Eye on design – Bathing beauty

A simple makeover transforms an out-of-date bath into a bathing beauty.

When seeking a house in the suburbs in which to raise a family, many young couples are faced with a distressing scenario. The neighborhood may be wonderful, the commute easy, and the house they fall in love with lovely to behold from the curb. But behind the perfect front door, the charm of this dream home may have been masked or obliterated by a disastrous remodeling dating to the glory years of avocado, harvest gold, and knotty pine.

The young couple who restored the bath shown here was luckier than most. The 1930’s Dutch colonial they fell in love with exhibited tons of charm. The bath and its adjoining cedar closet had not been modified “in the name of progress.” Although both had been shared by three bedrooms for more than 60 years, they were in fine shape.

Before the transformation
At 8′ x 8’4″ the bath was not too cramped either. Despite the fact that the sink and toilet stood cheek-by-jowl, they and the built-in bathtub were separated by a broad expanse of floor. The tile, too, was in near pristine condition.

Except for replacing an aging plaster ceiling (with greenboard, treated with an anti-mildew paint) and adjusting the position of the electrical wiring over the sink to accommodate a new lighting fixture, the couple could dress the bath themselves, at no great expense. And with a baby on the way, that was good news.

Decorating Details – Bathing Beauty

bathing beautyOn a budget of under $1,000 (and a little professional help), the bathroom was turned into a serene retreat. A subtly striped paper was applied to the wall above the tiled dado to camouflage a cobweb of crackles in the existing plaster. Its soft butter-and-cream hues complement the tile. The mirrored medicine cabinet is original to the room. The lighting fixture hanging over it and the one in the adjoining cedar closet are by Rejuvenation Lamp & Fixture Co. and they live up to their claim; they do rejuvenate, both in terms of their period profiles and in the warm glow they cast.

Wallpaper: Motif Designs. Hand towels: Trouvaille Française. Antique silver jars, razor and brush: Tudor Rose Antiques.

decoratig bath details“Beautiful faucets are like jewels,” says the homeowner. The vintage pedestal sink is a prize, but its 1960’s-era fittings were truly ugly. Polished-chrome period-style replacements from A-Ball Plumbing Supply are line-for-line copies of ones that might originally have come with the house.

Faucet handle: A-Ball Plumbing Supplies.

decorating detailsThe tile was in surprisingly good condition and only needed to be buffed to bring it back to life. The window, too, required no special attention — only a lick of paint and an old-fashioned wooden Venetian blind from Hunter Douglas.

Shower curtain, towels, and candles: Peacock Alley

how to decorate the bathEven with a 3’4″ x 4’5″ cedar closet next door, storage is at a premium in the bath. A soap-and-accessory tub tray, therefore, proves exceptionally convenient (as do towel bars at the foot of the tub).

Tub tray: A-Ball Plumbing Supply. Bubble bath and nail brush: The French Look.

Storage Solutions

“Structurally, there was nothing wrong with the cedar closet,” the owner acknowledges, “but it was dark and the cedar scent had evaporated.” Reviving the fragrance couldn’t be easier: all it takes is a quick sanding. With that, the cedar’s ruby hue and its pungent perfume came right back!

bath storage solutionsThe shelves in the closet needed no adjustment. After they were covered with vinylized paper for easy cleaning, they were trimmed with paper lace “to dress them up.” Linens are stacked according to type — flat, fitted, antique, etc. — then labeled.

“Linen closets have a way of getting mixed up,” the owner laughs. “Labels organize everything.”
Bathrobe, sheets, and towels throughout: Peacock Alley. Quilts and wool throws: Laura Fisher Antique Quilts and Americana.

Bandboxes: Dixie Rose. Nickel-plated label frames.

One way to keep linens smelling fresh is to spritz them with Edith Mezard scented linen water, which comes in a variety of fragrances, such as tilleul — or linden. (Linen water can also be added to a spray iron.)

Linen water: Edith Mezard from The French Look. Antique linens: Trouvaille Française. Shelf paper: Wolfman Gold & Good Co. Ribbon: C.M. Offray & Son, Inc.

bath floorThe wood-strip floor in the cedar closet bore many nicks and water stains, so the owners decided to slick it with a Benjamin Moore paint in the same soft yellow as the bathroom wallcovering. The floor was then stenciled in a fleur-de-lis motif. Polyurethane protects the handiwork.

Willow hamper: Palacek.

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