Category: bath

One down, two to go.

The new bath: IKEA sink and faucet, marimekko towel, full mirror to ceilingThere’s so much to catch up with on our renovation – thought I show you the downstairs bath redo next. It was one of the first things to go and the last to be completed since we had the one upstairs that wasn’t in too bad of shape. We did the demo with the rest of the house – out went close to sixty years of bathroom layers, we wired and plumbed it and then the contractor used it for storage while working on the kitchen. A couple of months after moving in, it was clear six people and one toilet was not workable long term so it jumped up on the priority list.

The Old Bath: blue veined Formica, blue toilet, pink stencil wall detail

The house has one full bath up, one down dating from the days when, believe it or not, our micro 1200 sq ft home was a 2-family.  Out came the blue toilet and tub (with a rusted out bottom, conveniently hidden during the inspection by a rubber bath mat). Gone, the pink stenciled wall flowers. Layers of floor tiles came next until finally the space was a empty except for the now uncovered old door to the back yard where the home’s first accommodations (aka: the outhouse) would have been.

This is likely what a modest Brooklyn bathroom consisted of

I’ve been asking some of the long-time residents of our block if they remember when the first indoor plumbing was added to most of the circa 1860-1900 homes and they think it was the 1920′s.  One contractor I spoke with who grew up around the corner said he remembers when they had one toilet in the hall at his home and took a bath in the kitchen.  He said some of the houses he works on still have only one bath on the first floor and for the tenants on the 2nd or 3rd floors they walk downstairs.  Even so, it would be better than sharing a ‘three holer’ with a large building of your neighbors.  The ladies up the block were amazed when I told them my grandparents never did have indoor plumbing and the other set put the first bath into their home in the 1950′s.  One of the perks of living in the big city I suppose.

A tenement toilet from Douglass Flats in Washington, c. 1908

The fancier homes like the one I used to live in on the other side of town would have had much nicer bathrooms – maybe even featuring a “Mott” toilet like the one pictured below. There’s a plumber on Court Street who has some old toilets in his window that date back to earlier times.

A fancy 'Mott' toiliet from NYC, c. 1888
A fancy 'Mott' toiliet from NYC, c. 1888

This room where the bath is in our house was likely the location of the home’s first toilet and the timbers under the floor look worse for the wear. Yep, termites – with a healthy dose of rot tossed in. Nothing that can’t be fixed during the next phase of the renovation though.

secret door to the backyard bordered by rotted lath walls

 

You can see the old three panel door to the back yard we uncovered in the wall behind the tub – in fact, it’s still there holding up the wall.

As for the new bath, we had visions of a light, spa-like retreat so lots of work to do! Funny thing about re-decorating, sometimes you take out the old, only to replace it with a more updated version of the same. As we searched for new tile, I fell in love with a swirly aqueous number from Spain for the floor that looks like the phosphorescent night ocean.

Spanish tile for the floors

Peeling back layers of tile and paint, I suddenly realized our new color scheme wasn’t so far off and earlier one you can see under the white tiles.

Layers of old floor tiles - spa blue underneath

For the sink wall we chose a translucent Italian glass tile the color of tumbled sea glass. White subway tiles line the shower/tub to the top of the nine foot ceiling.

Glass wall tiles behind the sink

After months of searching (and using a plastic curtain liner), finally, the perfect cotton lawn pintuck curtain turned up at West Elm – luckily we bought two because it’s discontinued.

pintuck curtain detail

Mostly finished, the new bathroom is our very own refreshing oasis and something to look forward to during morning showers and candlelight baths (all two of them) in the deep roman tub (made of lightweight plastic because it IS a 150 year old wood frame house after all).

IKEA sink and faucet, marimekko towel, full mirror to ceiling.

 

We secured some fixtures from IKEA and the bathroom was done by Christmas. Well, almost done. What’s left is the most painful part of being a designer – picking a paint color. At the moment we’re thinking of glazing the wall opposite the sink in a deep mysterious indigo wash like the one in this last photo. Could be just the thing.

indigo wall ?