How to design a period bathroom

Whether you live in a period property and love the idea of a bathroom that suits its style, or you just hanker after a traditional look, here’s how to create a room with classic style

Contemporary bathrooms look fabulous with their clean lines and sleek baths, basins and toilets, but if you live in a period property, you might want to consider creating a bathroom with traditional style to suit your home.

Love the look, but don’t have the architecture? You don’t need to live in an older home. Creating a traditional scheme can be a good way to make more of your budget because it’s a look with enduring style.

What fittings does a period bathroom need?


If your room has decent dimensions, make the bath the focal point of your room scheme by picking a freestanding design with traditional details – think roll top edges and/or metal feet.

You could pick a high backed Slipper bath that will support you as you luxuriate in the warm water; a double-ended Victorian freestanding bath that allows you to sit either end – or share if you’re generous; or ensure you will be seriously relaxed with a wide curvaceous design, such as the Verity. Remember that this is a modern version of period style, so there’s no need to sacrifice contemporary comfort and fold yourself into a small bath.

For more compact rooms that can’t accommodate a freestanding bath, consider a back to wall Victorian bath, which has authentic period style but will snuggle up to your bathroom wall, leaving more floor space for other essential fittings – and you.

Don’t despair if your bathroom doesn’t have the proportions for either a freestanding or back to wall bath. Straight baths can still be part of a period-style room – and won’t look out of place with other traditional fittings. The trick is to put the focus elsewhere, so the bath is more character actor than Hollywood headliner.


Take a look at traditional pedestal basins for a period-style bathroom. The features to search out? Upstands, grooved edges and detailed borders. Both squarer Edwardian designs and more curvaceous Victorian basins are on offer, so you can pick a style to suit your home or your taste.

If your bathroom’s the size of a small wardrobe rather than a ballroom, consider a design such as the Victorian cloakroom basin as this has less depth but will still give you the look you love.

As an alternative to pedestal basins, check out console designs, such as the Vittone. The tapered legs make it less space hungry than a pedestal, and it’s traditionally inspired, so will work beautifully in your period scheme.

If you’re creative, you might even want to combine a counter top basin with an original tabletop to make your own washstand. 


For classic style (but modern plumbing, naturally), check out close coupled toilets with traditional detail. Just like basins, these designs have period style detail in their trim and cistern tops that’ll create the vibe you’re after.


Bags of room because you’ve converted a bedroom into a bathroom or are lucky enough to have a large bathroom? Add a bidet that complements the rest of your period fittings to your list of must-haves. Our Harrington back to wall bidet fits the bill.

Check out our buyer’s guide to bidets


If a shower is on your list of essentials, make sure it works with the rest of your fittings by opting for a fixed head that says traditional rather than cutting edge. You can go for wall or ceiling mounted designs, but they need to have a vintage look – check out the Victorian.

Choose the right bathroom flooring

It’s important not to create a style clash when it comes to choosing the flooring for your period-style bathroom. If you’re a well-behaved bather and your room is well-ventilated, wooden floorboards will work a treat. Dark tones are great for creating a formal feel, or go for white painted for a more rustic twist – and if your room needs help to stay light and bright.

Tiles can be a more robust alternative. A black and white chequerboard will smarten up your room, or choose traditional patterns.

For more on bathroom flooring, visit our buyer’s guide

Dress up your walls

A cloakroom or grown-ups only bathroom and wallpaper are compatible, and hanging a paper with a traditional motif where it won’t get splashed will make a statement.

Tiles with a traditional motif can also be a winner. Don’t use them all over – we’re talking period look not old-fashioned feel – but do try them in a limited area, such as a basin splash back.

Alternatively, pick some heritage colour in your room. Many paint collections include authentic historical colours and a rich red, for example, will make your bathroom feel both glamorous and warm when you’re using it in the evenings.

Think about the window treatment

If you don’t have neighbours with windows overlooking your bathroom – nor an exhibitionist streak – then leaving the window undressed will work a treat. More modest and more on show? Try shutters or window film to keep yourself to yourself.

Take a look at our guide to bathroom window treatments

Add accessories

Make sure the essentials and decorative pieces you add to your period-style bathroom don’t jar with your traditional fittings. Look for mirrors with ornate frames; hang artwork that could be antique; and don’t let plastic jars or bottles spoil the sides of baths and basins. Swapping modern containers for glass jars is an easy move.

Design dos and dont’s

Do position your freestanding bath to make the most of the view from your window.

Do consider a bath you can paint – like the Kaykan freestanding bath – to add an accent of colour to your period room.

Do think about wood panelling or tongue and groove for walls. You can add grandeur, or create a country house feel.

Don’t forget the storage. Think floorstanding pieces with framed doors, such as the Verity furniture range.

Don’t neglect seating. A wooden chair will suit the look perfectly and is a handy addition to your room.

Don’t leave the floor unfinished. Size up bath mats, or lay a rug if it’s not going to get splashed.

Find out how to plan a family bathroom

For period and traditional bathroom inspiration, check out our Pinterest board

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