See This Beige 1980s Bathroom Get a Luxe “Modern Victorian” Makeover

published May 21, 2024
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Victorian homes are known for their intricate millwork, vibrant colors, and grand scale. But updates over time can take away some of that historic charm, as was the case in the Victorian home that DIYer Sasha Mills and her husband, Matt, live in. While the home itself is over 100 years old, you’d never guess that from its 1980s-style bathroom.

A full style overhaul was prompted by a necessary renovation. When the grout around the fixtures started to leak and damage the ceiling below, Sasha and Matt had the ceiling removed; that’s when they discovered old lead drain lines that were corroded and needed to be replaced to prevent further leaks. They were given a $5,000 quote from a professional, so they decided to tackle the project (including plumbing and tiling) mostly themselves. 

Credit: Sasha Mills
Credit: Sasha Mills

The bathroom got all new (or restored) plumbing. 

Sasha writes on her blog that as the plumbing issues progressed, the project grew in scope. “Our old 1920s toilet, which we had really wished to keep, needed to be replaced, as the old toilet did not sit properly with a modern flange, which was necessary to tie into the new PVC plumbing,” she says on her blog. “It turns out that it is exceedingly difficult and expensive to find a vintage-looking toilet that will fit in such tight quarters.”

 Sasha and Matt ended up choosing one with a brass lever from Toto. Sasha’s advice? “Choosing a toilet with a round bowl, rather than an elongated one, will save space when square footage is tight.” (Her bathroom floor space is only about 29 square feet, after all.)

As for the bathtub and sink, those stayed, but they were refinished by a professional — as Sasha puts it, that was the 5% of the project that wasn’t DIY.

Credit: Sasha Mills
Credit: Sasha Mills

Marble and brass add elegance.

After the plumbing was squared away, it was time to make design decisions. Sasha and Matt selected tile for the shower, a gray Dolimetti selection that Sasha says was the biggest splurge in the space. 

They selected vintage-looking brass hardware for the shower and the sink, and those brass accents are echoed in the antique doorknob and the mirror above the sink. “I purchased a plain mirror for around $25 on Facebook Marketplace and added gilt to it to make it feel more luxurious,” Sasha says of the latter. “A large mirror will also help open up a small room and brighten up a dark space.” 

Credit: Sasha Mills
Credit: Sasha Mills

There are lots of DIY projects throughout. 

The mirror isn’t the only thing Sasha DIYed in the room. “I made the pleated lampshades, the Roman shade, and the shower curtain,” she says. “All were inexpensive and easy projects. If someone is interested in trying a sewing project for the first time, a shower curtain is a great place to start because a simple one only requires four seams.”

Plus, by choosing her own fabrics for things, Sasha got to customize the luxe powder room look to a T. She used Ballard Designs’ Balinese Glacier for the sconce shades, Lacefield Designs’ Diego Prussian Blue for the shower curtain, and P Kaufmann’s Pasha Duck for the Roman shade. 

“I highly recommend hanging your shower curtain as close to the ceiling as possible because it gives the illusion of higher ceilings, making a smaller bathroom feel larger,” Sasha adds.

Credit: Sasha Mills
Credit: Sasha Mills

Paint was a big difference maker.

Last but not least, Sasha selected Benjamin Moore’s New London Burgundy paint for the walls and ceiling, Somerville Red for the trim, and Hale Navy for the door and window sash.

“I think the paint colors really give the space a cozy and calming ambiance,” she says. “Painting your ceiling the same color as your walls helps a small space feel larger, too, especially if you choose a darker color because our eyes perceive dark colors as receding.” 

All told, Sasha is extremely proud of her bathroom makeover that’s small in size but mighty when it comes to dramatic flourishes. “I feel lucky to have such a beautiful space in my home,” she says.