My Sweeten Story: A Mint Bathtub Leads a Vintage Bathroom Remodel
A Jersey City vintage bathroom remodel highlights a mint green palette and higher ceilings
“After” photos by Curious Lens for Sweeten
- Homeowners: Homeowners posted their vintage bathroom remodel on Sweeten
- Where: Jersey City, New Jersey
- Primary renovation: Revamping the main bathroom in their 150-year-old home, inspired by a bygone era
- Sweeten general contractor
Written in partnership with the Sweeten homeowner
Bathroom remodel “must-haves”
Our home is a wood-frame row house in Jersey City, New Jersey. It’s 150 years old, has three floors, and 1,000 square feet. When we first visited the house more than five years ago, I fell in love with the main bathroom’s vintage mint-green bathtub. I knew I wanted to preserve it.
Our home is historic, but over the years and through many renovations, most of its charm had been lost. The house’s two bathrooms are “newer”—added at some point onto the back of the house. The one we wanted to update is on the second floor, off of the primary bedroom. It’s our only full bathroom. We didn’t want to change the floor plan, but had a goal of modernizing while injecting a vintage feel. We planned to do this by keeping the original tub and adding a period medicine cabinet we’d found.
Our second goal was to make the room warmer. We suspected it wasn’t properly insulated because it got so cold in winter. We’d lived in this house for five long winters, but there was never a good time to improve on it.
Staying home during the remodel
We embarked on the bathroom renovation last summer. Our household—two adults and two cats—had been working from home since the pandemic began in March 2020. My partner and I are handy and we’ve done many projects ourselves, including tile work, sheetrock, trim, carpentry, and minor plumbing and electrical work. We have a good sense of how things should be done, but we didn’t have the personal bandwidth to complete this project ourselves. Luckily, the lockdown gave us the flexibility to have our only full bathroom out of commission. We would not have a shower during the bathroom renovation, but we had a backyard with a hose! We would prioritize our bathtub and shower update, then move to the rest of the bathroom.
Style sparks inspiration for the vintage bathroom remodel
In our Sweeten post, we mentioned the mint-green bathtub and our desire to work with it. We wanted the tub to feel intentional in the space, rather than something that was left there because it was too heavy or too expensive to get rid of. To make the room feel more “classic,” we wanted to introduce vintage elements, but merge them with a modern design. Posting our project on Sweeten made it possible for us to “take the plunge.” We were hesitant about hiring a contractor, but Sweeten gave us confidence, knowing we wouldn’t be going it alone.
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Our Sweeten contractor used inspirational photos and sketched the design for the inlaid black pencil tile.
Improving the bathroom layout
As planned, we did not change the bathroom layout, but some demolition discoveries influenced the project. We found remnants of original pastel pink tiles near the tub—but while the color combination was classic in the bathroom’s era, we decided not to go so bold. With the walls down, we saw that we not only needed additional insulation behind the new sheetrock but in the ceiling as well. We also noticed that the ceiling near the door had been dropped by several feet. Pulling it down and replacing it offered an opportunity to open and visually enlarge the space. This nice surprise changed the whole feeling of the room.
Picking bathroom tiles
Finding modern tiles that seemed true to the historic nature of the house, but that would also play well with the tub, wasn’t easy. Matching tile to vintage mint-green porcelain is impossible, and coordinating colors—other than neutrals—are limited. We’d first selected a different floor tile, also with a green marble effect, but when we tried to order, it was no longer available. We’d already chosen a project start date so we scrambled to find a replacement. Fortunately, we found this mosaic polished stone tile. It was more expensive than our original pick, which gave us pause, but we needed to move forward. I love how it complements the tub.
Our Sweeten contractor used inspirational photos and sketched the design for the inlaid black pencil tile. He then executed it beautifully and it came out exactly as we’d hoped. The white wall tile has a vintage vibe but is simpler, allowing the tub and floor tile to shine.
Design ideas: old and new
We chose this vanity in part because it was larger than our prior one, and has drawers. Our little old house is tight on storage, so it was important to maximize the vanity’s potential. I like the legs—it resembles furniture and lets the floor tiles show. We’d come across the chrome medicine cabinet with lights at an antique shop and saved it until we were ready to start. Its curves are wonderful, as are the inner glass shelves, which are still intact. The mirror’s silvering has imperfections, but that adds to the charm.
My favorite aspects of the vintage (but still modern!) bathroom remodel are the high ceiling and floor tile. I had been planning the renovation for several years, and during that time I had collected probably 15 different floor- and wall-tile combinations. Ultimately, I was glad we took a few years to decide what we wanted and to find the right pieces. And I still love the green tub.
Working with the right renovation partner
From the very beginning, our Sweeten contractor responded to the issues and questions we raised and collaborated with us in the design process. He helped us plan out what materials we needed and told us when we would need them, helping us to avoid scrambles and delays. It never felt like our input was creating a problem, or that we were being ignored.
There was no avoiding the fact that we were living in a tiny construction zone but our contractor and his crew made it as painless as possible. It was great to see the time and effort they put into clean-up each day. We’re both extremely happy with the end result.
Thank you for sharing your bathroom remodel story with us!
BATHROOM RESOURCES: WJ Mosaic Vitruvius Botanic Green floor tile: Artistic Tile. Restore ceramic Bright White subway wall tile and bullnose: Daltile. Nero ceramic Listelo liner wall trim tile: SomerTile. Santorini Nero Zocalo structural base ceramic chair rail trim tile: Merola Tile. Robe hooks, shelf, and toilet paper holder: Latitude Collection. Blair thermostatic shower and tub set with Round Contemporary shower head: Rejuvenation. Emma 43” white undermount sink vanity with black granite top: Avanity. Blair Cross Handle faucet: Rejuvenation. Hydronic Omnipanel towel radiator: Runtal. Neorest Cotton White WaterSense dual flush elongated chair height 2-piece toilet: Toto. 110 CFM ceiling bathroom exhaust fan: Roomside Decorative. Vanity mirror/medicine cabinet: vintage.
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