Bal­anc­ing Old and New

While the bath­rooms in the farm­house are new ad­di­tions, the Bridgers share how they made the spa­ces feel fresh and true to their vi­sion of pe­riod au­then­tic­ity.


We’ve been fol­low­ing Chris­tine and Gabe Bridger and their fam­ily in their ren­o­va­tion of a 1910 Michi­gan farm­house. After por­ing over images and floor plans, and tak­ing walks around the prop­erty with Jon Faris of Paradigm Ren­o­va­tion—parts of the process you can catch up on at cot­tage­sand­bun­ga­lows­—the Bridgers tack­led the home’s bath­rooms. And it’s time for us to bring you the nitty gritty of that ad­ven­ture.


While Chris­tine and Gabe strive for pe­riod ap­pro­pri­ate­ness, when it came to the bath­rooms, they wanted to use the op­por­tu­nity to add some con­trast. “What we wanted to do,” Chris­tine says, “is have the bath­rooms be the op­po­site of the rest of the space.” Whereas the rest of the home is pre­dom­i­nantly white (a pe­riod authen­tic choice) with touches of black and red, the bath­rooms flip the em­pha­sis, with a black base punc­tu­ated by ac­cents of white and re­strained pops of red.

The down­stairs bath­room is fairly small (about 5 x 7 feet), but the ceil­ings are 9 feet high. Black hexag­o­nal tiles on the floor lead into pen­cil strips of black sub­way tile on the walls. Up­stairs, a claw-foot vin­tage-style Kohler tub is black on the out­side and white on the inside.

While this in­verted color scheme and what Chris­tine calls a “nod from sim­plis­tic, min­i­mal in­dus­trial” style make the bath­room a bit dif­fer­ent from the rest of the home, Chris­tine and Gabe are still care­ful to keep the over­all feel co­he­sive. They in­cor­po­rated wood from an orig­i­nal floor joist into the

SHARE & SHARE ALIKE. The three-faucet Kohler sink is a func­tional and stylis­ti­cally ap­pro­pri­ate choice in this shared bath­room. Kitchen stools and a piece of the orig­i­nal floor cus­tom-made into a shelf pro­vide sur­face area in lieu of a counter. The cus­tom­ized mir­ror and ex­te­rior barn-style light add a dec­o­ra­tive touch.

weath­ered shelf in the up­stairs bath­room. Up­stairs, the bath­room is part of the ad­di­tion, but they con­tin­ued the feel of the orig­i­nal home by in­stalling shiplap with cedar plank tongue-and-groove boards from Lowes. They com­mis­sioned a cus­tom-made screen to look like a sal­vaged shop win­dow, which will tie in with a sal­vaged pic­ture win­dow in the kitchen. Chris­tine also cus­tom­ized cad­dies to look old by blast­ing them with a hand sander.


His­toric homes are re­flec­tions of their era, which is of course part of their charm, but floor-plan is­sues can also quickly arise. In the early 1900s, when the farm­house was built, bath­rooms were viewed as only func­tional spa­ces and con­se­quently ran small. While the Bridgers could not sal­vage the orig­i­nal bath­room, the down­stairs bath­room is the same size as the orig­i­nal at 5 x 7 feet. The orig­i­nal bath­room had suf­fered a bad re­model in the 1980s, which re­moved ev­ery­thing but a door. The Bridgers were able to use that door for a linen closet ad­join­ing the bath­room. Work­ing within the pe­riod-ap­pro­pri­ate space was “a jig­saw puz­zle,” Chris­tine says. In fact, orig­i­nally she in­tended the claw-foot tub for the down­stairs bath­room, not tak­ing into ac­count its slanted edge. Once the tub ar­rived, it over­whelmed the space. For­tu­nately they could use it in the up­stairs bath­room.

Up­stairs there are three bed­rooms and only one bath­room. Since the whole fam­ily would be us­ing the up­stairs bath­room for brush­ing their teeth at night, “we wanted it to be as com­mu­nal as pos­si­ble,” Chris­tine says. A large util­ity sink serves just that pur­pose. To com­pen­sate for the lack of counter space, they used a weath­ered piece of wood from the orig­i­nal home and had it cus­tom made into a shelf mounted on 3-inch iron brack­ets. Kitchen barstools on ei­ther side pro­vide ad­di­tional sur­face area in lieu of a counter.


In a func­tional space like a bath­room, it can be hard to find sal­vage items up to the task of daily use for some­thing like a tub. When you shop sec­ond­hand, “some­times you run out of time be­cause the na­ture of it is so one-off,” Chris­tine says. Or, she re­lates, some­times the cost of get­ting a sal­vaged find like a vin­tage tub is more than if you bought new. New, how­ever, can still main­tain a vin­tage feel.

“Even with new items,” Chris­tine says, “we wanted to make sure they felt like they could have been in the home from the be­gin­ning.” Chris­tine and Gabe’s sense of what suits the home’s era comes from their re­search vis­it­ing his­toric homes and pubs in their area. They ended up get­ting all their plumb­ing fix­tures from Kohler Co. to achieve a mod­ern feel but with old charm.

When it comes to light­ing, Chris­tine has layered in fix­tures rem­i­nis­cent of the pe­riod, but the tech­nol­ogy is very much mod­ern. Chris­tine chose Philips Vin­tage LED A19 light bulbs, which look vin­tage but bring the mod­ern, en­ergy-sav­ing ben­e­fits of LED light­ing. Since the lights are open and you can see the bulbs promi­nently, Chris­tine says, “it was im­por­tant to have a vin­tage feel.”

For more on this pro­ject, in­clud­ing past ar­ti­cles, be­hind-the-scenes peeks and more, visit cot­tage­sand­bun­ga­lows­

TOPNOTCH TOW­ELS. “Pendle­ton tow­els are my sig­na­ture,” Chris­tine says. They are both durable and beau­ti­ful.

Whereas the rest of the home is pre­dom­i­nantly white

(a pe­riod authen­tic choice)

with touches of black and red, the bath­rooms

flip the em­pha­sis,

with a black base punc­tu­ated by

ac­cents of white and re­strained pops of red.

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