Bathrooms with International Style

Want a new look for your bathroom? Here are four classic themes and ideas for how to achieve them.

Reflecting the Past

Wood and other natural materials impart a traditional feel.

Traditional style tends to be formal but welcoming. A feeling of formality is accomplished with symmetry, well-ordered arrangements, rich colors, and graceful details.

Furnishings, such as cabinetry and bathroom fixtures, are straightforward and clean, with curving lines and flowing shapes. A traditional room, even the bath, calls for displays of treasures.

See below for more tips on traditional style decor for a bath.

Update traditional baths with fresh choices in wallpaper and color schemes.
  • Beautifully painted or naturally burnished wood is a hallmark of traditional style. Furnish a bath with cabinets of cherry, maple, mahogany, or birch. Panel the lower walls with matching wood. Add crown molding at the ceiling.
  • Surface the floor, counters, and shower with luxurious natural materials such as tile, marble, or granite (or materials resembling them).
  • Pedestal sinks and freestanding tubs with rolled rims and claw feet add instant age to a bath. To find antique fixtures, look in salvage shops and specialty catalogs. Reproductions are available from manufacturers.

Bathrooms with Vintage Style

An old country pine table adds charm to this bath.

Country decor is functional, sturdy, and straightforward. Furnishings are handcrafted from materials available to the rural populations of a century or more ago.

A wonderfully friendly and adaptive style, a country setting looks as though it's been filled with generations of family living and fun.

See below for more tips on country style decor for a bath.

Update a country look with patchwork bath tile and a display table for towels.
  • The best country colors come from nature. You can't miss with berry colors, such as red, burgundy, and plum. The combinations of white and blue or cream and green set the stage for a European country look.
  • A bath that's rich with country charisma also uses the materials of nature. Wood, stone, metal, brick, quarry tile, and ceramic tile are earthy materials that will move your bath in the right direction.
  • Country character is enriched by handcrafted, antique, and whimsical embellishments. Cushion the floor with woven, braided, or rag rugs. Fill a woven basket with towels. Arrange antique bottles and medicine tins on a wall shelf. Drape embroidered linens over a towel bar. Mount an antique clock, a small apothecary cabinet, or old game boards on a wall.

Decorating Diva Quiz

This bath is clearly influenced by Japanese design.

The goal of interior design for Japanese homes is to instill serenity and foster enlightenment. Rigorously simple, Japanese decor fuses practicality, order, and harmony.

A neutral palette allows texture and form to dominate. Japanese homes also are oriented to the outdoors, and often interior and exterior are separated only by sliding panels.

See below for more tips on Asian style decor for a bath.

Natural materials and a simple uncluttered style emphasize the Asian aesthetic.
  • Natural materials are revered for their intrinsic beauty. Wood, a favored material, generally is left unadorned.
  • Attention to detail is paramount. The simplest things should convey beauty to the beholder. Choose faucets, vanity door hardware, light fixtures, and towel hooks and bars that are graceful and sculptural.
  • Straight lines, grids, and stepped motifs are typical of Japanese architecture, with emphasis on the vertical.
  • Rooms often embrace an alcove (tokonoma) used for meditation and the display of meditative objects such as a flower.

Asian Style Bath Slide Show

Colors and materials can convey Mediterranean feeling.

In large part, this style is a response to the climate and beauty of the surroundings. The Mediterranean region shares abundant sunshine and heat, a shimmering sea, and a lifestyle that is casual, practical, and uncluttered.

Color that is vivid, saturated, and full of contrast is the most extraordinary feature of this style. Paint replicates the hues of nature.

See below for more tips on Mediterranean style decor for a bath.

Sun-drenched color coats this bathroom in Mediterranean warmth.
  • Intense hues of red, green, blue, and yellow are characteristic of French Provencal decorating, mirroring flowers and berries, olive groves and cypress trees, sea and sky, and always the sun.
  • A bright blue and sparkling white palette reflects the azure waves and sun-bleached sands of the Greek islands.
  • The colors of the earth are predominant in northern Africa, where the landscape is rocky and arid. Visitors to this desert region may be amazed by the lovely and varied shades of brown: umber, terra-cotta, sienna, and ocher.
  • Tile-making is a thriving industry in many Mediterranean countries, especially Italy. As a result, tile is readily available and inexpensive. Tile is used to accent walls, floors, countertops, showers, and tub decks.
  • Floors in Mediterranean homes are paved with limestone, granite, tile, brick, and concrete that is sometimes inset with river pebbles. These materials feel cool to bare feet, wear forever, and require little maintenance. They also are impervious to moisture, making them ideal as bathroom surfaces.
  • Decor is fairly simple. A few high-impact accessories suffice. Line a windowsill with flowering or foliage plants nestled in terra-cotta or ceramic pots. Decorate a countertop with a wooden bowl filled with stones or seashells. Insert sculptural branches or twigs in an urn, and set it beside the tub.

Decorating Personality Quiz


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