Bathrooms The Victorian House

More Brass for the Third Floor Bathroom

There’s more to be done in the bathroom you saw yesterday! It hasn’t been a huge priority for several reasons. First, it’s really not too bad as it is. Second, it’s the third of three bathrooms, and the least used one. Third, our money has been going to other house expenses, and toward saving for work to be done in the kitchen. But? When I was up there swapping out the shower curtain and hanging the new towels, I thought I could do a lot to update the bathroom without it being too difficult or expensive. A new faucet and lights would go a long way in there! Paint would be a big change too, but I like the all white everywhere that’s in there right now.

The cheap brass sconces and the faucet we have now are in fine shape, but the style and finish (respectively) don’t work for me. So what will work? Oh, funny you should ask! I have many thoughts on the matter. I think too much about this stuff sometimes.

I usually prefer cross handles, and I definitely prefer widespread installations. This is a simple bathroom update though — I’m not replacing the sink, and the holes are drilled for a 4″ centerset faucet. There is such a thing as a mini widespread faucet (it’s usually one that gives you the option of installing at 4″ or 8″ apart), but the escutcheons are hard to clean around when they’re that close together. They’re also more expensive, and it just ends up looking like you squished everything in toward the center on accident anyway. Centerset it is. And with centerset faucets, levers look better than cross handles.

The choice of sconces will drive the finish of the faucet. Polished will go with polished, antiqued will go with antiqued. I’ve read that you can strip the chrome finish off of a brass faucet, so that’s an option too. (Good idea? Bad? Who knows!) I can try it with the one I have now and we’ll see how it fares. If it’s awful, I’ll order one of the ones below.

  1. Kingston Brass Templeton Two Handle Centerset Faucet, eFaucets, $120
    Cute little teapot shape.

  2. Kingston Brass Heritage Double Handle Centerset Faucet, Wayfair, $97
    Taller spout, plus a touch of porcelain.

Faucets and Sconces for the Third Floor Bathroom

The only light source in this bathroom, aside from the window, is the pair of sconces. The ceiling is low, low, low, and I’m not interested in moving the junction box and trying to repair or replace the beadboard. So we’re working with the cards we’ve been dealt here (which really are not bad, they’re just considerations to keep in mind). Too big, and the bathroom will be all HI, HAVE YOU SEEN THESE LIGHTS? We need good general illumination, so no metal shades that only focus light downward. Nobody is doing their makeup up here — the light can be softened with a glass shade (more flattering) or the bulb can be exposed (more harsh, but looks cool). They make convincing looking LED Edison bulbs now, so if the bulb is visible, it will be one of those.

These are the options I’ve been considering, along with my thoughts on each. I’ve already ruled a bunch out, but I haven’t make my final choice for the winning lights yet.

  1. Thurman Wall Sconce, Rejuvenation, $130
    Simple and classic, but still cute. The Otis Sconce from Schoolhouse Electric is another version for about the same price.

  2. Sage Sconce, Schoolhouse Electric, $155
    Black or white porcelain base, tons of shade options. I used these sconces in the bathroom we added to the basement of our first house (white porcelain base, white glass shade with two thin black stripes). Their Emory Sconce is a nice option if we want a similar look without the porcelain.

  3. Austin and Allen 1-Light Sconce, Home Depot, $98
    I like the style, but a round base would be better in the room. Plus it has that metal shade I’m trying to avoid.

  4. Orbit Sconce, Schoolhouse Electric, $189
    So cool, and I really want to use it. Somewhere. That doesn’t mean it’s the best choice here.

  5. Steichen 1-Light Outdoor Polished Brass Wall Lantern, Home Depot, $15
    Honestly, the most appealing thing about this one is the price. Other than that, kind of boring. Ho hum. Missed opportunity.

  6. Stanley 1-Light Wall Sconce, Wayfair, $549
    The most expensive of the bunch (I tried to stay on the mid to lower end of prices for the other choices), and too big for my tiny bathroom. Nice looking though, eh?

  7. Lander Brass Sconce, Crate & Barrel, $149
    That glass shade is great, but the reviews say the brass finish is darker than it appears in photos.

  8. Mist Single Sconce, Rejuvenation, $225
    The mix of brass and porcelain is just right, but I wish there was an option for a globe shade without an opening at the bottom. There’s an arched version too.

  9. Stratford 11″ High Wall Sconce, Lamps Plus, $386
    I like the lines and proportions of this one a lot, but it’s too formal for the space

  10. Hannah Sconce, Rejuvenation, $165
    The same as the first fixture, but in porcelain (white or black).

All right. Thoughts on the lights? And have any of you ever tried removing the chrome plating off of a brass fixture? I know people will spray paint a metal finish, but that’s not something I’m interested in for a faucet. I’ve searched and found a few methods (mechanical abrasion, aka sanding, dipping the faucet in chemicals, or taking it to a shop to have the electromagnetic plating attraction reversed), but I’m not sure which is best. As with so many things in life, the answers may lie in a Steampunk forum?

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  • Laura @
    August 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    This might sound a little obscure, but I remember watching Genevieve Gorder’s home-renovation show on HGTV several months ago, and I think she “antiqued” some shiny brass hardware in her shower. I can’t recall how she did it but it was a simple DIY trick and she talked about how to do it. Maybe find out what she did and if it would work for the finish you’re going for?

  • Nicole M.
    August 19, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    #4 all the way! It has black to tie in with the hardware, brass to tie in with the faucet, red cord to coordinate with the pink … and the globe sits lower than the junction box to bring the lights down to a more appropriate height :)

  • Sava
    August 19, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Have you considered painting the frame for the mirror? It may help break up all the wood tones.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 19, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      I like the mirror, but I’ve thought about replacing the toilet seat and/or painting the window.

  • ryan
    August 19, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    while i LOVE sconce option #4 (i’ve used the table lamp version in a couple of projects), i do worry that they’ll be low enough to be tempting to little hands. the glass globe is not actually attached to anything, so keep that in mind. they are so cool, though!

    • Making it Lovely
      August 19, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you — I assumed they were attached.

  • Amelia
    August 19, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Jenny at Little Green Notebook has stripped the lacquer from her kitchen faucet –, but I think she had it professionally done. I like #1 best for your space.

  • Laura
    August 19, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    I’m always up for going an inexpensive route. Personally, I’d just swap the faucet. We picked up an “antiqued” brass one at ReStore for like $10 that would look great in there. Maybe look at used? People are still ga-ga over brushed nickle and there’s a lot of brass hardware on Craigslist. However, I think I would be more stubborn on the lights. Can you replace just the shades on those? I feel like that would instantly change the look for just a fraction of the cost.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 19, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      All the secondhand brass faucets I’ve been seeing that I like are $100+ and don’t work with my 4″ spacing. And yes, changing the shades would be an update, but if you look at the link, you can see the scroll design of the base too, which is pretty bad. But that’s my taste — if I donated them to ReStore, someone else might think they’re perfectly fine and snap them up.

    • Ryan
      August 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      I don’t know about other states, but our Habitat Store in Washington State won’t sell faucets (or dishwashers) anymore. Something to do with lead pipe regulations. It’s a bummer because plenty of usable fixtures are going to end up in the trash now.

  • Ashley
    August 19, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I love #8!It’s just so clean and pretty. I need to find a spot for it in my house.

  • E E Faris
    August 19, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    If it were me I wouldn’t pick a lighting fixture for the bathroom that had an exposed (or nearly exposed) bulb.
    A little diffusion is so much kinder when looking in the mirror.

    • Making it Lovely
      August 19, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      The antique mirror glass is streaked and splotchy too, so the whole effect can go SCARY BATHROOM HORROR MOVIE which you’d think would deter me…

      (Actually, maybe it does.)

  • Laura
    August 19, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Faucet 2 and light #8. So pretty together.

  • Andrew
    August 19, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Loving sconce #9. I just ordered Thomas O’brien’s Elkins sconces for my 1st floor half bath & looking for a new brass faucet too.

    Here’s the faucet I was thinking, in satin brass. It also comes with cross bar handles, which I prefer too.

  • maddie
    August 19, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I’m really sold on #8! It’s just lovely.

  • mary
    August 19, 2015 at 9:53 pm


  • Staci
    August 20, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Ooh, so pretty! For this room, I like the combination of 2 and 8. (2 is my favored faucet, the porcelain is a little something “extra”).

  • judy
    August 21, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I like 7 or 9 for the light fixtures they have a look of age and elegance while the others just look “Just made by the millions on an assembly line,” I don’t care for either of the faucets-too new looking for your beautiful home. I’m a senior so I have had enough shiny brass stuff to last a life time……and that’s a lot of houses and a lot of brass faucets.

  • emily
    August 22, 2015 at 11:40 am

    fun option! I would love to see something black added to the room to tie in those pretty handles on the cabinet…so maybe one of the black sconces? i just recently moved into a rental home and the bathroom is fine, but could totally use a faucet update…great ideas!

  • Liz
    August 24, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I’ve had the C&B sconces (#7) in our master bath for a couple years now and I love them! I love #2 as well but I’d pair them with a black faucet.