1920’s Home Renovation Portfolio of before and after photos (bathroom)

Continuing my series of portfolio pictures of what was accomplished at the 1920’s duplex, one of the major transformations occurred in the bathroom.  Everything was white:  original hexagonal tile, white shower, white paint and white sink and white tongue and groove plank wood walls.  I struggled initially with the emotional decision as to whether I should retain some of the original elements for historical purposes but I decided it was best for rental value, and considering what was there was in bad shape, to go ahead and modernize the space a bit.

Here’s what was done to transform this room:  1)  All fixtures and finishes were removed except the medicine cabinet and tile 2) new travertine tile was installed directly over the old tile 3) new toilet, vanity, lighting and fixtures 4) had a plumber help to replace old galvanized pipes in walls and under foundation for new shower  5) installed new step in shower pan, backboard and tile for shower 6) instead of going back with mini-blinds, I used a frosted window film that I found that gives privacy yet lets the natural light shine in uncluttered.

Details:  wall paint color-Mushroom Bisque, oil rubbed bronze fixtures by Danze, Medicine cabinet and shower trims painted Espresso brown, shower tile is a combo of blanco tumbled marble and a glass mosaic I found at Lowe’s



Vanity area

First step:  DEMO, my favorite!!  This was also the stage where I found out that the tongue and groove planks were not original to the home which made me feel a lot better about not saving them!

Taking a hammer to the shower tile-this revealed the wood interior walls behind

Old tub removed…Craigslist is great for having a heavy cast iron tub removed for FREE-recycle!

Old plumbing revealed…some of the old connections literally crumbled in my hands

Sink removed but original medicine cabinet intact

One of my favorite discoveries-the original wallpaper behind the shower tile!  To hang wallpaper in the 1920’s, they first tacked cheese cloth to the wood walls with tiny nails and then glued paper to the cheese cloth.  I left it all in place behind the new cement backer board.

New tile going in


New 18″ travertine laid directly over original tile

New vanity, hardware and toilet and sheetrock walls


New doorless, step in shower

Completed fixtures and freshly restored medicine cabinet


  1. How rewarding to step back and know that you did it all! It looks great Brenda and I’m looking foward to seeing it in person.

    • Hi there:

      Considering the cabinet itself was in pretty good condition, I simply stripped the old paint off and filled any rough spots with wood putty then sanded smooth. Of course, you should be aware if your cabinet contains lead paint or not and follow all recommended safety procedures. Once this cabinet was smooth, I painted it with Behr’s espresso brown paint and added the little glass knob opener for a touch of retro. The cabinet itself was large and was built in as a recessed feature to the wall so any replacement would have been very difficult to match.

      Depending on the condition of your cabinet, perhaps the addition of the small glass mosaic tiles added to the border to conceal major flaws? I’ve also seen where someone installed a piece of artwork with new glass in place of the mirror that is cute, but that is of course assuming you have an alternate mirror in the bathroom. But really, if your cabinet is wood, it should be sturdy enough to restore with sanding and wood putty corrections. I hope that helps!

Leave a Reply to agirlcandoit Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *