Photos by Alyssa Lee
St. Paul’s Summit Avenue is known for its grand, historic homes, but when one couple decided they wanted to “age in place” within their 1920 Georgian, they knew it would require a remodel. The two had lived in the house for more than 30 years, during which they raised a family and became part of the backbone of the neighborhood, a source of “institutional knowledge,” as the wife jokingly puts it. They weren’t about to leave the home they loved, replacement knees and hips be darned. To create a house to suit their needs, architect John Larsen of Design Forty Five, builder Don Forsman of Welch Forsman Associates, and principal designer Maureen Haggerty of Mint Interior Design pored over each and every room—including three brand new bathrooms. Here are some of the highlights of the spaces.
Accessibility for Now and Later
“The idea [of accessibility] is not to redo things,” Larsen says, “but to amend what’s already there. So we remove a built-in that is intended to be removed.” The wheelchair-friendly dimensions of the basement and second-floor bathrooms are evident, as are the no-threshold showers and toilet roll holders that double up as grab bars. Subtler details include sinks with removable pedestals and plywood hidden beneath the walls to provide mounts for future grab bars.
Balancing the Times
Most in keeping with the home’s historic character is the second-floor bathroom, which features damask and floral patterns, art of Edwardian women and Audubon birds, and a classic gold scrolled mirror frame. Glossy white fixtures such as the tile backsplash and the shallow sink keep the room from feeling too dated or busy.
In contrast, the basement bathroom is, as the wife describes, both modern and darling. It still retains a stately feel with crystal glass knobs and white furnishings, but a quirky, contemporary wallpaper with orderly blue Scotties covers the vanity space.
Light from Inside and Out
To tie together the spectrum of styles, each bathroom has antique sconces and lighting fixtures, but the third-floor bathroom needed something special: a skylight. “It was such a game-changer in the room,” Forsman says. “The light was incredible in such a small room that has no windows.” The skylight segues into a pastel blue wallpaper covered with birds, and uncovered light bulbs bring their own mini ‘suns’ into the room when the real one isn’t in view, making the room perfect any day of the year.