Colonial bathrooms feature a signature design style, characterized by an efficient, unfussy, nearly minimalist aesthetic, plus the use of a range of signature textures and colors.
The American colonial era spanned two centuries, from approximately 1600 to 1800, and it was a time of great social, political and cultural upheaval, both in the American colonies and worldwide. The historical shifts as well as the hardships and privations of this transitional period are strongly reflected in the design and architecture of the era, which turned away from the opulence of kings and courts and embraced a simple, utilitarian style that was of the people, by the people and for the people.
One of the trademark elements of colonial bathroom design is the color palette. The inspiration for the traditional colonial colors — generally encompassing creams, dark reds, light greens, soft blues and mustard yellows — is quite simple: the pigments available to make paint dyes during the colonial era could only produce these colors in large enough quantities for use in interior design. For this reason, colonial style homes often feature muted, solid versions of these colors in their design, for an effect that's at once stoic and soothing. In bathroom design, these colors may comprise the entirety of the wall paint scheme, they may appear on accent walls, and they may also be interspersed throughout the design via decor items like linens and other bath accessories.
Another decor element you may consider for your colonial bathroom design is stenciling — and it, too, comes with an interesting historical footnote. Because many colonists could not afford expensive wallpaper, they took to stenciling pastoral or floral designs onto the walls themselves, and a style was born. Stencils were often featured around mirrors, wall sconces or running atop crown molding.
When it comes to furniture and fixtures in colonial bathrooms, simplicity, efficiency and elegance are the watchwords. Craftsmanship was a key element of colonial life, which means that natural wood is an almost universal element of most colonial bathroom designs. Crown molding and chair rails on walls are quite common, and the latter may even provide an opportunity to add some visual interest via a two-toned wall with different colors above and below the rail. Furniture items like chairs, benches and cabinets are often constructed from high-quality hardwoods available in the original American colonies located in the Northeastern states. Cherry, oak, pine and walnut are all common choices, with an emphasis on intricate carving and spindling for chairs and benches, and cutouts or crown molding for cabinetry.
Flooring in colonial bathrooms often consists of hardwood or simple white tile. For toilets, tubs and sinks, white porcelain is often contrasted with the darker wood featured on cabinets and floors. Sink and shower fixtures are often copper or oil-rubbed bronze, for an elegant and historical feel.