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How do I update my 1980s bathroom?

How do I update my 1980s bathroom?

Posted by Ruth Foster in Inspiration | 2 years ago 7 min read

Has your bathroom been left languishing in the 1980s? We’ll show you how to bring it bang up to date with a modern makeover.

The bathrooms of the 1980s consisted of features that are, 40 years on, considered extremely outdated. The most prominent of these being matching suites in a variety of almost-sickly colours ranging from avocado green to dull brown, and even more garish colours like peach, teal and magenta!

Thankfully, these suites are now few and far between, however, if you are renovating a newly bought home which was last updated some time ago, I’d highly recommend this article. I’ll be sharing 10 of my top tips on how to update a 1980s bathroom, including helpful ideas for those of you on a budget.

Modernise your floors and walls

Modernise your space with wall panels like Victoria Plum customer @beautiful_neutral

Modernise your space with wall panels like Victoria Plum customer @beautiful_neutral

The most effective way to contrast a gaudy 1980s bathroom is to introduce a new palette of neutral shades. Stick to an off-white with light wood accents for a contemporary, minimalist look. In the customer image above, @beautiful_neutral on Instagram has also incorporated wall panelling, painted in the same colour as the rest of the walls, to bring warmth and tactile interest to the space. Although of a more traditional interior style, wall panelling is a modern and very popular way of adding depth to your bathroom.

Create a stunning showering space quickly and easily with tile-effect shower wall panels

Create a stunning showering space quickly and easily with tile-effect shower wall panels like these

I’d also recommend considering shower wall panels, which are now available in a vast range of contemporary styles, colours and patterns, and can easily, effectively and affordably cover up old-fashioned walls that need updating.

In terms of modern bathroom flooring, a current on-trend look for the bathroom is herringbone wood. Our Aspen light wood flooring (pictured below) is perfect for this, but wood-effect tiles and laminate floors are also available, which you may find are a more suitable option for your space.

Aspen light Wood herringbone SPC flooring 5mm

Modernise your 1980s bathroom with Aspen light wood herringbone SPC flooring


If you’re able to stretch your budget a little bit, retiling your bathroom is a sure way of converting a space. With many high quality, contemporary options available nowadays, I’d suggest taking a look at some of the following of our favourite on-trend bathroom tiles:

Update your suite

If you’re able to, the most transformative option for a 1980s bathroom would be to replace the suite. To do this, I’d suggest opting for something completely contrasting, such as a contemporary bathroom suite. Pictured below is the Burton suite from Mode Bathrooms (exclusive to Victoria Plum), which features a beautiful, contemporary freestanding bathtub, a wall mounted, double vanity unit in rustic oak and a spacious walk in shower for the ultimate luxury feel.

I’d also recommend taking a look at our exclusive Orchard Bathrooms brand, which consists of more affordable collections, without compromising on beautiful, clean lines, a modern look and feel, and, most importantly, quality.

Enjoy the very latest in contemporary design with the Burton collection from Mode Bathrooms

Enjoy the very latest in contemporary design with the Burton collection from Mode Bathrooms

Incorporate minimalist features

As mentioned earlier, minimalism is an effective contrast to the gaudiness of a 1980s bathroom, and it’s also a consistently on-trend concept in interior design. To achieve this, incorporate a clean, white palette with an organised and decluttered decorating manner.

Incorporate minimalist features like Victoria Plum customer @zoeoliviaev

Incorporate minimalist features into your bathroom design like Victoria Plum customer @zoeoliviaev

A freestanding bathtub with few or no toiletries and surrounding products is one way of creating a minimalist space, so my top tip is to invest in some sort of storage to hide away any bathroom paraphernalia. Otherwise, try to carefully select any bottles and accessories that you do display, like customer @zoeoliviaev on Instagram has done in the image above. When selecting, try to place items together in groups of 3, as this makes them appear more deliberate and curated. This includes wall art, toiletry bottles and accessories such as candles and vases.

The Bath Co. Chartham traditional double ended slipper bath

Keep accessories to a minimum with your minimalist bathtub

Upgrade your tapware

Tapware is a bathroom product that is no longer forgotten about in terms of design, style and appearance, and updating this item couldn’t be more affordable or simple to do. Despite brass taps currently being very popular, I’d suggest staying away from these as they can be a hallmark of a 1980s bathroom. Instead, opt for matt black. Black accents create a sense of contemporary style and bold visual interest. They’ll also give your space a feeling of real design consideration in which no aspect, big or small, has been overlooked.

Mode Spencer round black basin mixer tap

Turn on the style with your tapware. The Spencer black basin mixer tap will bring some much-needed contemporary style to your 1980s bathroom

Matching accessories

Similar to taking a minimalist approach, investing in matching accessories will ensure a more put-together look. We have a variety of bathroom accessory ranges available including Turin Terrazzo (an on-trend material with a natural appearance), Bora Bora (a dark grey ceramic material with a fluted-style surface for interesting tactility) and Miami (a contemporary, Scandinavian-inspired range that combines a neutral colour palette, a light-wood material, and darker details including natural, handmade markings).

Give your 1980s bathroom a quick refresh with matching accessories

From left to right, the Miami, Bora Bora and Turin Terrazzo accessory ranges from Accents

Restyle in a monochromatic theme

Some 1980s bathroom suites are cream-coloured. If this is the case, I’d recommend leaning into this and creating an all-over monochromatic space. To achieve this, opt for black or greys by incorporating products such as slate-effect tiling, a matt black shower and taps, plus monochromatic wall themes like wall panelling painted in varying grey shades.

Something worth considering: greys are a timeless and always-on-trend choice for any interior space, creating a wonderful backdrop to offset brighter colours.


Rather than going all out and replacing your entire suite, consider only swapping out the toilet and sink/vanity unit and reglazing the bathtub. This is a more budget-friendly option and will help bring the space into the 21st century. As previously mentioned, I’d suggest choosing a clean, bright white for your new ceramics and a glazed bathtub—it’s a modern way to fully update a 1980s space in a timeless manner.

Update your shower

Like tapware, shower screens are now available in a range of styles, offering a simple and affordable way to upgrade. In particular, take a look at our extremely popular Mode black framed glass panel. This product creates a soft industrial style, serving up a show-stopping visual element for your bathroom. A walk-in shower enclosure is a luxurious and modern feature to have, and to go with this, we recommend a black shower set, like the one featured in the image below. This can easily be paired with other black accents within your choice of accessories, taps and cupboard door handles.

Mode Spencer round black twin diverter valve shower set

Combine the Spencer shower set with the Black framed glass panel, both from Mode Bathrooms, for a highly contemporary update

Lean-in to a vintage style

Up until now, many of my tips have focused on switching out products for more contemporary ones. However, traditional, vintage style products are also on-trend and can offer the desired level of rustic charm. This style may also be favourable if your 1980s bathroom already contains plenty of original features. If this is the case, ensure you give the space a contemporary twist by combining a traditional/vintage style with modern aspects such as metro wall tiles, herringbone floors, an open shower and a neutral palette. It’s a look we’re calling Modern Vintage, and it’s a growing trend!

Give your 1980s bathroom a Modern Vintage twist

Give your 1980s bathroom a Modern Vintage twist

My final thoughts…

When it comes to updating an outdated, 1980s bathroom, use as many or as few of these tips and tricks as you like, wave goodbye to that avocado suite and say hello to a more welcoming, contemporary space.

For more information on how to give your bathroom a full refresh, check out our recent articles on how to make an old bathroom look new and how to update a brown bathroom.

Shop bathroom suites

If you’re looking to update your 1980s bathroom, you’ll find the widest range of stylish suites, all at affordable prices, right here at Victoria Plum. Simply click on the image below to begin browsing.

Shop bathroom suites

Author, Ruth Foster

Posted by Ruth Foster in Inspiration | 2 years ago

As our resident Interior Designer, Ruth is passionate about home-related trends and loves light, airy interiors shaped by organic forms and colours. With a background in textiles for interiors, she is studying for a masters in interior design.

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