Vintage Charm for Bathrooms

Bathrooms back in the day have oh-so much charm, but they sure lacked some modern amenities.  Adding vintage styles to your bathroom gives you the best of both worlds.

Clawfoot Bathtubs

By far the most charming item in vintage baths is the clawfoot tub.  Newer reproductions can cost big, but older cast iron examples with the original claw feet are still floating around for reasonable prices in the second hand market.  Look for examples with the interior enamel in good shape without stains. 

The interiors can be redone, and the exteriors painted.  But, be forewarned, they are heavy as heck!  The hardest part of incorporating this style is getting into the house and up the stairs. 

If you just can’t bring yourself to give up a stand up shower for a clawfoot tub, there are surrounds that can be purchased to hold a shower curtain, they cost from $300 - $900, and of course, handheld shower additions are an option as well.

For all their charm, clawfoot tubs have high sides, and can be difficult to step in and out of, so that may not be the best option for a guest bath that your 80 year old mother may be using (mother in law, maybe…).


By far, the most charming standalone cabinet for a bathroom is an old dental or doctor’s cabinet.  They’re usually nice and slender with glass doors and shelves..  They look adorable, and with reproductions running $800-$1,000 at Restoration Hardware, I’d opt for the real deal in the $300-$600 range.


Beadboard panels on the lower half of the wall are the perfect vintage look for spa retreat, seaside retreat and cottage style decorating.  Add a molding to the top of the panel to hold accessories such as sea shells, starfish or artwork.


Black and white ceramic tile in a checkerboard pattern is a lovely look for traditional baths, as is subway tile, the old 2 x 6 inch tile that was popular back in the 1900’s that is usually laid in a brick pattern.  White was the common color for ‘sanitary’ reasons, until some cool colors were rolled out in the 1930’s.  There are plenty of new offerings on the market today, although the size was adjusted slightly to 3 x 6 inches.

Advertising Artwork

Old advertising signs and premiums, especially for soaps or bath products, are a nice touch to add vintage style on an old-fashioned budget.  Reproductions are readily available and affordable.  Originals may cost a little more, but can’t be beat on the charm factor.


Old enamelware accessories, especially French pieces, such as soap dishes, racks and containers, slip right into any style of bathroom.  Enamelware is oh-so affordable and with more style than any matching accessory group could ever hope to have.

While you may not opt to go completely old-fashioned in the bathroom, consider adding vintage charm to your bath – from accessories to wall coverings, it never goes out of style.