Mixing modern bathroom with traditional/eclectic older home

elphaba_gwJuly 9, 2012

Does anyone have opinions or suggestions with bathroom remodeling where there might be a "disconnect" between the modern style of the bathroom and the traditional style of the house?

I wasn't sure whether to post this in the bathroom forum or the "decorating and design" forum so I have done both. Apologies for anyone who might read this in both places.

Our home is a small older home, built in 1939. We are doing major remodelling in most of the house. The first phase is the hall bath. It will have a curb-less shower, floating vanities, and a wall mounted toilet - some will call it a "wet room". It is small at approx 10 ft by 7.5 ft.

For a lot of reasons, this bath will have a definite modern/contemporary style and I really don't want to change that (primarily because I don't want to spend the money for custom cabinets when I like Ikea just fine...)

. But.. as far as the rest of the house which will include built in book cases in the living room and study, I seem to be clearly leaning toward maintaining a traditional/eclectic style. The house has "crown molding" in most rooms and I think I will put that in bath also if not too jarring. I don't want Ikea book cases in the living room. Probably antiques which have fairly simple trim but are still obviously older pieces of furniture will be scattered, maybe a couple pieces in each room.

So, bottom line, was wondering if there are any "guidelines" that I can use when decorating/remodelling the remainder of the house that will allow me to combine "very contemporary" with "traditional/eclectic".

Or maybe I shouldn't worry about it?

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I definitely think you can blend them---I have in my home. My dining and living room are connected, and have a very old vintage farmhouse feel. The kitchen plays off of that, but is more streamlined---which leads into the family room which is more Ikea modern. The color palette are the same throughout...Dark ebony floors with white or very light gray walls, and thick moulding (baseboards, crown, wainscotting) painted white throughout. The architectural details make the house appear vintage and IMO that ties everything together and makes them work. The woodwork looks great with both modern and vintage vibes---so it flows. As long as you can't see one room when you are looking at the other, you can go more modern in one room....just don't go overboard with EITHER style (stay in the middle of the style) and you should be fine. Like my vintagy rooms are not overly frilly or ridiculously farmhouse. Some vintage lavender bottles sit on the buffet, a mora clock (imitation) has modern lines, but has a vintage feel etc. So even the vintage room is streamlined and has clean lines like the more modern room. All in all I think it works really nice and keeps the house from being too predictable or boring!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 5:44PM
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That is what I did...I have 2 wet room bathrooms in an 1890 Victorian. Sounds like you and I have much in common. Here is a link to my photo bucket account. You can look at how I blended old and new in my home Would love to see pics of yours. c

master bath with wet room :


attic renovation/conversion with wet bath:


    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 8:57PM
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A bath done in contemporary style with absolutely no connection to the house its in dates quickly. That's partly because you forgive the disconnect when it's all shiny and new and trendy, but as it gets older, wrinkled and dated, its flaws stand out more. Just like people.

There are a lot of ways to do this. In a heavily ornamented house with high ceilings, you can sometimes go quite modern because you are showcasing the detail, trims and moldings and letting the new elements pull back from them a bit.

Your house was built during the late afternoon of Art Deco, with modernism lurking in wait just past the War. So it should already have pared down detail and simpler lines than something built earlier in the century.

Study your house very carefully as if you've never seen it. Does it incorporate parallel lines like many Art Deco trim elements? Is the fenestration in a particular proportion? Does it have any curves? You can start to pick out details like that to tie the rooms together.

Also, many 1939 homes were fairly humble; the Depression was on its last legs but still hanging around. I don't know if yours is humble, though you said it's small. If it is, then possibly the worst move to make is over-the-top ostentation in any style.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:14PM
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I agree with marcolo.

We are in the process of buying a home now, so I've been in dozens of homes in the last few weeks-all built between 1910-1952.
In that particualr market, homes with remodeling done that is inconsistent with the house really hurts resale value. Plus it was jarring to walk into a home that sounds like yours-charming, traditional and eclectic, and then step into a bathroom that had vessel sinks, which are already dated IMHO, especially in a 1939 house. It made me so sad.

I'm not saying you necessarily have to do a period bath, but I agree that you should try to stay true to your home's original architecture.

And for the record, lots of IKEA kitchens and bathrooms, which usually looked very good.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:53PM
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elphaba: as you scroll through my photo bucket you will see that I used my collection of Persian rugs and Native American artwork to provide the color palette. One of the primary details that I took in to consideration was that you would be able to stand and view several rooms at once thus providing a cohesive framework to the whole.

Utilizing perfect attention to architectural detail and design choices I was able to blend the old and new and add a touch of whimsy too :) There isn't a jarring note to be found throughout the entire 4000 sq ft. Each room has its own character but there is an underlying "story" if you will, that moves throughout , even as one ascends the stair and notes the trim repeated and the color scheme repeated in small as well as large detail.

All is subtle. It has remained a wonderfully decorated and much admired home since 2002. I have not repainted since then and when we completed our remodel in 2006 that part also remains exactly as it was at that time. It all still looks as if it " belongs".

I hope that my links provide you with a jumping off point. I also hope you will not be caught in the mediocrity of "resale hell", You live in the home now. The future will take care of itself. Good Luck and you can email me off line if you like for further discussion. c

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Very interesting feedback. I didn't mention in my first post but the wall tile in the bathroom will be porcelain but will have the "look" of marble. It is a fairly gentle pattern but because of the "marble", I think that will help with toning down the "modern" a bit.

I also like Joanne's suggestion about using wood. I think I can do something with my choice of flooring that can make the floor be a moderating factor as she suggests.
trailrunner: - I think your comments have convinced me to go with asian rugs. I've been struggling with this and thinking about going with more contemporary rugs but seems like the rugs are a good way to add the traditional element leaving some room to do contemporary/eclectic with the furnishings. I may even look for an "asian" bathmat for the bathroom. I bet they exist somewhere.

I also think besides going with wood or wood look on the floor in bathroom, there will be a rather tall floating cabinet against one wall -- I had been looking at Ikea for this but this would be a good opportunity to bring in something less modern. So the main modern elements will be the floating fixtures and floating vanity (sink will be drop in) with a less modern floor and cabinet. I may pay particular attention to the sconces on each side of the medicine cabinet. I can see how accessories can make a huge difference.
Thanks everyone! I have hope it won't be a freakish experience for a visitor to walk from the main part of house into the hall bath.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 10:32PM
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"It is a fairly gentle pattern but because of the "marble", I think that will help with toning down the "modern" a bit. "

Marble can work fine, but a word of caution--your house was built in 1939, not 1910. "Older" doesn't mean Victorian or Edwardian, a fact that seems forgotten by some current decorating fads.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 11:41PM
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I look forward to seeing pics of what you are doing and your home . The color palette that I chose is consistent within the Persian Tribal rugs that I own and the Santa Fe New Mexico silk screen prints. Both cultures used the earth to derive their colors for their art. It is indeed important to have some underlying component that makes the home a cohesive whole. I hope you will continue to share your progress.

As to whether a particular stone or texture or wood will work in a home of a certain date ..that is a decision that you will have to make. The likelihood that anyone will ever enter your home and know anything about what " belongs " and whether it is correct is almost nonexistent. If it looks like you want it to look and you love it then that is really the only thing that matters...IMHO. Good Luck ! c

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 4:08AM
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