The winner of the Best Reader-Submitted Bath Space category in our Considered Design Awards is Steve Carbin, a homeowner who completely renovated an "unfortunate" existing bathroom in his 1919 home in Madison, Wisconsin.
Carbin is an architectural designer by trade but has worked exclusively on large commercial and civic projects throughout his career. For this, his first residential project, he had to begin his design process in a whole new way. He looked for inspiration in the work of Roman & Williams, especially the bathrooms they designed for the Ace Hotels. He also considered "what a British/East Coast prep school bathroom would look like, at least in my imagined version of it." And he took inspiration from browsing the white bathrooms in Remodelista's own Image Gallery.
The Carbins "loathed" the existing bathroom to the extent that they avoided hosting dinner guests for fear that they might need to use the bathroom. "We joked that the only thing we could save from the original bathroom was the house around it."
With a construction team from TDS Custom Construction in Madison, Carbin took the bathroom down to its original studs, removing a series of unfortunate renovations made in the late 1970s. He worked with TDS' bathroom designer to decide on details like built-in cabinetry, but chose all the fixtures and finishes himself.
New to choosing such details, Carbin created a "backstory" for his bathroom, which he referred to when stumped about his myriad sourcing choices. He imagined that the original 1919 bathroom had been remodeled in the Art Deco age—thus he chose deco lights, penny tile, a pedestal sink, and porcelain fixtures. Then he imagined that today's owners wanted easier-to-use modernity added to their bathroom—hence the new tub and shower and modern faucets and hardware. The narrative helped Carbin achieve the look he was going for: simple and modern, but true to the home's era.
Photography by Steve Carbin and TDS Custom Construction.
Above: The bathroom is less than 50 square feet and is the only bathroom in the house, so Carbin jumped at every chance to add storage. Here, custom cabinetry includes a fluted glass front and Mission Drawer Pulls in chrome from Rejuvenation. The towel storage is the Dillon Train Rack from Restoration Hardware, and a dose of whimsy comes in a Papier-Mâché White Deer from West Elm.
Above: Carbin chose Kohler's Tresham 30-Inch Pedestal Sink for its masculine profile and relative abundance of "countertop" space, and paired it with Kohler's Stillness Collection faucet in chrome. The sconces are Haines in white porcelain from Rejuvenation, and the mirror is the Kent Medicine Cabinet from Restoration Hardware with a porcelain knob from Rejuvenation.
Above: To keep costs down, Carbin left all the plumbing in its original location. "Given that the profile of the toilet is the first thing you see as you enter the room, it has to be beautiful." Carbin chose Kohler's Persuade Curv Dual-Flush Toilet and Bellwether cast iron tub; a 15-inch tub threshold makes for easy entrance and exit. He added an extra-long shower curtain—the Italian Hotel Satin Stitch Shower Curtain from Restoration Hardware—to give the small space a feeling of height.
Above: Carbin reused the original 2-foot-wide door after stripping it to remove 100 years' worth of paint. Hardware from Rejuvenation is the Davis Interior Door Set and Chandler Porcelain Toilet Paper Holder in white. The wainscot tile is 3x6 and 6x6 Rittenhouse Square Field Tile from Daltile in Kohler White, a color produced to match Kohler fixtures.
Above: Carbin chose Ann Sacks Savoy Penny Mosaics in graphite for the floor. "I wanted a tile that would reference the house's past, but in a color that would not have been used at that time."
Above: A Vipp 11 Toilet Brush is stylish enough to leave on display.
Above: A Vipp 13 Trash Bin beneath the pedestal sink.
Above: The bathroom before the renovation.
Above: The "before" bathroom, sorely lacking in inspiration.
Above: The unfortunate "before" floor.
See all 11 winners of the Remodelista Considered Design Awards and watch for their profiles to publish over the next few weeks.