Every bathroom requires a list of items that are required for function. In historic homes, it’s important to keep these items looking authentic whilst also feeling fresh in the space. Here’s how I mixed old and new bathroom accessories to create a modern homage to my retro bathroom …
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It’s Week Five of the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge and I’m ready to add the final touches to this historic bathroom renovation. In case you’ve missed the previous posts, here’s the overview of the last four weeks:
WEEK ONE: Historic Bathroom Renovation Plans
WEEK TWO: Historic Bathroom Tile Designs
WEEK THREE: Historic Bathroom Moulding + Trim
When we bought this house in July 2019, we had no official plans to renovate but we did know that one day, we’d be restoring this bathroom to its former glory. Years of shoddy updates had left little historical accuracy to the fixtures and accessories (and tile!) in the bathroom.
Here’s what it looked like back then;
Our house was hit by a tornado in March 2020 and this bathroom sustained considerable structural damage. As a result, we were forced to renovate it – top to bottom – but we were able to save the original bathtub, add back in a historic window, and salvage all the original trim and door with hardware!
We were fortunate that our original bathroom door had an ornate door knob and backplate when we bought the house. The knob, however, wasn’t super functional. So when we renovated, we opted to add contemporary door hardware to the entire house in order to maintain functionality.
However, I wanted to create an homage to the age of the home. I was able to do this by keeping the original door knob’s back plate on the door and painting it black to match the hardware. It’s a unique accent that adds a certain level of beauty to an otherwise simple door set-up.
WHERE TO FIND VINTAGE + ANTIQUE HARDWARE FOR YOUR HISTORIC HOME RENOVATION
If you’re not fortunate enough to still have original hardware in your home, here are some great resources for finding historic door knobs, hinges, and hardware. You can shop directly with the retailers by clicking these images;
In addition to your local salvage yards and antique stores, there are plenty of resources online for finding antique or vintage door, window, and cabinet hardware. Here are some of my favorite places to shop when I’m looking for authentic antique hardware or good replicas;
Compared other rooms in historic homes, bathrooms require a lot more fittings and accessories than bedrooms or living rooms. They rival kitchens for the most expensive rooms of a home to renovate and that’s because the fixtures and fittings can be very expensive.
While we were able to salvage the original cast iron tub, our replica pedestal sink, and added in a simple toilet, we did need to replace the remaining plumbing fixtures in the room.
The screw caps on the faucet handles incorporate the old style with H and C for hot and cold.
Continuing the black hardware theme, we opted to source new plumbing fixtures that were simple and plain enough to allow the other – more historic – features of the room to stand out. The simple lines of a crossbar faucet handle on our sink feel authentic and don’t compete with the more ornate fixtures and finishes in the room.
In our bathtub and shower combo, simple plumbing fixtures in a black finish complement the historic architecture in our home without competing for attention.
WHERE TO FIND VINTAGE + ANTIQUE PLUMBING FIXTURES FOR YOUR HISTORIC BATHROOM
If you’re not fortunate enough to still have the original tub or plumbing fixtures in your home, here are some great resources for finding complementary bath tubs, shower and sink faucets. You can shop directly with the retailers by clicking these images;
While tubs and sinks are relatively easy (and way cheaper) to find at a local salvage yard or on your local Facebook Marketplace, original and antique plumbing fixtures like faucets are much harder to locate locally. This is because most are made of metal and the metal finishes have a tendency to rust or wear down after hundreds of years’ usage.
Here are some of my favorite places to look for antique replica bathroom sink and tub faucets;
Lowes or Home Depot
Keep in mind that – no matter where you shop – you’ll need to measure your sink’s faucet clearance prior to purchasing any new plumbing fixture. Here’s how you can determine the specifications of your sink’s faucet requirements.
LIGHTING FOR HISTORIC BATHROOMS
One of the most important elements of designing a bathroom is choosing and installing proper lighting. When it comes to lighting a bathroom, there are three areas you need to consider; overhead, vanity / mirror lighting, and tub and shower lighting.
We opted to remain simple in the tub / shower combo and had our electricians install a simple can fitting with a built-in bathroom fan. This assists with proper ventilation while remaining discreet enough to not distract from the historic elements in the bathroom.
Once the tin ceiling was installed, I spray painted the trim kit for the can light with outdoor black spray paint. Since this paint is weatherproof, I can expect the paint job to last through many steamy showers.
For overhead lighting, we installed a replica schoolhouse fixture that gives the bathroom historic appeal without sacrificing the modern lighting requirements and integrity of the unit.
With the milk glass-style shade and matte black finish, this semi-flush light looks right at home in our 1920s bungalow.
Above the sink, we opted for a single sconce replica that harkens to the 1920s Art Deco period. The coated porcelain fitter looks stunning in black.
The milk glass shade carries the white from the bathroom tile to the upper half of the bathroom, tying everything together perfectly.
Finding original or historic lighting for bathrooms can be really easy but often requires re-wiring of the fixtures. Since we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, I opted not to travel that route in order to minimize my family’s contact with the outside world.
Since there are a ton of companies that offer lighting replicas for historic homes, sourcing these fixtures for my bathroom was simple – and kind of fun – online. Here are some great options if you’re looking for historic bathroom lighting options;
Here are some of my favorite places to look for antique and reproduction light fixtures;
Pepe and Carol’s
ACCESSORIES AND DECOR FOR BATHROOMS IN HISTORIC HOMES
Of course, no bathroom is complete without decor and accessories. While lots of rooms require artwork to feel finished, a bathroom has an entirely new set of accessories requirements. From shower curtain rods and hooks to toilet paper holders, each new element you bring into the room should complement the period of the home and style of the space.
While many modern amenities we enjoy weren’t the norm in 1920, we can still incorporate the same materials you would have been likely to see around town back in those days. When it comes to our hand soap dispenser and trash can, I opted for a powder coated metal style that would have been more likely to be present in the bathroom when the home was built.
Since this is going to function as a guest bathroom, I wanted to supply exactly what our guests would need during their stays. In the shower, I opted to install simple command shelving, painted with outdoor spray paint in black, to mimic the look of industrial wire bins from the early 1900s. Labeling everything with my very low-tech label maker gave these recycled bottles a cohesive look and help us identify which bottle contains what when we go to our local refill store to restock on supplies.
A simple trolly cart on wheels provides easy-to-find necessities for any guest who may have left their toothbrush behind or needs quick access to toilet paper refills.
The waffle weave textiles in this bathroom provide a classic and elegant touch.
Many of our overnight guests (during non-pandemic times) are from out of town. Since we love our neighborhood so much, it makes sense to represent one of our favorite local businesses within walking distance to our home with a cute glass cup in an Art Deco style that houses individually-wrapped bamboo toothbrushes.
A provided container of mouthwash and toothpaste from our favorite natural brand just happens to match the bathroom so well that we left them on display. The glossy ceramic jar houses bamboo Q-tips for our guests.
No detail here is overlooked. The black shower curtain rod and hanging hardware are simple enough to blend into the background, allowing the gorgeous tile and wallpaper to take center stage. Continuing the white cotton waffle weave fabric onto the shower curtain was a real no-brainer since we’ve owned it for over ten years!
Originally, I had planned to bring in a pop of tomato orange into the room with a strip of fabric onto the bottom of the shower curtain and some additional accessories. Once the room started coming together, I opted to nix this idea and allow the black and white bathroom to shine without any distracting colors interfering. LOOK – it’s okay to change your mind. Even after you’ve shared a design with the entire world. No one will yell at you.
Of course I carried that same white waffle weave to the hand towel. Now here’s where I did something uncommon. I decided not to install a hand towel holder on the wall. Why? Because the walls are black and when they get water on them, the water marks are very visible. Sure, they can be cleaned off but who wants to wipe down their walls every day?
By opting to place the hand towel directly on the sink basin, I negate the constant contact with wet hands that the walls would otherwise endure. I also happen to love the look of a folded hand towel draped over the sink.
I love how crisp and beautiful the white waffle weave looks against the black walls and open shelves where they are housed. They feel like decor but are very functional accessories.
As for actual artwork, I opted to forego any paintings or prints in this space, as the wallpaper is beautiful and fun all on its own. I did, however, add special touches with a couple additions. This Restroom sign is a vintage reproduction that brings in some industrial vibes and helps guests locate the space.
This antique scale serves as the only artwork on the walls in the bathroom. Here, I’m making a statement about women’s bodies and the burden of our weight throughout the ages. Maybe I’m the only one who gets it but I don’t really think it matters. It’s also just very pretty.
I wonder how the other One Room Challenge participants are incorporating political and social statements into their rooms this season. Head over to the ORC blog for an update on every space that’s getting a makeover and see who’s standing up for a cause.
Our bathroom renovation is now officially complete. Come back next week to see how everything is pulled together and finally see some professional photos from my photographer, Drae Brown.
RENOVATING HISTORIC HOMES ON A BUDGET ISN’T EASY
BUT I’M HERE TO HELP.
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