Bath Blends Spa Aesthetic with Historic Charm


The 1915 Colonial home on historic Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA, held all of the period charm and character its two university professor owners desired…except for two glaringly outdated spaces: the master bath and its attached dressing suite. Their most recent makeovers dated back to the 1970s.

With a desire to transform the decades-old design into something sleek, bright and spa-like, the homeowners sought the talents of a local contractor, Charlie Allen Restorations, which specializes in renovating and restoring period homes, and an architectural and interior design firm, Fairbank Design, also located in Cambridge.

With Charlie Allen, founder and president, CR, CLC, CAPS, and Sandra Fairbank at the helm, the areas were carefully crafted into a space that allows the bath to complement the period appeal of the house while making a statement that doesn’t seem out of place.

The adjoining dressing suite was also transformed with the addition of functional improvements. By removing a sink and adding square footage from the adjacent laundry room, equally spacious his-and-hers dressing areas were built. Maple shelving and oak flooring provide added warmth to the space.

Crisp, clean appeal

The process wasn’t without its challenges. After gutting the bathroom, the team discovered that all of the floor joists had been removed during a previous renovation. Since the homeowners wanted a deep, heavy soaking tub as a focal point of the room, reframing the entire floor became the first priority. And because it was too big to move through a doorway once the room was completed, the tub – a Burgbad freestanding 74-¾" bathing vessel – was brought into the room during construction and was moved around as work was finished. Since its final destination was directly beneath a window, original glass planes were replaced with tempered glass for safety.

The crisp, clean theme set by the tub is complemented by 1"x1½" Ann Sacks White Thassos mosaic mini brick tiles that sit atop radiant floor heating. A Myson electric towel warmer with Smart Thermo Control adds to the comfort and spa-like aesthetics. Ann Sacks glass wall tiles in glossy Skim Milk create a subtle contrast to the room.


Abundant storage

While the 9'x12' footprint of the room did not change, in order to maintain the spa-aesthetic desired by the homeowners, cabinetry needed to be abundant without being overwhelming. To accomplish that feat, ShowHouse cabinets from Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops – with an Elegante door style and Gloss White thermofoil finish – were built into the base of the vanity, which offers plenty of room to store toiletries out of view. An additional cabinet was placed at the bottom of a tower, with shelving for display items.

Robern glass-enclosed his-and-hers medicine cabinets were built into the vanity’s large wraparound mirror, which is set off with overhead inset lights that provide just the right amount of light. When combined with the abundant natural daylight, a soothing environment is created.

The countertop, another focal point of the room, proved to be an additional challenging design feature of the space. Fairbank’s interior design plan called for a lack of hard edges on the vanity, so the countertop and apron mitered edge were crafted from a single piece of ¾” Azul Cielo marble. Kohler Caxton sinks and Dornbracht Tara faucets provide the finishing touches.