Guide to different styles of bathrooms

Three different bathroom styles – traditional, maximalist, and Art Deco

Traditional, contemporary… and what else? There are so many bathroom looks out there, it can be hard to keep an overview. But don’t worry – we’ve compiled a handy guide to help you find the right style.

Many bathroom styles, of course, fit into those two main categories – traditional and contemporary. But if we look deeper, there are many, more detailed descriptions – and today, we’re breaking down some of the latest looks, with plenty of ideas on how to incorporate them into your own home.

So, are you ready? Then let’s begin…

1. The traditional bathroom style

Whether you prefer Edwardian or Victorian bathroom styles, or maybe something else entirely, this is the choice for you.

How you approach your traditional-looking bathroom depends not only on the era, but also your personal taste. You don’t have to go full-on historical recreation – you can simply pick and choose elements you like. Then, pair them with modern elements, or keep to traditional items that have been given a bit of an update.

Of course, there are pieces that are forever popular and still enjoy lots of love today. Think glossy metro tiles, for example. Popularised in the bathroom styles of the Victorian era (especially in a lush shade of dark green), you can find them in all shades and sizes these days.

Make sure your chosen design matches the era of your house for a cohesive look. If you don’t, it can easily look jumbled together – unless, of course, you update your traditional look a little, to bring it into the 21st century.

Traditional bathroom styles often feature highlight colours, such as the dark green bath in this picture, paired with more neutral elements
Canvas Chalk Paint, £55.95 for 2.5 litres, Annie Sloan.
Patterned Victorian tales in a monochrome
Victorian Centro Viena tile, £23.99 per sq m, Tile Mountain.
A black bathtub on checkerboard flooring with a stained glass window film
Green Flutterby stained glass window film, from £13.75, Purlfrost.

2. The rustic style

Keeping with the warm theme, this type of bathroom style features lots of real wood (or very convincing lookalikes). Think exposed ceiling beams, wooden floorboards, and maybe even raw, slightly rough wooden furniture.

Pair it with lots of textured fabrics to really hone in on the look. Linen is a firm favourite, but cotton and some velvets also work.

Although these bathrooms are rustic, that doesn’t mean they have to be outdated. You can easily bring it into the present time by choosing modern furniture – simply make sure to pick warm tones and rough, untreated finishes to achieve the right feel.

Rustic bathrooms feature plenty of wood, texture, and deep colours
Zeena Ancares herringbone grey vinyl, £39.99 per sq m, Carpetright.

3. Art Deco bathroom styles

Sitting somewhat between traditional and modern, this look is having a bit of a revival at the moment – maybe because we’re in the 20s ourselves.

We all know the iconic looks that evoke a feeling of living in your own version of The Great Gatsby. You can choose to go dark and moody, or to opt for bright colours – what really matters in an Art Deco space are the finishing touches.

Patterns are one of the key elements to making these bathroom styles work. Think the iconic sunrise motif, as well as fans, zigzags, geometric patterns, sweeping curves and, of course, triangular shapes.

Metallic brassware and other finishing touches are an absolute must for Art Deco designs. Gold is a popular option, but silver works too – especially in darker schemes. Just make sure you pick the same tone for all elements, to create a true feel of luxury and glamour.

Art Deco bathroom in orange and pink
Cameron pink Art Deco style diamond-pattern wallpaper, £69 per roll, Bobbi Beck.
A basin placed in an arch-shaped niche with red patterned Art Deco-style tiles
Art Deco inspiration: Manoir Deco tile in Tayberry, £4.28 each, Original Style.

4. The maximalist design

Reportedly, Coco Chanel’s advice for a perfect outfit was “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”.

For this bathroom style, we’re flipping the designer’s old adage – when you think you’ve created the perfect scheme, see if you can add just one more thing. ‘Bold is beautiful’ is very much the motto when creating a maximalist statement.

Nothing is too dark or too bright; it’s all about clever pairings and making different elements work. Find complementary colours – blue and yellow, for example, work well together. It’s all about striking the right balance, so think about how you use shades almost more than you worry about the palette.

For example, pick a highlight shade, and then choose bright accessories in a complimentary tone to really make both pop. For brassware, black is always a good idea – but you can also find colourful taps, so what’s stopping you?

A dark and moody bathroom featuring a large black tub, dark wallpaper, and dark shutters
Full-height shutters custom painted in Little Greene‘s Ambleside, price on application, Hillarys.
A green vanity with pink botanical wallpaper and white metro tiles
Mindthegap Palm Springs mural, £195 for three panels, Wallpaper Direct.
Victorian-style basin with green botanical wallpaper and green metro tiles
Divine Plumage wallpaper in Emerald, £150 per roll, Divine Savages.

5. Industrial bathroom styles

Less focused on the colour palette and more working with materials, these designs are all about combining practicality with effortless, fuss-free style.

Black and chrome are must-have finishes, paired with raw materials such as wood (just make sure it’s suitable for use in the bathroom – it tends to warp in moist environments), stone, concrete, or exposed brick walls.

The industrial style can feel cold, so make sure to break it up a little. Tactile textiles work very well, but you can also inject a pop of colour into the scheme to make it yours.

Soft industrial bathroom with walk-in shower and patterned flooring
Soft industrial bathroom with a steel-framed shower enclosure by Victoria Plum.
Industrial style bathroom with concrete basin, black tap and steel mirror
Docklands mirror with shelf 50cm x 80cm in black, £275, Origins Living.

6. Scandi and Japandi

Minimalist, chic, but still warm – these two bathroom styles are like the little black dress of interior design. Always in fashion, they are built around the concepts of minimalism, the use of natural materials, and a Zen approach on life.

Characterised by calm, neutral hues, these schemes are pared-back but warm, with practical, understated furniture that still looks beautiful.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use colour at all, by the way. But instead of opting for bright, saturated shades, choose more muted tones – think a soft rose, rather than a hot pink, or a gentle sage. Deep shades work well, too, from navy to forest green; just make sure to use them as focal points, and to pair them with a brighter neutral palette that lifts the whole scheme.

A gold radiator in a Japandi scheme
Lupin radiator in Satin Gold, from £304 excluding valves, The Radiator Company.
Scandinavian-inspired vanity in a calm bathroom scheme
Fairmont vanity unit, price on application, Roper Rhodes.

7. Contemporary bathrooms

The final style in our list, these layouts are decidedly modern and yet won’t date easily. Think oval baths – whether white or in a striking colour, from bright red to deep black – paired with sleek brassware and beautiful, fuss-free furniture.

Other popular design elements include minimalist shower screens and fittings in finishes such as rose gold, black, or gunmetal. If there’s a must-have in these bathroom styles, it’s open shelving, which may also appear as a handy niche to store toiletries in the shower area. Add waterproof LED lights to wash a soft glow down the wall and turn them into a true feature.

Monochrome tiles go well with this style, but there is the option of being bold. You can pick different laying patterns, use contrasting colours to zone your space, or choose a highlight tile – such as a floral design, or one with an iridescent effect – to add impact and personality.

Another key element? Walk-in showers. The mentioned screens might have hinted at it, but contemporary bathrooms are all about combining style and practicality. Walk-in enclosures are not only elegant, creating a hotel feeling at home, they are also great for future proofing your home. A built-in bench or seat not only ups the accessibility and allows kids or older members of the household to be more independent, it also looks stylish. You might think you don’t need it, but even if you don’t, it can provide valuable extra storage.

A contemporary space with an oval bath and a neutral colour palette
Milano Irwell white modern double-ended freestanding bath, £947.99, Big Bathroom Shop.
A sleek shower enclosure with pink tiles
Grandera brassware in Warm Sunset, price on application, Grohe.

So, no matter which bathroom styles you prefer, in the end there’s only one firm rule: as long as your new scheme matches your taste and expresses your personality, everything is allowed. So, what are you waiting for?

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