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Historic Bathroom Moulding + Trim: ORC Week Three


Um, Miss. Your bathroom is done. Yep. I hear that a lot these days. Technically, my bathroom is functioning and therefore, it could be done. But I’m extra and I wholeheartedly believe your home isn’t done until you’re done with it. And I’m not done with this bathroom. So let me show you how I spent $75 on MDF and lumber to elevate the entire look of the space in a few short days …

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moulding and trim ideas for historic or retro bathrooms: Here's how kept the character in our 100 year old home's bathroom by adding traditional trim with a modern twist.

It’s Week Three of the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge and I’m back with some big updates to the downstairs bathroom! You can see Week One here: Historic Bathroom Renovation: Kickin’ It Old School For The ORC

Historic Bungalow Bathroom Renovation

and Week Two here: Historic Bathroom Tile Designs for full explanations of the design and our before photos.

Tile Designs for a Historic Bathroom Renovation

As a reminder, when we left off last week, here’s how the bathroom looked:

historic bathroom renovation in black and white

The bathroom is really, really pretty. Our contractors got us to the 80% completion point. But there are some things we need to correct (drywall holes, misplaced fixtures, uninstalled lights) and some things we didn’t have them do because 1. we wanted to move back into our home and 2. we knew we could do them ourselves for cheaper and probably better.

Bathroom renovation - Classic Black and White in a 1920s Bungalow in Nashville, TN

You can see that the other side of the bathtub wall has a little nook. This nook was originally supposed to have a custom shelving solution. Once we saw how, um, inadequate our contractor’s finish tradespeople were, we opted to install a shelving system ourselves to insure the quality would be up-to-par.


installing "floating" shelves in a bathroom nook

Knowing I still wanted to allow the bottom half of the nook to remain open for guests to hang their towels and robes, I opted to install the bottom shelf at four feet high. I built the shelf by using pieces of MDF scraps for the support systems and then topped it with a piece of plywood, cut to size. To trim it out for a “floating” effect, I nailed a piece of 3” MDF board to the front and used drywall putty and caulk for a seamless look.

building floating shelves

I used the same basic construction concept on the top shelf but applied the plywood to the top and the bottom since the bottom of the shelf will show at this angle.

building shelving in a nook for bathroom storage

Once the putty and caulk dried, I painted the shelves the same shade of black as the walls so they would blend into the wall.

bathroom storage DIY: floating shelves the easy way

Two coats of Magic Black by Sherwin Williams later, the shelves were complete and barely even noticeable (which was the goal).


While that project was drying, I also got to work on installing board and batten trim around the left side of the bathroom.

installing board and batten trim around a sink in a bathroom

I started with a piece of 3” MDF board installed level around the room at 54” from the floor. We have nine foot ceilings, so I wanted to take the board and batten halfway up the wall for two reasons; 1. aesthetically, splitting the room in half is pleasing to the eye for symmetry, and 2. this is where our drywall seams are and our finish carpenters were less-than-perfect with their taping and mudding. By covering the seams, we insure the black paint won’t catch the shadows of ever little mistake they made.

spacing board and batten around a sink in a bathroom

Once the horizontal line was in place, I began installing 1.5” MDF boards vertically on the wall. Since the sink needs to be flush against the wall, I opted to install the boards at exactly 24” distance from one another around the room, using my sink as the starting point. On the wall with the window, I decided to install the board at exactly the middle of the window panes in order to continue with a symmetrical look.

installing board and batten trim
installing board and batten trim

I used the same caulk and drywall putty method to fill the holes and gaps in the MDF.

vintage bathroom vibes: installing board and batten in an old house

Then I painted the board and batten the same color as the walls, as I wanted it to be textural but not a major contrast.

And then my designer brain started to twitch.

board and batten of differing sizes

I loved the board and batten but I didn’t feel like it was making a big enough impact in the room. The 24” spacing was creating a somewhat flimsy look that I didn’t like. So my solution was to come back in at the 12” midpoint between every vertical trim piece and install a 3” piece of MDF trim to bulk up the look:

board and batten moulding in a bathroom

The 3” MDF was installed everywhere EXCEPT directly behind the sink for two reasons; 1. That’s the entire reason I went 24” in the first place since the sink needs to sit flush against the wall, and 2. I’ll be installing a mirror over the sink that will have the same visual impact another piece of trim would have in breaking up the extra space.

board and batten trim around a sink

Once everything was painted black, the visual impact was impressive.

Black Bathroom: Painting a bungalow bathroom black for a traditional look with a modern twist

You may notice that the trim appears to be a different sheen than the walls. I saw this too and I was so confused as I had given my painters exact paint information to order and double-checked I was using the right paint for touch-ups.

retro black and white bathroom with hex tile in a bungalow

Then I found an empty can in the basement. And OF COURSE! Duh. Nothing I asked them to do was ever done as I asked so I don’t know why this surprised me. They didn’t use the paint I ordered. They had it color-matched from a different supplier. So instead of painting it with the correct sheen I ordered (Sherwin Williams Matte EXTERIOR, since it was a bathroom), they’d used an Interior Flat on the walls from another company. So now the whole bathroom has to be repainted.

black and white bathroom in a historic home

I’m glad I noticed the mistake because a flat Interior paint in a bathroom (especially in black) won’t hold up as well as the Exterior I’d purchased.

historic bathroom remodel: putting the charm back in this retro bath

But who can be mad with a bathroom that’s looking this darn good? Not me. I’m just chilling and taking in the beauty of my black and white space.

black and white bathroom with vintage accents

The black pops against the white hexagonal tile and that 8” baseboard trim feels authentic and original in this historic house.

Retro Style: An old bathroom renovation with period style

In the meantime, please hope over to the ORC blog and check in on the progress from the other participants. They’re all working hard to show you easy ways to update your homes and I know they’d love to hear from you.

I’m featuring this project as a guest participant in the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge™, a biannual event in which interior designers take some time off their workload to focus on their own homes for a change. Participants are encouraged to spend six weeks finishing a room in their houses and cheering on their peers as they do it.

To see the other participants’ projects, click here.

Historic Bungalow Bathroom Ideas



Next week, I’ll be finally showing you how we’re breaking up all the black and white and adding some real personality to this space with wallpaper and ::drumroll:: tin ceiling tiles!! So remember to check back!

Until next week, stay safe and sane, loves. xoxo


Commenting on this post is disabled so I can focus on our upcoming projects + client designs but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear from you. Send me your questions and comments on Instagram by either commenting on my latest post or sending me a direct message. I really love to chat it out!


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