Small vintage bathroom renovation ideas
Things I wish I had known when I bought my first and current house:
- ask about the age of things like the air conditioner
- make sure there are no giant holes behind the bathroom mirror
- tell the internet provider not to mount the cording to the outside of my house
- finally, although I am sure there are more, verify that the "new" tile isn't just painted over mismatched tile
The last point is what we will be discussing today. We bought our house thinking our bathroom tile was nice and complete with no issues. Then the paint started peeling about six months into owning our home. The previous owner painted the freaking tiles in our shower to hide the flaws! Ugh. This may sound extreme, but I think there is a special place in hell for people who don't make solid, quality updates and repairs to their houses, especially when they are preparing to sell them. Think about karma people.
Making vintage tile feel fresh
So I decided to be excited about my blue and peach vintage tiles under the paint. We had originally painted the bathroom blue to bring color to the simple white tub area, so now we painted our walls white to let the vintage tile shine. Unfortunately, we painted our walls before we cleaned off all the old paint. And as it turned out, there were a lot of un-matching cream colored tiles around the faucet, so the lovely vintage look wasn't even salvageable. My spirit was broken.
SOOOOooooo, seven years after the paint started peeling off, we finally decided to redo the tiles. I was pregnant, and it felt like right thing to do for my unborn child.
Things to consider when renovating a bathroom
We live in a 1950 bungalow with one bathroom. And as someone who has had their ONLY bathroom renovated while eight and a half months pregnant in the middle of summer, I'd caution anyone to make a few wise choices before moving forward. First, maybe don't risk being without a shower while that close to giving birth. The stress. The necessity of that room. Second, hire someone who does it full time and is highly recommended. I hired someone who is incredible at tile work, but who was in a tricky life moment and had a lot of other clear priorities that I chose to overlook. Bad move. Three, lock in at least four other places you are welcome to shower. We showered at my husband's office in the late evening a lot...it was...um....a hilarious, but super weird memory to look back on. Exhaustedly hauling my pregnant self to a downtown office to shower for darn near two months. Boy it was a bummer.
I think all the stages of strife we encountered is what perhaps led me to my white on white on white bathroom look. I needed some damn peace. Also, it's a small space and there is lots of business to be done there. So a toned down, calm feel is the right direction. I think I'd feel psychologically dirty if I left my tiny bathroom too very cluttered. And that's no way to feel in there. Nope.
Things to consider when renovating an older bathroom
So our first stab at hiring a tiler left us waiting six weeks with no place to shower, and a miracle got us a second tiler who could knock it out in a weekend. I will forever be grateful for that man. That blessed angel of a man named Tony.
We had meant to get our floors done too, but our second tiling professional suggested it may not be a good idea to rip the floor up in an old house with a super limited timeline, as pulling up bathroom flooring often reveals new, time-consuming issues. Time we didn't have. Thanks a lot, Harriet. (That's my baby I am joking about being in the way of my opportunity to get new flooring. For those who didn't know.)
Anyway, the fake tile flooring doesn't bother me. Would it look better in the vintage inspired 1" hexagon tiles we currently have stacked in our garage? Yes, but it didn't happen when we had the funds lined up, and now it has to wait. Meh, that's life folks.
Shower window considerations
Our shower has a window in it. And before renovating, the window had wood trim. The wood sill threatened constantly to mold and rot, and it generally made us sad and uncomfortable to try to get ourselves clean while that was happening at our elbows. The new bathroom has tile all around the window, which provides for an easier material to keep clean in a constantly wet environment. Not having mildew in my shower makes me feel safe and happy and like taking a bath is worth it.
Small bathroom storage solutions
Tile work aside. We used to have zero counter space, so we used a small bookcase I had in college to store toothbrushes, soap, etc. It made the room feel more crowded. I recommend taking storage off the floors and putting it on the walls in small spaces. It made our room so much more roomy.
We plotted the long wall-mounted shelf for towels and other essentials. Then also devised the hanging vintage swim locker shelves. Simply mounted on waxed pine. Those baskets were some of the first pieces Ashley and I acquired for the store. I like that they were used for swimming pool lockers and that they remind me of starting the shop, a life choice that brings me deep joy. Imagine having that kind of wonderful memory every time your cheeks hit the seat. Plus, we can sit wet shampoo bottles in there and they can drip to the floor–no harm, no foul.
DIY bathroom light
The light fixture is the marriage of a Howe Foundation thrift-store find and a plank of wood. Voila. Simple and modern, and it makes me laugh that the brass fixture is from a super entertaining and strange thrift-shop. I deeply love saving something I know most people might have looked at and thought was complete trash. Instead of dated crap, it is a modern fixture that sheds light on a happy family. Good for you, little light, good for you.
I got that great vintage round mirror in Eureka Springs at a shop similar to ours. I LOVE its subtle pattern around the rim.
Why renovate your bathroom?
This whole post brings me back to the consideration that your home is the place you recharge. When I look at my bathroom, even now two years later, I feel like I am entering a spa. I daily remind myself to be thankful for my clean, well-done, useful bathing facility. My bathroom is the place I take the most intimate care of myself. I so often rush through showers and self-care, and I think having a beautiful space slows me down a moment. It helps me enjoy the process of self-care. It reminds me to relish the simple pleasure of warm water and sea salt soap. It's another chance to be fueled up and better able to go out and be my best self for my family and those I meet throughout my day.
What you do matters–whether you are being kind to yourself, so you can be kinder to the world, or if you are prepping to sell your house and choosing to slather paint on things that shouldn't be painted, like the previous owners of my home. You know who you are.
"Thank you for not telling me that all my stuff is crap and that I should get rid of it all and come shopping. I didn't think you would do that, but one never knows...You all really showed the joy you find in making people happy in the home. Thank you for giving me permission to embrace my crazy plant lady-ness."
-Anne, Mini-Session Styling Client