A restored bathroom in a 1912 house

A Bathroom Reborn


A restored bathroom in a 1912 house
A restored bathroom in a 1912 house

There’s one thing I am not very good at – and that is taking photographs of projects that I have worked on. You see, most of my clients tend to be “Do it Yourselfers”. I meet with my clients on a regular basis as their project moves along. I help them make important decisions, choose materials, create designs for all manner of projects, advise them on restoration issues, act as a go between with officials for the process of historic designation and so on.

Once we have finished making decisions the client goes off and gets the work done with the trades of their choice. I don’t see the result of my work until I am called back again. Sometimes I don’t get to see the final job because all has been completed.

I tell you this so you can understand how pleased I was with the outcome of one of the projects I helped some long time clients with. They own a 1912 four square home and have been dutifully restoring and modernizing their home for years. It’s a fabulous house and the clients are a joy to work with. Over the years I have helped them with many projects but this time when they called me I brought my camera.

I have three pictures of the bathroom to give you an idea of how it turned out. The bathroom was basically a very small room. It included a water closet (separate toilet room), a built in shower and single sink area. Next to the bathroom was a small room that we believe was originally a bedroom. This room became part of the bathroom.

This small room is now a “tub” room, consisting of a claw foot tub that is set into an arched opening . The arch is “supported” by what is really a pair of narrow cupboards – one on either side of the arch. The cupboard on the right hand side hides the ironing board and its accessories.


Tiled Bathroom floor
Tiled Bathroom floor

The cupboard on the left hand side hides towels and wash cloths plus cleaning supplies. The wall behind the claw foot tub features an Edwardian walnut mantle mirror with display shelves. It’s the perfect contrast for all the soft greyed tones in the room. The tub is new. The previous owners had removed the original during a renovation.

On the right hand side of the picture (you can barely see it) is a trio of cupboards that I designed for the storage of their seasonal clothing amongst other things. The style was based on early 20th century armoires and its design takes advantage of a rather dead corner of the room.

Note the floor. I designed a “rug” for the center of the room. Mosaic tiles were used since this product is exactly what homes of this era had in the bathroom. A similar treatment was executed in front of the sink area in the adjacent room. This separates yet ties both rooms together visually.

My client chose a gorgeous fabric for the curtains. It drapes beautifully and is meant to stay in place as you see it here. The colour scheme was inspired by the fabric. They are Benjamin Moore colours – a soft grayish green and a darker grey blue.

Double sinks with elbow room
Double sinks with elbow room

The previous owners had installed bead board panelling but we decided to keep it because it really did suit the style of the house. The bead board is painted with the grey green colour and the frieze above is painted with the grey blue. White millwork keeps everything looking fresh yet authentic.

A pair of mirrors in the same walnut as the mantle mirror in the adjacent room are placed above the double sinks. There is plenty of room for two people to use their sinks at the same time although that rarely happens. Not far from the double sink cabinetry is an inconspicuous built- in shower stall.

The toilet is still in its own separate room. A small cupboard was included against the back of a side wall in order to maximize every inch of storage space available. The tub room is separated from the rest of the bathroom by a sliding door that is original to the house. Painted white, it hides behind a wall until it is needed.

The result of this project was a bathroom that is functional and modern yet suitable for an early 20th century home. I was really happy with the way it turned out. Kudos to the carpenter and tile setter!

Have you restored a bathroom in an old house before?

4 thoughts on “A Bathroom Reborn

  1. Hi Johanne

    We live in a house c1912 situated in Red Deer and we are currently undertaking extensive bathroom renovations.
    We are currently looking for flooring and like the ‘mosaic’ look. Sam’s an expat from England and has seen it in lots of houses over there too!
    Imagine how pleased we were to see this bathroom renovation pop up in your blog and it does look very nice!
    We’re wondering if you can pass on any contacts for a distributor of this type of tile?

    Also we have salvaged a claw foot tub from an old vicarage in BC and had it re-conditioned. We love the way that the claw feet have been finished in this renovation project. Is this look easily achieved and is it more like a pewter finish or just silver?

    Thank you for the website and the blog. We really appreciate your passion and have been following your website since moving into our heritage house almost 3 years ago! Our house is a labour of love and is being lovingly restored over time. The last owners kept the house in their family for 64 years and we’re in the process of being recognized as one of Red Deer’s top 50 ‘Sites of Significance’, which is very exciting.

    We would value any help or advise you can pass along and very much look forward to reading about future points of interest,

    Kind regards,

    Samantha and Brad Lundgren

    1. Samantha and Brad – Thanks for the email and the kind words! The main thing with the mosaic tile is that you keep to the small tile – around 1 inch. White and black is the most common for houses of that era although later on into the twenties the colour choice broadened. It is available in many flooring outlets and comes in sheets that is not difficult to install (although like any tile it must have a good base to avoid cracking.)
      A person can create a border using slightly different shapes of tile – rectangular tile for example. Contemporary tiles tend to be bigger. Subway tile for example is twice as large as the original. Create a border using graph paper and shade the tiles accordingly. Just changing the colour of the grout will give you a different look. (I would avoid white grout as it will look awful in no time).
      The feet in question (from the new tub) are new and are metal. You could replicate the look by using a metal paint (follow the directions for preparing the surface etc). To create the aged look a glaze tinted brown or black could be wiped over the silver paint. You would want to seal the feet to protect against humidity.
      Congratulations and kudos to you for being a champion of heritage homes.

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