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212 Upper Buitengracht
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Jaime-Lee Gardner
072 171 1979

Louise Martin
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Classic bathroom style

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Vintage bathrooms, done with style, are timeless masterpieces.

A classic-style bathroom doesn’t need to look dated. In fact, vintage can look absolutely on trend, with subway tiles, pedestal basin and ball-and-claw bath all in the mix.


The freestanding bath

Nothing shouts out ‘classic’ quite like a freestanding bathtub, and the Victorian-style ball-and-claw bath is a timeless bathroom centrepiece. Take a look at Bella Bathrooms’s Hampshire, a classic Edwardian bath, or the Richmond bath, an elegant double-ended roll-top bath featuring Art Deco feet.


‘A freestanding bath makes a statement, and today you have a thin rim, which provides the same internal bath measurements while cutting down the overall space required to fit the  bath in,’ says Deon Katzin of Bella Bathrooms.


Victoria & Albert, retailed through Vanda Baths, also boasts a great variety of traditional styles, in sizes to suit any space.


Retro shapes and accessories

Sanitaryware in the past favoured stately shapes in basins, baths and faucets that featured stylised lines, sweeping curves and Vintage bathrooms, done with  style, are timeless masterpieces. ornate details to reflect historically renowned furniture and architectural designs.


‘You can create your core timeless  bathroom, then layer accents with details like wallpaper and accessories like ceiling medallions,’ suggests Ronelle Badenhorst, commercial director for Kohler.


Rose gold is another delightful return to olde worlde style, and it’s appearing in showerheads and faucets, which also come in vintage brass and chrome finishes.  Rose gold has even been introduced to the heated towel rails and other accessories at your top-end bathroom suppliers.



The black-and-white chequerboard floor is fabulously retro, and is achieved with classical-looking ceramic black and white tiles and/ or mosaics. ‘Matt black and matt white porcelain tiles can be combined in many ways. Most classical bathrooms use a regular or diamond chequerboard style, but you can also go for octagonal or hexagon shapes using mosaics,’ says Nicole Russell, marketing manager for Italtile. Hexagonal tiles, in particular, are hot and bang on trend. ‘The interesting honeycomb shape of hexagonal tiles will make a huge impact on the look and feel of any room.

As such, you don’t need to go overboard with colour, texture or design,’ says Johnny Lamprecht from Bathroom Bizarre. Another hot retro look is the subway tile, which is enjoying a huge comeback on bathroom walls and floors. ‘The old favourite, traditional size of the subway tile, as well as the classical, neutral colours of black, white and grey, remain. However, these days you can get them textured, which gives the sense of depth and movement from one tile to the next,’ says Russell. At Tile Collage is a selection of Spanish porcelain tiles, Skyros, designed to replicate a vintage or Moresque encaustic pattern. Or, to evoke 1950s Cuba, take a look at the stunning Havana series – glazed porcelain stoneware in six shaded colours and numerous designs.

Tips for creating a timeless bathroom

  • A light, neutral colour scheme will keep your bathroom relevant in any age.
  • If you already have brightly coloured retro tiles, paint the walls white and keep everything else light.
  • Lots of black and white tiles? Offset this by painting the room a refreshing shade like sky blue.
  • Include a freestanding bath, to make a lasting ‘sculptural’ statement.
  • Incorporate finishes such as nickel or marble, which have proven themselves relevant throughout several historic eras.
  • For cabinetry, walls and floors, use tried-and-tested materials: stone, brick, tile and wood.

Helen Grange

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