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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Timeless Appeal of the Black and White Bathroom

There is something classic, classy and timelessly appealing about a black and white bathroom. 

I have a few decisions to make. Help me, if you will, by sharing your opinion in comments.

I've been combing Pinterest and Houzz (my two favorite design sites) for ideas for our bathroom renovation and when I see a black and white bathroom, it is sometimes difficult to tell what era it came from. 

Our home-to-be was built in 1946 and I would like the bathroom to feel like it "belongs". Things like subway tile, hex or basket-weave floors, deep cast-iron tubs, and lighting sconces are calling to me.

1. Black and White or White on White?


If I go with subway tile, do we add a contrasting color on the trim? For example, black trim on white subway tile. Or do I stick with white on white and a very dark grout?

2. Clawfoot Tub or Double-Apron Bathtub?

Who doesn't love the look of a clawfoot tub? I know that I have to replace the tub that is there right now - with the faucet oddly and uncomfortably located over the backrest. Do I go with a similar double-apron of the 1940s - double-apron, meaning two sides are revealed? I can see from photos of other units in our building that was in the original bathrooms. Or, as long as I am pulling out the tub that's there, do I indulge my love for a deep soaking tub by going with a clawfoot, which also would not have been out of place in 1946?

3. Vanity, Pedestal or Console Sink?

It's a small bathroom, so many might feel a vanity sink would be a good choice - for the storage. On the other hand, I don't want the room to feel cramped. I think I would like to see some floor beneath those fixtures. 

There is a large linen closet just outside the bathroom, where we will store towels and extra shampoos and such. So, do I go with the pedestal, which was very likely the original sink. Or even a console sink, which though less common and seen more often in luxury homes of the 1920s - was still in use in 1946. I am really liking the look of that marble console. Marble is also timeless and classic.

4. Modern or Traditional Floor Tile?

From photos of other apartments in our building that still have the original bathrooms, I can see that the original floor was a black and white basket-weave. But I've always loved the look of the traditional 1" white hex, whether porcelain or marble. And I've seen some truly lovely designs, with keystone edges.

But our bath is rather small for anything overly elaborate. I am also loving the more modern take on the traditional hex, such as this one on the left, handcrafted by Heath Ceramics in California.

5. Shower  Color?

Our bathroom has a separate shower that still has the original chrome and glass shower door fabricated by G.M. Ketcham Manufactoring Corp. in Brooklyn in 1946. (Imagine that, something original that the previous owners didn't discard!) The chrome is in very good condition. I'm going to have it re-glazed, replacing the current frosted glass with clear glass. And we'll make sure the shower is well-lit, to show off our tile. I'm quite certain we want subway tile in the shower. But what color? 

Do I stick with black and white? Perhaps using the trim color for dramatic contrast? Or can I add a third color to my color scheme? How about gray or a beautiful sea blue? Is three colors too many?

That sea blue, much as it feels very modern right now, might look dated in just a few years. Glass tiles are already on the way out I think.

Black and white is really the classic and I am leaning toward it.

6. Do I stay monochrome white, and break it up with a tile design?

So many choices! 

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.