Before & After: An ’80s Bathroom Remodel Mixes Old & New — Sweeten

The bathroom in the Brooklyn apartment that architect Brian Kaplan shared with his family was one of those “it’ll do” jobs. The space, last renovated in the ’80s, was a bit tired and dated — but perfectly serviceable. But when a leak from the bathroom upstairs ruined the ceiling, Bryan took it as a sign that it was time for an overhaul.

Rather than updating the bathroom to look super-modern, Bryan was instead inspired by the past. The antique clawfoot tub actually helps the space seem larger, by allowing the floor tile to extend underneath, all the way to the walls. The tub is glazed in a bright blue that reflects the blue of the floor, which is made of tiny hex tiles, another vintage-inspired element.

The old pedestal sink was replaced with an antique table, which supports a square basin sink — a nice mix of vintage and modern. Wall-mounting the faucet and taps was a bit of a challenge, and required the addition of a new plumbing riser, but the effect is clean and modern.

The medicine cabinet, which was a custom build, is partly recessed into the wall. The cabinet and the light above, with their sleek, modern style, provide a nice counterbalance to the bathroom’s vintage elements. Across from the sink, hooks of various sizes are mounted to the wall. It’s a playful but also practical detail, a way to hang multiple towels in a short section of wall.

The shower fixtures, which are finished in brass but have a more contemporary shape, also walk a nice line between vintage and modern. The hand sprayer was a request from the couple’s five-year-old son, who didn’t like how water got in his eyes as he showered. Dad was happy to oblige.

Bryan found his contractor on Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with local general contractors. You can read more about the project, see more photos, and find sources on the Sweeten blog.


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