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1930s bathrooms: vintage design ideas on the rise

Why are 1930s-style bathrooms becoming popular again? A look at the typical design features of vintage bathrooms and the five best 1930s bathroom design ideas.

1930s bathrooms: vintage design ideas on the rise

Juliet Taylor


March 25th, 2022

1930s style bathrooms have a pristine elegance that is sometimes missing from modern bathroom design. The popular 1930s-style technique of using cool, dark colours offset by clean white creates a soothing and sophisticated atmosphere. 1930s bathrooms are characterized by the use of neatly placed tile, both patterned and pain, for the floor and often the walls. This elevates the overall effect of the bathroom as the varied textures and colours create visual intrigue, all the while remaining stylishly aloof.

The tile and colour choices will matter significantly to the design of a 1930 bathroom, and the appropriate materials for the renovation will be subtle, somewhat subdued choices usually entailing dark colours such as deep green or blue and patterned floor tile of a neat black and white. There has been a recent resurgence in 1930s bathroom renovations as the mature, classic style becomes popular once again. For those wishing to renovate their own bathrooms in this style, it is important to avoid over-indulging in attention grabbing colours or textures ,as much of the charm of a 1930s bathroom comes from its tasteful restraint.

1930 Bathroom Design Ideas: Top 5

5. Cabinetry and bathroom accessories

For the remodel on a budget, making some simple changes like these or purchasing some vintage furniture may be the perfect way to emulate the 1930s style without having to do anything drastic. Some examples of potentially easy additions to a regular bathroom include;

A) Pedestal Basin

A pedestal basin creates the quintessential vintage look. This is one basin, usually with a single sink which stands on one foot. Generally they are in a porcelain white and reasonably short, often placed beneath a mirror. A pedestal basin will generally cost a few hundred dollars, with the average sitting at around $400 +. Browse a line of high quality pedestal basins online here. Pedestal basins are a hallmark of 1930s style and adding one to your bathroom is sure to transform it instantly.

B) Footed vanity

Because the pedestal basin leaves no space for a vanity / storage underneath the sink, another common feature of 1930s bathrooms was a wooden vanity tucked away somewhere. These style of vanities were commonly set on feet and had multiple thick draws with elaborate handles. The colour varies from painted to natural wood, but anything set in a similar style will deliver the desired effect. Another common feature of these cabinets were glass doors, though solid wood was also fairly popular. These cabinets can be fairly expensive if purchased brand new, with many starting at $1,000, but they are beautiful and will certainly add a degree of classic beauty to your bathroom. You can browse some beautiful vintage-style vanities online here or try something with more of a contemporary twist like this one.

C) Plants

Plants have an inexplicable timelessness that lend very well to the 1930s bathroom style. The rich green of a healthy plant sets off the lighter colours in the bathroom and create a cozy, loved feel which helps to mediate the coldness of the bathroom tile. An added bonus is that the pots for the plants can also be matched to the colour scheme of the bathroom, tying everything together.

D) Towels, bathmats & More

One simple and cost effective way to make your bathroom emulate the 1930s look is to purchase some towels and bathmats in a vintage style. These can be used to create a colour scheme, contrast against the colours of the bathroom or even just for a variation in texture. Some of the most effective towels for this type of scenario include; linen waffle towels, Turkish cotton towels, and cotton towels. See here and here for a range of quality towels that will surely match with your new bathroom. A full set of towels, bathmats and hand towels will likely be somewhere around the hundred dollar mark, though it will vary more or less depending on the quality and the source.

4. Bathtub

Bathtubs are another staple figure of the 1930s bathroom. Particularly characteristic of the era was a roll top bath, which is a bath set on feet which has rounded edges. The clawfoot feet and taps of these baths were usually made from distinct, matching cast iron which gives it the signature vintage look. 1930s-style baths are also often coloured, which is an easily identifiable style as non-white baths are virtually extinct in modern bathroom design. The bathtub colours were usually muted, cool tones that blended with the rest of the bathroom. Common colours include blues, purples and greens.

Another key feature of a 1930s bath includes the overhead shower. Typically this shower would be wall-mounted with a bulky showerhead, often in a brass. Browse some beautiful vintage showerheads online here. A shower curtain might also be a good idea to further the 1930s aesthetic.

3. Dark colours in contrast

Something that sets 1930s bathrooms apart from contemporary trends is the use of colour. 1930s bathrooms made ample use of subtle, dark colours to create a reserved and sophisticated atmosphere. This is usually contrasted with a bright white, which gives the bathroom a clean-feeling trim.

Overall, the use of colours makes the bathroom look pristine and elegant in a self-assured way. Some bathrooms use lighter colours, like a mint green or even a light pink, but they are usually still pale to keep the calmness of the bathroom design intact.

The best part about this is that paint is a very affordable resource available from most major hardware store such as bunnings. If it’s the coloured tile look that you find the most appealing, this will be a little more expensive and may take some extra steps but the visual effect is definitely worth it.  

2. Tile Feature

One of the more obvious characteristics of a 1930s style bathroom is the use of tile across half or more of the wall, as well as the floor. This tile is usually either colourful, like the image above, or a plain white, and is often contrasted with the rest of the wall.

This half and half style is also common in paint where tile couldn’t be used.

Half & half black and white is also a popular choice for 1930s style bathrooms and it has an artful, distinguished effect.

Suitable brick tile for the feature walls can be found here and will usually cost around $50-230 per square meter. Installation will usually be around $45-85 an hour. This is not an area to cut corners in as incorrect installation or poor-quality tiles could damage the bathroom in the long run as they may be susceptible to cracking or water damage.

1. Patterned tile floor

Perhaps the single most distinctive feature of a 1930s style bathroom is the black-and-white patterned tile floor. They can be simple, like a chequerboard,

Or more elaborate.

Which style you choose will naturally depend on your own personal preference and the availability of materials, but any one of these ideas would help to give your bathroom that distinctive, gorgeous 1930s look. Some pattern options can be found here at Tile Mall, starting at approximately $60 per square metre.

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