Living in the UK means we are, more often than not, surrounded by Victorian architecture. Victorian homes, especially those with high ceilings, are sought after for their character and timeless appeal. I often hear friends asking whether they should embrace the architecture of their Victorian home and style it accordingly or whether they should 'modernise' it. I definitely feel that keeping the character intact will pay off long term - whether you are looking to stay or move.
Victorian bathrooms look sophisticated and grand and, when done properly, can add value to a home as well as beauty and nostalgia. So, I thought I would show you some of my favourite ways in which you can get this wonderful style infused in your bathroom. So here are the elements that truly make a Victorian bathroom.
1/ Encaustic tiles
If you live in a Victorian terrace home, you may be lucky enough to have some original tiles inside and outside your home. Victorians gave us many great things when it comes to architecture and interior design; think big sash windows, cast iron fireplaces. They also gave us encaustic tiles.
Back in those days, tiles were very expensive so that using them was limited to the main entrance and hallways. I read this exciting story about how Victorians came to create the cheap alternative known as encaustic tile. I recommend you read it too, this article is well researched and explains a lot about the process as well as the story behind the geometric shapes used in these tiles we so much love.
Victorian style tiles are easily recognisable. The Victorians loved a bold bathroom floor, they liked it to be quite striking and something that would instantly catch the eye. Their intelligent use of symmetry and colour lead to some incredible flooring tiles which still look wonderful today and are carefully reproduced in an affordable way.
For example, check out the fantastic selection that Original Style currently have to offer.
2/ The Bathtub
The bathtub is usually the focal point of any bathroom, yet so many of us are guilty of going for a plain white acrylic one and not really designing the bathroom around it. It doesn’t matter if you spend weeks updating the flooring, walls and fixtures, if your bathtub is plain then you are fighting a losing battle. However, you will be amazed at the difference that a new Victorian style tub can make to the bathroom!
There are some amazing white Victorian style bathtubs out there to choose from if you are afraid of choosing something with colour. The new Burligton Baths certainly fit the bill here.
Buckingham Slipper Bath with White Luxury Arc Feet, £958.00 Inc. vat, Burlington
London Bath with Curved Surround inc Overflow & Waste in Sand, £2499.00 Inc vat, Burlington
Windsor Double Ended 1700mm Bath with Chrome Traditional feet, £798.00 Inc vat.
Still, if you like colour, don’t be afraid to go bold here, be brave and choose something that catches the eye. It could pay off! You could choose a bathtub that boasts strong colour or beautiful patterns to help turn the room into one that oozes elegance and serenity. Remember that whatever style of bathtub you choose it will need to be relevant for the period.
Duke Blue 1695 Double Ended Roll Top Bath w. Ball + Claw Leg Set, Victorian Plumbing, under £400
Earl Blue 1750 Double Ended Roll Top Slipper Bath w. Ball + Claw Leg Set, Victorian Plumbing, under £550
Chatsworth 1770 Grey Double Ended Slipper Roll Top Bath, Victorian Plumbing, under £500.
Heritage Orford Double Ended Slipper Roll Top Bath (1700x740mm), Victorian Plumbing, under £1300
Image via Rockmystyle
3/ The Radiator
This may not be something that instantly springs to mind when you think of Victorian bathrooms, but it’s one that can make a big difference. A strong, gothic and dark radiator will ooze Victorian style instantly. Or if you prefer something a little lighter but still love the gothic and Victorian look then why not try pairing this up with brass. This adds a refreshingly bright take on this usually dark bathroom fixture.
Downton Abbey Harrow Traditional Heated Towel Rail, Victoria Plumbing, £235
Crosby Traditional Freestanding Towel Rail Column Radiator (850 x 673mm), under £400
Trafalgar radiator with angled valves, Burlington, £599
One of the easiest although not quickest ways of getting the Victorian look in the bathroom is by updating your yaps. It might not be a task that you can do yourself (I would never play with electrics or plumbing myself!) but it can really give your bathroom a complete new look.
While wall mounted taps is all the rage at the moment, if you want to complete the Victorian bathroom look you need to consider free standing taps or taps that are mounted on the bathtub.Their classic design is easy to recognise, and we like it because it feels very robust.
Wall mounted bath mixer and shower attachment. The Florin Collection brings together modern, rounded forms with the linear shapes synonymous with Art Deco design. Made in England using traditional techniques. V+A Baths
In this Victorian villa in London, the bathroom features a black blue Farrow & Ball painted bathtub and Oval room (also Farrow & Ball) walls. Images via Rockmystyle
Let's not forget this functional as well as fashionable items that is a must in all bathrooms (surprisingly, however, the previous owners of our current home thought mirrors were not a necessity in bathrooms and had their sinks in front of windows... urghh!).
Victorian mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, but to find something truly unique take a look here at what Selling Antiques have to offer. Their selection is as diverse as it is beautiful, so I am sure you will find something you love.
6/ Shelves and wash stands
There is more to it than just mirrors of course, why not update your shelving too. This large rustic ironwork shelf is perfect for the bathroom. It brings a wonderfully authentic Victorian feel to the room whilst also being very practical.
If you have the money and the room for it then why not invest in a stunning wash stand. A more expensive update, yes, but one that provides a truly unique style. If your bathroom is on the smaller side then don’t worry, there are still lots of things you can add to get the style! For example, if you were to add a small rustic shelf unit then you can add a slightly modern take on the timeless Victorian bathroom.
Polished Chrome washstand topped with a Lario 100 Solo basin, Victoria + Albert Baths
7/ Towel Rail
A simple towel rail can make a big difference, check out this wonderful item at Light In The Box. It can add a simple yet classic Victorian element to any bathroom of any size.
The Strand Bathroom Towel Radiator with Shelf, shown below (Burlington Bathrooms), is sturdily built and attractively finished in gleaming chrome with a functional design that offers greater practical use and visual charm than any conventional radiator. Measuring 406mm x 404mm, with a length of 642 mm it is also a neat space-saver, as the right-angled shelf offers space to dry out and warm several towels at once, as well as ensuring your bathroom is heated by the multiple heating pipes. And its open design means that it is no dust trap, unlike a conventional wall-mounted radiator.
Princeton Traditional Wall Hung Towel Rail Radiator (450 x 600mm), £170, Victorian Plumbing
I have written quite a few times about light and how it can really make or break the vibe in a room. If you want to known more about general, accent and task lights, do read this guide here. For your Victorian bathroom, do choose wall sconces like these (all available through Burlington).
9/ The walls
A more drastic thing to change but one that has one of the biggest impacts. Choosing to retile your bathroom is a big step so always know that you are 100% certain on this. It can be an expensive job if you have a large room but once it’s finished it will completely change the entire room.
If you’re looking to find a large selection of Victorian styles to choose from then check out Tons of Tiles. Their designs are as beautiful as they are stylish. A truly wonderful selection for all types of tastes.
And to complete the look, use accessories that replicate this style, and you will have a seamless design. The ARCADE collection from Burlington Bathrooms is quite extensive and you can see it below. A towel ring (£79) is a must as is a super cute soap holder (£79). The wall mounted toilet brush holder is £149. I love the fact that you can have a clutter free vanity/sink by having everything wall mounted.
Hopefully these tips help you to create your ideal Victorian bathroom.