decor.
So if you truly want a decadent bathroom – something period inspired and fit to make you feel like royalty, don’t just think “bathroom” – make the space something you want to live in, combining eclectic antique and vintage pieces, rich textures, creamy, regal colors, and lots and lots of light. What’s your favorite period-style splurge? What’s the one thing you’d need to want to live in your bathroom?