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Things to Consider in Your Historic Home Bathroom Remodel

One of the challenges in restoring a historic home is bringing modern amenities to the home like a true Master Bathroom. 100+ years ago bathrooms were not as important as it is for todays users. They were typically much smaller and not true “en suite”. Does the below bathroom remind you of anything…? Here are some things to consider in your historic home bathroom remodel:


When you complete a remodel of a historic bathroom, you typically will gut the bathroom to the studs. The good news is this allows you to upgrade things like plumbing. Most historic homes have 1 1/2″ plumbing pipes for waste. This size pipe tends to clog. Now that you’ve opened the walls, install 2″ plumbing which will help a great deal with this issue.

The same applies to supply lines. Increase the size of these to allow for better water pressure. Oh and if you live in a cold climate make sure they are not run on exterior walls. This prevents pipes from freezing when it gets cold…


Again, now that the walls are open, take advantage of the ability to upgrade your lighting. In addition to your wall sconce lighting for the mirrors, consider recessed lighting throughout, including the shower and above any soaker tub.

A Window in the Shower

This is a great feature if done properly. Some things to consider: Choose a frosted-glass panel for privacy and preferably one that opens for fresh air. Next, ensure that there are stone jambs along the entire installation so that this area is watertight. Also, ensure that the sill gets sloped down and away for proper drainage. Lastly, I always specify a tilt-and-turn window in a shower, because the screen is located on the outside of the window; the handles are plastic, so they won’t rust; and the window provides full privacy even when tilted open.

Shower Sills

Like the windowsill, what’s important here is that it is sloped properly into the shower. Try to choose a material that is solid, like stone or quartz. If you tile your shower curb, water can sit on the grout lines and eventually seep through to the framing.

Shower Floors

Most historic homes don’t have level floors…. To say the least! Avoid large tiles for the bathroom and shower floors. Large tiles are very difficult to install level. So if there are any imperfections in the floor, the larger tiles will show every imperfection. If possible try to stick with smaller tiles which are much easier to hide imperfections with.

Bathroom Floors

One of the best modern upgrades to the bathroom are heated floors. The heat runs off a thermostat that keeps the tile floors a constant temperature of your choice. While you have the floor exposed make sure to consider heated floors. Once you’ve installed the new tile it’s too late…

Drawer Storage

Consider installing a vanity with drawer storage rather than doors. Drawers are easier to access and easier to organize. They can be cut out around the plumbing and can be extra large to accommodate large items.

Shower or Tub

When considering a bathtub or a shower-only option, ask yourself how many baths you take a year. I often have to remind my clients that they are not renovating their homes for a future buyer, but rather for themselves. Even if you live in your house only for another five years, it’s worth it to do it for yourself. And besides, there’s no guaranteed way to tell what will appeal to a future buyer.

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