Well-Decorated Vintage-Style Bathroom

In an old house or one built in a revival style, default to the look of early 20th-century bathrooms with white fixtures.
Publish date:
old-house powder room

A powder room in the house shows that this is a perfect place to indulge.    

These bathrooms were designed for a new-old house in Vermont, one loosely patterned after Hildene in nearby Manchester, which was built in 1905 for Robert Todd Lincoln. Interior designer Amy Thebault designed five bathrooms for the house, each of them classic and traditional but with a twist. Every bathroom has white subway tiles, and all bath fittings are from the same suite by Waterworks. Marble mosaic floors and marble countertops are practical if luxurious classics. Owing to such details as well as exposed plumbing, the rooms look as if they could date to the early 20th century.

Still, each bath has its own identity, created with wall coverings and textiles. Thebault, who was trained as a scenic painter, admits to a preference for wall coverings over paint. “Adding color to the upper walls gives each bathroom a finished, three-dimensional look,” she says. 

green and white vintage wallpaper

“Adding color to the upper walls gives each bathroom a finished, three-dimensional look,” says Amy Thebault.

1. A small room is fun
A powder room in the house shows that this is a perfect place to indulge. Even expensive wallpaper is affordable if you don’t need much of it. You won’t get tired of strong color or pattern in a room used just minutes at a time.

2. Black & white virtue
White tile and plumbing fixtures and a black-and-white scheme will always be classic. Shiny chrome and glass add another dimension. With its pictorial pattern, toile is an excellent choice for an otherwise restrained room.

3. Well furnished
Using an antique table as a vanity, adding a lamp, hanging artwork: furnishing a bathroom ties it to the rest of the house. Here, antique botanical prints that introduce color to the room are treated to deep ebonized and gilded frames.

4. Touch of informality
Tile around the tub changes over to a beaded-board wainscot in the rest of the room. Painted white, it is both sophisticated and cottage-informal, and another classic finish for service rooms in old houses.

Bathroom Inspiration

‘Seneca’ lav set from  House of Antique Hardware

‘Seneca’ lav set. 

The vintage-style ‘Seneca’ lav set from House of Antique Hardware has those unique French cross handles. Solid brass, available in four finishes including chrome. The spout has a 5 /" reach. houseofantiquehardware.com

Kassatex’s French-inspired glazed porcelain

Kassatex’s French-inspired glazed porcelain accessories.

Kassatex’s French-inspired glazed porcelain accessories have subtle, platinum-tone detailing. Pieces are sold separately. Many more at kassatex.com; this set, ‘Le Bain’, sold through wayfair.com.

Kerry Caffyn’s ‘Dotty Dinosaurs’ in Green

Kerry Caffyn’s ‘Dotty Dinosaurs’ in Green.

Not quite a toile, definitely a twist on tradition: Kerry Caffyn’s ‘Dotty Dinosaurs’ in Green. Drawn in pointillism style, the creatures are perfectly placed for exquisite symmetry. Great for a kid’s bedroom or paleontologist’s powder room; sold via wallpaperdirect.com

Related Articles

Products of the Week

Indow Windows

Indow Window Inserts

Enjoy modern comfort while preserving the charm of your original windows. Indow window inserts press inside your window frames without a mounting bracket to give you all the comfort and efficiency of high-end replacement windows.



A toughened, versatile, liquid epoxy for permanent waterproof bonding of fiberglass, ceramics, metals, plastics, damp and difficult-to-bond woods. G/flex can make structural bonds that absorb the stress of expansion, contraction, and vibration. Ideal for bonding dissimilar materials.