Old World-Style Bathroom

The elements of Old World style make even the most private of rooms feel comfortable.


The term Old World style refers to design that reflects a timeless European sensibility.

The term Old World style refers to design that reflects a timeless European sensibility.

The outstanding characteristics of Old World style are the sense of history, the grandness of space, and feeling of comfort it gives to this most private of rooms. Experts Michael Gillick and Gil Shapiro of Urban Archeology share more about the elements of this timeless style.

  • Old World style often starts with the bones of the room: the architecture. Detailed ceilings and woodwork, period windows, columns and arches create a grand shell.
  • This style relies on natural elements with timeless appeal, notably wood and stone, which can be used for any surface. This translates into wood cabinets, wood flooring, elaborate wood trim, and stone tiles and slabs used for flooring, walls, and countertops. There’s no trace of manufactured surfaces such as stainless steel or laminate.
  • Stone surfaces can be polished and pristine, or they can be honed and distressed for a comfortable, timeworn look. Tumbled marble and ceramic tiles with a crackled finish and irregular edges are perfect choices.
  • Walls, furniture and accessories with a distressed or faux finish are wonderful companions to the natural surfaces.
  • The grandness of the space encourages luxurious touches such as hanging oversize mirrors and hanging or otherwise displaying lots of towels. Even the newly fashionable large shower heads, popular 100 years ago, are in keeping with the large-scale feel.
  • By tiling a modern whirlpool tub, it gets an Old World look.
  • The choice of lighting is important. Sconces and chandeliers with metal finishes are more appropriate than recessed cans.

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