| Date: 17.11.2022

There may be many reasons why you’d like to introduce some vintage decorating designs in your home. It could be that you are the proud owner of a period property where modern décor just won’t cut it. Or perhaps you just really love the retro look and want to stamp some personality from the past onto your home.

If going top to toe retro is too much, be assured that just one vintage piece can instantly transform your home. Having a room or item that’s so individual gives you such a sense of satisfaction and it’s often a great talking point.

Vintage decorating designs for retro rooms

Vintage decorating is much easier than you think when it comes to creating that retro feel in your home. With creativity and imagination, you can achieve the look you desire without having to spend a fortune. Antique pieces can be found in unconventional places and you can get the look by visiting well-known retailers.

When it comes to vintage decorating, you could get lucky with a treasured piece of furniture or furnishing that’s been passed down through the family. Or you can opt for a truly authentic take and scour antique shops, charity shops or car boot sales for treasures untold. There’s also the option of selling sites such as eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.

Don’t despair if you would rather buy brand new, as more retailers are offering vintage designs for you to choose from, reproducing looks and feels from across the eras.


Retro-inspired wallpaper is an easy way of vintage decorating that can create a unique look. You can either paper the whole room, or highlight a particular area as a feature, which may only require one or two rolls.

Go geometric with a Bauhaus-inspired print invoking the glamour of the 1920s, or choose bold and colourful patterns for a 60s vibe. For something a little older, try Victorian-style floral patterns along the William Morris vein, or go graphic with postcard prints. For a really luxurious 1970s look, try and track down some glorious foiled wallpaper.

There are so many designs out there to choose from, but if you still can’t find anything that tickles your old-fashioned fancy, there’s always the option to design your own.

Vintage decorating - wallpaper


Whether you’ve got high ceilings that you can wash with radiant rays or an antique desk that you need to shed some light on, lighting is a key idea when it comes to vintage decorating. Carefully chosen lighting can really influence the mood in your home, and there are so many lighting options available that mimic the designs of yesteryear.

Authentic lighting ideas include chandeliers, lanterns and quirky desk lamps. Think glass globe lampshades, funky uplighters and standard lamps (tassels are optional!).

The great thing about considering lighting in your vintage decorating is that it’s a really easy item to upgrade when you fancy a change.

Vintage decorating - lighting


Vintage fabric is another option that’s easy to change around at not too much expense. There are so many advantages to selecting authentic vintage fabric. The quality is sometimes much better than commercially-produced fabric, and it’s a sustainable method of shopping. And of course, having a one-of-a-kind find just makes it even more special.

If that elusive antique design if out of reach, there is always the option of fabric from a haberdashery or soft furnishings shop. And if you’ve got something particular in mind, you can always have your bespoke design printed for a truly unique item.

You can use retro fabric for cushion covers, bedding and curtains to match with the décor in your room or clash with it!


Nothing beats a piece of antique furniture. The stories it could tell! A handcrafted dresser is ideal for displaying vintage ornaments, or a retro Nordic cupboard can come in handy for storing everything away neatly.

You can often unearth delights in second hand shops and antique shops, but there are lots of options when it comes to imitation retro furniture. Brands like G Plan have stayed true to their iconic designs and modern furniture retailers carry retro ranges in a variety of colours.

Don’t forget that you can have furniture restored or can put your own twist on it with a touch of upcycling. Think plush velvet fabrics and bringing natural wood back to its former glory.

Vintage decorating with furniture can really create a unique feel to any room and also be a practical solution as well. And you can even introduce the antique look in your bedroom – how about a wicker bed or an antique dresser?

Vintage decorating - furniture

Tiles for Vintage Decorating

You can significantly influence the look of your home with the tiles you choose for vintage decorating. Apart from the obvious choices of floors and walls, you can use antique-inspired tiles on countertops, splashbacks, fireplaces and steps for a splash of nostalgia.

Metro Tiles

Metro tiles are an easy choice when it comes to vintage decorating. Dating back to the New York subway and London Underground in the early 1900s, the humble metro tile is a great way to add a vintage look that never goes out of style.

The beauty of metro tiles is that there’s a wide range of colours to choose from, in a variety of finishes and with flat or bevelled edges. And then there is the freedom of how to lay them – brick bond, vertical, diagonal, basket weave, the choice is endless.

When choosing your metro tiles, don’t forget to factor in the shade of grout. Achieve a blended look with a similar shade or use a contrasting colour to really make the tiles pop.

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Artisan Brick Wall Tiles - Hueso Cream Tiles

Artisan Brick Wall Tiles - Hueso Cream Tiles

Wood Effect Tiles

If you’re looking to add warmth and character to your vintage decorating, look no further than wood effect tiles. The obvious choice is to lay them on the floor for a practical solution that also looks great, but you can also use them on the walls for a really retro look invoking cosy Scandinavian cabin vibes.

Due to advances in tile printing, wood effect tiles look incredibly realistic, giving you the lovely look of real wood. Choose from warm browns or go for softer tones in grey or white. Many ranges of wood effect tiles offer a slight variation between the planks for a truly authentic effect.

Other benefits of wood effect tiles are that they require little maintenance, are durable to withstand heavy traffic in the house and are a much cheaper option than real timber.

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Ebony Honey Wood Effect Herringbone Tiles

Ebony Honey Wood Effect Herringbone Tiles

Patterned Tiles

Patterned tiles are getting more and more popular, and are a great choice if you’re considering a spot of vintage decorating. Retro-inspired patterned tiles will definitely add the wow factor to any room, and if a whole wall, floor or room is too much, then you can always frame your patterned tiles with a plain colour to make a statement.

The choice of vintage patterned tiles is absolutely huge, with a variety of shades, shapes and sizes to choose from. They can also be available in anti-slip finishes, making them suitable for vintage bathrooms as well as kitchens and hallways, and some are suitable for use with underfloor heating.

Patterned tiles aren’t just for period properties, as the designs and colours will add impact to any room.

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Bathroom Tile Ideas for 2021 - Boulevard

Boulevard Beige & Grey Patterned Tiles

Victorian Tiles

From around 1860, many homes embraced the patterns of Victorian tiles and used them to create a beautiful kitchen, hallway or path. The Victorian era focussed on craftsmanship, with tiles featuring a range of colours, elaborate designs and lashings of florals.

Victorian tiles are the perfect choice to use in your vintage decorating, particularly if you want to make a feature of a wall or floor to use as a base for more subtly toned accessories and furniture.

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Olympia Victorian Kitchen Tiles - Customer Project

Customer Project using Olympia Tiles

Monochrome Tiles

Black and white tiles are a staple of the Victorian era, especially ranges with a coordinating border tile. This colour combination was often seen in period properties and exudes timeless elegance.

One of the most iconic options is the checkerboard design – a black and white pattern with a diamond border. The great news is that monochrome never really goes out of fashion, so this classic look is perfect to tick both the traditional and contemporary boxes.

Bathroom Tile Ideas for 2021 - Regent

Regent Monochrome Victorian Tiles

Vintage Pattern Combination

You can combine both Victorian patterns and diamond designs to have a truly vintage bathroom. Our Orly range features a variety of tiles including a coordinating border tile and looks amazing with white fixtures and fittings. Opt for full-height or half-height tiling for as much or as little vintage as you like.

Black and White Bathrooms - Deco Patterned Victorian Tiles

Orly Patterned Victorian Tiles

Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tiles have featured heavily in vintage decorating through the ages. From the small hexagon mosaic tiles of the early 1900s to sumptuous spa tiles in the 1980s, these tiles are great for creating a luxurious feature as a kitchen splashback on shower walls.

Although they look fiddly, mosaic tiles are relatively easy to install and the modern versions have several tiles on one sheet backed with mesh lining. It’s well worth scouring the internet for original mosaic tiles, but there are so many new designs and styles to choose from, including art deco shapes and beautiful pearl finishes.

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Black and White Bathrooms - Octagon Mosaic tiles

Octagon Black and White Mosaic Tiles

Illustration Tiles

Not content with just plain colour, tiles in the Victorian era started to feature beautiful illustrations of everything and anything from botanical illustrations to artwork from novels. These eye-catching patterns elevated the humble metro tile and would go on to have a strong revival in kitchens during the 1980s.

There is a small but perfectly formed range of illustration tiles to choose from these days, and you might even be able to get your hands on some well-preserved originals if you’re lucky!

Artisan Illustration Metro Tiles with herb drawings

Artisan Illustration Metro Tiles

Hexagon Tiles

Subway tiles and classic black and white hexagon tiles embodied the utilitarian look of the early 20th century. The clean, monotone look is still popular today, especially in modern bathrooms.

Hexagon tiles are a classic vintage decorating option that has graced kitchens and bathrooms since the early 1900s. Many homes had ceramic or porcelain hexagon tile unless you could afford the luxury of marble or stone.

Their timeless shape has recently seen a boost in popularity and hexagon tiles are now available in a range of shades and sizes. They work incredibly well on their own, but can also be combined to great effect with metro tiles, stone effect or wood effect.

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Starkdec Desert Hexagon Pattern Tiles

Starkdec Desert Hexagon Pattern Tiles

Penny Tiles

A close relative of the hexagon tile, penny tiles date back to the early 1900s but have been making a comeback in recent years. Their standard size is the same as a penny and they are available in a variety of materials.

Penny tiles will look absolutely stunning on walls as part of your vintage decorating scheme. You can choose from a wide range of colours to suit your retro bathroom or kitchen and they are a luxurious choice that provides a contemporary style for almost all spaces.

Penny Round Tiles – Marble Mix

Penny Round Tiles – Marble Mix

Green Metro Tiles

Traditionally, exuberant emerald tiles graced London tube stations and East End pub exteriors. Green metro tiles have a lovely retro feel to them and are the perfect addition to your vintage decorating.

With a variety of shades from mint to forest green to choose from, it’s up to you how light or dark you want to make your feature wall or room. Darker shades of green look great with a light grout to emphasise each tile, and a dark grout works in the same way with softer shades.

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Glamour Green Subway Wall Tiles

Glamour Green Subway Wall Tiles

Art Deco Tiles

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, designers started to move away from clinical monochromes and embraced flamboyant colours such as greens, yellows and purples. This timeframe also heralded the deco era, when tiles had lashings of texture, colour and shape.

Taking the idea of a feature even further, many baths and showers had beautifully tiled arches adding sumptuous elegance to the room.

Art deco tiles are a wonderful way to unleash your inner Lalique and add interest to any room.

Green Bathroom Tiles - Scale Green Scallop Tiles

Scale Green Scallop Tiles

Mother of Pearl Tiles

Mother-of-pearl tiles were popular in the 1930s and an interior design trend you can easily adapt for a spot of vintage decorating. These shimmering tiles are ideal for glamorous vintage bathrooms and kitchens, especially if they’re of a smaller size as they will catch the light and bounce it around the room.

Modern mother-of-pearl effect tiles are available in a range of shades, but we particularly like these stunning turquoise tiles with their slight rainbow of colours.

Provence Blue Square Kitchen Tiles

Provence Blue Square Kitchen Tiles

Pink Tiles

Following the Great Depression, lighter and brighter colours appeared in homes, to mark a return to prosperity. Pink bathrooms may have seemed like a bold choice, but this pastel hue added a delicate softness.

Pink tiles are a wonderful choice for vintage decorating, but if you’d like something less permanent, pink accessories will still create a 1950s dream in your home.

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Media Centre Gamma Pink Metro BathroomTiles

Customer Project with Gamma Pink Metro Tiles

Funky 70s Colours

Bold shades were back with a vengeance in the 1970s, with cute and restrained colours making way for vibrant shades. Bathrooms included deep indulgent baths for more than one person, elevating the room from just a practical space to a place for conversation.

Bathroom tiles in the 1970s were garish and bright, making a huge impact. We love the vintage decorating in this customer’s bathroom combining different shades of the same metro range for maximum retro effect.

70s Inspired Groovy Tile Choices - Avila Brown

Customer Project with Avila Brown Metro Tiles

Avocado Green Bathrooms

In the 1970s, it wasn’t just all bold shades, there was also a shift to earthy tones with accompanying macramé and shag pile carpets. One of the most iconic colours of the 1970s was avocado, with many homes boasting a bath in this shade. But it wasn’t just bathrooms that were embracing the advent of avocado, this smoky green shade featured in clothing, kitchen appliances and even cars.

To recreate the look in your vintage decorating, opt for avocado accessories such as towels, mats, soap dispensers and toothbrush holders, or choose lovely soft green tiles for your walls.

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Dulux Tranquil Dawn - Gamma Green

Gamma Green Metro Tiles

Teal Tiles

The 1980s saw a return to bold and bright colours, and bathrooms had a spa-inspired feel featuring jacuzzi baths and vanity lighting. Teal was a popular bathroom colour choice, with its vibrant aquatic shade lending to the watery theme of the room.

Recreate the vintage decorating look by pairing teal metro tiles with stark white for contrast, or with a coordinating or clashing secondary tone like blue or green.

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A sink setting with teal square shaped tiles as a splashback. There is a shelf with plants on and a chopping board to the the left. A sink with a tall tap is on the right.

Bali Teal Bathroom and Kitchen Tiles

Beige Tiles

It feels like the time has come to officially class the 1990s as vintage, although it doesn’t seem that long ago to us! The interior design colour of the decade was beige, and walls often featured border or striped wallpaper. Many bathrooms in the ’90s had beige tiled floors often accompanied by wood-stained cabinets.

Beige has made a strong comeback in recent years, so it’s a great choice if you want the best of both worlds with a fashionable shade that also gives a nod to vintage.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane and that it has inspired you to carry out a spot of vintage decorating! For more ideas and advice, browse through our Style and Inspiration page, follow us on social media, or contact the team for any retro suggestions. Happy tiling!