An interior designer walks us through her process.
Comprehensive home tours are wonderful and inspiring, but most of us decorate step-by-step, focusing on (and perfecting) specific areas at a time. In Anatomy of a Nook—Coveteur's newest home series—we're dissecting specific areas of a home and asking our stylish friends to break down the process behind their favorite nook, cranny, or corner of their homes.
Bathrooms and kitchens are often the rooms that date the fastest with homes—in many ways, those are the two areas with the most to actually date. A living room has flooring, walls, and perhaps built-in shelving whereas a bathroom has a vanity, cabinets, a tub, tilework, and more. So navigating that delicate balance of creating a space that feels both timeless and appeals to the current moment is tricky to say the least. For a recent project, interior designer Anne Sage worked with a client to renovate her bathroom in a way which pays homage to the 1920's style of her home yet still feels fresh and modern—all within a two-week time frame. Between a tiled archway and a sleek floating vanity, the space exudes a serene yet livable atmosphere perfect for a bathroom setting.
"This client's home was built in 1923 and many of the details in the bathroom were original to when the home was first erected. Others (like the linoleum floor) were unfortunate add-ons from later decades. Our goal was both to honor the original character of the home but also update certain aspects both functionally and aesthetically—both for the client's time living in the house, and also with an eye towards future resale value. When I was researching bathrooms from the era that the home was built, I learned that arched motifs like the ones in this space were quite common. Michael Clarke and his team from Pulled reconstructed the shower arch to echo the geometry of the one over the toilet so that they feel much more harmonious. It makes a huge difference!"
"The renovated bathroom is easier to clean! A floating vanity means the entire floor can more easily be mopped, and a one-piece toilet means fewer nooks and crevices to scrub. The bathroom is also much more pleasant to spend time in, especially thanks to that built-in tub from AllModern. This definitely was a choice we made with an eye towards the resale value of the home, since a freestanding tub feels like a huge upgrade compared to a standard built-in. (It's important to note that these photos were taken before the final touch of a shower curtain was added.) I love the boutique hotel sensibility that we created!"
"I did the design for the space, concepting all the aesthetic choices and then running them by the client for approval. Then, when it came time to install, I had help from Pulled, a new home project management app that provided and coordinated all the labor on the renovation. We were able to complete the entire install from demo to finishing touches in just two weeks, a quick timeline that was essential because this is the client's only bathroom."
"This is something I knew before but it never hurts to be reminded of it: Old homes are full of surprises! Once the demo was completed, we had to do some extra work on the rough-in side of things to level the floor and prep the walls for a successful tile application. I always counsel clients to plan for about 30% more than they expect to spend for these reasons…you never know what's waiting for you behind those walls!"
"Since we had the twin goal of giving a nod to the 1920s while also modernizing the space, this blush, mauve, ivory, and sand palette of tile from Fireclay Tile felt like just the right fit—since these colors were popular both then and now! I was drawn right away to the palette of the tile we chose but choosing the size and layout of the tile definitely was trickier! In the end, it was partly informed by our desire to tile the arches; in order to maintain a smooth, clean curve, we went with small 1" x 6" tiles. Then, to balance out what I knew would be a lot of tiny shapes on the upper part of the wall, I grounded the space with large 6" x 12" tiles in a darker color. As for the floor, I love a classic hex flower pattern in a vintage-inspired bathroom. But to bring this space into the 21st century, I opted for larger hex tiles and deconstructed the floral pattern by spacing the pink tiles farther apart than would traditionally have been done.There's also a luxe and inviting vibe that's created here that feels very California, with the addition of the white oak finish on the cabinet and the warm brushed brass fixtures. We then chose a complementary shade of paint from Portola Paints called 'County Line'' and applied it to the two smaller walls to complete the look."
"This room is only 8' x 8' so we opted for a floating cabinet from BOXI by Semihandmade. Not only did we add tons of storage space, we also created a clean and seamless visual line along that wall, which makes the bathroom feel bigger than it actually is! Plus, we were able to install two sinks whereas before the bathroom had only one. It was a win/win/win!"
"All the lighting, fixtures, and hardware are from the same resource—Rejuvenation—so we were able to maintain a uniform finish throughout. Their Aged Brass finish has a perfect warm and not-too-shiny surface, meaning we could use it on all the accents without feeling like we were totally overwhelming the bathroom. The sconces in this bathroom are one of my favorite elements. They were a new release at the time that we were concepting the design of the space, and I loved learning that they were inspired by lighting found in a hotel built during the same era that this home was constructed! The rounded shape of them beautifully echoes all the curves found throughout this space. And it was a nice touch to add a fourth sconce in the alcove over the toilet, since that little nook was previously quite dark and dreary. In order to save money both in materials and in labor, we opted to cover much of the wall over the cabinet with a huge mirror—and then didn't tile behind it!"
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Photos: Monica Wang
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