EXPLORE THE ELEGANT SOPHISTICATION OF THE BATH AND DINING ROOMS IN THIS EXQUISITE MASSACHUSETTS MANSION.
Explore the elegant sophistication of the bath and dining rooms in this exquisite Massachusetts mansion.
For Bruce Macaulay, proud owner of a sprawling Andover Street mansion, the Victorian Era has been a nearly lifelong fascination.
“My inspiration of Victorian design started in my early teens,” he recalls. Growing up in Melrose, which was “loaded with Victorians,” Bruce began to develop a taste and curiosity for the period. His interest intensified in 1976, when his mom designed the city’s flag, winning the local competition. “I started collecting antiques around 19,” Bruce says. “I always thought they would be timeless quality and a great investment.” From there, he began making larger investments, laboring to restore antique homes to their original appearance. “Prior to Andover Street,” he says, “I restored a similar style, but far smaller home also in Lowell.” And after succeeding there, Bruce graduated to an even larger treasure, a nearly 8,000 square-foot home that originated as twin dwellings.
“In restoration, my philosophy is ‘take your time,’” Bruce says. “Let the home speak to you.” In addition to patching up eleven leaks, he also outfitted the home with modern electricity and plumbing. This included adding bathrooms, which were brand new innovations at the end of the Victorian Era. Naturally, they weren’t as abundant then as they are today. “The featured bathroom was originally a back hall to a porch that doesn’t exist anymore,” Bruce explains. He styled the room in accordance with the Victorian aesthetic, making it perfectly at home in his period abode. Even though bathrooms have undergone significant changes since then, Bruce’s seems perfectly befitting of a Victorian gentleman.
Whenever creating from scratch, it’s a good idea to know how you want the finished product to look. Even when designing a historic space, the time period offers only a general guideline, with a more specific aesthetic furnishing the greater inspiration. “My vision was a masculine, yet over-the-top gilded masterpiece,” Bruce says. To this end, he used décor and materials that were consistent, both chronologically and stylistically, with what he had in mind.
He selected rich wood for the cabinets. “Mahogany or walnut decorative cabinets with marble tops were commonly used in the Victorian Era,” he says, adding that he discovered his own cabinet, ironically enough, online. The material, in addition to supplementing the bathroom’s masculine look, also matches the curvature of Bruce’s staircase, lending architectural unity to the home. The staircase, unlike the bathroom cabinet, is original to the mansion.
The simple semi-circle mirror is an antique East Lake, a providential yard sale find. Bruce selected reproduction gasolier (gas-operated chandeliers) to illumine the space. These lights, though not original to the bathroom, are crafted to fit the space’s style. Bruce restored the lovely stained glass door and installed rich marble wainscoting for the floor.
"Kitchens in this era were plain and utilitarian," Bruce says. "My kitchen went through a two-part process." First, he installed the tin ceiling crown molding and constructed the massive hood that vents the stove. To do so, he had to remove a washer and dryer that had occupied the space. Next, Bruce worked to make his cabinetry flow with the Victorian pattern. "In the Victorian era, kitchen cabinets were