Old Meets New: Creating a Classic Contemporary Bathroom
Envisage a classically styled bathroom brought up to date with modern, reliable engineering. By mixing and matching the best elements of traditional and contemporary bathrooms, you can create a unique space designed for modern living without compromising on character. Read on for some pointers on creating a classic contemporary bathroom that’ll rival the efforts of any interior designer.
Classic contemporary bathroom design ideas
The best piece of advice I can offer you is to choose a freestanding bath. These work well in both traditional and modern bathroom settings and can really tie the two looks together. Choose a claw foot bath and make a statement by painting it in the colour of your choice, or go contemporary with the clean silhouette of a bateau bath.
Next, the washbasin. In traditional bathrooms you’ll often see a large, ornate square pedestal sink. I like these because they have ample space for all my lotions and potions, and work well in traditional and contemporary bathrooms alike provided the correct balance is struck elsewhere. Having said that, built-in basins can give a cleaner look, with plumbing hidden in the wall or a cupboard underneath.
When it comes to toilets, it really depends whether you’re angling towards a Victorian look or want something more streamlined. A traditional style with a high cistern and chain pull is great for achieving a period feel but could overwhelm some spaces, whereas a modern WC with hidden plumbing and soft-close lid will fade seamlessly into the background, leaving other features to do the talking.
If you want a shower over the bath, you could either have one fitted to an adjacent wall (massive shower head compulsory), or, if the tub is located in the centre of the room, plumb a classic deck-mounted bath-shower mixer tap into the bath. Another alternative is to choose a ceiling-mounted waterfall shower for a modern twist, although this is likely to up the budget significantly.
Shower enclosures are somewhat more problematic, not being the most picturesque of things. I would suggest playing these down with neutral colours, tiling that blends into the background and modern, barely-there glass panels to let other features do the talking.
Faucets, fixtures and fittings
Look for classically styled taps and accessories updated for the modern bathroom. Chrome is usually a safe bet, but if you’re feeling daring you could experiment with brushed steel and glass, or even brass, silver nickel or antique gold, including porcelain handles to emphasise the traditional element.
As far as brands go, Miller excels at combining traditional and modern styles for a timeless and fuss-free finish. If you prefer a period look, check out classic names like Imperial, Burlington and Perrin & Rowe. Alternatively, for a contemporary twist, look to Vado, which produces fittings and faucets in exciting, space-age shapes for a modern style update.
Before you jump in and redecorate your bathroom, take a step back. Is there anything there already that could be used as a feature to help bridge the gap between classic and contemporary styles? Interesting things like exposed beams, tongue and groove wall panelling and wooden parquet flooring all deserve emphasis to bring an authentic and unique element to the space.
Natural materials provide an ideal means for merging styles from different periods. For example, natural stone wall tiles or sections of exposed brick are common features of the modern, spa-like bathroom, but can look equally if not more effective paired with period features such as a roll-top bath and lavish pedestal basin.
Next, decide what colours and patterns (if applicable) will be required to complement existing features whilst adding interest. Think outside the box: monochrome geometric tiles may have traditionally been paired with white walls and hardwood cabinetry, but where’s the harm in adding a bright or pastel somewhere for a touch of whimsy? Or perhaps you could go more serious with a colour like deep indigo or slate in a matte finish? Why not lay those tiles in an unusual way for a modern twist?
The finishing touches
Now that you have the bare bones of your classic contemporary bathroom, it should be easier to fill in the gaps. Lighting deserves special attention, as it can make or break the mood of the space. If your bathroom is large enough and has high ceilings, a pendant can add atmosphere and character, whilst decorative wall lights are ideal for framing vanity areas and brightening up dark corners.
Such lavish lighting is unlikely to work in tighter spaces and those that are already brimming with intricate details. If that sounds like your bathroom, I would suggest having simple spotlights fitted in such a way that they highlight your favourite features.
At this point you could either leave your bathroom as it is for a minimalist finish or soften the look with plants and accessories. If you want to emphasise the vintage aspect, add antique wall art, retro soap dispensers and a French baroque-style chair.
You could also use accessories to play on the old-meets-new theme, for example by adding not one but several antique-style mirrors arranged in an unconventional manner.
Et voila: a classic contemporary bathroom that’ll wow your guests and make interior design aficionados green with envy.