Transforming a porch into a Victorian bath


August 11, 1991|By Rose Bennett Gilbert | Rose Bennett Gilbert,Copley News Service

Q: I'm thinking of enclosing the second-floor porch off the master bedroom and turning it into a bath or sitting area. Can you give me any ideas? We both love Victorian and have a lot of it throughout the rest of the house.

A: One of the fun things about the Victorian style is its inherent sense of whimsy -- at least, seen through our eyes. While some of the Victorians were no doubt stuffy and proper to the breaking point -- you can see it in the stiff, upright furniture they favored for the front parlor -- there also were many things that fascinate us today.

Adventurous, the Victorians traveled the world and brought home exotica to show off in their sitting rooms. Social, they invented customs, rules and dining room utensils that put a fine point, indeed, on the art of living. Curious, they lived in heyday of inventions, including gimmicks and gizmos that amounted to parlor games. And sensual, they adored rich textures, luxurious colors and pattern heaped on pattern.

Which brings me, finally, to the point: The Victorians also invented the bath. So proud was the home that had one, we're told, visitors often were invited in to admire the plumbing and other fixtures.

The 19th century bath was decorated as lavishly as any room, with upholstered chairs, rugs, elaborate lighting fixtures and splendid materials, such as marble, crystal and gold.

It would be in keeping with the Victorian spirit, therefore, if you decide to have a new bath and sitting area on your remodeled porch.

Designer Diane Boyer, ASID, shows how it can be done in her lavish Victorian bath pictured here. It, too, is in space once devoted to an unheated summer porch, which, she says, inspired her use of the columns and gingerbread in the canopy surrounding the American Standard bathtub. Other luxurious touches for you to consider:

The upholstered walls (an especially good idea where climate control matters).

Wall-to-wall carpeting, run up the step to the tub.

A large cabinet (unseen in the photo) to hold a TV for viewing during a luxurious bath.

Typical Victorian elements, such as the pressed-tin ceiling, stained-glass window, light fixtures and patterned area rugs.

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