Mary-Carolyn -- here's the post you've been requesting for the past six months! Happy Birthday!!! ;)
When my sister Amy first toured our home right after we bought it, she dubbed the downstairs bathroom as the "Silence of the Lambs Bathroom". Remember that scene in Buffalo Bill's basement at the end of The Silence of the Lambs with the rotting body in the tub? Yeah, that's what she was referring to. Mostly because I had been using the downstairs bathroom to clean all of my paint brushes at the time and the sink & tub looked very dubious in a serial-killer-has-been-chopping-up-bodies-in-here kind of way?? But also because... it's just plain scary in there:
Yup. Classic 50s retro pink with swirly grey & black tiles. Not cute or quality classic retro pink, mind you. OH NO. See those tiles?? They are PLASTIC. I kid you not. And in the places where the plastic tile cracked, broke, or came off the wall entirely? Someone glued the leftover harvest gold sunburst tiles from the yellow upstairs bathroom in their place. Because... They totally go together?!?!? There are 7 yellow sunburst tiles glued around the bathtub faucet alone! Oy. The vast majority of this room is cracked plastic. Even the cup dispenser and toothbrush holder are plastic.
Now, I'm all for preserving history and I can respect the idea behind the movement to Save the Pink Bathrooms (even though I personally think they are hideous...). Honestly, I think that it's very, very cool that I can find my tub and sink in old 50s Kohler advertisements:
Apparently, what I've been calling "Pepto-Bismal Pink" was actually called "Peachblow". Who knew?
Perhaps if my bathroom was in good condition, had really nice tiles, and was full of quality fixtures, I might consider joining the Save the Pink Bathroom movement. Perhaps. I'm really, really not that into pink (especially not in combination with black and grey), but I could have been swayed by some cuteness.
Thing is? There is NO cuteness.
Just look at the floor! Stick on laminate tiles that look like the black and white static of a television with no cable signal. So not cute. Black and white hex tiles? Now, that would be worth saving. This crap? Hell no.
Besides, let's consider the house as a whole. My house was built sometime between 1876-1885, right in the Victorian era. Ideally, I want clawfoot bathtubs, pretty wainscoting, and beautiful tile. Ideally, I want my bathrooms to suit the age of my home.
Unfortunately, "ideally" requires capital that we don't have right now. Someday, I will have the funds and time to focus my energies on gutting this tiny little space. But for now, we are living with it. For the first year and a half that we owned our home, we lived with it as is. At one point, I even started using the tub for diaper storage and put up an old shower curtain (that completely clashed with the room) from my college days to hide everything.
Unfortunately, living with it as is was making me very unhappy. It's not a good sign when you try to divert visitors in your home to the slightly better kids bathroom upstairs. You shouldn't have to be too embarrassed by the state of your bathroom to let people pee in it. Right?
In July/August, right when I knew we were going to start trying for another kid, I went through a phase where I needed to take care of any house projects that would require staining or painting before I got pregnant and was no longer allowed. One of those projects was the downstairs bathroom. I was sitting in there one day (What? The potty is a good thinking spot!) when I thought... there HAS to be a way to make this bathroom look halfway decent without spending gobs of money on a renovation. Maybe I'll just paint over everything. It can't possibly get any worse, right?
I wiped everything down to clean it, grabbed a half used can of Kilz primer from my paint closet and started painting right over the ugly plastic tiles, the orangey baseboards, door, and molding, the rusty chrome, and the radiator.
Room brightness improvement 100%. Okay. Looking good. Don't freak out yet. Now let's try the floor.
Not too shabby. I made sure to leave plenty of time after each coat for the paint to dry. It took two coats of primer and a coat of ultra bright white paint leftover from the staircase project, but I was extremely happy with the results. The room was feeling less and less cave-like. So long as nobody intentionally tried to scratch the paint off the walls with dagger-like claws, it would probably be fine.
I used more leftover paint from my paint closet for the wall above the tiles and the floor. I went with stripes on the floor simply because it was quick and easy and I had painter's tape on hand. I highly recommend painting over the painters tape with the base color and letting it dry before painting with the top color. It gives you crisp lines and prevents the top color from leaking under the tape. I used Kilz primer for the base and simple water based latex for the stripes (same as the walls). Then I painted over everything with water based polyurethane a few times. So far, it's held up perfectly. No scratches or anything and it's easy to swiffer.
Then, I got pregnant and since I'm pretty much useless during the first trimester (must sleep at all times!), no more progress was made until February when I finally got around to making a ruffly shower curtain.
All that was left was to hang some art that tied together the Sea Sprite paint and the peachblow tub & sink. Hmm. What did I already own that had both a peachy pink color and blue??
My Japanese kimono from Sakura Matsuri (the cherry blossom festival).
My dad was in the Army and we lived in Japan on and off from the time I was about 8 until I was almost 16. When I was 14 or 15, my parents had us garbed in traditional Japanese clothing (a gift from a Japanese friend) for the Camp Zama Cherry Blossom Festival. The base opened up to the Japanese for the festival and we quickly became a major attraction. Nothing like a bunch of blue eyed Caucasian kids properly dressed for the festival (tabi socks, geta sandals, obis and all) to bring out the cameras.
I found a series of Japanese related cigarette cards through the New York Public Library and asked my SIL Theresa to print them for me. Thanks, pretty lady! I first came across the NYPL's free collection of cigarette cards when my other SIL Sarah blogged about them here.
I chose these three cards because the colors suited my kimono and because they each have meaning for me. I used to live in Yokohama (you could see Mt. Fuji from our bedroom window on a clear day), I actually attended a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at the Sakura Matsuri while dressed in my kimono with my siblings (the green tea is SO bitter, but you can't make a face because that would be very rude!), and I used to go shopping off base in Machida (a part of Tokyo) with my high school friends all the time.
I used frames I already had in my Goodwill Outlet stash to hang everything in the bathroom.
A friend in college gave me this very old and delicate map of Japan and Korea from 1897.
The plates above the toilet were a wedding present from my Grandmother Wightman and have little fish on them.
The colors of the fish work perfectly with the kimono.
The wooden fan is just something I've had since living in Japan. It was just sitting around in it's box. I printed a picture of my siblings and I dressed in our kimonos & hakama at the Sakura Matsuri.
This photo makes me smile. We got to have our hair professionally done for the day and were dressed by the Japanese family who gave us the kimonos. As kids and young teenagers, of course, we weren't necessarily totally thrilled with being stared at by everyone on base, but it's still a good memory.
Here's the overall after effect:
This window is so small, I feel like window treatments would swallow it up. Thoughts?
In retrospect, given the way I decorated the room, it might have been better to go with a stenciled floor instead of a striped floor. Possibly a stencil with an Asian feel to it. I'm not redoing it anytime soon and this was not a permanent makeover because the room still has problems. It's still way better than black and white static though. Thoughts?
If you look closely at the mirror, you can see wires and missing tiles around it. I painted them white so they would be less noticeable, but they are still there. Like I said, the room still has problems. This was just a quick fix. I keep thinking it might be fun to somehow rig some paper lanterns around the hollywood light strip since I'm not planning to replace the light fixture anyday soon and the naked bulbs bug me. Thoughts and suggestions? Totally open to ideas here!
I rigged a skirt around the sink using some ruffly white window panels to hide the ugly exposed plumbing and trash can, but the sticky velcro I used keeps falling down and driving me crazy. I'm going to have to rethink this. Again, thoughts? Suggestions?
And finally, my little secret... I didn't bother to paint the area around the tub since I knew it would be hidden by the shower curtain. Plus, painting an area that is supposed to get wet and be used for showering seemed unwise. Not that the tub or sink drain well.
shh. don't tell.
The extremely heavy white enameled cast iron kitchen sink is currently chilling in the tub. I might end up using it in the laundry room one day. Not sure yet.
Is it my dream bathroom? No.
Do I let guests pee in there now? Yes.
I spent under $3 making over the entire room and it's now at a stage where I can live with it in peace, so I'm happy. Plus, now it's full of happy childhood memories. :)
What do you think? Have any spaces that are really bugging you?