When I first moved in, the downstairs bathroom was painted a fleshy pink. One of the first things I did was to paint it a light minty green and add an orange bath mat and new shower curtain. It was a cheery and quick update at the time but, pro tip, you can’t just paint willy nilly without priming, and without knowing what type of paint you’re painting over. I painted water based paint over oil paint. Oops. The paint peeled and cracked pretty quickly which just added to the overall yucky-ness of the room.
When a small leak in the upstairs toilet seal caused a moldy looking (but thankfully not actually moldy) HOLE in the ceiling I realized that it was time to take action.
I knew that I wanted it to be light, bright, and cheerful. As I mentioned last week this is one of two rooms in the house without a south-facing window. It gets decent light still, but I knew I couldn’t do dark and moody in here. Also, there is only one junction box for a light fixture above the mirror and nothing in the ceiling or shower area. I didn’t want to hire an electrician, so light-colored, reflective surfaces were the order of the day.
I also knew that I wanted to add furniture. I love real furniture in bathrooms. I subscribe wholeheartedly to Deborah Needleman’s “The Perfectly imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well.” She says that a little wood table or stool adds personality and softens the transition from lived in rooms to the bathroom (where, frankly, a lot of living happens). Plus, it’s an instant way to break out of the matched-set toothbrush holder/soap dish/kleenex dispenser Bed Bath and Beyond box store boredom that often happens in bathrooms.
I’ve carried around a free-standing cherry red cabinet for more than ten years. I love its crazy color and grandma-y handle. It came out of a cabin kitchen on the remote island community where my parents have a cabin (and where Katie and I lived and worked together for many summers). The cabin was changing hands and the innards were being gutted, so those who were around were invited to salvage what they wanted. The cabinet was covered in peeling vinyl, which luckily came all the way off without much effort. It was the perfect starting point for my bright and cheery bathroom dreams.
So this is what it looked like before:
And this is what it looks like now:
I kept the towel hanger, which is actually an old luggage rack from a train. I love this thing, and I wanted it to stand out, so I stripped the paint off the metal parts and left the wood base and dowel white. I think it looks fantastic, but I’m not sure how best to protect the metal from rusting (suggestions welcome!).
The cabinet was a little low next to the sink, so we took off the feet, which were horizontal, and turned them perpendicular to gain a few inches. We also added painted pine bead board to the walls. With so much wall exposed behind the new pedestal sink, it seemed like something of interest should be going on back there. Plus, what says bright and cheery better than white bead board?
The floors are pretty standard white hexagon tile. They are shinier than what I originally pictured, but I really like how reflective they are. After reading lots of white grout horror stories, I decided on a medium gray grout. I love the way it shows off the geometric tiles but will also conceal a tolerable level of grit and grime.
My sister, who is basically the most amazing and creative human in the universe, made this. She went through a poetry bookmark gift-giving phase 15 years ago or so, and I just recently found this one in an old journal. It seemed to fit here.
The mallard feet mirror called (quacked?) to me from across the great reaches of the interweb. It’s so shiny and funny and strange, and it cracks me up every time I look at it. The bosomy Fräulein planter is vintage, an Etsy find. Her coy face and saucy outfit give me a giggle, especially since she’s posing next to golden duck feet.
It all came together really quickly, and I am very happy with how it turned out. It matches the feeling of the house as a whole better, and I no longer cringe when guests ask to use the bathroom. Have you done a quick and cheerful update lately? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Here are sources for all of the non-vintage accoutrements: