Turn Back the Hands of Time With These Vintage Bathroom Lighting Ideas

vintage bathroom lighting idea with midcentury wall sconce and clawfoot bathtub
credit: Retro Den

We are all about contemporary bathroom designs here at Hunker, but we have an equally deep appreciation for all things vintage as well. There's something about a bygone piece of decor that instantly ups the cool factor of a space, especially when it comes to lighting. And luminous antique fixtures are the perfect way to represent vintage style in a washroom.

We know what you're thinking — usually, homeowners tend to display their throwback lighting in a dining room or in a living room, but these gems look just as lovely in a spa-worthy oasis. And luckily there are a bevy of retailers that specialize in vintage-inspired lighting, incorporating classic materials and details.

When searching for a perfect storied fixture, look for tried-and-true materials like brass, glass, or even crystals if you're feeling fancy. Metal lighting harkens back to old farmhouses and industrial eras. Vintage-esque pieces run the gamut from simple and streamlined (this includes mod, midcentury designs) to eye-catching and ornate. Don't forget: You also have the option to purchase authentic antiques, too. Just be sure to have them rewired and installed by a professional.

Scroll on for seven vintage bathroom lighting ideas to help make your treasure hunt a successful one.

1. Milk glass is always a retro option.

vintage bathroom lighting idea with milk glass pendant light
credit: The Gold Hive

Milk glass has been around since the 16th century, but it reached its pinnacle of popularity in the 1930s and '40s. It was typically used to make dishes and vases, but the material was also used in lighting. Ashley from The Gold Hive has a milk glass pendant hanging in her bathroom that has tons of throwback appeal, and pairs up perfectly with the other white accents used to decorate the space.

2. Represent midcentury design.

vintage bathroom lighting idea with sleek midcentury wall sconces
credit: Brepurposed

Another way to incorporate midcentury visuals into a bathroom is with the help of sleek and polished lines. The globe style wall sconces with brass backplate in this bathroom, belonging to Bre of Brepurposed, are streamlined, simple, and brimming with midcentury modern charisma.

3. Search for delightful, old school details.

vintage bathroom lighting idea with striped lighting
credit: New Darlings

Stripes were used frequently in schoolhouses of yore, and we think they look positively charming in contemporary homes, too. They're a flawless choice for this vintage-meets-modern bath styled by Robert and Christina of New Darlings.

4. Choose a brass finish.

Although brass is totally on-trend, it was also a standard lighting material used back in the day. It's a straightforward, unfussy finish that won't fight with the rest of your decor, but it does bring a hint of polish and chic design sensibility into any space. We adore this minimal brass pendant hanging in a vintage-inspired bathroom belonging to Brittany of Brittany Makes.

5. Consider industrial materials.

Metal lights have always been pretty utilitarian, especially in rustic farmhouses and industrial warehouses. They still bring a factory-esque look to any space, as witnessed in this bathroom refresh by Jess of Positively Oakes. The black finish juxtaposes flawlessly against the white walls and complements the other black fixtures throughout.

6. Go with the real deal.

If purchasing brand-new lighting simply isn't your style, consider a true-blue vintage fixture for your bathroom instead. Online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy, as well as flea markets and thrift stores, are treasure troves for antique lights. Victoria of SF Girl By Bay scored this vintage lantern on Etsy, and it's the ideal finishing touch in her space.

7. Look for globe shapes.

vintage bathroom lighting idea with midcentury wall sconce and clawfoot bathtub
credit: Retro Den

The midcentury era was known for its rounded, globe-shaped lights. Today, these fixtures continue to look modern, but they also embody vintage style. For a look that brings together the best of both worlds, opt for globe silhouettes for your bathroom lighting. We're loving the spherical wall sconce Emily Netz installed above her vanity.

Where to Shop for Vintage Bathroom Lighting:

Whether you're on the hunt for new bathroom lighting ideas that draw from vintage designs, or you'd prefer the real deal, here are some shopping suggestions to get you started.

Looking for milk glass pendants? Classic wall sconces? Round midcentury fixtures? Look no further than Rejuvenation, which specializes in modern lighting with timeless details.

If you refuse to settle for anything less than authentic vintage lighting, head to Chairish. Purveyed by vintage sellers around the country, you'll find Sputnik chandeliers, trippy pendant lights from the '60s, and whimsical fixtures displaying decorative floral details.

For midcentury lighting that looks decidedly right-this-minute, Cedar & Moss has you covered.


Shelby Deering

Shelby Deering

Shelby Deering is a lifestyle writer who contributes to national magazines and websites, including Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Well+Good, and more. When she's not writing, you'll find her shopping flea markets, hiking, and going for walks with her corgi.