Charles Rennie Mackintosh

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Project by EarlS posted 05-27-2016 01:52 PM 2712 views 6 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was asked to renovate the main floor bathroom to match the Craftsman style of the rest of the house in time for my daughter’s graduation party this weekend. While researching (looking at pictures on the internet) I came across a picture of a Charles Mackintosh inspired bathroom that was exactly what I was looking for even though it was not specifically Arts and Crafts or Craftsman.

First, a little information on Charles Rennie Mackintosh from Wikipedia:

“He was a Scottish architect, designer, water colourist and artist from the early 1900’s. His artistic approach had much in common with European Symbolism. His work, alongside that of his wife Margaret Macdonald, was influential on European design design movements such as Art Nouveau and Secessionism.

Along with the Industrial Revolution, Asian style and emerging modernist ideas also influenced Mackintosh’s designs.

Around this time a new philosophy concerned with creating functional and practical design was emerging throughout Europe: the so-called “modernist ideas”. The main concept of the Modernist movement was to develop innovative ideas and new technology: design concerned with the present and the future, rather than with history and tradition. Heavy ornamentation and inherited styles were discarded. Even though Mackintosh became known as the ‘pioneer’ of the movement, his designs were far removed from the bleak utilitarianism of Modernism. His concern was to build around the needs of people: people seen, not as masses, but as individuals who needed not a machine for living in but a work of art. Mackintosh took his inspiration from his Scottish upbringing and blended them with the flourish of Art Nouveau and the simplicity of Japanese forms.

While working in architecture, Charles Rennie Mackintosh developed his own style: a contrast between strong right angles and floral-inspired decorative motifs with subtle curves, e.g. the Mackintosh Rose motif, along with some references to traditional Scottish architecture. The project that helped make his international reputation was the Glasgow School of Art (1897–1909).

Like his contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright, Mackintosh’s architectural designs often included extensive specifications for the detailing, decoration, and furnishing of his buildings. The majority if not all of this detailing and significant contributions to his architectural drawings were designed and detailed by his wife Margaret Macdonald9 whom Charles had met when they both attended the Glasgow School of Art. His work was shown at the Vienna Secession Exhibition in 1900. Mackintosh’s architectural career was a relatively short one, but of significant quality and impact.”

In January, we went to see an interior designer who helped us with the tile selection, colors and such. I provided some sketches of the vanity, and mirror frame. During the process I also came across a Mackintosh drawing called “Part Seen, Part Imagined” which was quickly incorporated into the overall design, as were some Glasgow Rose tiles.

I set to work on the vanity and frames.

The vanity is cherry (stained with black cherry stain) with walnut accent pieces (stained with ebony stain). The drawers are dovetailed, maple, with cherry fronts, and brushed nickel pulls. The finish is polyurethane, sanded out to 1500 grit then finished with Behlens Finishing Compound and rubbed out. Dimensions 24 deep x 48 long x 35 tall.

There are a couple of things that were unique on the vanity. The legs are 1/2” thick cherry veneers glued onto a solid core. The detailing on the legs was completed with a router and a template to provide an inset detail. Rather than having the typical toe plate and sides that extended to the floor I chose to go with more of a furniture look. The grids on the sides and doors is also typical of Mackintosh and help tie the bathroom into the other rooms that have the craftsman style grids in the furniture pieces. I also used solid cherry for the entire case, even the hidden areas. As a result this thing weighs a ton.

The frames are cherry with inset walnut. The grooves were cut using a 1/4” dado, then the walnut strips (1/8” thick) were cut to fit. One mistake I made and realized too late was that the walnut should have been stained ebony and the frames should have been stained black cherry BEFORE I glued everything together. As a result, the walnut doesn’t stand out quite as well as I would like.

While I was taking care of the woodworking, a tile contractor installed the tile on the floor and walls, then I painted the rest of the walls a light buttery yellow, installed the vanity, toilet, lights, counter, and plumbing, and finally hung the mirror and picture frames to finish the project. My wife and daughter found the requisite towels and mats and the bathroom is complete, and in time for the party tomorrow.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

9 comments so far

View WhattheChuck's profile


463 posts in 4681 days

#1 posted 05-27-2016 01:56 PM

That’s a thing of beauty, and a great execution of style! I’m a Rennie-Macintosh fan, though I’d never want to sit in his chairs.

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View EarlS's profile


4561 posts in 3468 days

#2 posted 05-27-2016 02:00 PM

Here is better view of the wall tile detail and the Glasgow Roses in their frames.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View horky's profile


322 posts in 4051 days

#3 posted 05-27-2016 03:04 PM

Earl, a great job for sure. I really like what you have done here.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3413 days

#4 posted 05-27-2016 03:12 PM

Truly outstanding and educational. Thanks for sharing!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View builtinbkyn's profile


3027 posts in 2061 days

#5 posted 05-27-2016 04:02 PM

Beautiful vanity, mirror and frames. The detailing is wonderful. All look to be perfectly executed.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3987 days

#6 posted 05-27-2016 04:07 PM

You did a really nice job on this.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View pintodeluxe's profile


6411 posts in 3934 days

#7 posted 05-28-2016 12:17 AM

You’ve really created a motif in that room. I must say it works to splendid effect.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4679 days

#8 posted 05-29-2016 07:27 PM

Magnificent! Don’t forget Limbert…;)

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View BobHall's profile


77 posts in 2405 days

#9 posted 12-27-2016 05:19 PM

Stunning! And, thank you for the education. A lot of influences in your design are favorites of mine, but I only know the name Frank Lloyd Wright. Macintosh and Macdonald are about to become a study for me.
Are there pictures of the building process?

-- Bob "jack of all trades, master of none"

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