About a year ago, I did a series of posts (here and here) on my friend Flip’s gorgeous house. She and her husband have taken an elegant old townhouse and brought it back to life. One of the most recent project was resurrecting an original bathroom that had been converted into a kitchen.
Here’s Flip to tell you the story.
When we bought our house, it had been an apartment building and rooming house (more like brothel) for 80 years, so, as one might imagine, there were all sorts of cosmetic problems, like miles of telephone wires along passages, horrible warping vinyl replacement windows in some of the rooms, Home Depot doors and disgusting dirty bathrooms (none of which were original, sadly) and all those apartment kitchens.
Luckily, the house did have some gorgeous gilded mirrors and cornice details so not all was despair and gloom! The main kitchen downstairs would turn into a total gut-job, and we knew it would take a year or so…. (top image) So we had to use a miniature galley New York-style kitchen upstairs. Little did we know it would be the main kitchen for two-and-a-half years! It all began with those hideous brown cabinets.... which I painted white to tide us over.
When the downstairs kitchen was finally complete.... we launched into demolition mode as the galley would be transformed into the original bathroom that it once was. The only redeeming feature was a beautiful huge white mirror which hinted at a more gracious era of single-family home. (right image above)
By the way….. we still have tenants on the upper floors, which certainly helps defray renovation costs….. and anyway I would need to have another 14 children to occupy the ENTIRE house…. And THAT isn’t going to happen!!!!
We began ripping up the linoleum, but the wooden floors beneath were beyond salvage. The entire room had to be re-wired and re-plumbed (and we had our fair share of mini-floods and a plumber who claimed that he had 'the shits and the runs” and so would never show up!!!!! Lovely.)
I chose to have a large cast-iron kitchen sink because I grow orchids and needed a large sink for the watering process. The large sink, which literally cost a dime, looked rather odd once it was erected to the wall…. And the exposed plumbing looked wrong. So my original vision (with regard to the sink area) had failed somewhat. So the answer (inspired by Eddie Ross) was to sew a skirt for it…. I sourced some charcoal fabric from Guss Woolen LLC, and added some white grosgrain ribbon onto the base to make it a little more formal (also box-pleated the corners). It did the trick. I must add that my 6 foot 7 carpenter who recreated the entire bathroom… also sewed the skirt for the sink….. got to love that. He used to work for Center Stage and hemmed all the curtains for the theater as well as building all the sets…. He is a gem.
The loo turned out to be a problem... the main pipe on that side of the house was too narrow and installing a larger one would have meant opening the masonry all the way down and digging up the street, too. A no-go as it would have blown the budget ten times over. I don’t really like loos anyway…
So, as unpractical as it is… this bathroom was going focus on bath, sink and mirror! My husband did not approve and wiped his hands of the project… I shrugged and decided it would be MY place of refuge from the real world anyway!!!
A dear friend offered us a spectacular pedestal bath, which we collected. They said it would need re-finishing and re-enameling…. but in fact, it was in perfect nick. I am also obsessed with tile… and we found the most amazing intricate marble tile for the wall at an auction (it is a small interwoven rectangular convex tile) and the hexagonal floor tile was shipped from Atlanta for a very reasonable price.
We also created a floor-to-ceiling cabinet, employing salvaged doors from Second Chance (storage is at a premium in our house, and I despise seeing the Clorox wipes etc. as it is). The chandelier was a steal at Housewerks... The large mirror was always there (just in dire need of a fresh lick of paint). I chose Sherwin Williams flat "knitting needles" (pale grey) as the wall color, and the remainder of the trim was painted in a high gloss white.
So it is finally ‘done’…. It just needs a chrome free-standing towel rail (think old colonial railway passage), and another mirror above the sink (can’t find the right one yet). I love it, and almost can’t bear to use it…………..
Thanks for sharing your bathroom, Flip! This is gorgeous!