A Centuries-Old Victorian Gets a New Bathroom

A family’s freezing cold bathroom hinted something was amiss

White and gray bathroom with farmhouse sink plus vanity under a round vanity mirror and light fixtures after renovation

Project: Gut renovate a bathroom in a 117-year-old house in Connecticut

Before: In 2016, Joel and Nina, along with daughter Bailey, and their cats, Cookie and Coco, bought a stunning Victorian home in Cos Cob, Fairfield County, Connecticut. They had been living in the area for some time and wanted a quieter street and a house with more space. The 2,700-square-foot home, complete with a two-and-a-half-car garage and stained glass windows in the foyer, won them over pretty quickly. However, their first winter in the home made them realize something was seriously problematic with the bathroom that they couldn’t see. “The room was an icebox, so we knew something was wrong,” said Joel. “We just didn’t know the extent.” Besides the temperature issues, the bathroom had a ’70s vibe and needed updating. It was also small—seven by eight feet—and the couple saw a better way to utilize that space.

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After: Joel and Nina were novices with this type of project, so they turned to Sweeten, a free service that pairs homeowners with fully vetted general contractors, to find their contractor and help them navigate the process. The unknown source of the cold turned out to be a huge hole in the outer wall, not to mention almost non-existent installation. “The whole room, more or less, had to be rebuilt,” said Joel. New spray foam and fiberglass insulation were installed as needed. To better organize the space, the family had an 18-inch-deep vanity custom made, which was shallower than the previous one. They also moved the entry door slightly for better access. The project took four months instead of the original five-week timeline, mostly due to the room being in worse shape than had been expected. Also, custom shelving that Joel ordered took a long time to arrive. One piece of advice the couple has is to avoid delays by having all the materials on the job site ready to go. “We didn’t, which is one of the reasons the project took so long,” he explained.

Bonus: The original linen closet had the issue of being too deep, rendering its far corners almost unusable. Joel and Nina’s Sweeten contractor installed moveable shelves that slide in and out of the closet so they could maximize every inch of storage.

Style finds: Sink and vanity: Bertch. 12″ x 12″ Excalibur Series floor tile in Smokey Tan: Glazzio Tiles. Devonshire widespread faucet and shower fixture in Brushed Nickel: Kohler. Diverter in Brushed Nickel: Delta. Toilet: American Standard. Bathtub: Kohler. Vanity Mirror: Pottery Barn. Coventry Gray, #HC-169 paint: Benjamin Moore.

Smiling homeowner with his childLight biscuit and white bathroom with white tub and pedestal sink and double hung window before renovationPicture of a bathroom during renovationWhite bathroom with moveable shelved closet and glass shower space with built in shelves after renovationGray vanity with golden knobs in a white and gray bathroom with toilet after renovationGold round vanity mirror over white sink and golden nickel finish bathroom fixtures after renovation

Blue background with the text saying find fairfield county contrators in white



Dealing with a chilly bathroom of their own, Laura and Peter installed radiant floor heating beneath their marble tile.

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— Mary C. from Philadelphia, PA

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