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Tips for Creating a Bathroom with Vintage Style and Modern Function


By Barb Schmidt

Home fashion has come full circle. Many design trends first made popular in the 1920s are back in vogue and stronger than ever.

For example, the cottage-style home, a blend of farmhouse and bungalow that is best defined by the simple clean lines of the 1920s, has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years. The American Furniture Manufacturers Association has identified cottage style as a popular new direction for home furnishings. The cozy cottage look speaks to consumers who are seeking comfortable, easy-to-live-with styling.

After the International Home Furnishings Markets in 2002, the association also reported an unveiling of what is being dubbed the new "American Style" -- a nostalgic mixture of Mission, Shaker, country and cottage influences while incorporating contemporary and multicultural elements.

Tricks for achieving design authenticity in the cottage-style home include using vintage pieces where possible and carefully blending your own collection of home artifacts into the interior décor. The most successful interior design maintains the integrity of the home and respects the architecture of the neighborhood.

Old Homes, New Spaces
The way we use our homes has changed dramatically since the 1920s. Today's rooms are bigger and often serve a variety of functions. Many owners of 1920s homes dream of tearing down walls to create a great room like those so popular in today's homes. However, moving walls is often the most costly item in a renovation project and can leave you with a room that feels out of place in period architecture. Before making plans to tear down walls, carefully consider how the room will really be used and plan to create a space that is proportionate. Bigger isn't always better in today's cottage style, especially when trying to create a feeling of intimacy or coziness.

Period-Style Bathrooms

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The bathroom often presents the biggest challenge in a period renovation. Finding vintage fixtures means scrounging the salvage yard and retrofitting them into a new plan. And the vintage pieces often don't meet today's new building-code requirements. American Standard has brought back some original designs first introduced in 1922. The Standard Collection includes three vintage-style sinks, faucets, a bathtub, a toilet and accessories designed in the Art Deco style. The Art Deco period is known for simplicity and great design and blends well with today's new cottage style.

Tile and Trim
In the '20s and '30s, tile was porcelain with a smooth finish in white, pale pink or light green with black accents. Square tile was used on the walls with trim about halfway up. Floors were mosaic in style, often with a border and solid-color interior. All these types of tiles are available today, and patterns are often available from the local tile shop.

Mirrors and Metal
The trend of "built-ins" was invented during this period because of the desire to keep everything neat and clean. Decoration was always included with a functional piece, so hidden medicine cabinets became the rage. Everything had its place, including towels, which were often stored on bars integrated onto the sink.

Deco Lighting

Beautiful light fixtures and particularly sconces were used frequently in the bathroom. Frosted glass and metals were a popular option. Restored older fixtures or new reproductions are available to enhance the bathroom's atmosphere. And don't forget the dimmer switches for every light. Bathrooms are a romantic getaway in your home!

Finishing Touches
1920s bathrooms featured other distinctive elements that have made a comeback today. Hot-water-heated towel bars were the rage in those early decades but were phased out during the Depression. When the economy rebounded, heated towel bars didn't make the same comeback. It wasn't until the mid '90s that they started popping up in bathrooms again. Warm towels can be one of the most luxurious parts of a relaxing bath. Electrically heated towel bars are available in different finishes from a variety of bath fixture and department stores.

Courtesy of ARA Content






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