1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Inspiration in the Lowliest of Places

You may recall I've mentioned our bathroom renovation once or twice (*cough* 14 million times *cough*). I'm still not fully decided on a few things, so I look for inspiration everywhere.

When we paid a visit to our friend/neighbor/sort-of-aunt Judy the other day at her 1904 home - Greek Revival on the outside, Victorian on the inside - I'm sure she didn't expect me to run home for the camera and then spend long minutes hanging out in her upstairs bathroom snapping photos of everything from the toilet to the light fixture.

Good thing Judy is one of the kindest, most understanding people I know. Also good thing she is a tidy person! I can't imagine what horrors would be captured on film if someone burst into my bathroom with a camera.

Judy's whole house is a Victorian showcase, and I'll be posting more about it later. Of all the beautiful rooms, my favorite is the bathroom. It's similar in size and basic layout to ours - probably 8 x 14 compared with our 7 x 12 and with a window in one end and a door at the other, with the main entrance door in one side wall. It has wood floors like ours, though hers are not painted, and beadboard, though hers is the more desirable vertical, shoulder-height kind with a shallow window-ledge type thing capping it.

The sink is a tiny wall-hung with separate faucets (the kind that was in my dorm room in college), totally unobtrusive and purely functional. The clawfoot tub has no shower. The toilet is an old-fashioned model - I'd guess 1930s but haven't researched it yet. The rest of the room is furnished with wood furniture, tables, a chair and a dresser, laden with Victorian decorative items. The lighting is a startling black and white Art Deco pendant that adds a touch of whimsy.

The bathroom has a rustic, sparse, old-fashioned quality that I love. When you walk through the door, you could be stepping back in time. There are no jarring modern items to remind you when you really are.

That's what I want for our bathroom, though it will be more difficult to do with an everyday main bathroom vs. an infrequently used upstairs bathroom like this one. How can you capture that old-time feeling when you're staring at a row of plastic containers and a blow dryer?

Judy's bathroom has awakened my old perspective on our renovation. Couldn't we just do a simple sink and separate furniture as I originally planned?

The more I look at my current-getting ready station in the half bath - the countertop littered with mounds of hair stuff, lotions, makeup, jewelry - I realize even a bit of counterspace around a sink will never work. Sink vanities never have much storage because the sink takes up so much room in them. Within a week, the new countertop will turn into a giant junk heap.

I think I need a separate vanity after all - and I mean the kind you sit at - with lots of little drawers to put away all my beautifying devices. And wouldn't I feel such the Victorian lady sitting at a vanity with all my potions and tonics spread out around me?

I know I keep vascillating, and that must be terribly irritating. Heck, I'm annoying myself. But last night I had a dream I was walking through someone else's bathroom renovation, and asking where they got their marble countertop. Maybe that's a sign. Maybe what I want is a marble wall-hung sink, as discussed previously, with maybe a shelf underneath for towels.

Or maybe porcelain is good enough. Judy is planning to replace the toilet and sink in her bathroom with reproductions and has promised them to me if I want them. What do you think? A 70-year-old toilet sounds good to me!

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Greg said...

First, why is she getting rid of them. Second, take them if she does. The toilet is great. That thing will last for ever and never give you problems. The sink is small, no question about it. I have one just like it that I'm considering for my downstairs bathroom. In my upstairs bathroom I have a marble corner sink that is also small but does have space around it to set things while I’m gussying myself up in the morning (that takes all of 30 seconds). You do need some place very near the sink, and that wall-mount sink doesn't have anything. One good thing about those sinks is they are easy to mount on the wall and easy to get rid of. You could take it and use it, and if in 6 months you hate it, it’s easy to change. Anything else you put in it’s place would hide any marks left from mounting the little one.

1:28 PM  
Lenise said...

"A 70-year old toilet sounds good to me!" LOL, but I totally understand!

3:10 PM  
Kristin said...

Judy says she keeps having trouble with the plumbing up there but that she doesn't have the skills to work on it while Darwin does. We don't know whether it's the fixtures that are really the problem or the plumbing leading to them. We also don't know her time frame for all this. We need to talk to her and get more info.

3:28 PM  
amanda said...

Having been forced to use the downstairs bath exclusively the year before last when we were having problems with the upstairs one, I found that I will cover the surface of whatever space that I had. Basically, when I had a pedestal sink to work with and a small shelving unit in the corner, I made do with that, and I didn't leave crap all over the bathroom (although the top of the toilet held my brushes and combs in a nice holder, and my hairdryer got hidden next to the sink). The rest of the stuff got shoved into the shelving unit and hidden behind a curtain. Now that I've moved upstairs, I have crap everywhere. Spread all over the vanity and my dresser upstairs. Aaron seems to leave more stuff out, too (and he got contacts since we moved back upstairs, too, which require more "stuff"). Just something to keep in mind... you can reign yourself in. However, I LOVE your idea about the nice piece of furniture to get ready in. That would be my dream!

4:07 PM  
Greg said...

Honestly, a toilet, new or old, has maybe 3 moving parts. Replacing all three costs less that $25 for the parts. A person with basic skills can put the parts in for nothing ($100 in labor to have a plumber put them in).

If there are "plumbing problems" in the bathroom a new toilet and sink is not going to fix anything.

9:11 PM  
Kristin said...

Amanda, you have an excellent point. You are exactly right. In the half bath where I'm set up now, I have a looong countertop that stretches the length of the room with just one little sink in the middle. Lots of counterspace, and it's ALL full! But do I really need five different lotions and four different hair products on the counter? Probably not.

Greg, that's what we figured, too. If the toilet's not cracked (which it doesn't appear to be), then we could fix it no prob. Then again, I adore our current toilet. It's from the '60s and oh-so-powerful! Has anyone had experience with older toilets like the one we're considering? How's the flush? I guess I should stop by Judy's and ask, "Hey, can I flush your toilet?" She's so awesome she wouldn't think a thing of it! :)

9:13 AM  
kelly said...

Hey, I just wanted to compliment the backdrops on your pages. I really loved the one where you used the tile from the fireplace. So creative!

8:08 PM  

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