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A Modern Bathroom Renovation in the Most Unlikely Home

This modern bathroom renovation is proof that very old and very new can coexist happily

Very old and very new can, in fact, coexist happily


By Lindsey Mather, Architectural Digest

Inside a meticulously restored 19th-century terrace house in Melbourne sits this curvaceous bathroom splashed with various shades of pink. That's a crazy contrast—or is it? In fact, it takes no time at all for the architect, Thomas Mckenzie, director of the firm Winwood Mckenzie, to point out the room's many nods to the home's history. The rounded mirrored medicine cabinet "refers to more traditional large framed mirrors that would have been placed on the bathroom wall in the original house." Then there's the wall of storage, only identified as such by barely-there bubblegum-pink pulls and trim. "The idea of secret doors and hidden cupboards makes sense in the context of a fantastic heritage house," Thomas notes. Cue a major aha! moment: A modern bathroom can 100 percent blend into an old home if you get the details right. Here's how Winwood McKenzie made it happen:
They followed the light: "The original bathroom (shown here) was a dark, tired renovation with one small window in it whose style was inconsistent with the heritage character of the house," Thomas remembers. As luck would have it, there happened to be a storage room next door. Thom swiftly combined the two spaces into one. "The storeroom, while functional, had a large window with good light and long views over rooftops that we used to our advantage to create a new larger and brighter bathroom," he says.
Everything's pretty in pink: It all started with India Mahdavi's Bisazza encaustic tiles, a favorite of the client's that Thom used as a jumping-off point for the rest of the room. "The colors and finishes make subtle references to bathroom finishes from different periods, including the hand-painted tiles, the penny rounds, the combination of pink and black, and the timber, a reinterpretation of a dressing table and antique furniture," he says. It doesn't hurt that, as Thomas notes, "pink creates a flattering light."
They tucked a surprise into the wall of cabinets: The wood-veneer doors don't just hide TP and tissues. Hidden in the middle is a pale pink laminate vanity, complete with a mirror and drawer for extra storage. "The client is a tidy person and their family needed the space so multiple people can get ready at the same time. It's a very practical and compact use of space," says Thomas. "This piece of joinery also contains three laundry baskets!"
The walls themselves became decorative elements: Rather than your typical sharp angled corners, Thomas chose rounded edges. "We used a standard 90-degree plaster cornice to finish the corners, then wrapped them in round penny tiles," he says. "The result is quite fluid and softens the feel of the room." Another benefit? Less waste—there was no need to cut the tiles to fit as you would with regular corners.
Even the medicine cabinet got special treatment: "A rectangular cabinet would have felt out of place," says Thomas. His curvy custom design, on the other hand, is the perfect complement to the rounded walls. "The curves create a gentleness in the bathroom, while using a contemporary architectural language that is informed by the arches, ornament, and details of the heritage house."
The shower is the same, but different: Cement tiles don't do so well in wet environments, so Thomas went in a different direction in the shower stall—kind of. "We water jet–cut and color-matched vitrified off-white ceramic tiles to create a mosaic shower base in the same pattern as the floor tiles, but without the color," he explains.

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Lifestyle Magazine: A Modern Bathroom Renovation in the Most Unlikely Home
A Modern Bathroom Renovation in the Most Unlikely Home
This modern bathroom renovation is proof that very old and very new can coexist happily
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