If you are interested in channeling the past for inspiration in renovating your bathroom, I suggest that you look into the modern, modular, or art deco styles. The three are really quite similar in their appreciation of interesting crisp lines, shapes, and minimalistic style – so, we included them all here together.

This brief guide will give you a basic idea of what the modern, modular, and art deco styles are like and how to work these styles into your space.

Modern Does Not Mean Current

I cannot explain how important it is to remember this first point – the word “modern” does not mean the same as the word “current”. People often use these two terms interchangeably, and often to their own detriment. If you walk into a store looking for something modern and get pointed toward something “current”, or if you are looking for something “current” but get pointed toward something modern, you may find yourself with a mish-mash of unmatched pieces and a very confused bathroom décor.

Modern actually refers to a somewhat in-between style. Modern style takes the shapes and lines and curves of the 1950s and 1960s art deco style and fuses it with the minimalistic modular style. Much of what passes as modern décor, these days, is actually a mixture of this already mixed up style and the softer, muted, more natural color palette of the current contemporary style. By the way, if you ask for something in keeping with current trends, you will likely find yourself guided to contemporary pieces, so it is important to know exactly what you are asking for.

Color is Your Choice

Though color plays a very important role in most other types of design décor, it is, perhaps, the least important when it comes to modern design. I say this because modern designs can actually reflect the burnt oranges, dandelion yellows, and deep olive greens of the 1960s and 70s, yet it can also reflect the primary colors often used in modular designs, or even the muted, subdued, natural color palette of the early 2000s.

You can even choose to incorporate a pop of color here and there as a way to pay homage to the art deco style from which it was born. This is the approach many designers take these days when trying to create modern-influenced designs. Instead of going with the colors of art deco or modular designs, they use the muted contemporary colors and add a pop of bright red, blue, yellow, purple, deep green, or orange on a distinctly art deco or modular piece. For instance, they would include a deep, olive green shag rug or a bright red, oddly-shaped vase.

Modern Bathtubs, Toilets, Sinks, and Faucets

Let’s start with the largest pieces in your bathroom and work our way down from there. If you would like to work with the modern style, you are looking for pieces that are a little bit off the wall. By this, I do not mean that they literally stand away from the wall; I mean that they look a little offbeat.

You want to find things with interesting shapes. The modern style was built out of the art deco style which, in a sense, was the real life imagining of a futuristic world. You should think “Jetsons”, then tone it down a little to reflect more current trends.

I suggest a freestanding bathtub, preferably one with an interesting shape, such as a rounded bottom. It is very common to find bowl-design bathtubs in modern bathrooms. Your toilet can be just about whatever you want it to be. Personally, I never was never really one who tried to match the toilet to the room – it is only a toilet, after all. In keeping with the minimalist style, however, you will probably want to select one with clean, straight lines.

Your sink should stand out like a piece of art. Whether it is placed atop an interesting, geometric stand or is, itself, interesting and geometric, your sink is an important focal piece in a modern-style bathroom. You can also consider a pedestal sink for this type of bathroom. If you do, I suggest something with a little bit of detail. The details in the pedestal sinks of modern bathrooms serve as a perfect contrast to the clean lines of the rest of the room and incorporate a little more art deco style. Your faucet should be something that appears to be out of the future. It should have some strange sort of a shape to it or, at the very least, be designed like the sweeping curve of a swan’s neck.

Modern Textures and Patterns

This is where things get tricky. You will probably notice that the pictures we selected to represent this style do not feature much color or texture. This is because these days when people create a modern-influenced style, they keep with the same types of textures and color palettes used in the more current contemporary style. Instead of using color, texture, and pattern to show off the mixture of art deco and modular elements that make up the modern design, people do so through their use of shapes.

Still, notice that our pictures include a lot of tile. Tile was a big deal in the mid-twentieth century. Though people often used very interesting colors of tile back then, we now usually pay respect to their use of tile by including a lot of tile, some small tile, and interesting patterns of tile without including bold or daring color schemes. The boldest tile decisions you usually find in modern designs is the typical black and white contrast.

Somewhere in your room, you should feature some wood and some tile, and, if you really want to pay homage to the original modern style and its own art deco influence, you can include a shag carpet bath mat.

Modern Cabinetry

Modern cabinetry is modular. This means that it is square or rectangular and that you can put individual pieces together to create larger pieces. It usually doesn’t feature any trim work – its lines should be straight and clean. You will often find a mixture or shelves, doors, drawers, and cubbies all in one unit.

In keeping with the futuristic design appeal, your cabinetry should appear to float. This even applies to the cabinetry underneath your sink. It should also be slick and sleek with very clean lines and a polished finish. No rough edges should be found in a modern bathroom unless they are the edges of a shag carpet rug.

Modern Lighting

Modern lighting follows two different paths – art deco and recessed. Most designs include a mixture of the two types. Art deco lighting is often large and made up of many pieces. It is usually rather avant-garde in that it is mostly a conglomeration of shapes put together. One very famous style of art deco lighting features a ball in the center with sticks coming out at all angles and smaller balls attached to those sticks. Each of the balls lights up, creating an odd type of hanging light.

If you choose to recess your lighting you should hide it underneath cabinets and mirrors to amplify their clean lines. Your modern bathroom should never contain extravagant chandeliers or shaded sconces.

Modern Mirrors

It isn’t uncommon to see a round mirror in a modern bathroom. In fact, it is more common to see a round mirror than a rectangular or square mirror. To top that off, it is actually rather common to find a mosaic of mirrors all put together in a pattern on the wall. It is also common to find layered mirrors – mirrors constructed to look as if there are three or four of them stacked on top of each other. These designs both pay respect to the art deco style from which the modern style was born.

Photo credit: minosadesign.com