Style Watch

Updated antique home styles

In this year’s Junior League show house in Newton, an old-fashioned bath gets some modern updates.

“My goal was to marry the ancient and the modern,” Janet Tosi Marena says of this bathroom she designed in the Junior League of Boston’s 2012 Show House.

Michael J. Lee

“My goal was to marry the ancient and the modern,” Janet Tosi Marena says of this bathroom she designed in the Junior League of Boston’s 2012 Show House.

WHEN MELROSE-BASED INTERIOR DESIGNER Janet Tosi Marena was asked to reimagine this space as part of the Junior League of Boston’s 2012 Show House (open through November 18), she was thrilled to discover she had good bones to work with. One of several bathrooms in Newton’s stately 1867 Potter Estate, it had been renovated during the early 1900s in the Arts and Crafts style. Although the room had significantly deteriorated, the 100-year-old green and ocher tile work and two stained-glass, marble-trimmed windows miraculously remained intact. Marena took care to preserve the integrity of the room but infused it with a fresh appeal by introducing a few contemporary elements. The resulting space feels equal parts modern and historic.

1 > 19TH-CENTURY PRINTS, from Boston’s Charles Spada Antiques, speak to the age and architecture of the estate, says Marena, and don’t compete with the room’s rich green color scheme.


2 > GRASS CLOTH WALLPAPER with subtle gold flecks brings warmth and texture into the room.

3 > THE WALL TILE appears new, says Marena, thanks to decorative painter Joan Kingsbury, who painted the grout lines to cover up inconsistencies.

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4 > A RECTANGULAR SINK by Duravit and a Hansa faucet are sleek and contemporary.

5 > NEARLY INVISIBLE ACRYLIC legs, fashioned by Marena, ensure the hanging cabinet under the sink stays attached to the antique tile wall.

6 > THE ORIGINAL TUB was refinished and painted a leafy green to match the color scheme of the tile.


7 > THE HANDBLOWN GLASS light fixture affixed to the soaring domed ceiling — painted by Kingsbury to match the tub — came from FDO in the Boston Design Center. The intricate sculptural piece casts beautiful shadows on the walls.

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