Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Bathroom: Reproduction Vintage

We have been living in our house since October 2003. The previous owners had attempted to disguise many flaws with a camouflage of ugly beige paint and left not one square inch untouched! Our house inspector revealed a couple of problems that we could handle, so bring on our first house and all the fixer projects! We were, and still are, thrilled at the prospect and are insanely happy to color the sea of beige, one room at a time.

The house has oak hardwood floors throughout but the scratched and peeling condition had to be tackled before move in. Dan stripped, sanded and varnished the floors, working every night when he got off the job, for a couple of weeks and to this day our hardwood floors dazzle! Love ya, Dan!

Since we now had gorgeous hardwood floors to walk on in the Austin house it was time to tackle our first room makeover: the bathroom. This only makes sense because I have been a bathroom freak since I was a kid. If I was at any one's house, any restaurant, any store, anywhere.....where did Lisa go? She's checking out the bathroom, of course!

So, check out these bathrooms! Pictures were snapped during our days of house hunting:

This green and black bathroom, left, almost had us buy this house! They just don't make 'em like this any more and it is a shame! Check out the pink toilet, tub and sink!

This bathroom, right, is oh-so-right and so PINK! It had me at hello! You can not go wrong with pink and black in my book! And check out the cool Lucite cabinet pulls!

And, left, notice the flower pattern in the tile floor! To die for, or to die ON in sheer bliss! The green shower tile is gorgeous, a color that can not be found anywhere anymore, believe me, I tried!

I have coveted a vintage tile bathroom for years. The coolest one I ever saw was a lavender and black job in a friends old house in Reno, Nevada. When Dan and I were house shopping some of the bathroom tile we saw had me drooling and almost signing on the dotted line, but as I learned a person has to consider the rest of the house too, not just the
bathroom tile, before the big buy.

In our Austin house some Einstein had installed weird metal baby blue 4X4 tiles with navy blue trim. At first glance this weird tile looked deceptively like some of that cool old 1950's bathroom tile that I was looking for but that nasty stuff had to go! The bathroom had ugly white floor linoleum (which I promptly ripped out) over lovely original basketweave tile in blue and white that we planned to keep. The tub, also original to the house, was in pretty good shape. The vanity and fake marble sink were truly ghastly. As it turned out, the only thing we did keep in the bathroom was that tub!
Here is a picture, below, of our bathroom when we moved in. Glued on metal tile...eeeh gads! How deceptive and nasty they really are!
All this had to go, and go it did. A couple of hammers and a crowbar and it was history. We found that the basketweave floor tile around the toilet was in sad shape: very mushy, tiles missing, toilet that wobbled around on the foundation due to years of unspeakable liquids and substances eating away at it. I consulted with a tile expert who told us the basketweave tile was pretty much unreproducable and we would be better off ripping it out and putting in something similar. As a general rule my aesthetic is to fix and keep that cool stuff that no longer can be made like my '73 VW bug, my vintage nurse uniforms, Poole pottery, and this floor....but the floor had to go. Out it came, along with the nasty 2 inch mortor beneath that we removed with a hand chisel and a hammer. Tough job! We took the water damaged walls down to the studs at shoulder height.
We had never put in Hardibacker so hired a guy to do this. Then we had some fun picking tile and a new sink. Since I am truly in love with old bathroom tile from the 40's/50's we decided to recreate it and make a repro 1950's bathroom. We went to Home Depot and ordered a color from Daltile called Flamingo, as well as base cove, pencil stripe tile and trim in black. We installed octagon floor tile and added a black accent pattern. We really like the look of pedestal sinks as they make the room look larger and airier. Our pedestal sink is made by Standard and came from Home Depot. Since counter space is non-existent with a pedestal sink we also installed a glass sink shelf (Pottery Barn, still in the box, $20 on eBay). The round mirror is from IKEA (around $20), and the twin lights flanking the mirror were found on eBay, also originally Pottery Barn, for around $30. The plumbing fixtures are all Price-Pfister. We had an electrician install the lights and a plumber install the sink and toilet but I did all the tile work and painting myself so saved loads of money even though we were without a fully functional bathroom in the house for almost 3 months. Thankfully we have the apartment bathroom!

Was it worth it? Hell Yeah! We got exactly what we wanted and the satisfaction of doing it ourselves. Plus I mastered the tile saw and have learned that I love to tile stuff!

we are punk rock martha stewart


  1. I love love love it ... love your taste, your tenacity and your tiles!

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