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Historic & Timeless Bathroom Remodels

Location: Mt. Airy, Philadelphia

Building type: Colonial

Renovation style: Traditional

As many of you know from watching HGTV, buyers nowadays are looking for a home with character, an open floor plan, and traditional details. Many owners of older homes share this same list of “wants,” especially when it comes time for a remodel. 

To balance the need for updated fixtures and finishes without sacrificing the history of the home, it helps to have the assistance of a design-build team experienced with older homes when making any updates. 

Here's an example of one of our clients as they embarked on a redesign of their bathrooms in a historic Philadelphia home. These clients came to us to update their primary bath as well as their guest bathroom and children's Jack and Jill bathroom on the second floor of their historic Center Hall Georgian Colonial. Our clients purchased the home complete with much of the original stunning woodwork throughout. They were passionate about updating the bathrooms but torn as how to maintain some of the architectural details that first made them fall in love with the property. 

Historic Center Hall Georgian Colonial in Philadelphia

Using a Design Approach to Merge Old & New

Our challenge was to combine the colonial craftsmanship and classic design with a tranquil and luxurious bathroom aesthetic. To do this, we wanted to incorporate many of the original finishes of the home, which was built in 1904 by the great Philadelphia architect John Hall Rankin (1868-1952).

Sadly, as beautiful as the original bathroom was, we couldn't utilize much of it. With leaks occurring way too often, our team of experts unfortunately decided the bathroom was at the end of its' life. Since there was no way to maintain or repair pieces like the original faucets or sinks, we instead needed to recreate!

The Bellweather team worked the designs around features like the unique radiators and baseboard heaters, craftsman style woodwork, detailed window casings as well as the 38-inch doors that are original to the home.

The Runtal Baseboard Electric Radiator under the large colonial window featured above is a fan favorite! Not only will it keep the bathroom warm and cozy on cold winter mornings, but also matches the design and aesthetic of the bathroom.


Creating a Timeless Classic Bathroom 

The most difficult part about renovating old homes is updating the space without changing the aesthetic. Diane, who heads Bellweather's selections team, chose materials and finishes with a modern interpretation of the bathrooms found in distinctive homes in the late 19th century. 

In the primary bathroom, we installed a Signature Hardware Apothecary style his and her sinks, which were an inspiration from the original sinks. The bathroom also features a multiple rain head shower, as well as a large soaking tub. These new yet classic plumbing fixtures are all surrounded by beautiful white and gray Carrara marble to create a timeless look and feel.

The brass finishes against the white Carrara marble are examples of design elements that allowed us preserve the history and character of the home while being mindful of the turn of the century influences.

Designing a New Guest Bathroom

In order to preserve much of the character, carpentry and original details, we needed to maintain the existing location for the window, plumbing, linen closet and door to the guest suite. While this made space planning more complicated, Stephanie, one of our architectural designers, was able to develop floor plans that improved efficiency and flow through the space, but retained these elements in their original location.

The new proposed floor plans included maintaining the tub location, which was in the corner of the room. During exploration, it was found that the original clawfoot tub had leaked into their music room below, so we ultimately repaired the structure below and advised them to purchase a new tub rather than repair the old historic fixture. Our designers worked diligently to find a similar corner style tub that our clients would enjoy. We love how this space turned out and how it integrates with the style and character of the rest of the home.

This guest suite follows the same timeless and classic design as the master suite. The brass finishes against the white Carrara marble are examples of design elements that allowed us preserve the history and character of the home while respectful of turn of the century influences.

Expanding Classic Jack and Jill Bathroom

In the kids’ bathroom, our plans included updating the shower-tub combo, new tile, replacing the vanity, as well as added custom built-in storage. Yet, in order to incorporate all of these key bathroom elements, we needed more space for our new shower and tub combination. So, our design and construction team needed to great creative!


The various Bellweather teams worked together to come up with a floor plan to best fit the design and functionality of the bathroom. The final layout included building out the wall of the bathroom in order to add some square footage for larger shower. Regardless of the newly added space in the bathroom, we were still able to complete this project without hindering the space in the bedroom behind it.


Other fun features of this bathroom remodel included hiding the water and overflow access using an old hallway closet -- keeping the original door allows for easy access for shut-offs and maintenance. And in terms of design, the accent tile used in the kid's bathroom was also used in the primary bathroom shower niche!


  • Signature Hardware plumbing fixtures
  • Marvin handmade, self-locking windows (made in the U.S.A)
  • Kohler Bath & Soaking Tubs
  • Carrara marble tile