When Old Becomes New: A Craftsman-style Bathroom

by Jane VanOsdol on August 8, 2011

If you’re ready for a fresh new bathroom look that takes it style from a century-ago, look no further than the Craftsman-style homes from the early 1900s. Built from 1905 to 1930, the bathrooms in these homes were often fitted with boxy built-ins and fixtures with clean lines. It was also common to see block-printed wallpapers and botanical-motif tiles. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common elements that make up a bathroom from this era.

Earthy Colors

When you’re deciding upon a color palette for your Craftsman bathroom remodeling project, lean toward an earthy palette. Think of the colors of outdoors and bring those into your bathroom. Recommended choices include soft, mossy greens, warm yellows, and rustic reds and browns.


Clean lines in the bathroom fixtures are important to the Craftsman style. Claw-foot tubs were the norm and would look beautiful in your Craftsman bathroom today. Simple pedestal sinks were the popular choice, especially because the bungalow-style Craftsman homes often had tiny bathrooms. If you prefer a larger vanity, a stone such as marble or limestone would be a perfect choice. When choosing the vanity, medicine cabinet, trim and casings, think of warm, glowing wood tones to set off the bathroom. You can use varnish or stain to accent the wood grain too.

Hardware and Lighting

When it comes time to choose your light fixtures and your cabinet hardware for your bathroom remodel, choose an oiled bronze, hammered copper or wrought iron finish to capture the Craftsman feel. A traditional Craftsman bathroom would have used sconces, often rectangular in shape with glass shades. For your sink and tub faucets, nickel-plated brass was a common choice of homeowners in that era.


While the Victorian era is all about curved lines and fancy motifs, you’ll find that the Craftsman style hearkens to simpler, less fussy lines. Rectangular recessed panels for cabinets and built-ins will be right at home in your bathroom. For your windows, choose square- or diamond-shaped mutins to showcase your gleaming glass and to let in the natural beauty of the outdoors. Beadboard wainscoting is another choice that you can’t go wrong with to accent the walls in the bathroom. White subway tile was also used in the early 1900s, but as the Roaring Twenties hit, brightly colored tiles took the place of the traditional white.


Traditionally, builders used small, white hexagonal tiles for a Craftsman bathroom floor. By the 1920s, homeowners had started incorporating 4 x 4 colorful square tiles for the floors. If you prefer quiet and traditional, choose the white tile of the early-era Craftsman homes; if you want to capture the flavor of the Roaring Twenties, go with colorful tiles for your home improvement project.


As you begin adding a few stand-out details to your bathroom, choose wallpaper or tiles with botanical details. You can then pick up this motif in your accent pieces in the bathroom too. A clear, green vase with simple lines will be a fitting vessel to highlight a fresh flower arrangement on your countertop or built-in. An amber-colored bottle will positively glow on a sun-splashed window ledge.

As you begin your bathroom remodel, look to history for your inspiration. You’ll adore this fresh new look from days gone by.

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