Baths Tried and True

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Designing a bathroom for a house that didn’t have one when it was built? Here are two approaches.

By Patricia Poore
Photographs by Greg Premru

Unless you’re a museum curator, authenticity will not be high on the list when it comes to putting modern bathrooms into an old house. One approach: keep it simple and traditional.

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The master bath on these pages, designed for a recent addition to a Federal period house, defaults to Colonial Revival styling. The room could date to 1920, or last year. Painted woodwork is similar to that in the rest of the house.

A freestanding tub in a window alcove feels like a window seat, enhanced by the “library shelves” conveniently placed. Colonial Revival sconces—electrified candle brackets with little shades—are a simple but pretty touch.

Marble tops an unfussy sink console on metal tubing, conjuring up both washstands and early hotel sinks. The white subway tile, too, is a standard finish from the early 20th century, when old houses often got indoor plumbing.