Gorgeous tile, stained glass, mahogany and deep claw foot tubs — the typical late-Victorian bathroom was luxurious and large. Common features were porcelain hex-tile floors, a wainscot of white subway tile and, of course, the aforementioned iconic tub.
The wainscot would usually be topped by a border of ornate tile with bas-relief garlands, shells or other motifs and puddling pastel glazes. Stained glass windows often featured aquatic themes, such as fish.
Today such bathrooms, if any of their original features survive, are usually in need of new plumbing and electric. Here are seven examples of updated bathrooms whose owners kept the original look or created a vintage feel.
A house on MacDonough Street in Bed Stuy features a Moroccan-style patterned floor and vintage fixtures.
A renovated bathroom at Arlington Place Bed and Breakfast features immaculate period-style wall and floor tile and a mix of new and vintage fixtures. In the Victorian era, tile was closely spaced and had virtually no grout line. It also did not have eased, or slightly rounded, edges.
A decorative tile border over plain white tile is typical of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. The square field tile shows crazing, typically a sign of age. A reproduction tile maker can copy the exact look, including the crazing, so renovators can fill in a missing tile without the addition looking obvious.
The tile, plasterwork, and stained glass are all original this bathroom in a Bed Stuy brownstone. The owners changed the layout and added new fixtures.
They also updated the mechanicals and skim coated the plaster while preserving the original plaster decorations. If original wall tile is in good condition, an easy way to add new plumbing is to demolish the floor and replace it with new tile.
This Clinton Hill bathroom was snapped in 1978 by noted photographer Dinanda Nooney. The bathroom appears to be in good original condition, with tile typical of the Victorian era. Its owners have updated it with mirrors and wicker, fashionable at the time.
This entirely new bathroom in the Arlington Place Bed and Breakfast in Bed Stuy re-creates vintage-seeming details where there probably weren’t any. Bead board and an old claw foot tub painted purple give it a period feel. The floor is tumbled marble hex tile.
This new bathroom in another Bed Stuy brownstone features cement tile and a salvaged sink with its original glass and metal legs.
Here, the owners kept the original wall tile and an old shelf above the sink but updated the plumbing and added tumbled-marble tile floors and new fixtures.
Below, the same bathroom before renovation.
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