An old world main bathroom design evokes a sense of timeless elegance and charm. With careful attention to detail and classic styling, this bathroom trend combines comfort and luxury for a relaxing personal sanctuary. From ornate fixtures to natural materials, every element works together to transport you to a bygone era of sophistication. Read on to learn more about achieving this refined look for your main bathroom.

Defining The Old World Style

The old world style has its origins in European architecture and design over the last several centuries. Hallmarks of this classic aesthetic include:

  • Ornate detailing – Elaborate moldings, carved accents, and striking metalwork on fixtures and furnishings.
  • Natural materials – Stone, marble, granite, hardwoods, and tile in earthy neutrals and textures.
  • Traditional shapes – Arches, neutral backsplashes, pedestal sinks, and clawfoot tubs evoke classic forms.
  • Vintage accents – Incorporate antique mirrors, sconces, paintings, and other accessories.
  • Warm, elegant color palette – Stick to creamy off-whites, beiges, browns, blacks, and gold accents.
  • Handcrafted quality – Well-made pieces with meticulous detail hold up over time.

This timeless look evokes the splendor of European palaces and luxury estates. When thoughtfully executed, these hallmarks come together to create a main bathroom with old world charm and grace.

Selecting Fixtures and Furnishings

Bathroom fixtures and furnishings in keeping with old world style should have an elegant, sophisticated look and feel. Avoid modern elements in favor of vintage or vintage-inspired décor.


For a true old world aesthetic, consider a clawfoot tub or slipper tub featuring ornamental claw feet and sloped ends. Cast iron or porcelain tubs with a smooth, curved rim add to the vintage vibe. Freestanding tubs make a striking statement.

Clawfoot tub

A classic clawfoot tub fits perfectly in an old world bathroom


Pedestal sinks and wall-mounted sinks with rounded or ornate edges work well. Look for porcelain construction with decorative basins. For a unique focal point, consider a carved stone sink resting on a vanity.

Pedestal sink

A pedestal sink adds old world charm


Bridge faucets and widespread faucets in polished chrome, nickel, or brass with cross handles deliver a vintage look. Flowing, curved spouts complement other old world features.


Consider round, dome-shaped shower heads and rainfall shower heads, which lend an ornate feel. Incorporate patterns and designs into shower tile. Frameless glass doors maintain an open aesthetic.


Sconces, chandeliers, and wall-mounted lamps work well for lighting accents. Look for crystals, curved metalwork, candle-shaped bulbs, and warm light. Vanity lighting should match the overall old world style.


Vintage artwork in gilded frames, fog-free mirrors, rolled towels in ceramic bins, and woven baskets all enhance the overall old world look. For shelving, open cabinets and solid wood display pieces enable organized storage and display.

Selecting Flooring and Wall Finishes

Flooring and wall options should have an elegant but understated look and feel. Stick to natural materials like stone and tile for long-lasting quality and beauty.


Marble, granite, travertine, and limestone are classic choices that give an immediate old world feel underfoot. To carry the aesthetic throughout the space, opt for large tiles or slabs. Mosaic designs also add visual interest.

Hardwoods like oak, maple, and mahogany provide warmth. Arrange the boards in a herringbone or chevron pattern for ornate detailing.

Finished concrete can offer a seamless look that resembles other natural stone flooring options.

Wall Finishes

Subway tiles are classic wall covering options, especially when adorned with contrasting trim and mosaic accents.

Penny tiles in natural hues are another excellent choice for bathrooms. Use them to create a striking focal point or backsplash behind the sinks.

Mosaic tiles lend ornate style and come in a range of natural stones like marble or granite. Arrange in eye-catching patterns.

Consider applying wallpaper with damask prints or other intricate patterns for a pop of color and texture.

Painted walls should stick to neutral, earthy hues like beige, gray, and brown. Add ** chair rail molding** for an extra touch of vintage elegance.

Chair rail molding

Chair rail molding accents classic wallpaper

Creating An Old World Layout

A few simple design principles can transform the layout and makeover your bathroom with vintage elegance:

  • Focus on natural light – generous windows, skylights, and sun tunnels maximize brightness.
  • Incorporate arches – arched doorways and niches add architectural detail.
  • Build out a tub surround – frame in the tub area with an ornate enclosure.
  • Add wainscoting – take wood paneling up a few feet for a sophisticated touch.
  • Use room dividers – etched glass, beaded curtains, or folding screens separate spaces subtly.
  • Include built-in shelving – display towels and toiletries in solid wood cabinets.
  • Go for his/hers vanities – two ornate sinks lend a luxury hotel vibe.

These strategies enhance the overall old world style while delivering an indulgent, functional bathroom retreat.

Selecting Plumbing Pieces

The finishing plumbing touches offer the perfect chance to integrate ornate accents and vintage detailing. Focus on high-quality materials and craftsmanship.


Lever-style handles in materials like porcelain, nickel, or bronze have an old world look, often with delicate shapes and curves. Look for matching sets that include the tub, sink, and shower fixtures.


Choose a simple overhead design or add a rainfall showerhead. Incorporate advanced features like multiple settings and easy-clean nozzles to enjoy modern performance with a vintage exterior.

Towel Racks, Rings, And Holders

Metal finishes like polished brass suit an old world aesthetic. Look for curves and ornate shapes in these accent pieces, like a towel ring shaped like a seashell.

Robes Hooks and Coat Hooks

Hooks with a vintage vibe feature filigree shapes and patterns. Porcelain and crystal knobs give closet essentials extra elegance.

Toilet Paper Holders

Metal or ceramic holders carry the ornate detailing of other hardware pieces, adding sophistication.

Luxury Bidets

Consider incorporating an advanced luxury bidet toilet to enjoy modern comforts and performance while maintaining old world styling in one fixture. The right model has adjustable settings, heated seats, and an elegant exterior.

By playing up the ornate detailing on essential plumbing fixtures, you add striking finishing touches to complete the old world look.

Incorporating Natural Materials

Natural materials are a hallmark of old world design in any space. In the bathroom, stone, wood, and metal all help achieve a sense of timeless sophistication.


Marble countertops, travertine floors, and granite sinks immediately give the room an elegant feel. Limestone tiles, slate wainscoting, and river rock touches complete the look. Stick to polished, neutral finishes.


Rich wood vanities, cabinets, and shelves add warmth. Opt for oak, walnut, teak, and mahogany to match the overall color scheme.


Brass, bronze, and nickel faucets, sconces, and trim infuse ornate style. Wrought iron or antique bronze handles and accents complement without overpowering.

By bringing the beauty of natural elements into your bathroom, you tap into the essence of classic, time-tested design. Ensure these materials are well-sealed and moisture resistant.

Creating An Old World Color Palette

An old world color palette relies on warm, neutral shades that feel elegant and timeless. Stick to a cohesive scheme throughout the space.

Off-whites like cream, eggshell, and linen make excellent main wall colors. They keep the space feeling light and airy.

Beiges and tans in varying intensities add subtle contrast on accent walls or tile backsplashes.

Light brown hues bring in more depth without darkness. Use on wood finishes and tile accents.

Greys like dove grey or smoke grey provide versatile neutral shades that complement other tones.

Black finishes on metalwork, mirrors, and sconces make bold accents throughout.

Metallic gold and bronze touches on fixtures or tile infuse glamour.

Then pull in texture and patterns through wallpaper, wainscoting, mosaic tiles, or chair rail molding. Keep patterns and prints ornate like damask, floral, or geometric. The overall effect is a soothing, welcoming color experience.

Creating An Old World Mood With Lighting

Proper lighting sets the mood and showcases ornate details. Use a combination of natural light, overhead fixtures, and accent lamps to illuminate the space.

Natural light should take center stage. Generous windows, skylights, and sun tunnels maximize sunshine. Use semi-sheer drapes to filter light softly.

Sconces mounted on the wall provide a warm, ambient glow while accentuating ornate metalwork and vintage shapes. Place these near vanities or adjacent to mirrors.

Overhead pendant lights hang above the tub or over the full vanity area as needed. Go for intricate shapes, cascading crystals, or Edison bulbs.

Chandeliers make stunning focal points, especially in larger bathrooms. Choose curved arms, fabric lampshades, and crystal accents for ornate detailing.

Accent lighting like recessed lights, cove lighting, or lanterns boost overall illumination. Use dimmers to control mood and ambiance.

By layering multiple sources of light, you can highlight the best features of your old world bathroom design while creating a relaxing retreat.

Tips For Achieving An Authentic Look

When designing an old world bathroom, focus on integrating genuine vintage pieces and high-quality materials for an authentic aesthetic that stands the test of time. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Source real antiques – visit antique stores and estate sales to find mirrors, sconces, or accent furniture with cherished history.
  • Invest in natural materials like stone, wood, and metal. Enjoy how they patina over time.
  • Seek out small bathtubs or toilets to emulate the smaller proportions of vintage bathrooms.
  • Choose freestanding, ornate tubs as opposed to built-in for flexibility.
  • Incorporate vintage hardware on cabinets, vanities, and walk-in closets.
  • Focus on craftsmanship and fine details like carved legs, etched glass, and unique tilework.
  • Add one standout ornate element as a focal point, like a crystal chandelier or gilded mirror.

The right combination of genuine antiques, high-end materials, and custom craftsmanship helps create a main bathroom with authentic old world style and soul.

Designing For Modern Functionality

While honoring the vintage aesthetic, an old world main bathroom still needs to function for today’s needs. Focus on enhancing usability and comfort.


Built-in shelving, bathroom cabinets, and linen closets keep essentials organized but out of sight. Consider glass-front cabinets to display cherished pieces while increasing access.


Cushioned benches, plush bath mats, towel warmers, and ventilation fans make the space more comfortable and usable every day. Incorporate universal design features like grab bars, non-slip surfaces, and easy-access showers.


Take advantage of modern technology like motorized adjustable lighting, Bluetooth sound systems, heated floors, infrared saunas, and online connectivity to enhance the experience. Conceal wiring and mechanics for a seamless look.


Choose fixtures and faucets with convenience-oriented features like touchless controls, dual showerheads, easy-clean finishes, and built-in night lights to enjoy the best of both worlds.


A double vanity provides his/hers spaces. Built-in towel racks, hooks, and benches streamline getting ready. Include a dressing area for added functionality.

With smart incorporation of modern amenities, your old world bathroom can stay true to its vintage style while offering contemporary ease and convenience.

Common Questions about Old World Bathrooms

What is an old world bathroom?

An old world bathroom is designed to evoke the elegance and luxury of previous eras with vintage styling. Signature features include ornate detailing, natural materials like stone and wood, arched accents, and vintage-inspired fixtures with metals like brass and bronze. The overall look is timeless sophistication.

What colors work well in an old world bathroom?

Stick to a neutral color palette of off-whites, beiges, greys, browns, and blacks. Accent with metallics like gold and bronze. Avoid bright colors that feel too modern. Bring in color and vibrance through antique wallpaper, tilework, or wainscoting.

What type of tile is best for an old world bathroom?

Subway tile, penny tile, and encaustic cement tile are classic options that bring in ornate, geometric patterns without feeling outdated. Marble, travertine and limestone tiles in natural tones also complement the aesthetic beautifully.

What flooring works in an old world bathroom?

Natural stone like marble, travertine, slate, and granite floor Old World elegance. Hardwoods like oak or walnut, arranged in herringbone, chevron, or hexagon patterns make a striking statement. Finished concrete can mimic other materials seamlessly.

What lighting works best in an old world bathroom?

Focus on overall brightness with abundant natural light. Then layer in overhead fixtures like crystal chandeliers and beautiful sconces. Add accent lighting like lanterns, vanity lighting, and dimmable recessed lighting to finish the space.

How do you decorate an old world bathroom on a budget?

Source vintage and antique accents second-hand. Refresh old furniture pieces with new knobs or paint. Use subway tile, vinyl wallpaper, or paint to recreate ornate patterns. Repurpose pieces like dressers and mirrors from other rooms. Focus ornate accents in one or two feature areas instead of throughout.

Achieving Timeless Grace

With careful attention to detail, ornate accents, and vintage styling, an old world main bathroom creates a personal spa-like retreat. Honor traditional craftsmanship and materials while integrating modern functionality and performance. Soon you’ll have a space with timeless grace and character that becomes your own personal sanctuary, evoking the splendor and allure of bygone eras.