One of the strongest characteristics when it comes to classical designs, which dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, is the idea of the focal point. No matter what room you’re working on, each one has a large piece in it that immediately draws the eye to it, with the rest of the room built around it. With that goes balance, harmony, neutrality and well-rounded formation on a larger scale, and ornamentation and curvature on a smaller scale.Going away from bathrooms for a bit, a great example of this would be a grand staircase in your foyer, with the two sides sweeping up to meet in the middle. The banisters would be luxuriously carved and the floor either marble or polished hardwood, and if you were to cut the room in half down the middle, you’d see both sides as mirror images of each other.
In the bathroom, it’s not always possible to get an equal balance on both halves — no matter which way you slice it — but it’s still good to get as much balance as possible. So if your focal point is something like a clawfoot tub or high-end vanity, go really big on that (metaphorically; it doesn’t have to necessarily be physically big, but it should be the first thing the eye is drawn to) and then design the rest of the bathroom around it. Use colors like white, deep blue, earthy green, terracotta, and other colors found in nature, and focus on embellishing the small details for a rich aesthetic.
How you can design your bathroom in a vintage way is pretty open, as long as you stick to the “Century Rule”: include nothing in your bathroom that’s more than 100 years old, otherwise it qualifies as antique. You also don’t want to go too new, with a good cutoff era being the 1950s/’60s. Beyond that, you’re free to do just about how you please.
One hallmark of vintage designs is how bright and airy the space is. Whites and pale colors are going to be the dominant selections to go with, such as a white bathtub and wainscoting on the walls (e.g. pale blue tiled on the bottom, and a pastel color on top). You’ll also want to decorate with vintage accessories, such as using distressed wood on your vanity, having a smaller-than-average toilet, and using materials like porcelain or marble on the smaller pieces. To top it off, you can go with a freestanding sink and round mirror to really complete the look.
Contemporary design strongly focuses on two things: asymmetry and the use of the line. In terms of asymmetry, this will be very easy to achieve in your bathroom, because as we mentioned before, it’s almost impossible to get a bathroom with two equal halves. To further play up asymmetry in a contemporary bathroom, incorporate things like an uneven track light, or larger pieces in one half of the room contrasting with smaller in the other half.
What “the line” means is contemporary design places a lot of emphasis on the line, such as avoiding rounded, curved surfaces. However, one thing not to do is make the lines strong and harsh, but to gently soften them a little. For example, the length of your tub will have a long line, but having it curve at the ends gives it a contemporary design.
And in terms of colors and materials, the kinds of things you’ll be looking at using include nickel, frosted glass, zinc, whites, blacks, blues, greens and browns. To brighten up your bathroom and give it an extra punch, include one or two small pieces with either a bright color or bold geometric design, such as your towels.