New England style has long been popular in both the design and decor of homes throughout America. No matter where you live, one room where this classic design can often be found is in bathrooms. Typically, a New England Bathroom will have a wainscot of white painted bead board, wide pine floors, pedestal sinks and claw foot tubs and my home is no exception. Since bathrooms are one of the most frequently remodeled rooms in a house, I thought you might enjoy seeing what our guest and master baths look like after we restored our historic country farmhouse in New Hampshire.
When I tell people that our house was originally built in the 1730’s, I’m sure their first thoughts are of an interior with creaky floors, cracked plaster walls and old-fashioned plumbing. That would pretty much describe our house when we first bought it but after a five year restoration, guests visiting our home are pleasantly surprised to see that our historic house retains its classic country charm but has been adapted to modern use.
There is a common thread in all the bathrooms in our home and that is chinoiserie. The Chinese artistic decoration was popular in the middle of the 18th and 19th century in New England. Clipper ships would leave the ports and travel to Europe, the East Indies and China and return with their ships laden with exotic goods. In homes throughout New England, you would find Asian inspired fabrics, wallpapers, rugs and blue willow ceramics. You will see that I have used many of these elements in our bathrooms.
The guest bathroom has been divided into two rooms with a connecting door that can be locked. This is very convenient when we have several guests staying with us and they are all trying to get ready at the same time in the morning. One room contains the toilet and a pedestal sink. The other room contains a shower and a large marble topped vanity. All the cabinetry and woodwork in our home was made on site by a craftsman that specializes in restoring 17th and 18th century homes. The vanity was built like a piece of furniture from hand planed wood, mortise and tenon joints and wood pegs. It has hand forged “H” hinges and antique porcelain knobs. The rooms have bead board wainscoting that is painted a creamy white and the walls have coordinated Asian inspired wallpaper.
I designed our master bath in much the same way as the guest bathroom in that it is divided into two rooms. My husband’s side has the toilet and a large walk in shower. There is a tall marble topped vanity built in the style of a Chinese Chippendale piece of furniture. It is painted in a bold red color, decorated with gold leaf and glazed. A window looks out onto the orchard and gives lots of natural day light. Just below, a window seat was built to hide necessary plumbing.
My side of the master bath is through a connecting door and has a claw foot tub with a chrome and porcelain handheld “British” telephone shower. I think the bathroom has a feminine feel with its marble topped dressing table, collections of crystal jars, perfume bottles and a pretty Victorian chair. Oriental carpets lay on top of pine floors in both of the rooms and give added warmth to the master bath in the winter.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve had many requests to see more of our historic New Hampshire home. I hope you have enjoyed seeing a couple of our home’s bathrooms. They probably weren’t what you were expecting to see in an old country farmhouse. Our home was remodeled to include all the modern conveniences that everyone wants in a home today but we tried to be respectful to its long history. Perhaps you will take away an idea from our New England bathrooms to use in your own bathroom.