DIY and The Pink Bathroom!

September 3, 2008 10:46 by ehouston

I just received a message from a FLICKR Group dedicated to saving pink bathrooms with a request to add some of my pictures to their pool.  I am honored to be a part of this retro home revival group and plan to check back often so I can take a peek into other people's homes.  My voyeuristic interest in to where other people live is a sickness that started back in high school when I attended my first estate sale.  It continues to this day, by an unseen force that draws me to spend a Sunday afternoon visiting open houses when I have no intention of moving.  I love getting a look at how other people decorate their spaces and the fun of coming upon a time capsule of life from bygone eras.  The chance to see how these homes were originally decorated is so interesting in contrast to how homes are often portrayed in movies and on television.  It's weird, I know, but somehow very thrilling when you discover something in pristine condition.  It's why I am also obsessed with shows like Leave It To Beaver and Mad Men.  I cannot get enough of the rooms in the homes and buildings on these shows.  I always end up annoying other TV watchers around me with quips about the neat couch or cool lamp in the background.

I recently attended an estate sale just down the street from my home and I wandered around looking in sheer amazement at the amount of wallpaper they had used.  Their home is a split-level too, as are many of the homes in our 1950's-1960's neighborhood, and I really liked the layout of all the wallpaper coated rooms.  One odd area that caught my eye, though, was the staircase to the upper portion of the home.  It sat right by the front door and twisted at a strange angle toward the bedrooms.  It seemed awkward when a straight set would have made perfect sense, but I believe the point was to give a more grand affect when viewed from the front entry.  The funny thing about split-level homes is that "grand" was never a part of the equation for the interiors and it always cracks me up when the owners try to go that route in their decorating.  ...But, I digress....what really caught my eye about the staircase was the flashy wallpaper that lined the stairs and then the upper hallway.  It had a busy, almost life-sized bamboo print in shades of metallic browns.  It was so out there that it had come back again and I have even seen similar patterns in new design mags lately.  The best part about this was that the master bedroom had another version of bamboo wallpaper, top to bottom, all four walls and so did the BATHROOM!  In fact, the over-zealous decorator had even created a shoji-screen style window covering to add to the Asian appeal, and they had continued the wallpaper right across the screens.  It was so awe-inspiringly gross! 

The ingenious decor continued with real bamboo molding.  It had been cut in half, wrapped around the top edge of the tiled walls that are typical for that era, and they had been stained a dark brown to match the dark stained vanity cabinets.  You could tell the remodel had happened in the 1970's or early 80's because of the colors and how over-the-top they had gone with the theme.  Even with the dizzying pattern overkill, these areas of the home were still sort of cool and made me want to try to salvage some of what the owners had been trying to create.  But, alas, the home has since sold and I am sure the new owners will rip out all remnants of this home's past coolness rather than working with the good bones and keeping some of the quirky decor.  Maybe I should slip some of my design mags under their door with the cool wallpaper pages marked for them?  

I really should not give anyone a hard time about ripping out and replacing anything in their older home.  There are many aspects of ranch and split-level homes of the 1950's and 1960's that I love, but sometimes that love does not stay warm in your heart once you have lived with something kitsch for a while.  Take for instance the room that got me the invite to the "save the pink bathrooms" group.  Below is a before shot of my lovely pink bathroom, complete with the old owner's ruffled curtains and seashell wallpaper.


We lived with that window and the matching shower curtain (see it reflected in the mirror?) for almost three years before the final breakdown.  There were other rooms in our home that definitely needed more work and were much harder on the eyes, so we gave them what I call "the mini makeover" treatment first.  Basically, a thorough cleaning, new paint, switched out hardware and pulled up carpet to reveal hardwood floors.  The easy stuff that makes an impact and helps you keep your sanity while living in a cosmetic fixer-upper.

After much thought about what to do with this space, everything from a simple spruce up, to taking the seashell theme to new kitschy heights, to just ripping all of it out and starting over.  We ended up deciding that it did not make any sense to rip out perfectly good tile and fixtures and a simple spruce up was all that we needed.  I spent a week pulling down the wallpaper, resurfacing the marred walls, priming and painting in a subtle shade of gray, to pick up on the contrasting band of gray tile along the floor.  We added a new, but vintage inspired light fixture because the old one did not cast enough light and we changed out the only broken element, the sink faucet.  New towels, shower curtain, refurbished wooden shutters and a "frame" set around the mirror and we were in business for a fraction of the price that most people pay for a modern makeover.  No, our bath does not have luxurious real stone tile, or a multi-spout shower head, but it does have a nice sized space, a more subdued palette and it still matches up with the rest of the home.  Plus, after all these years of doing my makeup in this room I have realized that pink really is my color!


KitschDesigns' DIY-Pink Bathroom photoset KitschDesigns' DIY-Pink Bathroom photoset

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