You don't have to live in an older property to enjoy period style decor. We show you where to start and how best to proceed when planning a traditional bathroom.
For measuring advice, watch this video:
Whether your property is Victorian, Edwardian or even a new-build, period style bathrooms are incredibly popular, not least due to their timeless design, which never goes out of fashion.
Here at Victoria Plum, we stock a great range of Victorian and period style bathrooms suites, furniture units and accessories, and with this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need know about planning a traditional bathroom. Simply read on or click on any of the links below to jump to a section.
- What are period bathrooms?
- Measuring your space
- What do you need?
- The roll top tub
- Choosing a suite that suits your needs
- Going trad with your shower
- Turning to taps
- Timeless tiles, walls and floors
- Traditional heating options
- Finishing touches
- Vintage colour schemes
- Traditional bathroom ideas
- Shop traditional bathroom suites
What are period bathrooms?
It may surprise you, but the bathroom as we know it is a relatively modern invention. Edwardian homes (from the beginning of the 20th Century), were some of the first to be routinely built with a specific room for bathing, washing and an indoor toilet.
In many cases, the rooms in a period house will have more character than those of new builds. Alcoves can be used imaginatively for storage solutions and an old fireplace can be easily used to help convert your bathroom into a retro spa by filling it with candles or other accessories.
High ceilings mean plenty of lighting opportunities, often with large windows that deliver ample natural light. Chandelier style lights can add a real touch of glamour to your room.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy period style décor in a modern home. You simply need to pick out the right traditional style products, materials and accessories, more of which we’ll explain in this guide.
Measuring your space
The first thing you’ll need to do is work out how much space you have in your bathroom. This is relatively easy and all you’ll need is a tape measure, and perhaps a willing friend or family member. Follow our video below.
Once you have your dimensions, it is worth swotting up on things like bathroom clearance guidelines, so you know exactly what you can fit into your space. For example, did you know a bath should have clearance to the side of at least 530mm from any other objects?
Working out what you need
Now you know how large (or small!) your period bathroom is and what you can fit inside, the time has come to choose exactly what you need. There are some quick and easy ways to go about this. Why not ask yourself some of these questions?
Q. Do you want a bath? A shower? Or both?
A. If you need both, choose a multi-function shower bath. At Victoria Plum, you’ll even find traditional style options, like this one (pictured below) from the Dulwich collection—perfect for period style bathrooms.
Q. Will you need extra storage for all your bath time essentials?
A. Choose a vanity unit and extra storage units, like these from the Dulwich stone grey furniture range (below) to create a semi fitted look.
Q. Do you want toasty towels when you get out of the bath or shower?
A. Choose a period style towel heater, like the Aziz, pictured below.
The roll top tub
The centrepiece of any traditional period bathroom has to be the bath tub itself, and at Victoria Plum we have a range of shapes and sizes to match every need. The traditional Dulwich roll top bath from Orchard Bathrooms comes in both large and small options, meaning that no matter the size of the room, you need not skimp on period charm.
With attention to detail, you can ensure that timeless elegance is evident in every element of your bathroom design. This goes right down to the ball and claw feet the bath stands on.
The Dulwich roll top bath comes with intricately-detailed feet
Don’t have room for a roll top? Think again… You can, instead, choose a back to wall bath, which, as the name might suggest, fits snugly against the wall (just like a regular straight bath), but comes with all the gorgeous features of a roll top tub.
A suite that suits you and your needs
Whilst choosing your bath has everything to do with flair, it’s functionality you’ll be seeking from your bathroom suite. However, as you’ll see, you can really work that style with a period bathroom.
If you’re seeking a simple, toilet and basin suite, there are plenty of matching combinations to choose from. Period style ceramics tend to come with elaborate detailing, like bevelled edges and trims. Traditional toilets feature handle-pull flushes, whilst pedestal basins usually come in more angular designs with the option of 1 or 2 tap holes.
Of course, this is just one route you can go down with your choice of toilet and basin. For a more authentic look, why not browse the selection of low and high level cistern toilets available at Victoria Plum?
As we touched upon previously, sometimes a lack of storage space can leave your bathroom feeling cluttered, with potions and lotions on every available surface. Just because you’re planning a period style bathroom doesn’t mean you can’t add the furniture of your choice.
With plenty of traditional style vanity units to choose from, there are plenty of ways to create a calming space in which all your clutter is concealed from view. And, if modern convenience is top of your list, why not combine with a back to wall toilet unit (like the one below from the Dulwich collection—designed especially for period style bathrooms).
Going trad with your shower
Going for a sympathetic period feel doesn’t mean you have to go without the modern convenience of a shower, and a separate enclosure can work if you’re creative.
There are several traditional style shower enclosures to choose from, which can fit into your overall bathroom design without being obtrusive, giving you the best of both worlds.
To complete the look, check out the wide range of period style showers available at Victoria Plum. With elegant chrome shower heads and detailed traditional features such as ceramic style lever handles and cross head valves, choose the perfect combination for your precise needs.
Timeless tiles, floors and walls
Although the modern trend is for tiling both the walls and floors of bathrooms, a period bathroom offers the potential for a far more open and relaxed style.
An authentic period style bathroom would have been based on bare or painted floorboards, which was far from practical. Today, you’ll find a wide choice of wood-effect tiles and vinyl/laminate flooring which give the appearance of rustic wooden planks, without the maintenance issues.
In many ways, a period style bathroom gives you plenty of scope when it comes to decorating your walls. Aside from a simple paint job in vintage-inspired colours, you’ll need to protect the areas within splash zones (e.g. your shower enclosure, around the bath and sink area, etc.).
One of the most popular choices in recent times has been metro tiles. These small brick-like tiles, which were used extensively in underground railway stations (hence the name), are perfect for traditional bathrooms, coming in a variety of bold gloss finishes. Use contrasting grout to really make them pop.
Another much-favoured option is the feature floor. And this is easy to achieve with patchwork tiles in a range of different Victorian-inspired motifs and patterns. If it’s a look you love, why not extend to your walls too?
Aside from tiles, you may also wish to consider shower walls panels in a wood or stone effect design, or boarding, which is another popular way to decorate the walls of period bathrooms (see below).
Turning to taps
See what I did there? Anyway… to truly crown your period style bathroom, it’s worth investing in a set of matching taps with all the classic detailing you’d expect, like cross head handles and “hot” and “cold” inserts. To complement your bath, keep an eye out for traditional bath shower mixers which come with a telephone style shower handset.
If you find cross head handles a little tricky to operate, especially when your hands are wet, why not take a look at our range of lever handle taps instead (see below)?
One thing to ensure is that you choose the right tap for your basin. For example, if you opt for a basin with 2 tap holes, you will need separate hot and cold pillar taps, like those pictured above.
Traditional heating options
Most bathrooms are small and compact enough to require just the one radiator or heated towel rail. In the not too distant past, choosing a design that fitted with a period style interior was nigh on impossible. Thankfully, manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that many homeowners prefer a traditional style radiator or heated towel rail, meaning plenty of choice.
As well as calculating the required BTU output for your room, the other thing you’ll need to consider is wall space. Are you able to fit a wide, horizontal radiator along a wall or could you make optimum use of space with a tall, vertical model fitted to the wall?
If you can’t choose between a radiator or heated towel rail, why not opt for a hybrid with a chrome rail incorporated into the design? The Santa Fe from The Heating Co. (pictured below) is a very popular choice.
As the old saying goes: “The devil is in the detail” and when it comes to planning a period style bathroom, this couldn’t be more apt. The whole effect can be ruined just by making a few poor choices when accessorising your space.
For a cohesive appearance, pick out a coordinated bathroom accessory set in a classic style. This will provide you with all the basics, like a toilet roll holder and soap dish, not to mention somewhere to store your toothbrushes!
If you’re in need of further storage space, a mirror cabinet will provide you with 2 handy functions. First, extra room for all those fiddly little things, like cotton wool buds, razors and medication. Second, when placed above the basin, the mirror will come in very handy indeed, especially when you’re heading out the door.
Wall lights are a great way to add task lighting to your basin area. Make sure you check out our range of lighting for bathrooms.
Vintage colour schemes
Choosing a colour scheme for a period style bathroom can often lead to a lack of creativity. While monochrome palettes, including a mix of white, black and grey, are standard for traditional décor, this shouldn’t stop you from injecting a touch of colour into proceedings.
Green is an enduringly popular shade, especially in traditional bathrooms, judging by the number of green bathroom ideas we’ve seen. Meanwhile, if you’re seeking a slightly more nautical feel, navy blue is a great accent colour. Why not find out more about creating colour schemes, by reading our article on using a colour wheel?
Period style bathroom ideas
Now we’ve shown you how to plan a period style bathroom, it’s time to be inspired! At Victoria Plum, you’ll find all the traditional bathroom ideas you need, from our “Get the Look” style guides, to customer bathrooms and more.
Why not follow us on social media (simply click on any of the buttons below) to see the very latest in period style bathroom ideas, plus offers and discounts on our range of traditional bathrooms.
Shop traditional bathroom suites
Once you’ve finished your planning and have all the inspiration you need, it’s time to buy. Simply click on the image below to browse our full range of beautiful traditional bathroom suites, most of which are exclusive to Victoria Plum.