New Orleans is a city steeped in history and culture, from its French and Spanish colonial roots to the grandeur of the antebellum South. This rich past is reflected in the architecture and design of many of the homes in the city’s historic neighborhoods. In today’s Room of the Day feature, we explore a bathroom renovation in a historic New Orleans home that pays homage to the property’s origins while incorporating modern flair.

The homeowner, an architect and designer, approached the project with a vision of highlighting the history of the property while creating a soothing and luxurious new master bath. The home, located in the Garden District, was originally built in the late 1800s in the Victorian Italianate style of the period. Over the years, the decor had shifted towards a more traditional Southern aesthetic.

The new design for the bathroom aimed to uncover some of the Victorian roots of the home’s architecture while providing an updated, functional space. Attention was paid to choosing fixtures and materials that bridged old and new. The result is a room that feels fresh yet familiar, reviving the historic features while adding modern convenience.

Throughout this article, we will take a closer look at how the architect successfully blended vintage charm with contemporary comfort in this New Orleans bath renovation. We’ll examine how choices in layout, materials, lighting, and decor come together to create a room that feels connected to the past yet geared towards present-day luxury. This imaginative design proves that history and innovation can beautifully co-exist in a home.

Honoring the Victorian Bones of the Space

The original architectural details of the 19th century home provided inspiration for the design concept. The goal was to uncover and restore some of the Victorian era craftsmanship while giving the space a brighter and more expansive feel.


The bathroom footprint occupied a long and narrow former bedroom typical of the home’s Victorian origins. Instead of confining the area with an enclosed tub, the architect opened up the space by placing the freestanding tub in the center of the room. This allowed for better circulation and a lighter aesthetic.

Angled walls added architectural interest and dynamic sightlines, another nod to the room’s Victorian beginnings. Meanwhile, clean-lined built-ins helped counterbalance the busier original details. This juxtaposition of old and new forms a bridge between eras.

Moldings and Medallions

Ornate decorative moldings and ceiling medallions date back to the 19th century style of the home. Where possible, they were retained and restored. The medallion was cleaned and touched up, the egg and dart trim molding repaired. New hand-plastered decorative molding rings were added to complement the existing details.

The idea was not to create a museum French Quarter-style “preserved in amber” bath. Instead, the goal was a thoughtful revival of historic architectural features in a way that integrated into a serene modern space.


The original wood floors were uncovered and refinished, keeping with the goal of showcasing the home’s bones. Their rich patina and character provide texture and warmth.

To differentiate spaces within the large room, marble mosaic tile was used in the vanity area. The marble adds a touch of Victorian flair often seen in baths of that era. Set diagonally, the tile patterns delineate sub-areas of the room without overwhelming the space.


Salvaged antique stained glass windows filter soft natural light into the room. Their jewel tones and arched tops reference Gothic Revival style. The windows add privacy while allowing golden rays to wash the space. Sheer curtains filter the sunlight, preventing glare.

The windows are set high to allow light to fill the room while maintaining a sense of intimacy and discretion. Their Victorian style exemplifies the blend of salvaged antique pieces with new elements that give the room its character.

Creating a Soothing Sanctuary Through Materials and Finishes

While the architectural details speak to the 19th century, the materials and finishes chosen for the bath renovation reflect a more modern serene aesthetic. The color palette and mix of metals help bridge old and new for a room that feels fresh yet subtle.

Material Mix

A key component in the soothing atmosphere of the space was the blend of materials. Natural stone, metal, plaster, wood, tile and glass each add visual interest while maintaining a calming vibe.

The antique windows, refinished floors, and restored plaster details provide organic texture. Meanwhile, the cool smooth surfaces of stone, metal and glass add sleek modern contrast. For example, the marble mosaic flooring plays against the warmth of the original wood.

By blending the tactile appeal of varied materials, the room achieves a zen-like, spa-style environment. The material mix engages the senses for an indulgent bathing experience.

Neutrals and Metallics

The color scheme centers around warm neutrals accented by metallics. Soft taupes, creams, and greys evoke a sense of relaxed luxury. Pops of glimmering brass, chrome and antique bronze provide eye-catching detail.

Neutral wall paint allows the other features of the room to shine. Crisp white trim framing the windows and doors highlights their arched architectural shapes. The metallic finishes in lighting, plumbing and mirror frames add layers of luminosity.

By keeping the background colors muted, thefocal points garner greater attention. Variations in neutral hues help delineate space and add subtle depth without overwhelming.

Custom Cabinetry Anchors New to Old

An important design challenge was incorporating necessary storage into the narrow floor plan while maintaining old home character. Custom built-in cabinetry provided a solution that anchored the new aspects to the historical framework.

Crafted Fit

Meticulously designed and constructed cabinetry units align with the room’s angled architecture. Their precision fit speaks to fine old-world carpentry, while materials like ebonized walnut and polished stone bring modern flair.

The storage units appear almost architectural in nature, with details like panel insets, mullion divides and stately corbels supporting floating shelves. The style suits both the Victorian tone and contemporary needs of the space.

Hidden Storage

Discreet storage solutions hide away modern necessities. Drawers with soft-close glides contain bathroom clutter. Backlit medicine cabinets conceal mirrors when not in use.

Pull-out shelving under the freestanding tub provides access to towels and bath accessories. Cabinets built around plumbing house cleaning essentials.

The streamlined pieces maximize storage capabilities without detracting from the serene ambiance. Custom organization keeps necessities handy but out of sight.

Mix of Finishes

The blend of materials in the cabinetry compliment the overall decor. Ebonized walnut adds warmth while white stone countertops keep the look light and bright. Matte black metal hardware and concealed lighting provide modern contrast.

Built-in seating continues the custom cabinetry, upholstered in a weathered grey linen that ties into the color scheme. The tailored mix of textures and natural hues connects the storage pieces to the historic aspects of the home.

Lighting Layers For Function and Mood

Thoughtfully designed lighting creates ambiance and practical illumination for a functional bath. Layers of lighting types and directions bathe the room in the right measure of tranquility and task lighting.

Focal Points

Backlit onyx sconces flanking the vanity provide atmospheric up-lighting as well as task lighting for grooming. Their golden glow is a focal point against the crisp white marble and wood.

Matching onyx pendants hang above the soaking tub, creating a warm spotlight effect perfect for relaxation. The translucent stone and brass fittings give off a soft glimmer for soaking.

Ambient Lighting

Recessed ceiling cans wash the room in general ambient lighting. Their direction can be adjusted as needed for tasks or mood. Dimmer switches allow tuning the right brightness.

To highlight the ornate medallion, pin lights were added to the ceiling rosette. This provides dramatic effect when the overhead lights are lowered. The medallion casts intriguing shadows, showcasing this original detail.

Form and Function

A comfortable balance was achieved between aesthetic lighting and practical needs. Wall sconces, pendants and pin lights focus on design impact and atmosphere. Recessed ceiling lights and discreet undercabinet lights handle general illumination and tasks.

The lighting layers work together to provide the right amount and direction of illumination. This allows the lighting to fit both the room’s vintage style and contemporary usage.

Classic Plumbing Fixtures With Modern Flair

With plumbing and fixtures, the design motif rings true. The bathroom was outfitted with plumbing that communicates vintage aesthetic with today’s technology. Classic materials and shapes merge with modern innovations.

Clawfoot Tub

The room’s centerpiece is the clawfoot soaker tub placed in the middle of the floor. This classic tub shape recalls Victorian era bathing. Its sculptural exposed feet are finished in antique oil rubbed bronze.

While the tub’s silhouette is vintage, it’s equipped with modern features like a handheld shower and air bath technology. details like the hand-hammered copper overflow drain accent the tub with artisanal refinement.

Brass Fittings

Polished brass fittings on the tub and vanity lend a timeless luster while coordinating with the warm metallic accents in the room. Brass shower fixtures and drains add glossy touches.

Aged brass hardware on the vanity cabinets provides an antique patina that speaks to the historical context of the home. The unlacquered finish will age gracefully, developing its own patina over time.

Floating Vanity

The sleek floating vanity complements the room’s mix of old and new. An architectural stone base gives the impression of a vintage washstand. Modern conveniences like touch-activated drawers and built-in charging docks are seamlessly integrated.

The rectangular stone vessel sink references early 20th century lavatories. Yet the minimalist form feels crisp and contemporary. Arched brass legs echo Goth design and create easy cleaning access.

Decor Details Linking Past and Present

Decorative accessories and artisan details throughout the space provide the final layer tying the room’s dual time periods together. These thoughtful touches create joyful discoveries that keep the design distinctive.

Antique Mirror

A beveled antique mirror hangs above the vanity, its edges embellished with rosettes. The mirror’s age-speckled patina complements the aged windows and refurbished wood floors.

Matching candelabra sconces are affixed to the mirror’s frame for functional lighting and vintage symmetry. The mirror reflects the medallion’s intricate details, echoing the craftsmanship.

Original Hardware

Salvaged doorknobs from the home’s original doors were converted into plumbing handles and drawer pulls. This inventive reuse adds historic charm and harmony with the existing ornamental hardware.

Using these salvaged pieces pays respect to the home’s past life. The well-worn appeal of the hardware fits seamlessly with the design concept.

Artisan Tilework

Around the tub, hand-cut encaustic tiles form an abstract botanical motif. The tiles’ depth and dimension add tactile interest. Their intricate patterning brings in an artisanal element.

The customized tiles were designed to complement the home’s heritage. Their mix of modern style and craft technique enhance the room’s sense of bespoke refinement.

Vintage Accessories

Thoughtful vintage accents enhance the room’s blend of old and new. A 19th century fainting couch provides a playful seating option. Towels are stacked on an antiqued metal cart.

Groupings of mirrors, framed botanical prints and candles fill the open shelves. These curated mixes marry vintage finds and modern decor for individual character.

Achieving Balance Between Past and Present

The renovation of this New Orleans bathroom aimed to rediscover the home’s historic roots while creating a tranquil modern bath. Attention to detail and custom craftsmanship were key in straddling both eras. The result successfully interweaves heritage and innovation.


Each design decision focused on complementing and connecting the new aspects with the old. Whether salvaging original hardware, or custom building cabinetry to fit the architecture, cohesion was central to the concept. This curation results in a holistic room with layers of character.


Editing and restraint kept the blend of old and new aesthetics balanced. Historic revival elements like the windows and medallion molding were touched up, not transformed. Custom cabinetry took cues from Victorian style but remained grounded in contemporary construction.

Over embellishment was avoided to allow the intrinsic details their due. The neutral palette and uncluttered organization provided an understated backdrop for the ornate focal points.


Disparate aspects like the clawfoot tub and modern sconces find visual harmony through informed selection. Warm metals and natural materials aid cohesion. The original floor’s patina complements the antique mirror’s age-worn charm.

This mindful curation results in a room where nothing feels out of sync. The parts form a visually pleasing whole. Both eras harmoniously support the welcoming spa-like ambiance.

Key Takeaways

This bath renovation highlights how even distinctly different design eras can be bridged with careful intent. Always connected to the home’s Victorian roots, the updates resulted in a seamless blend of past and present.

Some key lessons from this imaginative New Orleans project include:

  • Evaluate what existing architectural details can be retained or revived. This provides a jumping-off point to build around and showcases the home’s heritage.
  • Bridge old and new through considered custom elements like storage and lighting. Well-designed furnishings can marry both aesthetics.
  • Seek visual cohesion in your material mix. Consistency in finishes and metals ties the look together across styles.
  • Avoid over-design by using restraint when blending eras. Simple backdrops keep the focus on stunning standout details.
  • Find harmony through repeated motifs that complement across styles, like arched mirrors and windows. Tie unique elements together.

With mindful intent and design, the historic past and modern present can beautifully intersect for a timeless, inviting new space. This bath renovation serves as inspiration for skillfully blending beloved heritage with today’s luxury.

Frequently Asked Questions

What style was the original house?

The home was originally built in the late 1800s in the Victorian Italianate architectural style, which was popular in America from around 1840 to 1885. Details like ornate moldings, tall narrow windows, and clawfoot tubs reflect this Victorian influence.

How did they incorporate modern elements?

Custom cabinetry, recessed lighting, quartz countertops, and high-tech tub features blend seamlessly with restored antique aspects like stained glass windows. The mix of materials creates harmony between old and new.

How was existing architecture honored?

Original medallions, flooring, and layout were retained and revived. New hand-plastered molding augmented existing ornamental details. Salvaged antique hardware was repurposed.

Were special construction techniques required?

Meticulous custom carpentry and tilework suited the room’s angled footprint. Cabinetry was precision-fitted to maximize storage. Encaustic floor tile was hand-laid in geometric patterns.

What’s the main decorative style?

A soft neutral palette and natural materials create a soothing, zen-like ambiance accented by warm metals. Clean-lined custom pieces balance more ornate Victorian details for a fresh, unfussy spa aesthetic.


This New Orleans bath renovation demonstrates how the historic past can be skillfully merged with contemporary comfort. By honoring the compelling original architecture while introducing current innovations, the space rediscovers the home’s roots in a new light.

From respecting heritage while utilizing modern materials, to weaving custom details throughout, the room artfully straddles eras. Every design decision focused on linking old with new. This resulted in a cohesive updated bath deeply connected to the property’s origins.

The project shows that the right balance of restoration and innovation can allow disparate eras to not just coexist, but complement. Past and present harmoniously support one another for a timeless design. With creativity and care, the historic integrity shines through as a tranquil modern sanctuary is beautifully realized.