I like vintage but not in my bathroom…


When we bought our house five years ago, we knew there were some projects we would have to tackle right away.  The kitchen was top priority with the two bathrooms a close second.  The kitchen was dark, dingy, and literally falling apart.   Spending nearly half my day in there between meals, snacks, and cleanup, it jumped to the do now category.  The bathrooms, although hideously retro, in that typical 1950s-1970s avocado toilet with matching tub kind of way, were not in bad condition so they took a backseat.  Although, you may disagree after seeing the next picture.


On move in day, my brothers and cousins set to work peeling the wallpaper in the main bathroom.  5 boys and 2 hours later the brown and yellow striped wallpaper was no more.  (Call me crazy but yellow and brown may not be the best colors for a bathroom.)  And that is how our bathroom sat for five years.  It looked akin to a gas station bathroom with the stripped walls and bare lightbulbs.  We always had our minds set on gutting it but never got around to it, so there it sat-lookin all dingy for the last too many years…until we’d had enough.  But, upon closer inspection, we couldn’t bring ourselves to demolish the brown tiled walls and floor which were in perfect condition, surprising since they are over 60 years old.  I mean, there are entire sites dedicated to “saving the pink bathrooms.”  How could we just rip it out?  So we didn’t and after consulting Apartment Therapy, we decided to work with what we had.


Unlike the tile, the vanity was a formica fail with more yellow and brown accents and chipped edges.  It had to go, but it presented it’s own challenge being tiled into the wall.  This left us with some very exact measurement requirements that would either require a custom cabinet which would completely blow our $500 budget or to get crafty.  So, we got crafty and created a vanity out of 20% off stock cabinets from Home Depot and a laminate top from Lowes.  Working within the tile constraints left us 1/8″ to spare and somehow Mike managed to pull it off.



The renovation took three weekends with kids.  Without kids, it could have been accomplished in one.  Mike and Madison repaired and prepped the walls for paint which was the longest and dirtiest part of the project.  We had replaced the toilet the day we moved in, and the tub just needed new caulking.  Mike installed new light fixtures and updated the light switch and outlet.   I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore’s Wythe Blue that I had leftover from my bedroom reno.  When we renovated our kitchen we received free hardware and they had sent a few extra, so we used those on the new vanity.


As for the decor, I mostly used what we already had.  While on our honeymoon in Hawaii, Michael had picked up a collection of surf prints by a local photographer.  They had sat in our closet ever since, so we pulled them out, purchased a few RIBBA frames from Ikea and added them to the bathroom.  I then picked up a few plants including an orchid (we’ll see if I can keep it alive) and a few air plants from our trip to Florida.


It now feels light, bright, and clean, and we managed to come in under budget at $477.   I’m just embarrassed we waited so long and subjected our kids, family, and friends to such an ugly bathroom for so long.  Now, onto the next bathroom with it’s floor to ceiling pink and maroon tile!