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Top tips for achieving a dramatic Victorian bathroom design

Top tips for achieving a dramatic Victorian bathroom design

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The classic style of Victorian bathroom designs have been coming back into fashion as a love for traditional styles and cosy, cottage design has made a comeback in British homes. We’ve got plenty of modern Victorian bathroom ideas you can incoroporate into your space, and we never disappoint when it comes to floor ideas! Read on to find out how you can personalise Victorian bathroom tile ideas and design inspiration for your home. 

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Consilio Pearl - Arctic herringbone

A brief history of Victorian bathroom design

Victorian-style bathrooms have become a major trend in recent years, which is ironic considering that during that era, houses typically didn’t have indoor plumbing and certainly didn’t have a dedicated room for bathing! There was an outside loo, and most people used a potty under their bed, washed in a basin and jug in their bedroom, and if they wanted to have a proper bath, pulled a copper or tin tub in front of a fire, and heated water on the stove. So, what do we mean when we use the phrase Victorian bathroom?

While Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901, most people think of Victorian-era design from the late part of the 19th century, when there was a boom in domestic housing across the UK. It wasn’t really until after Victoria’s death that families begin to convert their homes to include a bathroom upstairs. But we still call that distinctive look a Victorian bathroom.

The typical style is a loo with the cistern high up on the wall with a chain pull, an ornate pedestal sink with decorative taps, a rolltop or slipper bathtub with embellished feet, wooden floorboards, and large, glossy tiles on the walls. If this is the dramatic look you’re trying to recreate, then read on as our easy-to-follow guide will give you all the pointers you need.

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Montilla Fazel - Texas Oak

Starting from the bottom up – Victorian bathroom floor ideas

So much of getting this look right begins with the flooring. The Victorians would’ve favoured floorboards, typically in pine for ordinary houses. But this isn’t practical these days in a room where there’s likely to be humidity, water splashes, and the potential for slips and marks. 

Although Victorian bathroom tiles are authentic for the walls, we wouldn’t recommend them on the floor as they’re cold to the touch, porous, and need to be maintained so the grouting doesn’t discolour. There are plenty of ways you can create the style of Victorian bathroom floor tiles, or wooden floorboards, but without the hassle. We’ll show you how.

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Tamar Black Trilliant AVEIRO

Laminate

Tapi sells several collections of laminate flooring, each one suitable for a Victorian-inspired bathroom. This is a cost-effective way of getting that lovely natural wooden plank look, but without the bother and expense of timber that warps or absorbs too much moisture. These laminates are water-resistant, and also easy to clean if you do have a spill or splash. And they’re also hardwearing for rooms that get humid, as bathrooms often do. What’s especially lovely about our laminates is that you can choose the colour of wood you’d prefer, to match your fixtures and fittings or to contrast them.

Vinyl

There are a dozen vinyls we’d recommend if you want to recreate that Victorian bathroom look. They come in different geometric patterns to mimic Victorian bathroom floor tiles, but these modern floors have many more advantages. First and foremost, they’re so much easier to fit than tiles, which need careful preparation and time to dry. With our vinyls, once they’ve been acclimatised to their surroundings, all you need to do is check the subfloor is sound, then lay them down.

Secondly, vinyl is so much warmer to the touch than tiles. You’ll appreciate this if you’ve ever got up in the night to go to the bathroom, or knelt on the floor to wash your hair, or your children or pets. Vinyl flooring is also cushioned so it’s quieter to walk on, and therefore kinder to the rest of the people in the house, too.

Luxury Vinyl Tiles or LVT

Luxury vinyl tiles or LVT is a sophisticated way to give your floor a Victorian-style look without the hassle of caring for natural timber. And once fitted, it will reward you with years of hardwearing style. It’s water-resistant, moisture-resistant and slip-resistant, which of course makes it perfect for a bathroom.

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Rapport Madelyn - Holly-Oak

Victorian bathroom décor

Anything goes to create a modern Victorian bathroom, but in the olden days they would’ve tiled the walls to keep the moisture out. Once again, tiling superstores will provide you with plenty of inspiration, selling collections in authentic shades of dark red, forest green, sea green or teal blue, some ranges with matching bordered tiles.

If your bathroom can take it, you could even wallpaper the top two-thirds of the room in a traditional Victorian-style wallpaper, or else we’d suggest you continue the colourway by painting the walls in a water-resistant dark and brooding colour to offset the white sanityware. Stained glass, wooden panels, and ornate mouldings complete the look.

Fixtures and fittings

As we’ve said, the unique look of a Victorian bathroom furniture can be adapted easily for a modern bathroom. Most high street DIY stores will have something that fits the bill. We’d suggest you go for white sanitaryware, with wooden panels, and details and accessories in traditional materials like ceramic and wood to get that authentic look. You don’t necessarily have to blow the budget on a claw-footed freestanding copper bath, but if can afford it, why not go for it? Prices range from a minimum of £1,000 before fitting costs.

Storage

Unlike modern sinks, Victorian pedestal sinks don’t have cupboards underneath, and if you opt for a freestanding bath you won’t have shelves or flat surfaces nearby on which to store shampoo or other products. Some sinks have a towel rail attached, but most don’t. So getting enough storage space, particularly in a small modern Victorian bathroom, can be tricky. We’d suggest using a lidded wicker hamper-cum-basket on the floor, or a wall-mounted cupboard or cabinet, with a panelled front, to keep in the same style while staying practical. You could also pick up a freestanding towel rail in wood or brass at a charity or bric a brac shop, or install open shelving to house towels, toothbrushes or other bathroom essentials.

Hopefully we’ve inspired you to recreate the dramatic look of a Victorian bathroom in your own home – for more inspiration, why not check out our Victorian kitchen design tips, or our guide to nailing the gothic interior design trend? If you need help with getting the perfect flooring, why not pop into your local Tapi store? Our friendly team of floorologists will be able to advise you on what will suit your home best, then arrange the perfect fit. 

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Published: 04-01-2023