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Obsessed with mid-century modern design? You’re not alone!

Lately we’ve been getting lots of clients come in wanting to achieve this style in their new bathroom but a little unsure of how.

Here’s what we tell them!

What is mid-century modern design?

Mid-century modern design refers to the resurgence of design trends spanning from roughly the late 1930s through to early 1960s but in a fresh, modern way. It’s a style known for juxtaposing sleek lines with organic shapes, and mixing different materials.

While there are many ways to interpret this design style – from quite eclectic or bold, to muted and understated – some distinguishing features are:

  • sculptural organic shapes
  • clean and pared-back
  • simple materials like timer or glass
  • pops of vintage
  • design quirks
  • functional designs
  • matte finishes
  • splashes of colour

You’ll see from the images in this article that you can take as much or as little of these characteristics as you like to achieve your own take on this design style.

Hexagon mirror
Image via Royal Roulotte

How to achieve a mid-century style bathroom

You can take as much or as little inspiration from the era as you like to create your version of a mid-century modern design bathroom.

That said, here are some pointers to help – broken down by the sort of colours, shapes or style of tiles, tapware and vanities you could use.

Tiles

Fun pattern, such as the bold, graphic tiles used in the floors of the bathrooms above, is an easy way to make a big impact. If you prefer a more subtle tile, why not look for a mosaic that introduces pattern through shape. For example, grid tiles are the perfect fit for a mid-century modern bathroom or the oh-so-popular kitkat tiles are another winning choice. Almost any repetitive pattern would work well with this style though so don’t rule out hexagons or penny rounds either. Using a natural pattern tile, like terrazzo or a terrazzo-look porcelain, is also very fitting.

When it comes to laying tiles, you’ll find there’s often a bigger scale on the walls and a smaller scale on the floor.

“Mix patterns and shapes so long as the scale works well”

Soft pinks, soft blues, yellows, and pastel orange are colours that work especially well in mid-century modern bathrooms but you could take a more minimal approach and opt for a neutral palette of black, white and timber.

Tapware

Tapware in a mid-century modern bathroom can be just about any finish – from metallic to a bold colour – but the shape should be clean line and minimal.

“It’s not uncommon to see specialty finishes like brushed nickel or colours like white tapware used.”

Chrome, brass, black are the more popular options, but white or a coloured finish (like those from Astra Walker) fit well.

Bathware

So with tiles and tapware covered, all that’s left is to pick the perfect bathware – that’s your vanity, basin, toilet and bath.

Usually in mid-century bathrooms we saw matching basins and baths, but in modern takes people mixing things up more – sometimes introducing a coloured basin with a white bath for example.

We love the fab coloured basins from Parisi that offer a muted pop of colour to your space, and the newly released range of matte basins and toilets in ultra-soft colours from Astra Walker.

Bold green tiles
Image via Teranova Tiles

Top mistakes to avoid

Creating too many design statements in one space

It can be tempting to want to pack as much ‘wow factor’ into your bathroom as possible but our best advice is ‘show restraint’ or as Neale Whitaker put it at our launch event, “A little goes a long way”.

When you try to make a statement out of every element, things can quickly begin competing against each other rather than complimenting – costing you more and creating the opposite effect that you’re after.

For example, you might want to make a statement out of your vanity by using a mid-century piece of furniture like the one below. Notice how they’ve shown restraint with the other elements – opting for a simple square wall tile, and white bathware rather than a coloured basin or overly busy mosaic.

OTT lighting

Mid-century modern bathrooms rely more on natural lighting and some accent lighting, like wall lights by the mirror. You’ll notice none of these bathrooms use modern LED light strips or have much artificial lighting at all. Take a cue from these inspo images and tone down the lighting if you’re going for a mid-century modern bathroom.

Too angular

The nature of materials in bathrooms – tiles and glass – mean that these spaces can often feel cold and hard. But mid-century modern design is all about bringing warmth and softness to the space. Avoid the mistake of making your bathroom too angular by introducing some curved shapes, such as those fabulous timber handles in the final pic, with a round mirror or round tiles like penny rounds. And a few pops of timber will go a long way to soften the space. Finish the look with some indoor plants, towels and bathroom decor.

Do you have any other questions we can help with? Pop them in the comments below or keep scrolling to check out loads more mid-century modern bathroom inspo.

Furniture vanity
Image Amy Webb for designsponge.com
Minimalist
Image via digsdigs.com

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