A Complete Guide to Bathroom Tile Trends Through the Decades

Table of Contents

Bathrooms of the 1980s were vast, soothing, and embraced natural light. 

Illustration by Sydney Hirsch

The ’80s: The lap of luxury

In the 1980s, high-end bathrooms were oversized, accessorized with ferns and ivies, often white with splashes of mauve or teal. Some designers were even brave enough to outfit the floors in carpet. The overarching theme was “spa-inspired,” with emphasis on the renewal of the bathroom experience: jacuzzi tubs, wet saunas, soft vanity lighting. Limited color palettes kept the visual noise unobtrusive. Large windows allowed diffused light to illuminate residual steam from the shower. While many interiors featuring wood emanated a bathhouse vibe, it was mosaic patterns that were utilized more for a splash of glam.

The popularity of the glass brick came to a peak in the 1990s. 

Illustration by Sydney Hirsch

The ’90s: Beige everywhere

The hottest color of the 1990s was, inexplicably, beige, and bathrooms followed suit. They often featured border wallpaper or hand-stamped motifs, like leaves or flowers. Glass blocks were a prominent feature, whether used as a window or as part of the furniture. The height of luxury was granite, and it was found on countertops of all types throughout the house. Almost every ’90s bathroom had a beige tiled floor, sometimes imitation or genuine marble. It contrasted nicely with the medium stained wood cabinets. Consider this palette as au naturel over artificial.

A blast from the past, a pink conversation pit style tub encased in white tiles and accented by a hanging plant.

Illustration by Sydney Hirsch

The present: Vintage all over again

Today, the resurgence of vintage tiled bathrooms is slowly, but surely, cutting through the monotonous moderns. In fact, the past may be an indicator of the future for bathroom interior design. “The rise of popular trends and home renovation shows seems to have just burned people out,” explains the anonymous man behind @vintagebathroomlove. “There was incredible individuality in home design even up until the ’70s, then it seems everyone just started following singular trends… I get the feeling people want to be a little more adventurous with color and really let their personality shine, which I support one-hundred percent.”

For some delicious vintage bathroom tile inspiration, or maybe to find your next home, @vintagebathroomlove has got you covered. And if you’re not one of the lucky ones who has an original tiled bathroom, there are plenty of retro-inspired DIY hacks out there for even the smallest of spaces. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where I don’t have to fear for the life of my beloved green bathroom.

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