Inspiration For A Victorian-Style Bathroom

victorian-style fittings in a cottage room                                                                                                               from

Gill contacted mad about the house to ask for inspiration with choosing a victorian-style bathroom.

Q: The room is large and can take colours although I would ideally like to have light tiles on the walls in a brick style.

A: The bathroom as we know it now didn’t really come into being until the 1880s so it is properly a Victorian idea. Prior to that it was a question of tin baths in front of the fire and nipping outside to the lav. Having said that, although the Victorians are known for their ornate decorating style they did regard bathrooms as purely functional, whereas today there is a real movement to create a luxury spa feeling in that space.

image from

Anyway, history lesson over, what do you need and where should you go for a Victorian-style bathroom of your own?

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We might as well start with the raison d’etre of the room – the bath. It should be free-standing if possible and it should be clawfoot too. The one above has a straight end where the taps are so that it could be fixed against one wall  if there isn’t enough space to sit one right in the middle of the space.

this victorian-style bathroom in modern neutrals is for sale with victorian style bathroom for £630,000. It’s in Yorkshire.

You don’t say if you have a fireplace or not. I have installed a contemporary freestanding bath in the middle of my Victorian bathroom in front of the fireplace.

a modern bath in a victorian bathroom

Obviously a free-standing bath will require extra plumbing and thefloorstanding taps to go with it will be almost as expensive as the bath itself. You might as well know that now before you get carried away.

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A modern bath like mine above will be a lot lighter than a traditional cast iron one so you will also need the builder to check your floor joists before you choose that option. But another advantage to the clawfoot is that they can usually be painted in the colour of your choice which is a chance to make a statement or add a bold splash of colour if the walls and floors are light.

make a statement with a painted bath; try

Talking of walls and floors, obviously black and white flooring is a classic and striking option in a Victorian bathroom. I have dealt with that at greater length HERE so we’ll leave that for now. Although if you have floorboards that is warmer underfoot. Having said that, make sure they are sealed or a splashy bath is probably out of the question when it comes to the electrics on the floor below. As for the walls, again wooden panelling is a great look. It’s warmer than tiles and is another way to add colour.


Tongue and groove is cheap, easy to paint and, if you have a little ledge along the top like this, you can use it for storage – bottles of shampoo and the like.

If you’ve got the space a chair or a small table is a great addition too. The former to throw your clothes or towel on and the latter to rest a glass of wine and the radio while you soak in that giant bath.

You can see in the picture above the metro brick tiles. I bought mine fromTons of Tiles but went for the crackle glaze version. I agree with having a pale colour as that way the shower, which isn’t really a thing of beauty, disappears and the eye is drawn to a show-stopping bath and the decoration.

When it comes to colours, obviously the Victorians favoured rich colours – deep burgundys and purples but you can just play around with a paint chart from all the usual suspects and find one you like.

Victorian style basins tend to be large and square which gives you storage space on the sides.


This one makes a statement:

basin from

But you don’t have to be completely rigid about period. The picture below shows a modern basin surrounded by carrara marble, another popular feature in a Victorian style bathroom. Period detail has been added with the taps and the fabulous lights either side of the mirror.


Finally, heating. The classic Victorian-style heated towel rail is a mix of radiator and chrome legs as you can see in picture above. I don’t like them so I would suggest either an old school radiator from somewhere like the The Old Radiator Company or perhaps underfloor heating and a free-standing towel rail.

I hope this gives you some ideas. Below are some suggestions for places you can go to source your bathroom:

London console basin from cphart
shower mixer from



Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


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