To Create a Victorian Style Bathroom you should first cast aside the idea that everything should match! A Victorian-era inspired bathroom is quite the opposite!
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What You really want is an eclectic mix of patterns and textures! And the good news? It needn’t be expensive! Forever the budget conscious decorator, I upcycled, bargain hunted and DIY’d my way to a bathroom that is finally in keeping with my Victorian House. Here’s how I did It….
Important Elements In A Victorian Bathroom
A traditional victorian bathroom is all about colour, pattern and texture. Ideally you want a traditional toilet, sink basins and tiles. You want to add wood elements, period mirrors and pictures, soft lighting, and candles. Traditional radiators, vintage inspired showers and freestanding baths are also preferable. Most of these elements are easily available online, ebay or on your Friendly Facebook marketplace!
Embrace the Unusual!
Now we’re talking! Victorian Decor is right up my street! Rich, dark, bold, Moody and unusual! Some would consider it brave! But for me, it feels normal, my taste has always been weirdly eclectic! I love the quirky and unusual!
You know the ‘ugly’ nik naks you find in charity shops? Those weird little pieces that you wonder who on earth would buy …that would be me! I’m the culprit! All the Ugly stuff is in my house!
My Salt Pig for example, £2 from the Charity shop, bought by my husband as a Joke…but the joke’s on him, because I love it! My mum thinks its the ugliest thing she’s ever seen!
But I digress! The point im trying to make is…its ok to embrace the unusual! In fact, in victorian decor… it’s almost expected.
Let’s Talk Colour And Wallpaper!
What Colour were traditional Victorian Bathrooms? It varied, but mostly they were dark and rich colours, mostly crimson red, dark greens and even black were favoured and occasionally cream. For the most part Victorian Bathrooms had an almost gothic feel.
Wallpaper For A Victorian Bathroom – The main characteristics of a good Victorian style wallpaper are bold, patterned and highly detailed wall coverings. Think…Florals, landscape themes, birds and other animals. Choose rich, bold colours combined with neutral tan tones to make your Cabinetry pop! Gothic, Rococo and Eastern styles work best.
Shop My Bathroom…
Some Horrible History! Did You Know that Victorian Wallpaper could kill ?
Victorian Wallpaper could be very hazardous to your health! The root of the problem started with the Colour green! A swedish Chemist by the name of Carl Sheele created a bright shade of green using Copper Arsenite and called it ‘Sheeles green’.
So beautiful was the colour that it soon became a favourite of artists and middle-class consumers who wanted Wallpaper printed in ‘sheeles green’ and hung in their homes…why is this a problem you ask? Well, unfortunately, Copper Arsenite contains the deadly element Arsenic! And Arsenic is not something you want covering the walls of your home!
The Arsenic laced paint was soon recognised as deadly, before it came to England, but unscrupulous British manufacturers ignored the dangers and continued to sell it anyway! This lead to many deaths and one Doctor in particular wrote of his findings…
A respected doctor named Thomas Orton had cared for a family through a mysterious sickness that ultimately killed all four of their children. The good doctor could find no reason for this in the food or water they consumed and so he began to document the contents of the home.
He noticed that the family home had green wallpaper, and Horton was reminded of a rumour doing the rounds that the ‘Sheeles green’ wallpaper was known to kill! It appeared the Children had passed simply due to the wallpaper hung in their home! After the 1860s, due to ‘Sheeles green’ toxicity and the instability of its colour it was excluded from sale
Cabinetry For Victorian Bathrooms
Ah the fun Part! An opportunity for some upcycling! Now, you could go out and spend a small fortune on a sink unit, that also features in another 10000 homes or you could create something completely unique, that can only be found in your home! For me it’s a no brainer! Is it more Work? Of course! Will it cost you less money? You bet!
For an authentic Victorian look Bathroom, the ideal is a Free-standing vanity/ sink unit/washstand with sunk or countertop sinks. Painted in a dark rich shade or in its natural wood grain. As you can see I went with both…..
My washstand was originally an old Sideboard, bought for £30 off Ebay. I used green Hemway Paint for the unit, sanded the top and treated it with a matt varnish. The sinks were also bought off ebay too in the sale at £35 each. The Gold and Ivory Cabinet handles were an old set I already had, but similar gold and ivory knobs can be bought here. My Husband kindly plumbed the sinks in and officially made it a working sink unit!
I think we can all recognise Victorian tiles when we see them, they are usually ornate, patterned and bold… ceramic loveliness! I cheated, I lay some vinyl flooring with a victorian style pattern...it was cheap as chips and does the job perfectly!
I could spend a long time looking at Victorian Radiators, and I have…in stores I can’t afford to shop in! You are talking a lot of money for an authentic or reproduced victorian radiator!….Not gonna Happen! Again, I must recognise my limits, compromise, and figure out a more affordable alternative!…
I bought an old and worn cast iron school radiator for £20 of Facebook Marketplace, wire brushed it, and painted it in in Black Chalk paint! It took 4 of us to get it up the stairs…but it was worth it!
Bathrooms should have art too! I have always loved Vincent Van Gogh’s 1889 Oil on Canvas ‘Roses’. A beautiful piece he painted during the Victorian era, very reminiscent of the style and mood of the time…
Early Victorian art was heavily influenced by realism and natural aspects of nature and I wanted to include that in my bathroom….but in an affordable way! I first looked online for prints of Van Gogh’s ‘Roses’, they could be bought easily enough…but I wanted a huge canvas, enough to fill an entire wall….and that is where it became incredibly expensive!
Here’s how I cheated and saved a bundle!
Ever heard of Shein? They sell huge ‘tapestries’ made of cloth, which are perfect for Stretching on to a wooden frame and creating your own, supersized, cheap and wonderful Canvas Art ! The 130 x 150 Van Gogh ‘Rose’ Cloth cost me the tiny price of £4.25! and it comes in 4 different sizes.
We went out and bought 5 lengths of wood 18mm x 28mm and fashioned a frame using corner brackets and fixed a central bar to prevent the frame from flexing. I then stapled the fabric on to the frame, pulling the fabric tight for a taut fit, I used a glue gun to tidy up the corners, then hung it on the wall…the whole project cost £31
What You’ll Need
The Victorians are well known for their fondness of taxidermy! They often used mounted animals as a popular interior design showcase, a way to bring nature into their homes and show off their wealth, especially in middle-class homes.
I prefer animals stay their beautiful selves in their natural habitat, so I certainly won’t be mounting any heads in my home any time soon! But there is a company called the Curious Department that can offer an alternative, via ethically sourced butterflies.
Each and every butterfly in their range is unique and ethically sourced, each one having lived full adult lives and met a natural end! My Taxidermy Butterfly is an example of that.
Victorian Bath and Shower
Victorian baths were usually freestanding or encased in wood.There were no mixer taps and those homes that had a shower, were usually owned by incredibly wealthy people! A victorian Bathroom was a luxury that only a small percentage of people could afford.
Today we can replicate the Victorian look by buying a freestanding bath- lots of bargains to be found online if you look hard enough! Ebay is also a good option for preloved baths or old vintage Cast Iron baths, that may need a little sprucing up. Or buy a standard bath and incase in wood with a natural grain
Back in the day an original victorian shower was made possible by a collection of copper pipes that would meet at a central rose. Quite a piece of art in itself…Today we keep things simple! My Shower Consists of a traditional bath mixer with a Victorian Inspired Rigid Riser Shower Kit. attached to it. I have found it to be the simplest and most affordable option for creating a Victorian style shower
The most affordable option for tiles in a Victorian inspired shower are metro tiles. They come in plain white like mine but are also available in much bolder colours like green and burgundy!
Victorians And Their Plants
Gotta love the Victorians! A people after my own heart! They loved their plants! Particularly popular houseplants were ferns, palms, jasmines and Hyacinth…and if you were very wealthy, Citrus trees!
In my Bathroom I can Offer, Spider plants– which are not only quite beautiful but useful for cleaning indoor air too, they absorb chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and carbon monoxide in homes. The Spider Plant is also very tolerant of inconsistent watering-perfect for people without a green thumb.
And Succulents, my favourite being Haworthia, a miniature succulent native to South Africa, and again, very easy to care for!
The Finishing Touches
The Candlesticks, Mirrors and Ornaments were mostly all preloved pieces bought off Ebay or Facebook marketplace. Some candlesticks were silver…I sprayed them Black. The Mirrors also had silver frames I sprayed them Gold
I have a particular fondness for amber glass, the piece below is from the 1920’s and cost me the grand total of £3.20! off Ebay.
So there you have it ! My victorian bathroom on a budget! For the most part it’s now done, apart from some woodwork touch ups and the inevitable addition of more Plants! I’m thrilled with how it turned out! Its my little step back in time! Hope you enjoyed reading, let me know what you think in the comments below.