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Design

Introducing Malcolm’s “Sooner Than Anticipated” Bathroom Remodel: When A Leak Leads To A Life Upgrade

Have you faced a situation in your home where a hidden problem causes cascading issues that force a remodel that you’re both enthusiastic about (because renovations are exciting) but also thoroughly unprepared for mentally, emotionally, or budgetarily? Yes? No? Maybe so?
Well, this is where I currently find myself:

Ok, ok, ok. I shall explain.

When I bought my home last year, one of the major aspects of my offer was that I would waive the inspection contingency. If you’re generally unfamiliar with real estate lingo (like I am…even after buying two homes), that means if the home was revealed to be in poor condition or required major repairs, I wouldn’t be able to ask the seller for financial assistance to cover any of it. Essentially, it meant that I delivered an “all or nothing” offer (even though a “nothing” decision would still mean forfeiting a deposit, but I digress). Was this a risky move? Absolutely. Did I really want this house? Absolutely. Decisions were made in consideration of the latter, and I remained blissfully ignorant of some clear issues that existed. 

Which brings us back to the matter at hand: the gaping, ominous hole in my kitchen ceiling. A couple of months after moving in, I noticed some slight water damage on my kitchen ceiling, which sits directly underneath my bathroom. It didn’t really register to me as water damage at the time (admittedly a fairly big oversight on my part), and, of course, the damage kept getting worse and worse. Once I fully realized what was happening, I called in the experts to diagnose the source of the leak–fearful that a plumbing or pipe issue was the root cause. Eventually (and after ripping a hole in the kitchen ceiling), we realized the leak occurred as a result of old, cracked tiling in the bathroom above and a poor caulking job around the perimeter of the bathtub. In that grand scheme of things, that didn’t seem so bad, but it led to a series of intensely contemplative decisions about what exactly to do about it

PIVOTING EXPECTATIONS

I didn’t originally plan to overhaul this bathroom. I actually quite like the character of the floor tile, and figured that I’d just keep all the tiling throughout the bathroom and update the space by switching out the vanity, mirror, and other fixtures. BUT, ALAS. Life hit me in the face with a curveball, so I’m throwing a curveball right back at it. I’m lucky enough to be in a position to afford this renovation (I’m knocking on the rotted wood in my ceiling that more unexpected issues don’t arise…which is very naive of me) even though it wasn’t necessarily planned at this point, and I’m able to reprioritize some financial obligations to make it happen sooner than expected. HOWEVER, I do owe some of my position to proper preparation and planning (…you know I love me some alliteration):

  • I’m a fairly stingy person with my money, and I save pretty aggressively in anticipation of these sorts of unexpected things. It pains me deeply to pull money out of my savings account for this project, but if there’s a place to spend it, it’s on the remodel of a space that I spend tons of quality time sitting in…TMI?
  • Over the last year, I’ve iteratively conceptualized and/or purchased bathroom fixtures that I knew I’d eventually use, even though a specific renovation timeline wasn’t established until, like, last week. For example, I purchased this vanity before I even moved in (I’ll go into more detail about it shortly), and I sourced most of the other fixtures ahead of time as well.

Now, perhaps the biggest pain point here is that this is my only bathroom. I’m planning to stay elsewhere during parts of the renovation that make the bathroom inhospitable, but what happens if it takes longer than expected? Well, I don’t really know the answer to that, if I’m being honest. I’m planning to wait until all functional components of the new bathroom are delivered before we start tearing things apart–in an effort to minimize the time I’ll be without a bathroom–but I’m certain that unexpected issues will prevent things from going as smoothly as I’d like. I’ll be learning a little (a lot?) about what it takes to tackle the renovation of the single bathroom in a house, and I’ll definitely report back with lessons learned! Let’s hope I’m not couch surfing for months. Flexibility is the name of the game right now, whether I like it or not.

After reframing my expectations and pivoting the planning phase of the bathroom, I consulted Emily to help me think through some of my plans–most of which center around the idea of maintaining the original character and quality of the space.

MAINTAINING A 1930s FRAME OF MIND: AKA STICKING TO THE ERA OF THE HOME

design by jessica helgerson | photo by jeremy bittermann | via architectural digest

If I had to boil down my style into three words, they’d be tailored, classic, and collected. Much of that mindset was manifested in my bedroom remodel from earlier this year (check out that series if you haven’t!). My house was built in 1939, and I don’t ever want to take it to a place aesthetically that doesn’t align with its vintage charm.

Some of the qualities of my home that I LOVE are the elements that [I think] are original. I love the vintage door hardware, the original hardwood floors, and in this context specifically, the quality of the original features in the bathroom. As such, I want to maintain as much of that character as possible, while bringing the space into 2021 in a way that feels authentic and tailored to me.

1. Wallpaper | 2. Lewis switch plate | 3. Palmer medicine cabinet | 4. Glass bottle | 5. Rollins cross handle sink faucet | 6. Vanity | 7. West slope double towel bar | 8. Kohler toilet | 9. Connor faucet supply lines | 10. Pink vase | 11. Yaquina glass shelf | 12. Connor tub/shower set | 13. Organic waffle shower curtain

Tailored? Check. 
Classic? Check. 
Collected? Chickity chickity check.

Now, one of the biggest questions that I have for this space is what kind of lighting I want to use. I’m caught between hanging a single pendant from the ceiling above the sink like a beautiful little piece of jewelry and maintaining the placement of the light that exists currently. The single pendant option just feels like me, but it might not provide for enough functional light, and it would be expensive to move electrical wiring to make it happen. Maintaining the current placement–but updating the fixture–feels like the fiscally responsible option and perhaps more authentic to the space, but would it be interesting enough? I posed the question to Emily when I shared these plans with her, and she shared that there are some great sconce options out there to choose from, and going that direction would allow me to keep the junction box where it is. 

Here are general illustrations of both options (along with options for wall treatments):

Option 1: Painted Walls & A Multi-Bulb Sconce

Option 2: Wallpaper & A Single Pendant

What do you think? Single pendant, or multi-bulb sconce? Also, wallpaper, or painted walls? So many decisions to make!

Another thing I am very excited about is my plans for the floor tile. As you can see in my mood board above, I am going for a frame tile design that just SCREAMS “classic” to me, and I’ve been spending a lot of time detailing exactly how it’ll look. I’m opting for a marble floor to turn the timelessness up to an eleven, but also utilizing a pattern very similar to the original tile as an homage to this bathroom’s humble beginnings.

design by sean macpherson | via remodelista

I should address the elephant in the room (unless I’m projecting said elephant…): opting for a pedestal sink in the only bathroom in the house. I will fully admit that is definitely not the most viable option for a vanity when it comes to storage. BUT. I personally never use things that I keep under the sink. There is also a linen closet directly outside of my bathroom that I plan to outfit with novel storage solutions as a part of this bathroom renovation (would you be interested in hearing more about that?). I’m also generally very, very, very drawn to the look of a brassy pedestal sink. It hits all of the right marks, in my opinion. I think it’s important to underscore the power of designing your home for you–and not for the outlook of resale in the future–because honestly, future homeowners will likely move in and make their own changes regardless. Do you! Make yourself happy! 

photo by paul massey | via c tendance

You’ll find that most of my interior inspiration usually is centered around hospitality design. That’s the case for a few reasons: because my love for environmental graphic design usually results in an appreciation for well-branded spaces, because hotel rooms are generally designed with an intense intentionality that resonates with me, and because they’re generally designed to be easily conducive to establishing pragmatism and routine.

UNDERSCORING ROUTINE-BUILDING BEHAVIORS

design by sean macpherson | via ludlow hotel

If you read my primary bedroom renovations series of articles, you might recall that establishing routines is extremely important to me. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and mental health, daily patterns create a strong foundation on which I can start my days, end my days, and center myself (it’s a good thing I established my bedroom as a space of calm, because I’ll definitely need it to get me through this bathroom renovation!).

While the bedroom is where step one of my nightly routine takes place, the bathroom is where the [longer] second part of my routine occurs. I usually shower at night (I’m curious–are you a night showerer or a morning showerer?), tend to my beard, indulge in some self-pampering if time allows, and organize any toiletries I’ll need in the morning–all while listening to some amalgamation of Adele, Sam Smith, and other similarly melodramatic artists. Suffice it to say, it’ll be SO NICE to have a bathroom that is conducive to this aspect of my day.

design and photo by the gold hive

With all that being said, a medicine cabinet is going to be CLUTCH in this remodel. I’m eyeing this one from Rejuvenation, which seems like a healthy alternative to the toiletry bag that I currently use to store all of my bathroom things. Also, the mirror currently in my bathroom is VERY LOW on the wall, which has inspired me to invest in a tall mirror that will make it easier to trim my beard and cut my hair. On that note, I’m brainstorming a multi-mirror solution that will allow me to easily see the back of my head while I’m shaving it. Perhaps that can take the form of an accordion mirror, like so:

design by juliet feehan | photo by john gruen | via design sponge

At any rate, you can see that I have a TON of decisions to make! The real work in this space will start over the next few weeks, and I’m excited (and mildly anxious) to get this project started. In true fashion, I’ve asked for lots of opinions in this article…so please, let me know your thoughts down below!

Opener Image Credits: Design by Sean MacPherson | via Remodelista

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HerselfInDublin
3 months ago

Oooh, I’m so excited to see this! I’ve actually been particularly looking forward to the bathroom because I often find American bathrooms have vanity units with so many drawers and doors and so much hardware that it looks very bulky and visually busy. Malcolm, I knew yours couldn’t possibly look like this, because it literally isn’t your style, but I was not prepared for the pedestal sink – which is absolutely gorgeous and, yes, very you. I have a very small bathroom, also the only one in the house, and I also have a pedestal sink – it makes the room look much bigger and is definitely worth sacrificing the storage. I also have a single medicine cabinet (for two adults to use) and it works fine. Re the black walls versus wallpaper, I personally really don’t like that wallpaper and also it doesn’t feel very you. But I do love black walls in a bathroom, where the contrast with all the white gives a wonderful crisp warmth and I think will look amazing in this room, especially with the marble and the brass. I also prefer the single light to the sconce, but I think it’s because I don’t… Read more »

3 months ago

Yes. Exactly these kinds of sconces!

Suzanne
3 months ago

Yes! I was thinking the same thing for sconces on the side. And I agree, Americans are obsessed with storage. As an American, I feel like I’m constantly justifying furnishings that creat a more open feel. I like to be able to see under furniture and fixtures.

Lilli
3 months ago

These are similar and a little cheaper https://www.vintagehardware.com/proddetail.php?prod=34-SL-NES

Wally
3 months ago

I’ve had bathrooms before where the only light comes from overhead and I personally find that difficult for like using my mirror to put on mascara, inspect my pores, search for wrinkles, etc. Lights in front are much better for that. Lights overhead might be better to avoid OCD-face-related behaviors! 🙂

Summer
3 months ago
Reply to  Wally

On that note: hope it doesn’t add another curveball, but lights on either side of the mirror are by far the most flattering… light coming from above creates shadows on your face that emphasize wrinkles and just makes you look (and feel) tired. I don’t know if there is room for that on either side of your mirror in this room, but if you can, I vote that it would be worth the cost of moving the electrical. We faced a similar situation (it was tight getting a sconce between the mirror and wall), but I’m really glad we did it. Compared to our bathroom with lights above the mirror, being in the one with the sconces on either side of the mirror is truly mood enhancing.

Also, I shower at night too. 🙂 I have long thick hair… but it’s still worth it to me because I love decompressing in the shower at the end of the day.

Donna
3 months ago
Reply to  Summer

Yes to lights on either side of the mirror! Lights from above really does throw dark shadows and makes you look tired and sad even if you’re not. It’s a real mood-booster to see your best reflection in the mirror every day.

Roberta Davis
3 months ago
Reply to  Wally

totally agree!

Vera
3 months ago

Ooo I’m excited! Lots of similarities for me: Old house and our only full bath is the same layout, and when we moved in (in 2019) it started raining in our kitchen below! I have an almost identical photo of our ceiling haha! Pipe issues, now fixed, but quite stressful at the time.
I also shower at night – I have a LOT of hair (not long, just a lot of it) so it needs the whole night to even partially dry.
I am VERY into your whole routine thing and am on a similar path of trying to establish them (also live with depression and anxiety).
SO Malcolm I am super invested in all this! 🙂
I LOVE the pedestal. I’ve lived with pedestal sinks and it can totally work.
I would do a multi-bulb light because I am super picky about lighting – I like at least 2-3 AMBIENT light sources in a small room. I think your evening routine will be much more pleasant this way!

Karen
3 months ago

I love the mood board and inspo pics. I also prefer the pedestal versus full cabinetry.
1 bathroom house here as well and I can’t wait to see the finished room!

Julie
3 months ago

I’m so excited for this renovation, Malcolm! Your moodboard is gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see your tile design. I absolutely love that you’re wanting to keep the integrity of the home while implementing your own style. I think the single pendant would be stunning, but there are also so many pretty sconce options these days. Either way, I highly recommend putting your lighting on a dimmer if you can. It makes evening routines so much more relaxing. Also, I think the wallpaper you found is beautiful, but would it hold up to the steam from showers? I’d hate for it to start peeling on you. And, yes, I would LOVE to read about your linen closet organization! 🙂

Erin
3 months ago

Second post I have read from Malcom and managed to click EVERYTHING he has sourced. I love reading his posts! Malcolm come do my house 🙂

Elizabeth
3 months ago

This hit home for me in my 1916 house! I am currently in the middle of renovating the upstairs bathroom – I do have a very small half bath downstairs though. The PLAN was to have the exterior of the house painted this year, then in 3-5 years do an upstairs renovation to add a second bathroom. Then the shower leaked into the kitchen (i too, have similar pictures of my kitchen ceiling). We plan and God laughs!

3 months ago

This is going to be GORGEOUS! A classic space for a classy guy!

3 months ago

Throwing my 2 cents in! Btw, Malcolm, you are a delight to read! And I love having someone from the mid-Atlantic region to follow (very relatable design preferences to the area where I live).

1. Walls – Seriously consider the black in the paint or wallpaper option. One of your inspo photos has slate gray walls but all of your others have white. Maybe white walls with a heavy dose of black in the accessories, artwork, towels, or hardware would be enough?

2. Lighting – Personally, I’d do a multi-light sconce instead of a single pendant.

3. Tile – I am here for it! Can’t wait to see what you do because I have an almost identical bathroom in my own home.

Sarah
3 months ago

Team wallpaper! Love it!!! I think a pedestal sink forces you to be tidy. I’m into it.

Kimberly Hieber
3 months ago

Malcolm, I love seeing your name pop up with an article. Your style so how combines boldness with classic elegance and the results are stunning. Equally awesome is your writing, I love words and your use of “iteratively” is a win for me. Can’t wait for the next post.

Liz
3 months ago

LOVE the classic and glam touches!! So excited to see you pull this together — as a fellow single bathroom in the condo person who might want to make some changes soon, I am all for the learnings and timeline info. Re: the medicine cabinet, I wanted to chime in and vouch for the function of the type that has a double sided mirrored door, as well as mirror on the inside. The shelves sit in front of the mirror on the inside and I have mirrors everywhere — whether the door is open, askew, or closed. I love being able to apply products without closing the door. Alas, this was installed by previous owners, so I am not sure of the source, but have been telling friends and family all about the glorious functionality of this new-to-me setup.

Faith
3 months ago

Lighting on either side of mirror if possible. Only overhead lighting will make you look perpetually tired.
painted walls.
An outlet in the medicine cabinet if possible. It’s a game changer.

Ghalia
3 months ago

Malcolm, everything you share gives me LIFE! Honestly, your design eye speak to my soul. I always want EVERYTHING you share. So excited about this! I am also a night-showerer, so I’m convinced we’re actually soul sisters at this point.

I LOVE the wallpaper option – bold, especially for your only bathroom, but I think if anyone can make it work it’s you. I wasn’t 100% on board with the sconces because it felt too glam and not chic enough for what you’re going for; but I got it after you shared the real-life inspirations. Hadn’t seen that version of the vanity sconces before, but I’m digging them.

Whatever you do, I’m here for it 😀

Melissa
3 months ago

So excited to follow along! The inspiration photos are stunning but I can’t stand anything that resembles “Hollywood” lights – all those exposed bulbs, all that heat, no! The 80’s ruined those for me. There are some beautiful linear sconces that could give you the same vibe. As for the pendant, it seems it would cast some unflattering light. You may want to reach out to Sarah @ Room For Tuesday for tips. In her last home she did a complete gut reno on her one and only bath and she also used a pendant light over the sink. I have a similar size bathroom with dark walls and only one 3-light sconce and I would highly recommend adding a second light source- Even if it’s just a can light/vent fan combo you won’t regret it. I like the accordion mirror but you’ll get even more functionality if you also have the inside of medicine cabinet mirrored. Love the wallpaper and the sink! It’s going to be beautiful!

Ashley
3 months ago
Reply to  Melissa

Yes— I thought the same! We opted to do an overhead light/vent combo and white it’s not glamorous (though they truly make some better looking ones these days), it’s super functional. Otherwise our shower would be pretty dark with just the vanity lighting. Of course, you do have have the window in the shower and living in SoCal you get lots of natural light, except you’re a night showerer, so not as much. I think the wallpaper is gorgoeous. And I’d be absolutely interested in your “novel storage solutions” for bathroom supplies! I am obsessed with having enough bathroom storage 😂
Finally, back to the window— I’m super interested to see how you deal with tiling/framing out the window sill! We just ran into this with our renovation— I choose a large 4×16 vertical stack tile but failed to think through how that pattern would carry into the window sill. It really doesn’t. So we had to switch last minute to a Penny-tiled window frame. Had I thought of this in advance I wouldn’t tried sourcing some matching quartz remnants for a more seamless look. I wish more people talked about this stuff!

JEM
3 months ago

I love a maximalist wallpaper in a powder room but for a main bathroom where the bathing and high humidity activities take place, I’d be really worried about it adhering to the wall long term. Your options are gorgeous however and fit so beautifully with the bedroom you’ve shown us. Super excited to see this one come together!

Christa
3 months ago

I can’t wait to see what you do! I’m 100% get a vanity cabinet though, because it’s the only bathroom. You can find an option you will love. Lack of storage wears you out over time. Form follows function 🙂

A
3 months ago

I have that vanity and I don’t love it – the hole for the faucet is too far back so you’ll at least want an extra long one, and somehow it’s very hard to clean the around the faucets and along the line in the back where the top meets the backsplash. It also comes in two heights so make sure to get the taller one!

Hana
3 months ago

I prefer sconces on either side of the mirror as it provides better illumination. And on a dimmer is essential. I think the same feels a little dark for black paint but after seeing your bedroom reveal I think you’ll make it lovely. I love your pedestal idea and would like to see the linen closet. I’m adding a master bathroom to my 1926 home that I also want to feel right for it’s style and age.

Rusty
3 months ago
Reply to  Hana

PRIMARY bathroom/ENSUITE???
“Master” rooms have had their day…just a gentle reminder. Hope you can take it that way.

Hana
3 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

Yeah I agree. Old habits die hard! Thanks for the reminder Rusty. I am truly trying to drop that and I like either of those suggestions! I also wish we could edit out posts to get rid of typos and blunders such as this!

3 months ago

Sorry to chime in with something you’re not even thinking of but when I think 1930s I think two sconces, one on either side of the mirror. I’ve been in many bathrooms in many old houses in my days;), and those multi-bulb things nope, nope, nope. They feel very single-decade to me. Maybe an overhead light, but I think those were always just bulbs screwed into the ceiling LOL.

Louise
3 months ago

Looks like it’s going to be absolutely stunning — like your bedroom remodel. I think my personal style is the closest to your style. among the EHD team and guest writers.
A question, if I may: what is the estimated time frame that you’ll have to be out of your house for the bathroom remodel? I’m in the same position at my house — wanting to remodel our single bathroom, but scared at the prospect of watching our savings drain into an indefinite Airbnb stay.

Briana
3 months ago

I am so curious to know how you’ll handle the low window in the shower area. Its gorgeous, but is water a concern?

KT
3 months ago

So excited to see the final remodel!! I love the sink and floor tiling. I would also be interested in seeing how you solve the storage issues in the closet next to the bathroom!

Roberta Davis
3 months ago

I’m glad you have the money! Bathrooms are expensive! We moved to a new house last summer just so that we didn’t need to remodel our 2 bathrooms, which I had fully designed in excruciating detail, including CAD plans and elevations. My husband said he’d rather move than go through a huge COVID-era renovation. I was looking at a lot of things from Kohler and Rejuvenation, too. AND we had a similar thing happen to our newly-purchased 1941 house in the Cleveland area. My stepdaughter took a shower in a bathroom we didn’t use daily, and the caulk had dried and come loose, spraying water into the dining room below! I totally agree with your about keeping it consistent with the style of the house. As far as lighting, I would personally go for more light. Better if coming from 2 sides and in front of you, than overhead. My husband is always complaining that he doesn’t have enough light to shave (something to think about as we get older). I definitely want to hear about your closet in the hall! I also think it’s smart to have a medicine cabinet- I really miss ours. Our newer house doesn’t have… Read more »

Tracy
3 months ago

Love the brass! I had a reno I had to do because of precisely these same circumstances (only water also ruined half my kitchen – boooooo). I used unlacquered brass in the kitchen for the faucet. It is – fine – in the kitchen, but I suggest you do NOT use unlacquered in a shower (looks like some of the inspiration photos have unlacquered). In a shower, it will really blacken with water spots a lot rather than just patina in a pretty way. Probably your vanity is brushed anyway, and lots of good brushed options for fixtures!

Lane
3 months ago

I love the direction you’re going. Live the floor tile. With regards to lights and ventilation, and even heating, do what you need. Whether you want it, it’s a major renovation. If you do it right it may last another 80 years, except for the fixtures that break. So do upgrade your electrical and plumbing. That is, you should do all new plumbing except for sewer if it’s in a working condition. You should also rewire and upgrade your electric fuses to be upto the newest code. If there is no code, do it based on national guidelines. This takes up a lot of your budget, but if you do this right (find a good builder) it won’t come up again. I renovated a couple of bathrooms from 40s, 50s, and unfortunately there is no way to do just the visual. It’s a major reno. So do the lights you need. You might even want extra lights on the ceiling, sconces, and ventilation. Floor heating might be optional. I love the classic colors, because those really don’t date. In terms of the vanity, I like drawers (I have a kohler vanity). Where do you put q tips, charger for your… Read more »

Lane
3 months ago
Reply to  Lane

I’m sorry for all the typos. I hope the meaning is not lost

sara
3 months ago

Love the direction and vote for the multi bulb sconce, feels more in keeping with the age of the home, AND it’s more flattering have multiple softer bulbs by the mirror than relying on a single overhead single or at best double bulb option. Kinder on budget is a bonus, but regardless of cost, think it’s the right way to go re: lighting. Schoolhouse electric has lovely options that are perfect for the age and original elements of your home, but lighting is often a nice way to add an injection of modern and easier to swap out later in time if you want a change, of course. Good luck!

Amanda
3 months ago

I put wallpaper in one bathroom and would NOT do it again *personally

Courtney
3 months ago

We have a 1939 house too, so I’m curious to see what you do! I love the style you’re planning. They flipped our house when we moved in, and the one thing I dislike is the downstairs bathroom–they covered the original black and white tile with that new wood-grain tile and just removed all the character. Ugh. Some day I’d love to do a reno similar to yours. And I love that medicine cabinet! The funniest part of the flip was that they hung a mirror above our sink, and when we moved it there was just a gigantic hole behind it where the original medicine cabinet used to be. Why didn’t they patch that hole when they did the rest of the drywall work?!

Courtney
3 months ago
Reply to  Courtney

Oh and I’m a converted nighttime showerer. I used to do it in the morning, but when our third kid came along there was no time! Now that I’m teleworking, I prefer it–I can clean off after a workout, and since I just let my hair air-dry it more or less looks fine in the morning. Now thought of going to bed unshowered after getting sweaty and dirty all day grosses me out!

Rusty
3 months ago

“Chickity chickity check”!!!🤗
Malcolm, I love your posts! So well-written, detailed in a good way, with pictures and simply refreshing.

Great to gear you’re focused on designing to fit the era and existing features of your home. That’s what I did with my nearly 100yo Old Girl, and it’s ofren so much harder to do than going all spanking new!

I really like your aesthetic and while it’s not quite my thing (I’m more cottagey than luxe), it appeals to me for its calming vibe and coziness, while still being curated luxe.

Really looking gorward to seeing how thus tutns out (and hoping you don’t gave to cpuch-surf for long).
Yes, tell us about you storage solutions… you’re innovative and interesting.

Rusty
3 months ago
Reply to  Rusty

Sorry @ typos…danged numb fingers!

Kate
3 months ago

Your inspiration boards are gorgeous and your bedroom couldn’t be more perfect – your aesthetic choices are stunning!

I have a 1920s house with one bath and I installed a pedestal sink because it makes the bathroom feel larger and airier. What I also did (and recommend!) is working out exactly what you need in your medicine cabinet so that you can plan your shelf space needs and layout and also installing an electrical outlet inside the cabinet so that your trimmer and any other items (electric toothbrush, etc.) are tucked away and your bathroom is free of cords. It’s an easy thing to do when you’re renovating a bathroom, and for folks who have a bathroom vanities: also install an electrical outlet in the back of a deep drawer for hair dryers, curlers, etc.

Kate
3 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Forgot to add: lighting at the mirror (especially for grooming) is important – I would hesitate on only having a pendant for that reason. And yes on the accordion mirror!

Holly
3 months ago

Don’t forget the Bluetooth ceiling speakers!!

Sheila
3 months ago
Reply to  Holly

Ditto that. My SIL is a decorator and since visiting me has incorporated speakers in their ensuite bathroom and recommends them to all her clients. My speakers are Sonos to link up with the rest of the house. Can’t be without my shower tunes!

Suzanne
3 months ago

Unexpected remodels are a burden and a blessing. I’m so glad you tucked away funds for surprise updates. But so fun to be able to refine the space. Malcom, I’m also a fan of console and pedestal vanities, and have no under sink storage in my bathroom. I do use baskets on a small shelf, which is a great opportunity to bring in a vintage piece. I also have a similar storage medicine cabinet from Rejuvenation and it holds a lot. You’ll love the marble mosaic floor. I have a basket weave similar to the one in your mood board. I’m torn between paint and wallpaper. I worry wallpaper would not do well in a humid bathroom, so it depends on your ventilation. As for lighting, I actually like a combination of lighting. The overhead pendant seems better for general use and showering, and sconces are nice when using the mirror. However, if you have space, sconces on each side of the mirror, hung at eye level, light up your face so much better than top mounted sconces. My sconces are on a separate switch, so I frequently forget to use them, but when I do, they create the perfect… Read more »

3 months ago

These plans look gorgeous! And we feel you on being “fairly stingy” jaja, that definitely plays a part in why we DIY most projects.

Christina
3 months ago

I’d love to see more of your 1939 house! We’re moving into a 1932 beauty with lots of the same charms you appreciate about yours.

Personally I love the grayish green bathrooms above. The darker ones feel too tight and suck too much of the natural light up for me— especially when I need all the natural light j can get for applying make up and what not.

Betsy
3 months ago

Normally not a fan of wallpaper in a bathroom. You know, moisture! But I’m guessing wallpaper has come a long way, and this isn’t an issue anymore. So option 2. So glad you are keeping the integrity of the home alive with your unanticipated reno.

I do want to comment on your toilet choice. My brother and sister-in-law have this same toilet, if it is a Kohler. While it is lovely, the decorative indentation on the tank is a nightmare to keep clean. Sort of like Shaker cabinets. My sister-in-law is constantly complaining. To get the corners clean, she has to use toothpicks. A year after the renovation, they are replacing the toilet. My brother couldn’t stand listening to it any longer. Just a little food for thought.

Lindsay
3 months ago

so excited to see what you do with this curveball! i’m sure you will knock it out of the park!

3 months ago

Love it. Will be following for advice for my own 1900s bathroom overhaul.

Cici Haus
3 months ago

Night showerer for sure! Also, I vote pendant + wallpaper! Go big or go home have regrets, right?

3 months ago

I love every bit of this! Prefer the single pendant as I’m not a fan of those vanity-style bulb lights in any incarnation. And I love the wallpaper but the paint color is amazing, too. Finally, would appreciate hearing about the storage option you’re planning.

Brandie
3 months ago

Your thoughts and plans are fantastic! Can’t wait to see it evolve.

Paula Carr
3 months ago

Malcolm, all of your inspiration photos make my heart go pitty-pat!
I vote for wallpaper and single sconce. I’m not a fan … at all … of multi-bulb sconces. And definitely I want to see how you handle the storage issue with the linen closet. One of my major peeves with open concept is that once you tear out walls, you’ve torn out a ton of your storage.

And I LOVE that you are going with the character charm of your house instead of fighting it. Now, that is my biggest peeve of all!

Michelle
3 months ago

Tailored, Classic, Collected is such a great style mindset!
As someone with a house from a similar era, these are great ideas to staying true to the age of the house. Thank you for sharing!

Lara
3 months ago

I would go for the multi-bulb sconce and paint instead of wallpaper. Loving where this is going!

Sandy
3 months ago

I’ve only owned homes from pre-1940 and have experience with renovating (vs. restoring or remodeling) older homes while carefully maintaining their character. My thoughts: – check out the book ‘Bungalow Bathrooms’ by Jane Powell; it’s both fun and excellent as a resource. It’s a sequel to ‘Bungalow Kitchens’ same author and also terrific for ideas. – re lighting, sconces on the sides of your mirror or medicine cabinet are an accurate choice as would be a wall-mounted fixture over the cabinet. More lighting might have included a flush mount ceiling fixture and their are some great vintage glass shades available from Etsy sellers that can be combined with reproduction metal fixtures like those from Rejuvenation. Some of the Art Deco leaning shades or fixtures would work for your vintage home. One “modern” feature I’ve included in my baths is a very discrete downright over tub/shower … code in many places requires it. – bathroom design way back when was very much about being sanitary so elements tended to be a bit more stark … paint rather than wallpaper would be much more in keeping with your stated priorities. – I’ve used Rejuvenation medicine cabinets and they’re very good; Restoration Hardware… Read more »

Sheila
3 months ago
Reply to  Sandy

Sandy, what is a discrete downright?

Cindy
3 months ago

I’m pumped for this remodel. That moody black w light tile and touches of brass is chic!

Jane
3 months ago

I’m sooooo excited for this

Karen Patton
3 months ago

Hello, it’s going to look SOOO GOOD. I’m so glad to see a nice medicine cabinet! I think paint is more your classic style than the wall paper. And if you decide you want wallpaper later you can always add it in. The accordion mirror will be your best friend, I am surprised how much I use mine.

My .02 on lighting would be go with sconces on either side of your mirror, it’s much more flattering lighting. I’m not in love with the stage light fixture though. It doesn’t feel period appropriate. I got gold “barber pole” sconces, and love the vintage vibe. It’s one of my favorite choices in my bathroom. https://www.wayfair.com/lighting/pdp/mercer41-munday-1-light-led-vanity-light-w002144787.html?piid=1530342414&categoryid=416507&placement=3&slot=0&sponsoredid=7a82d0fdd8c6639652ba1d22100c5d55df95087b18fbae4ccc05d639d2495a23&_txid=I%2FWEwmCmzy6nLQ8s%2FZV9Ag%3D%3D&isB2b=0&auctionId=193c5fe7-a3e3-4c1d-adff-bab2bef87c79

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Julie S
3 months ago

This sounds vv interesting! I like your rationale behind the airy, non-storage sink vanity and love this classic overall style so be sure to keep us well updated.

3 months ago

Love love love your plans! As far as I’m concerned, you can never go wrong with black, white, and marble.

Regarding the lighting, I just have to chime in with my experience remodeling our bathroom last year. We had a sconce over the mirror a lot like yours, and upgraded to sconces at about eye level on either side of the mirror. Plus we kept the overhead light, and put it on a second switch. I was SHOCKED how much more flattering the lighting became. I feel like it makes me look years younger, and this is coming from someone who has done a bathroom gut remodel while living through a pandemic with a toddler.

OH, and btw, if you like to listen to music in the bathroom while getting ready, and are having an electrician do work anyway, consider if you might want to add an outlet someplace where you could plug in a speaker. That’s one of our only regrets with our otherwise wonderful remodel.

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