7 gorgeous retro small bathroom ideas that have bags of "vintage allure," according to designers

These designer-approved retro small bathroom ideas are quirky and chic

 Retro small bathroom ideas are so cute. Here are three of these - an orange bathroom with a wooden ladder and white sink, a green bathroom with a gold mirror and sage vanity unit, and a bathroom with green tropical wallpaper, a dark green vanity, and black and white flooring
(Image credit: Lust Home / The Curious Department / Mindthegap)

Retro small bathroom ideas are perfect for those who love quirky character and bringing throwbacks from the past into their home. 

Newstalgia is all the rage, so we've asked interior designers how to bring it into your small bathroom on a budget. Get ready to fall in love with playful prints, vintage fixtures, and art-deco accents.

For those looking for small bathroom ideas that showcase personality and are fun and playful, retro is the way to go.

Ravishing retro small bathroom ideas

Whether you're looking to bring in small bathroom design trends (vintage is back, FYI) or just love colorful interiors, you can't go wrong with retro.

Our experts have recommended specific buys throughout, which we have curated matching buys for to help you get the vintage look in your washroom.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Pick bold wallpaper

A bathroom with pink and green leafy wallpaper, a gold arched mirror, a dark green vanity with a white basin, a trellis plant to the left, and white and black checked flooring

(Image credit: Mindthegap)

Make a bold and beautiful statement with retro-inspired wallpaper featuring whimsical prints or bold graphics. 

“Choose designs with floral motifs, abstract patterns, or atomic-era themes to add personality to your small bathroom,” suggests Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design.

She recommends applying wallpaper to a single accent wall or using it to wrap the entire space for maximum impact (the Latitude Run Striped Roll from Wayfair doesn't require any paste and has superior strength) — hello, va va voom!

2. Pay attention to the fixtures

A green small bathroom with gold and blue patterned wallpaper, two gold wall sconces and a curved gold mirror, a standing green vanity with a marble countertop, and black and white checked flooring

(Image credit: The Curious Department)

Every detail counts in a small bathroom, so be sure to pay attention to smaller pieces like the fixtures.

“I like to select ones that are retro-inspired, which can be through shapes that are reminiscent of mid-century designs or art deco styles,” explains Gaia Guidi Filippi, principal designer and founder of Gaia G Interiors.

“A wall-mounted style with cross handles will often give that old-time feel,” she adds.

Gaia says selecting the right finish for the style is key here, and to think unlacquered brass for a more vintage-looking vibe and a wood and polished nickel combo (the Franklin Iron Works Light from Amazon has 120 volts and can be controlled with the push of a button) for something really mid-century. 

3. Add a tilt mirror

A white bathroom with a gold rectangular tilt mirror, a light blue vanity with a white sink and countertop with white flowers on it

(Image credit: Gaia G Interiors / Ashley Ippolito Photography)

Mirrors are an absolute must for a retro small bathroom, as they can make a small space appear bigger thanks to their reflective qualities.

“A tilt mirror is so reminiscent of a bygone look and so pretty and easy to incorporate into a small bathroom space,” Gaia says. “Rectangular shapes and ovals, in brass or polished nickel help to achieve the retro look.”

Investing in one of these will make your room sparkle and create an inviting spot to do your all-important skincare routine. 

For example, the Hamilton Hills Gold Pivot Mirror from Walmart has glass backed with security vinyl and doesn’t require any additional accessories. 

4. Choose pastel shades

A bathroom with with and peach wavy painted walls, a silver round mirror, two silver wall sconces, and a mint green vanity unit with four drawers and a basket underneath

(Image credit: Sorbet Dreams)

Some of the best paint colors for small bathrooms involve pastel shades, which are soothing, soft, and reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s. 

Nina explains, “Paint walls in pastel hues like mint green, powder blue, or peach pink to create a retro backdrop. Pair these colors with white accents to keep the space feeling airy and open while adding a hint of vintage sweetness.”

You can DIY the same look as above yourself by brushing on peachy paint onto a white wall. 

We think Benjamin Moore’s Springtime Peach will marry up well with clean shades and vibrant oranges if you want a bolder look.

5. Pick eye-catching tiles

A small bathroom with pink and yellow painted walls, a wooden ladder and white curved vanity unit, pink patterned tiles and a pink and green checkered rug

(Image credit: Lust Home)

As well as using wallpaper to bring in a quirky look, opt for retro flair with vibrant tiles. 

“Opt for classic designs like black and white checkerboard floors, geometric motifs, or colorful subway tiles reminiscent of mid-century aesthetics,” Nina says.

She adds, “Apply these tiles selectively on floors, walls, or backsplashes to add visual interest without overwhelming the space.”

For smaller bathrooms, we recommend keeping these glossy and bright, such as the Supreme Tile Borgo Tiles from Wayfair made from porcelain and that have a low water absorption rate.

6. Go for a freestanding sink

A small bathroom with lilac and white patterned wallpaper with a wall sconce with three lampshades, a rectangular mirror, and a white freestanding sink

(Image credit: Gaia G Interiors / Ashley Ippolito Photography)

Allowing as much light to flow through the space as possible is key to brightening up a small bathroom, which will help make it look bigger. This is where a freestanding sink comes in.

Gaia explains, “A fantastic way to bring a real vintage vibe to a small bathroom is to choose a freestanding sink with exposed plumbing.”

“You can even use the front or sidebar to hang a lacy vintage hand towel,” she continues. “It’s a show-stopping way of making a bathroom feel retro,” she adds.

You can either go for an ultra-chic option like Gaia’s or pick something simple and space-saving such as the Utilitysinks Compact Sink from Walmart.

7. Find retro storage solutions

A bathroom with purple floral wallpaper, wooden wall shelves, a blue and orange framed print, and a white bath tub

(Image credit: The Curious Department)

You can maximize space and enhance the retro look with clever small bathroom storage solutions (yes, really!). 

“Install open shelving crafted from wood or metal and hunt down vintage perfume bottles for soaps and shower gels,” Nina suggests.

Head down to secondhand furniture stores such as Goodwill, as they are great places to find these sustainably. 

Or, if you’re looking for a quick solution, the Union Rustic Wall Shelves from Wayfair are made from solid wood and are fully handmade.

By combining these retro small bathroom ideas, you can transform your compact space into a delightful retreat.

“Embrace the playful spirit of bygone eras while infusing your style to create a bathroom that is both functional and has vintage allure,” Nina finishes by saying.

If you prefer a softer look, farmhouse small bathroom ideas also look nostalgic yet are sweet and dreamy.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.