12 traditional bathroom ideas for every kind of space

white rolltop bath in dark blue bathroom
(Image credit: Waters Baths of Ashbourne)

If you thought that traditional bathroom ideas should be reserved for owners of period properties or classic style homes then hopefully our round up should cause you to rethink.

These bathroom design ideas include something for everyone, from those after a completely authentic traditional look to anyone after a new take on the old — think period rolltop baths in eye-popping shades and a mix-and-match approach to furniture and sanitaryware. 

Traditional bathroom ideas are a great way to bring character, charm and warmth into a space meant for relaxation — and they need not feel old-fashioned or fusty either. Take a look at our round-up and be inspired. 

How to use these traditional bathroom ideas

If you''re on the hunt for bathroom ideas with a traditional feel you might be the proud owner of a period property and be keen to install a bathroom in keeping with the original details and design of the space you are working with. 

On the other hand, you may well be living in a modern house but are after ways of injecting a little old-school character and charm into your family bathroom design — after all, this is somewhere you want to feel warm and inviting and your choice of decor, details and sanitaryware can all help with this. 

It is also useful to bear in mind that there are ways of ensuring traditional bathroom ideas don't look old fashioned. Often, combining traditional pieces with some contemporary ideas can work really well. 

1. Pair a freestanding bath with fun details

traditional bathroom with rolltop bath

Rolltop baths might be a traditional item of sanitaryware but there is no reason why they can't be paired with more modern decorative accessories.  (Image credit: Hilarys)

Traditional styles of bath, such as the ever-popular rolltop and slipper baths look fantastic in all kinds of bathrooms and can even work for those after modern bathroom ideas

While they might be very traditional pieces of sanitaryware, their enduring popularity means that they are now available in some really eye-catching, unusual designs that pair beautifully with fun, modern decor schemes. 

In this bathroom, the blue rolltop bath takes centre stage. Traditional details, such as the restored cast iron fireplace, chandelier and column radiator are enhanced by the addition of bright, modern artwork and a sleek frameless shower enclosure. 

2. Go grand with a metallic bath

traditional bathroom with copper bath

Opt for warm metallic finishes such as brass and copper in the bathroom for an opulent touch. (Image credit: Annika Reed Studio)

As bathroom trends go, warm metallic finishes are very much in right now — which is great news for anyone looking to create a traditional bathroom scheme as copper, brass and burnished gold finishes slide right in with other classic details. 

In this opulent bathroom, the stunning two-tone freestanding bath is framed by the high arch that divides it from the rest of the space. The use of Muggle of Jugs wallpaper, from Annika Reed Studio, with its earthy shades, is the perfect partner for the bath, as are the elegant dark timber items of furniture, such as the vanity unit. 

3. Inject a retro feel with coloured sanitaryware

coloured sanitaryware in wallpapered bathroom

Coloured sanitaryware is doing the rounds once more – and it can really add a fun, cheerful look.  (Image credit: Burlington)

Love it or hate it, coloured sanitaryware is back with a vengeance and can now be found in all kinds of shades from sweet candy pinks to soothing forest green. Toilets, basins and baths are now all available in colours of the rainbow.

While the thought of a coloured suite may well feel like taking a very reluctant step back in time in terms of bathroom design, when teamed with the right bathroom tiles and decorative finishes they can actually work brilliantly to create a highly individual space, full of personality.

Here, Burlington Bathrooms' Bespoke Cosmic Green Edwardian basin, with standard pedestal has been combined with a matching medium level WC. The choice of floor tiles and wallpaper in coordinating colours works brilliantly to create a fanciful finish. 

4. Combine classic and contemporary

traditional bathroom with fireplace

Traditional details and period features pair very well with modern sanitaryware items.  (Image credit: Future/Jeremy Phillips)

Some of the most beautiful bathroom schemes are created by combining elegant original features with more modern sanitaryware and design details — the juxtaposition between them means both styles stand out fully so this is definitely a point to consider when renovating a bathroom.

In this bathroom renovation, the stylish original fireplace and deep skirting boards, along with the high ceilings, all sit in complete harmony with the crisp lines of the walk-in shower enclosure, with its frameless screen, and the contemporary freestanding bath. 

5. Create a heritage look with forest green

green bathroom with high level toilet

Rich forest green is the perfect shade in traditional bathrooms.  (Image credit: Burlington)

Green is a shade which has become hugely popular in homes in recent years and is being used everywhere – for kitchen units and within living room design schemes to bedrooms, where it creates a wonderfully restful feel. 

In bathrooms, green works brilliantly. It induces a feel of calm and wellness and conjures of up sense of nature too. It also happens to be shade that is very classic and so is the perfect colour choice for creating a traditional bathroom scheme. 

In this room, the green freestanding vanity unit, from Burlington, high level WC and muted half-wall panelling complete the look. 

6. Restore a period fireplace for added character

freestanding bath in bathroom with fireplace

Bathroom fireplaces add a huge amount of character and sense of warmth.  (Image credit: Sanctuary Bathrooms)

Original fireplaces are commonly found in bathrooms in older style properties. Often this is because the bathroom has been located in a former bedroom — a common project for those renovating houses with ground floor bathrooms. 

If you find yourself with a bathroom fireplace, then do consider including it in your bathroom renovation ideas and restore it back to its former glory. Even when not used for an open fire, this is a feature that adds a tonne of character, charm and warmth to the room.

In this very elegant bathroom, a simple rolltop bath, grand yet refined fireplace and tall sash window all combine to make the most beautifully restful scheme. The Burlington Blenheim Single Ended Freestanding Bath is from Sanctuary Bathrooms

7. Save costs with a built-in panelled bath

built in bath with panelling

Building a simple bath into a frame finished with panelling is a fast and cost-effective way to traditional style.  (Image credit: Big Bathroom Shop)

Beautiful as they might be, rolltop, slipper and other models of freestanding bathtubs are not always the best option for those after cheap bathroom suites and ideas. 

The most cost effective route to a traditional bath is to buy a very basic, standard bath and to drop it into a frame before adding traditional painted panelling. Here, the Milano Richmond White Traditional Single Ended Standard Bath, from Big Bathroom Shop, has been finished off with their Light Grey Panel.

8. Go glam with regal shades

blue and gold bathroom

Royal blue and glitzy gold lend a luxury feel to this traditional bathroom scheme.  (Image credit: Renaissance At Home)

Bathroom colour schemes are so important in both the way the room looks as well as how it feels to spend time in. You could take a muted, neutral and very elegant approach to your bathroom design — and this can work really well in traditional bathrooms. That said, there are other, more adventurous routes you might also like to consider — particularly if you fancy adding a modern flourish to your otherwise classic scheme. Those after small bathroom ideas shouldn't discount the use of bold colours — they can really make an impact. 

In this glamorous space, the fittings are very traditional in their design, yet they have been finished in a glitzy gold which, when pared with the rich royal blue shade on the walls, results in a brave yet warm space. 

The bath is the Galleon Cast Iron Hurlingham Bath from Renaissance At Home — a double slipper bath. It has been gilded in gold leaf. 

9. Finish walls off with timber panelling

bathroom with beam and wall panelling

Timber panelling works particularly well in bathrooms and is easy to fit on a DIY basis.  (Image credit: Future)

Using bathroom panelling ideas to achieve traditional style is an easy, cost-effective way to quickly finish off the walls in this space. Half-wall panelling is particularly practical in the bathroom as it can also be constructed in a way that provides a handy storage shelf on which to place toiletries and decorative objects. 

Within this renovation project, the bathroom has been located in the roof space, meaning the sloping ceiling has had to be taken into account in the overall design. The single-ended rolltop has been located under the lowest part of the ceiling, while the painted tongue-and-groove panelling has been built around the exposed timber beams.

10. Fit classic wallpaper for whimsical appeal

cloakroom with wallpaper

Many wallpaper ranges, suitable for use in bathrooms, are now available.  (Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

There are lots of ways to introduce pattern and personality into a traditional bathroom — and wallpaper should not be discounted. 

Thanks to the advent of bathroom-friendly wallpapers, specifically designed with moist and humid environments in mind, you now have the option to use wallpaper to form your bathroom splashback ideas or as an entire wall covering for maximum impact. 

In this highly-individual room within an Arts & Crafts style self build by Border Oak, William Morris Blackthorn wallpaper was chosen and has been paired with rich red painted panelling and a slate floor. The simple, wall-hung toilet adds a fresh modern feel to the space. 

11. Focus on getting the details right

bathroom with column radiator

Don't forget to consider your bathroom heating when designing the space.  (Image credit: BestHeating)

Getting traditional style right, be that on a self build or when it comes to interior schemes, is all about paying attention to the smaller details — they can make or break this kind of scheme. 

In bathrooms, seemingly smaller details, such as taps, your bathroom lighting ideas and even switches and sockets can make all the difference. You should also choose your towel warmer with care — a mismatched design really could ruin all your hard work. 

In traditional bathrooms, classic column style radiators, combined with hanging rails look perfect. This one is the Milano Elizabeth from BestHeating

12. Highlight architectural details with tiling

traditional bathroom with patterned tiles

Your tiling scheme should take into account any details you want to highlight as well as performing a practical role.  (Image credit: Richard Kiely)

When gathering bathroom tiling ideas, do make sure to consider their size and the pattern they will be laid in alongside their colour. You also want to carefully think through how they can be positioned to make the most of the space you are working with as well as any architectural features of note, such as intricate mouldings or an original fireplace. 

In the case of this renovation project, heritage style black and white tiles have been laid in an eye-catching zig-zagging herringbone pattern. They have been used both in the walk-in shower as well as a splashback behind the antique vanity stand which has been topped with a modern countertop basin. 


What are the best wall coverings for traditional bathrooms?

There are a number of ways to approach wall coverings in bathrooms but when it comes to traditional style spaces the best options tend to be tiles, wall panelling or wallpaper — or a combination of two or three of these.

Steer clear of very modern finishes, such as shower panels, as they tend not to sit as well with period details and classic sanitaryware and look best teamed with sleek and unfussy designs. 

What is a high-level WC?

There are several different types of toilet to consider when designing a traditional bathroom. 

In general, classic close-coupled toilets are a safe option — plus they are often the most cost-effective choice too. You might also like to consider a high-level toilet. These are made up of a separate cistern and pan and connected by a flush pipe, but have the cistern set higher up the wall. They feature old-fashioned chain pull flushes. You could also consider mid and low-level toilets, which are similar in design but have the cistern set at slightly lower heights.  

If you are looking to redesign your bathroom, take a look at our bathroom renovation cost guide as well as our piece on the best bathroom flooring and how to choose a shower.

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.