How to Merge Fresh Designs into an Old World Victorian Home

Full Bath Renovation: Before and After

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I absolutely love transforming spaces, especially when I’m able to visualize changes that are able to be made relatively quick, easy, and on budget. This was one of those spaces. Dark, cramped, and outdated, were words I heard from a client when she was describing her bathroom to me. This space was (supposed to be) used by her teenage and tween daughters, but was not because the girls preferred to use the bathroom down the hall which was brighter and more open. 

My client came to me after realizing this dilemma, and other than choosing the floor tile and calling her contractor she wasn’t sure how to move forward. Challenges included a moderate budget and the age of the home. We wanted to modernize the bathroom in a way that would feel fresh and up to date, inline with her daughters’ preferences, yet we wanted to design the bathroom so that it would not clash with the existing beautiful architecture and style of her historic Victorian home. I accomplished this by:

(1) Observing the key elements of Victorian era design (e.g. bold colors, elaborate patterns, statement woodwork) and incorporating them throughout the space, while

(2) Utilizing modern elements (e.g. lighting and fixtures) with sleek and minimal lines to balance the intricacies of the old world style.

In other words, balance.

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As the world turns, style trends come and go, but the architecture of your home remains the same. It’s important to consider the unique structural elements throughout your space when creating a renovation plan so these elements may be incorporated or moreover highlighted. It’s possible that you may enhance or add more of these elements into your space(s) so that there is continuity throughout your home.

For example, in the Victorian era intricate woodwork was widely used and so was throughout the home. It made sense to carry the beautiful wide baseboard that was in the hallway into the bathroom area.  When the space was renovated in the 80’s the trim had been replaced with a tile “baseboard”. It was a no-brainer to incorporate this style back into the space for integrity sake.

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Further, following key anchor points of this style- more is more! This is why I’m so in love with the tile that was chosen by my client; it is bold and busy. To give the floor patten even more of a boost I added the black and white shower curtain with a pom pom detail. While this supplements the youthfulness and femininity of the space, it also is a nod to the copious amounts of fringe that was used in the late 1800’s.

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Deep rich colors were popular during the Victorian era, so to incorporate a bold burst of color while being mindful of the budget we refinished the existing vanity and changed out the hardware. The vanity was refinished using a high gloss lacquer with a deep teal tint (Moscow Midnight SW 9142) which breathed life into the otherwise out of date piece. The brass and white resin knobs modernize the vanity while lending contrast to the dark color. Lastly, a remnant of white quartz with a faint line of grey was custom cut to fit the vanity top.

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To bring the bathroom into the modern era I incorporated contemporary lighting and fixtures inspired by midcentury modern design. Because there were existing recessed lights above the vanity it was an easy decision to convert these electrical boxes and install mini pendant lights. By doing this it brings the light closer to one’s face - ideal for makeup application - and also provides aesthetic interest by layering the space with the mirror. Speaking of layers I also added the subway tile, used in the shower, behind the vanity mirror for texture. I feel like this vanity area now has as much personality as the teen girls it was designed for.

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Finally, it is worth mentioning the combination of the matte black and shiny brass metal that was used in the bathroom. As always, incorporating color, texture, and warmth in varying finishes will increase the interest and appeal of any space.

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Take away.

(1) Observe, incorporate, and highlight the key elements of your home’s existing design 

(2) Integrate modern elements for balance

There you have it! A bright, open, and modern bathroom that instead of being avoided, the girls will be happy to use.

Do you have a favorite design element that I incorporated into the space?

If so, please share in the comments below!

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Thoughts on Finding Your Style

Remember those 3 questions I suggested that you ask yourself before beginning a home redesign or renovation project? Well, today we are going to dive deep into the first question which is “What are your likes and dislikes?” In this post I will help you realize your preferences and tap into your creative side. Think of this as a personalized brainstorming session where you are free to visualize the space of your dreams. There are no rules or limits to the space you would like to create! This may be overwhelming to you as there are so many sources for inspiration, you may find it difficult to make decisions. However, right now we are not writing anything in stone - everything is revisable. We will narrow the focus later down the road. Right now close your eyes and visualize your ideal space.

I get it, this is easier said than done. As someone who helps others find their style I was taken aback recently when someone asked me what my personal style was. I’m a bit of a style chameleon, favoring certain qualities about EVERY style. How can I pick just one? So, I thought about the spaces in my home and tried to think of what style they resemble. Then I just about fainted imagining this person walking into my house to witness the horrors of what a designer’s house looks like - with two kids and a dog. Of all 11 rooms in my home I’m proud of 2, and even in those rooms I could make a long list of things I’d like to change. 

I had a hard time answering this question because a) I’m typically asking these questions, not the other way around and b) because I can’t choose just one or even two styles that I gravitate towards most. It really depends on the day! However, I’m very thankful that I was placed in the hot seat because it reminded me how intensely vague and difficult of a question it is to concisely answer.

Scandinavian  | Minimalist

Scandinavian | Minimalist

You may be thinking, I fancy understated sleek lines. I’m a form-follows-function sort of gal. Does this mean Mid Century is my style? But what about the calmness of soft neutral tones and wood accents that characterize California Casual? Timeless art, antiques and symmetry are also pleasing. This means I like traditionally Classic design. On the other hand, I really do love sinking down into layered no fuss and fringy Bohemian textiles. I could go on. It is fair to say that on any given day we can sway from one style to the next, and just because someone has a preferred style this does not necessarily mean it is expressed throughout their entire home- nor should it be! Using one style statement throughout a space will create a monotonous atmosphere that lacks character.   

3 Things to Remember:

  • Most of the time it is best to mix styles as well as old and new things to keep it interesting. 

  • An easy way to do this is to diversify your shopping habits and seek out new retailers to try. 

  • Buy what you like and surround yourself with things that will help you live your best.

When you close your eyes and imagine your space what do you see?







3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Home Renovation or Redesign Project

Where do I begin? As an Interior Designer this is by far the most common question I receive. With so much inspiration on online, there are endless ideas for home decorating and renovation. Most ideas will appeal to you, and also be advertised as easy DIY and/or budget friendly. Don’t be tempted - you don’t want your Living Room to turn out like a Pinterest cake on Nailed It. It’s best to start with a plan and a clear head. Below I share some questions you can ask yourself so you can confidently get the ball rolling on a home renovation or redesign project.

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What are your likes and dislikes? Sometimes clients will remark that they don’t have a style. I always disagree, and here’s why! EVERYONE has a style or in the least a few preferences as to what appeals to them. Think about your closet, what colors do you feel most comfortable wearing? Use your wardrobe as color palette inspiration. Which people motivate you, and how do they live? Emulate their styles into your space. Do you positively associate with neat and organized, or overflowing with accessories? What type of surroundings make you happy? The answers to these questions are very personal and if applied to the decision making process of what to include in your space it will reflect your unique preferences.

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How much time, energy & money are you willing to spend right now? Renovation and redesign takes investment in the trifecta of time, energy & money. If the answer to the money question is not much, perhaps you should make only a few adjustments to your space. Change can be emotionally taxing as well as financially draining. Take one space at a time, even if your overall objective is to renovate a large area of your home. Also, make a list of the items and architectural features in the room that you appreciate (and highlight them!) as well as the aspects you would like to change. Taking the project in small bites can be less stressful and immediately gratifying!

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What is your overall plan? You wouldn’t aimlessly begin a road trip without a map, a destination in mind, and some sort of reservations lined up... right? (If so, have fun and be sure to keep AAA on speed dial.) Having a well-considered plan in your back pocket when you walk into any furniture and decor store, or hit up your favorite online shopping site, and you are less likely to hastily purchase and/or become overwhelmed because you will know exactly what you are looking for. Take the first two questions above to formulate exactly what you would like to change, and how you would like to change it.

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In the coming weeks I will be breaking down each of these phases into greater detail and virtually walking you through the mental preparation to redesign your space. Stay tuned! In the meantime, visit me on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and keep in touch! 


Happy Decorating and Live Happy!

--Jackie