21 Traditional Bathroom Ideas That Are Anything But Predictable

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The word "traditional" gets tossed around with regularity in the world of interior design. Although it might be misinterpreted as predictable, dated, or staid, there's more to this aesthetic than its name. Not surprisingly traditional design is rooted in, yup, tradition. Its origins can be traced back to the 18th and 19th centuries and are heavily influenced by Europe and East Asia. Pieces tend to be intricate (think chinoiserie), ornate, on the bulkier side — some items even have strong regal undertones.


Despite the overall feeling of glamour and sophistication associated with traditional interiors, an underlying approachability is achieved through the inclusion of warm wood finishes, sumptuous fabrics, and attention to detail. There's an emphasis on symmetry, elegance, and enduring materials such as marble and brass, as well as decorative elements like crown molding and wall trim. Lexi Brandfon, founder of Lex & Hudson has worked on many bathroom projects with traditional flair. "We've added a chair rail to a bathroom to give it a more old-world feel and wallpapered above the chair rail and painted below. We've also used an antique mirror and repurposed a Dutch bombe commode and turned it into a vanity for a bathroom. This referenced an old-world charm that was surely traditional," offers Brandfon.

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These tenets translate seamlessly to the bathroom where modern amenities like heated towel racks, abundant storage, and large showers intersect with timeless silhouettes such as roll-top tubs, pedestal sinks, and elegant lighting. While there is an emphasis on neutral hues such as gray, white, beige, and cream, shades of pink, blue, green, and brown are also appropriate in traditional spaces. "Black and white exude traditional style when done well, especially in pattern," adds Brandfon.


It's easy to weave traditional moments into bathrooms through subway-tiled walls and floral wallpaper or with a vintage wood dresser-turned-vanity cabinet, but it's really the thoughtful details and accessories that go a long way to imparting the beloved look. So even if your bathroom lacks larger traditional features, don't overlook smaller opportunities to infuse your space with a classic sensibility: place vintage candlestick holders on a vanity, add fresh flowers to an antique vase, or invest in a silver-plated grooming kit.


So what does a traditional bathroom look like? You might be surprised. Here are some classic decorating ideas that will inspire a remodel.

21 Timeless Traditional Bathroom Design Ideas

1. Employ luxurious materials.

If you're looking to create a sophisticated commode with luxe undertones, a traditional bathroom idea replete with tried-and-true combinations — like marble tile, creamy paint, and brass light fixtures — is definitely for you. Don't forget to add character with greenery, vintage-inspired textiles, and wood accents, as Studio McGee did in this spacious bath.



2. Paint your bathtub.

A traditional bathroom idea that never goes out of style? A clawfoot tub, like the one seen in this setup by Katie LeClercq. The black exterior adds to the bohemian mood created by dark wood cabinets, encaustic floor tile, and a garnet kilim rug. Traditional wainscoting gets a fresh makeover when it's fashioned from subway tile and a thick marble baseboard.


3. Say "yes" to color.

Color steeped in history, like the regal blue shade used on the walls of this Victoria and Albert Bath, is a traditional idea that adds depth and accentuates signature wall paneling. A floral-patterned window covering in jewel tones, a pair of metallic sconces, and a freestanding pedestal tub enhance the refined setup.


4. Incorporate eclectic details.

Can you create a traditional bathroom design that exudes personality? You bet! It's all in the details. Take cues from Amber Lewis, who anchored this fresh space with marble hex tiles and a bright coat of white paint, and then layered eclectic details like a Moroccan tile backsplash, a vintage rug, and woven accessories for a traditional bathroom idea with a dash of unique flair.



5. Embrace all-over texture.

Looking for further proof that traditional style need not be predictable? Heidi Caillier personalized this small bathroom with thoughtful details like all-over tongue and groove paneling, a hex-shaped mosaic floor tile, and a no-fail Carrara marble countertop and backsplash with classic edge detailing. Dark wood and lustrous brass accents add plenty of warmth while a nature-inspired Roman shade offers an organic note.


6. Get creative with bathroom tile.

Known for putting a creative stamp on all of her projects, Leanne Ford has an uncanny way of using enduring materials — like the penny and subway tiles used in this floor-to-ceiling application — for unexpected results. Brass and porcelain fixtures are eye-catching details that elevate the space.


7. Consider timeless hues.

Traditional decor is distinguished by details like soft edges, curves, and a muted color palette. These ideas are on full display in this bathroom by Dunbar Road Design, which features a robin's egg blue vanity cabinet, elegant enamel and gold sconces, and rounded cabinet pulls. Cafe curtains are a delicate touch that provide privacy without blocking the natural light.


8. Install wainscoting.

Fancy fixtures, lighting, vanity cabinets, and freestanding tubs are key elements in traditional bathrooms. However, don't underestimate the power of wall paneling. The team over at Heidi Caillier Design opted for greige beadboard wainscoting in this dreamy setup and the result is stunning. The thoughtful detail provides texture and visual interest — and also acts as a flattering backdrop for the dark wood bathroom vanity. Complete the scene with lustrous brass and enduring marble.

9. Maximize storage opportunities.

Whether your bathroom is bohemian, contemporary, or traditional, keep things tidy and clutter-free by maximizing storage opportunities. Chango & Co. struck the right balance of function and beauty with wall-to-wall built-ins, a stylish freestanding tub, and flowing drapery. Despite the extensive use of cabinetry, a light wood finish and a mix of open shelves and closed cabinets keep the overall look bright and airy.

10. Embrace a unique color palette.

While paint is an obvious way to introduce color to bathrooms, don't limit yourself to the medium: Wallpaper and tile have the added benefit of infusing texture and dimension. Heidi Caillier created a bathroom that, despite its small size, is big on personality, thanks to traditional materials in untraditional shades. A seemingly unlikely pairing of purple tiled walls and terra cotta floor tile are actually a picture-perfect match. Aged brass accents offer a hint of sparkle while a vintage wood vanity grounds the look.


11. Emphasize symmetry.

With its emphasis on symmetry and balance, traditional design is ideal for primary bathrooms made for two. A pair of rounded mirrors, exposed bulb sconces, and console sinks anchor this restrained space by Katie LeClercq. Cleverly integrated medicine cabinets virtually disappear into the adjacent walls for the ultimate seamless storage idea.

12. Opt for a high-contrast color scheme.

Infuse a bit of drama into a traditional bathroom design with a high-contrast color palette. For instance, Daleet Spector opted for a navy blue and white combo in this setup resulting in a high-end coastal look. The inky hex floor tile and cabinet anchor the light-filled space. Classic subway tile, a striped window shade, and cage-style wall sconces add to the beachy vibe.

13. Soften architectural lines with arches.

Arches have been used in architecture for thousands of years, making them an enduring feature. In bathrooms, they add a welcome softness to the predominantly hard lines and surfaces. And, as demonstrated in this sophisticated space, even a single arch can add grace and warmth while highlighting a transition in material.

14. Incorporate industrial details.

Give a traditional bathroom a bit of edge by layering industrial details and materials. For example, Jean Stoffer paired a generous enameled trough sink for three with metal stools, dark grout, and an oil-rubbed bronze mirror. To keep the overall look timeless, she opted for traditional subway tile, classic gray paint, elegant gooseneck faucets, and simple porcelain pendants.

15. Double down on pedestal sinks.

Pedestal sinks are a staple of traditional bathroom decor. What they lack in storage, they make up for with their light, airy design and streamlined silhouette. Place a pair of pedestal sinks side by side as an elegant alternative to a standard bulky vanity.

16. Make a statement with patterned wall tile.

Being a traditionalist at heart doesn't mean you need to forgo pattern in your bathroom remodel. Case in point: This sophisticated retreat by Byrdesign flaunts choices — zellige floor tile and encaustic tiled walls — not often associated with traditional design. A black and white color palette keeps the look timeless while gold accents are a refined addition.

17. Flaunt modern undertones.

Traditional and modern style don't need to be mutually exclusive. Follow the lead of Reath Design and combine the two aesthetics. In this refined refuge, classic elements — such as the freestanding pedestal tub complete with telephone-style hand shower and board and batten wall paneling — pair beautifully with the more modern light fixtures.

18. Make your shower a focal point.

Showers in traditional bathrooms often feature glass doors or curtains. For an alternative with real visual appeal, consider a steel-framed shower enclosure, like the one in this traditional bathroom by Chris Loves Julia. A mahogany vanity and brass accents add warmth to the high-contrast black-and-white palette.

19. Add texture with wall treatments.

While board and batten, shiplap, and v-groove are wall paneling staples in farmhouse interiors, they are equally fitting in traditional spaces where they add dimension and interest to the walls and ceilings. In this timeless white bathroom by Kate Marker Interiors, board and batten walls topped with crown molding at the ceiling and marble tile flooring provide an ideal backdrop for the statement-making black tub. An elegant chandelier hanging above completes the scene.

20. Include decorative details.

Traditional design is synonymous with glamour and refinement, which is on full display in this sophisticated bathroom by Studio McGee. Don't overlook opportunities to flaunt thoughtful details — like the reeded vanity cabinet drawer fronts, decorative picture frame molding on the walls, and the telephone-style hand shower at the freestanding bathtub — that will truly personalize your space.

21. Be mindful of accessories.

Accessories are considered details that underscore an aesthetic and complete a room. Pepper in timeless touches like polished silver trays, vintage perfume bottles, and ornate hand-held mirrors to complement a classic bathroom design. A one-of-a-kind cut glass pendant light infuses old-world beauty into this glamorous space by Jessica Helgerson.



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