Before and After: A Glam Vintage Bathroom Redo Honors Its Home’s 1910 Roots

published Feb 1, 2022
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Credit: Nina Watson

If you’re looking to make your bathroom beautiful (or even just make a few functional changes here and there), it can be difficult to know where to start.

Homeowner Nina Watson (@artdecojewel) has one bit of advice when it comes to renovating your bathroom: Start with the tiles. “Decide on those first, then try to unify everything to that,” she says.

Credit: Nina Watson

In her once-beige, boring bathroom, she was looking to make a major tile change. “I absolutely hated the ‘mosaic effect’ that ran around the bathroom,” she explains. At one point, before fully renovating the bathroom, she painted over the mosaic tiles with white paint to hide the stripe.

But in addition to disliking the tile in the bathroom, “the radiator didn’t work (it was an icebox in that room), and neither did the shower; the fixtures and fittings were cheap and nasty, and the bath was quite narrow and short, so you couldn’t lie down comfortably,” Nina says.

Credit: Nina Watson

She also wanted to create a larger, open bathroom where the toilet wasn’t separate from the rest of the room.

Her inspiration was an Old Hollywood-esque hotel room she stayed in at The Chateau Marmont in L.A. “It was black-and-white heaven!” she recalls. The style was a perfect match for her 1910 home’s vintage roots. So with that in mind, she set out to create her own version.

In her new bathroom, Nina went with a black, glossy trim and tub — in fact, she paid extra to have her new roll top tub painted black — soft blue tiles, and brass finishes. “Polished brass was a must for us, and we spent a lot more on these fixtures and fittings than we anticipated because everything you touch in the bathroom affects your experience of the room,” she says.

She remembers that it was hard to find a modern glass shower screen to fit a tub with a vintage design, and that the Samuel Heath bath tap/shower fixture was difficult to install. “It gave our plumber a nightmare as it was so heavy he was worried it would bring the 111-year-old wall down!” she says. (Thankfully, the wall remained upright.)

Credit: Nina Watson

Nina and her husband also hired professionals to install the tile — the wall tile and trim from H&E Smith and the floor tile from Original Style. “The decisions took about three months, deciding on the right tiles and also wanting to space the tile in an old-fashioned way: curved-edge corner tiles, tiled borders and skirtings, mosaic floor tiles, and trying to achieve a bathroom that looked like it had always been there, not one that had just been completed,” Nina explains.

Nina and her husband and the pros who helped install achieved just that — not to mention they added functionality to the space. The toilet is no longer separate from the rest of the bathroom, and the removed wall allows for a longer tub.

Credit: Nina Watson

In addition, “the mirrored medicine cabinet above the sink is recessed into the wall and is surprisingly roomy,” Nina says. And for the new sink itself, they opted against installing the pedestal “to open up the floor space,” she says.

They love the “After.”

“The bathroom cabinet fits everything we need, and the shower totally envelops you,” Nina says. “The taps feel gorgeous when you turn them, and the vintage 1960s lights (one above the mirror, one overhead) dim to virtually nothing and just take you somewhere else, which when you have a noisy family and stressful working days is exactly what you need.”

Credit: Nina Watson

“I honestly wouldn’t do anything differently — we just love it,” Nina says.

Here’s to more beautiful, transportive bathrooms to come home to at the end of the day!