Modern Living

Modern Living

My wife and I recently completed a total renovation of the bathroom in our 1927 Dutch Colonial house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In a twist on my day job, my wife and I became amateur interior designers and general contractors. Working on this project gave me a new appreciation for what architects, interior designers, and contractors do on a daily basis.

Before the renovation, the bathroom still featured the original white subway tiles and 86-year old cast iron tub. The old-fashioned tub still functioned, but with the tiles and calking starting to fail, it was time redo the room.

The bathroom pre-renovation.

The bathroom pre-renovation.

Even though our bathroom is small, it has many distinct elements. Bev and I spent much of our time making decisions on the choice of finishes, fixtures and details.

Design is a balance of functionality, appearance, durability and cost.

Design is a balance of functionality, appearance, durability and cost.

The experience gave me a crash course in stone and tile. I love the look and feel of real stone, but modern porcelain ceramics are more practical in the damp environment of a bathroom. We ultimately settled on large porcelain ceramic tiles by Roca, an Italian tile company. The sales reps at Mark Galdo Tile in Lansdowne, PA, were also more than generous with their time and advice.

We decided to go with a simple, modern design with large tiles covering the walls and floor. We also replaced the original hinged door with a pocket door, which is a major space saver.

The pocket door gains valuable space in the 5 foot by 8 foot room.

The pocket door gains valuable space in the 5 foot by 8 foot room.

Our contractor, George Feeser, with his experience and attention to detail, was able to build and create the bathroom that Bev and I imagined. The floors had settled so he had to create a new, level one. We preserved or re-created the original Arts and Crafts door and window trim. Finally, we saved space by replacing our old, bulky cast iron radiator with a sleeker, modern one.

Original cast iron radiator.

Original cast iron radiator.

The modern radiator from Runtal saved valuable space.

The modern radiator from Runtal saved valuable space.

While I won’t be alive in 86 years, I hope that my new bathroom lasts for as long as the old one – until it’s time to renovate again.

The bathroom stripped bare.

The bathroom stripped bare.

Comment