We are big fans of old plumbing because, for the most part, it’s better made — and prettier — than new pluming. We’re particularly fond of nineteenth-century marble bathroom sinks and early twentieth-century toilets.

Old toilets are illegal in some jurisdictions because they use so much water. But new toilets waste more water because they often demand many flushes to do their job. You can half-flush an old toilet to save water, for instance. Also, you can easily adjust the water level in an old toilet tank. Here’s the acid test: we have never, EVER, had one of our old toilets overflow. And when we did an energetic flush, they come through every time.

That said, we do not mess with old faucets and fixtures. They are too big a hassle. New plumbing fixtures in vintage styles is widely available.

We started with this as our master bathroom

And ended with this

The master bathroom, on the second floor, was completely ripped apart when we got the house. We had the plumbing replaced from top to bottom (with one fatal exception). Then we began work.. Click the photo for a slide show.

We found this 1860 penny inside the trap of the sink before we installed it.

An example of our decorative bath tile

Our house is unusual for a late Victorian in that it was built with indoor plumbing from the start. Probably no more than 5% of the houses in the city had indoor plumbing at the time.

Third floor bath before and after

The third floor bathroom is officially Ron’s. Jill gets the second floor bathroom. Ron doesn’t seem to mind climbing up another flight of stairs because the third floor is where his office is — and the library.

Here’s the third floor bathroom in its transitional phase, with a Depression-era sink.

And here (below) it is with a better toilet and a circa-1900 marble sink.

One of Ron’s favotire rooms in the house is the powder room (half bath) on the first floor. It’s cute and tidy and has lots of artwork on the walls. It’s a pleasant place to sit!

It’s direclty across the hall from the butler’s pantry and used to be the larder closet. When we got the house this closet was pretty much in original condition — with original shelves. ALas, I didn’t think to take a “before” photo of this little walk-in closet.

I installed original bead board as a wainscoting in the closet, then a couple of lights. A toilet just fit in there with a tiny sink. This is the third sink and second toilet we’ve had in the powder room. As with all of our bathrooms, we kept looking for just the right style and fit. We think we’ve got it now.